Pictures from Camp

Castaway Club – Detroit Lakes, MN

You can’t think about Castaway without remembering the Windjammer. Built in 1914, it carries nearly a century of whispers in its walls. Jim Rayburn even spent significant time there, having built a friendship with C. Gordon Smith, who donated the property to Young Life in 1964.

Now, some of the walls are about to come down. As part of a major renovation effort, the upper and basement levels will receive a makeover that will make every level of the Windjammer accessible to everyone who comes to Castaway.

Camp Manager Greg Johnson reported that 100 percent of the funding needed to complete the project has already been donated or pledged.

Renovations will bring the upper-level work crew housing up to the standards of Young Life’s newer facilities. The main level will receive a new covered entrance. A new basement hallway will connect the game room to the leaders’ lounge and will include a lift that runs all the way up to the work crew housing.

“The question has always been, can a work crew kid in a wheelchair be involved in the same community here, and the answer,” Johnson said, “will be yes.”

Carolina Point – Brevard, NC

Camps in the Southeast faced a remarkable “problem” this summer: each was filled to capacity and had to turn kids away to other camps. The relief for this “problem” rests right on the border of North and South Carolina.

Carolina Point welcomed its first campers this summer, and expects to welcome more in the fall. Though still under development, Carolina Point is poised to meet the growing need in the Southeast. The newly completed dining hall includes a game room, and an expansive club room able to hold up to 250 kids. Nearby waterfalls accentuate an idyllic setting where campers hike, fish and sleep out under the stars. Carolina Point is designed to be completely accessible to every kid, including kids with disabilities.

Phase one development, including the construction of two dorms, should be complete by 2012. “This is a camp that is primed for growth,” said Camp Director Greg Carlton.

Clearwater Cove – Table Rock Lake, MO

Acquired in 2000 in anticipation of growing camping needs in the Midwest, our camp in the heart of the Ozarks remains largely undeveloped. However, athletic courts and beautiful waterfront are all Camp Director Pete Fritsch and his team need to provide an exciting, four-day camping experience that requires great creativity but only a small budget.

Some of the features look familiar — the property boasts a dining hall and a full-size basketball court — and leaders also utilize the waterfront setting to strike new chords of adventure.

Inside 300 acres of Mark Twain National Forest, Clearwater retains the scope and awe of Young Life’s repute, like a hike to the lake under a carpet of stars, and a surprise jump from the dock into 30 feet of water (with a life jacket, of course).

The core of the experience, however, still rests in the relationships built with kids. “We try to make an ordinary night something far more extraordinary than kids can ever imagine,” said Fritsch.

Washington Family Ranch – Antelope, OR

What began in Antelope, Ore., with the largest donation ever given to Young Life will reach its zenith next summer. A second camp will open at Washington Family Ranch in 2011 developed especially for WyldLife and featuring a no-holds-barred waterpark.

Construction began in July 2009. At present, efforts to complete the park are on budget and ahead of schedule. “Water features will be done in a couple of months,” said Camp Manager Andy Squires.

The waterpark will hold 350 campers and leaders. Three tube slides will intertwine with one another around a surging four-person racing slide, all crowned by a towering 50-foot thrill slide.

The addition of this unique second camp, called Creekside, has generated enormous enthusiasm. “A lot of folks are excited about it,” said Squires. With this expansion, Washington Family Ranch will offer an additional 10 “wet and wyld” camp weeks for middle school campers and one week for Young Lives.

Saranac Village – Saranac Lake, NY

This summer, in celebration of its 40th anniversary, 358 guests returned to Saranac Village to remember and celebrate the countless hours of service from work crew and staff, and the hundreds of thousands of life-changing stories etched in Saranac’s history.

Tom Hammon, regional director of Young Life United Kingdom/Ireland, joined Young Life President Denny Rydberg to speak at the event, which also included talks from Rick Rogan (senior regional director in the Greater Northeast), John Wagner (Eastern Division vice president) and Camp Manager Ryan Silvius. Honored guests included former camp managers Pete Gerard, Bob Magee and Bob Wade. “We joyfully welcomed home many,” said Silvius. “It was fantastic.”

As part of the celebration, Rydberg and Silvius bestowed a lifetime volunteer service award on Jimmy Clowes, who has served at least two weeks every year at Saranac for the last 23 years. “He’s Saranac Village’s most valued volunteer,” Silvius said.

International Camping

Young Life’s international camping efforts continue to reach across the globe. In 2009, more than 300 camp sessions were conducted outside the United States and Canada, a 14 percent increase from the year before.

As part of the Reaching a World of Kids initiative, international staff and volunteers work to create a camping experience that combines high adventure, humor, personal relationships with leaders and the clear Gospel of Jesus Christ in a culturally appropriate environment. “That combination is a winner with kids around the globe,” said Dave Carlson, International Camping coordinator.

International staff and volunteers are currently working to identify 10 sites around the world to develop Young Life camps. “Every teenager wants to be known,” said Carlson, “and every heart cries out to know their maker.”