By True Friends
“This is a great place. This is my first time ever coming. I became a quad amputee last year; this place made me feel normal again. I was able to do every activity here. Never felt out of place.”-Kari, a Camp Courage camper
True Friends is a nonprofit agency providing life-changing experiences that enhance the independence and self-esteem for children and adults with disabilities. True Friends programs include camp, respite, retreats, team building, therapy and adaptive riding and travel, serving more than 25,000 individuals annually. With locations near Maple Lake, Annandale, Eden Prairie and Bemidji, True Friends serves individuals in Minnesota and throughout the United States. Our programming provides critically needed respite for caregivers who continue to be in crisis due to the shortage of caregiver support professionals.
Our vision is a world where experiences and adventures are open to individuals of all abilities. Through our wide range of accessible facilities, we provide life changing experiences that enhance independence and self-esteem for children and adults with disabilities. You may know that True Friends is an organization that developed as a result of two of Minnesota’s legacy organizations, Camp Courage and Friendship Ventures, coming together to provide experiences where each individual belongs.
To continue this legacy, we are asking the 2023 Minnesota Legislature for a one-time request of $10 million to build a new pool and gym at Camp Courage. That is roughly half of the cost of the project, with the other funding coming from individual and institutional philanthropy.
The current pool and gym are more than 50 years old and beyond repair. Existing systems such as water heaters and pool systems are outdated and inefficient. It is difficult to provide people with a quality experience with such old facilities. A new pool would include modern splash pad features, zero-entry for users and more.
In 2022, True Friends made the initial bonding request for $10 million to build the new pool, two gyms and a welcome center at Camp Courage. Phase one of the project has been completed and funded by donors, to determine costs and prepare site plans. An environmental phase one audit and site surveys are complete. Corrina Township in Wright County signed on as public entity or fiscal agent.
Unfortunately, no bonding bill was passed in 2022. So the request is being brought back, with hopes that a bonding measure of some sort will be passed this year. It was one of many disability bonding measures left on the table.
“Camp Courage was built on the pretense of being a place that was made for us, and this place is still made for us,” said Billie, a longtime Camp Courage camper. “It felt like a piece of heaven to me in the sense that everyone is welcome, everyone is accepted…overall you are accepted. Disability and all.”
The Camp Courage pool and gym project is endorsed by the Camp Cambria Foundation, Camp Sweet Life Juvenile Diabetes Camp, and the U.S. Power Soccer Association. It is on the agenda of items for support from the Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities.
To learn more about True Friends and this initiative, contact us at https://truefriends.org/