IVANHOE - The Minnesota Farmers Union Day Camp, one in a series of nine camps held throughout the state, drew 14 children and four counselors to Eastside Park in Ivanhoe on Wednesday.
Shelly Jansen, a camp counselor from Olivia, joined the group in activities such as Silent Ball, crafts and several partner activities which gave the participants a chance to get to know each other.
"We have day camps for kids who are too young to go to our weeklong camps. We target ages five through 10," said Jansen.
Photo by Marcela Sanchez-Aizcorbe
The group of campers at the Minnesota Farmers Union Day Camp play an introductory game during with their counselors Wednesday in Ivanhoe. The children in attendance also participated in craft time and team-building activities.
She described the day camps as consistently "well-attended," with fun games and key team-building exercises for those in attendance.
As the future of rural communities, Jansen said the young campers get to work together to complete tasks while learning things that make them stand out in a crowd.
The four mentors in charge of Wednesday's activities were from all corners of the state and also work as full-time summer counselors at the weeklong Minnesota Farmer's Union leadership camps at Sibley State Park in New London.
"I think the camp is meant to, first of all, foster students in leadership," said Debbie VanOverbeke, a Southwest Minnesota State University professor and lifelong Ivanhoe resident.
Although agriculture was briefly highlighted at the Ivanhoe day camp, the main goal was to provide participants with the opportunity to grow as leaders.
With leadership comes teamwork, and the statewide youth camps maintain a shared understanding between farming and non-farming families.
"We actually have a lot of kids from the cities or suburban areas." said Jansen.
In order to preserve strong rural communities, the Minnesota Farmers Union believes this connection is crucial.
VanOverbeke, who has helped organize the day camp for several years, said parents in small communities enjoy getting their children involved because they support the Farmers Union and recognize the importance of agriculture to the region.
"Well, the camp has been here since I can remember," she said. "My children went when they were young."