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From cooped up to camped out

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Ashland YMCA to open all new Camp DeBoer July 11

The much heralded and greatly anticipated YMCA Camp DeBoer on the shores of Lake of the Woods will open July 11 for a summer of overnight camping programs for area youths and families.

Originally slated to open in the summer of 2020, the camp is located 37 miles from Ashland near the crest of the Cascade Mountains at an elevation of nearly 5,000 feet. The COVID-19 pandemic interrupted those plans, however.

The mountain camp is the culmination of years of planning and fundraising.

In 2014, Sid and Karen DeBoer bought lake property that formerly used as a Girl Scout camp and donated the facilities to the Y. They also contributed $10 million toward reconstruction.

The sproject grew from a renovation to new construction, with an estimated cost of more than $12 million.

The brand-new YMCA Camp DeBoer includes a main lodge, 14 cabins, four bath houses, a pavilion, small program cabins and a new dock. The Y hopes to eventually operate the camp year-round with programs for people of all ages.

“For example, along with the usual summer camp activities, we hope to offer wellness weekends, boating, fishing, swimming, and cross-country skiing,” said Lisa Molnar, former YMCA executive director and current project director for Camp DeBoer.

The camp can accommodate about 150 people at a time, including staff.

The Ashland YMCA will follow special safety protocol at the camp and at its other summer activities.

“We have been planning for months to offer a safe and fun summer for staff and campers,” said Michele Mitzel, community relations director for the YMCA.

“We have taken the safety and cleanliness of our camp as a top priority and will be following state guidelines for resident camps,” she said.

Registration is open for several summer programs at the camp, including the following:

Mini Overnight Camp for kids entering grades 1-3. Included are three days of camp activities geared for the age group and for various interests and abilities. There will be group games, swimming, lake activities, sports, arts and crafts, campfire and more. Dates: July 11-14, July 25-28, and Aug. 8-11. Cost is $395 for Y members and $425 for non-members.

Traditional Overnight Camp for youths entering grades 3-7. Program activities are designed to build confidence, social skills and self-esteem. There will be group games, canoeing, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, archery, swimming, sports, arts and crafts and fishing. Dates: July 11-16, July 18-23, July 25-30, Aug. 1-6, and Aug. 8-13. Cost is $665 for Y members and $695 for non-members.

Family Camp Weekends for all ages. Programs offer opportunities to explore the property, strengthen family connections, develop skills and passions, and create confidence and memories together. Activities include archery, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, fishing, pickleball, and more. Dates: July 23-25, Aug. 6-8, and Sept. 3-6. In addition to program fees, cabins are available to rent that sleep 15 in bunks with room for cribs.

Junior Counselor Program for ages 16-17. This volunteer program allows teens to get camp counselor experience and be part of the staff team at Camp DeBoer. Junior Counselors will participate in staff training and have an average of two to three weeks participating in camp operations.

For more information on YMCA Camp DeBoer and to register online, go to ymcacampdeboer.org. You can call the YMCA at 541-482-9622.

There also will be day programs this summer at the Ashland YMCA.

“We know that planning a fun 2021 summer for your children may seem hard to imagine right now,” Mitzel said. “But we also recognize that the youths in our community need a new normal routine.”

To that end, the Ashland Y will offer a variety of activities with the theme, “Summer Unplugged.”

There will be gymnastics, swim lessons, cooking classes, online Lego camps, and several sports and day camps for ages 3-14, depending on the program. Morning and afternoon options are available.

“For our youngest campers who have not completed kindergarten, we offer Discovery Day Camp,” Mitzel said. “It will provide a fun learning environment and outdoor play incorporated into a weekly theme.”

A traditional day camp for ages 6-11 will offer outdoor education, swimming, crafts, songs, and physical activity.

Sports day camp will immerse participants in a weeklong program that focuses on fundamentals and strategies of such sports as soccer, swimming, dance, track and field, pickleball, lacrosse, basketball, flag football and more.

Financial aid is available for qualified participants in Ashland YMCA summer programs. Through its annual campaign, the Y provides assistance to youths, adults and families, based on need and circumstances.

Membership and support applications, as well as more information on summer programs, are available on its website, ashlandymca.org.

Reach Ashland writer Jim Flint at jimflint.ashland@yahoo.com.

Activities that build strength and cooperation will be part of the summer programs offered at the new YMCA Camp DeBoer at Lake of the Woods. YMCA file photo.
Lake activities will be a big part of the summer camp experience when the Ashland YMCA Camp DeBoer opens July 11 with programs for all ages. YMCA file photo.
On the shores of Lake of the Woods, the all new YMCA Camp DeBoer was built on property formerly used by the Girl Scouts and purchased in 2014 by Sid and Karen DeBoer, who donated it to the Ashland YMCA along with $10 million to help fund construction of the new complex. YMCA photo.
The interior of the big lodge at Camp DeBoer will provide space for dining and activities. Funded primarily by Sid and Karen DeBoer, the all-new camp will open July 11. YMCA photo.
YMCA Camp DeBoer includes the main lodge, above, plus 14 cabins, four bath houses, a pavilion, small program cabins and a dock on the lake. YMCA photo.