We live at Birchwood Wilderness Camp year round, which means now we get an extra 12 months to make the summer of 2021 extra special!
However, we know how disappointing this news is. We pushed ahead as much as we could, with you in mind. Ultimately, the American Camp Association's guidelines (published May 16th) made the decision for us.
*For those of you unfamiliar with the ACA, we are (proudly) an ACA accredited summer camp and hold their guidelines in the highest regard.
The 82-page ACA guide details how campers would have to practice social distancing, wear face masks, be kept in “pods” of ten kids or less, eat in staggered groups, avoid large games (no evening activity), refrain from singing, and be subjected to strict disinfecting protocols all day long. It's possible that we would be required to reduce cabin sizes, limit attendance to the 4-week session, and only have campers from Minnesota and bordering states attend.
We would need to drastically upgrade our health care center and wait until our local clinic knows if/when they can handle pediatric COVID patients.
As we flipped each page, it became clear that no amount of planning or problem solving will get us to the point we need to be at; the point where we are 110% certain your child is safe and comfortable with us.
In addition, without our traditional camp program, we won't have the funds or the staff necessary to run Family Camp as we had hoped.
This decision is both disappointing and heart breaking not only to us but to our campers.
As many of you know, this year is our first as the owners of Birchwood (even though summer camps run in our blood). We know, what a year to buy a business!
It feels foreign to take “donations” - especially because we are a “for-profit” business, but we admit, we're skating on thin ice. With that being said, we see this year as one hiccup in the next 50 years of Camp...one hiccup that could have a big silver lining with help from our Birchwood family!
Never before have we had a summer to press pause and tackle improvement projects that are impossible during the winter months, until this summer. With your donations, we could:
-Build a new deck on and reroof Seagull Lounge
-Modernize our pack-out shop
-Repair, replace, and upgrade our camping/canoe gear
-Paint the deck of the dining hall
-Put a roof on the yoga deck
-Build a new bouldering wall
...The list goes on!
Lucky for us, four or five staff members have volunteered to stay at Birchwood for part of the summer to get these projects done and be apart of making Birchwood better for years to come.
BUT, we need to feed these volunteers (they've so generously volunteered to cover their own breakfast and lunch but we want to be able to cook them dinner) and be able to purchase the supplies to make these projects and improvements possible.
Our founder (Ashley's grandfather and Dan's father), Jim Bredemus, used to describe the campers, staff, and alumni of Birchwood as a web:
Typically, it's the other way around but, for the first time in a long time, we're calling out to the web for support to make these projects possible. We've got time on our side, all we need is you. If you feel called to donate $5, $50, $100, $1,000 (heck, even one dollar), we'd be more grateful than words can express.
We've setup a GoFundMe page at the link below. Our big out-of-this-world goal is $30,000 and we'd be beside ourselves with any amount of donations. Matter-of-fact, several of the camp families who were enrolled this summer have generously rolled-over or donated their 2020 tuition. THANK YOU!
For those of you who are able to donate, you'll find your name on a permanent paddle to be hung in the dining hall. If you're unable to donate, we would still be touched to hear from you. You can always find us on Facebook, Instagram, and via email BUT, don't forget, Birchwood is your forever pen pal - write to us at 12586 Gunflint Trail, Slip 85, Grand Marais, MN 55604.
We are heartbroken, hopeful, and thankful.
Ashley (Penny), Dan (Uncle Dan), & Victor (Stryde)