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Camp Wabasso going back to basics


REDWOOD — Camp Wabasso is going back to the basics.

With Michael R. Kinnie returning this summer as full-time director, summer camp sessions will focus on camp skills and activities that Mr. Kinnie has cherished since his childhood camp experiences.

“When I was a camper at 4-H Camp Wabasso as a kid, I learned how to build a fire and tie knots,” he said. “It’s also learning how to appreciate the outdoors. I think camp is a special place and is one of the gems of our region.”

The 177-acre camp at 43101 County Route 21 has two-thirds of a mile of waterfront and 300 yards of beach. A typical day of a weeklong camp session will include breakfast, a daily flag-raising, multiple activities, lunch, free swim time, competitions, dinner and an evening program.

“We’ll do more sustainability of our arts and crafts,” Mr. Kinnie said. “We’ll focus on our nature program. One of the most important things about camp is getting in touch with nature. We’re connected digitally, but have to feel the leaves and the dirt.”

That means craft projects will include more natural materials, such as leaves, twigs, rocks or whatever may be on camp grounds, and fewer beads, pipe cleaners or plastics.

Also being brought back this summer is American Red Cross swimming instruction, giving children a chance to advance to various swimming levels. Mr. Kinnie said he, too, learned how to swim at camp.

Assistant camp director Heidi A. Beuttenmuller said there’s a magic to camp, seeing children gain confidence they didn’t have before. She said that also inspires teenage camp counselors, as they see they make a difference in youths.

Mr. Kinnie was a camper and then a counselor at Camp Wabasso from 1972 to 1982, before becoming its director for the 2009 and 2010 camp seasons.

Camp Wabasso is exciting, he said, because it builds lasting friendships and has created an intergenerational connection for families that reside in the north country.

“When I was back as director, I’d see some people I went to camp with bringing their kids to camp,” he said. “It’s an amazing place for long-term connection.”

Because of those connections and the overall camp experience, Mr. Kinnie said, he hopes the camp is around for years to come. Full camp sessions each summer help ensure that. While there are still plenty of slots available, Mr. Kinnie said, it’s still early, and he hopes each slot is filled soon. Camp Wabasso also hosts Camp School days, when school districts bring students out for a daylong adventure, between Memorial Day and June 19.

Camp experiences are available for children ages 6 to 15. Dates and pricing information are available by calling Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County at 788-8450.

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