Youth enjoy summer fun at Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Camp
Memories, new friends and exciting learning experiences have always been a big part of summer camps’ allure. A smaller size venue in a breathtaking mountain setting assure that Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Cooperative Leadership Camp will make an even greater impression on its happy campers.
For more than 100 years, RMFU has been promoting and protecting the interests of farmers and ranchers in Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico. The progressive grassroots organization founded in 1907 commits its service to three areas: legislative, cooperative and educational solutions. The foundation’s mission is to strengthen rural economies through educational opportunities and empowerment.
Farmers and ranchers organize chapters that focus on bettering the future for themselves and their rural neighbors. Local issues are at the forefront of their focus and fan out to state and national issues as well.
RMFU members believe “that agricultural communities and strong societies hinge on competent leaders.” Therefore, they provide adult and youth programs that teach skills necessary for leadership roles.
RMFU’s educational efforts include camps for children. These summer activities are divided based on age. In 2018, children who’ve completed second through sixth grades may attend the June 11-15 session, while those who have completed grades seven through 12 are eligible for the camping session June 18-22.
Camp RMFU is situated on a pristine 386 acres in Bailey, Colo. For 75-plus years, young people have spent happy summer days at this authentic Rocky Mountain venue located approximately 40 miles southwest of Denver on Highway 285.
Each year, approximately 15 on-site staff members are committed to the physical, emotional and mental development of a limited number of campers. The 2018 capacity will be 100 children for the two session season. This high staff-to-camper ratio allows close relationships to develop and the camp community to flourish.
All staff members must pass an extensive application process, which includes written and verbal interviews as well as background and reference checks. They also receive extensive training in first aid/CPR; child development; behavioral guidance; and emergency procedures. A registered nurse is available 24-hours/day and is included in all outings and field trips.
Safety is obviously of paramount importance but so is fun. Aubriel Jones, adviser of the CSU RMFU Chapter, has directly worked with the camp for three years. She detailed some of the delightful highlights children will experience.
Campers stay in staff-supervised, dormitory-style cabins (divided girls from boys). From their bunkhouse-style home-base, they’ll enjoy mountain hikes in and around Bailey, including to historical spots.
Talent shows and line dancing encourage kids to display their creative abilities and engage with peers. Field trips and tours farther afield might include Denver area favorites like Elitch Gardens Theme Park or the Denver Zoo, depending on specified camp themes. The 2018 camp season field trips will be at Berry Patch Farm in Brighton where campers will help pick in-season crops (i.e. strawberries), and Boondocks, a family fun center in Northglenn.
Fun and games not only entertain, they also help campers develop leadership and life skills while nurturing friendships among one another and staff. Children are encouraged to freely express their individuality in the midst of the wider camp community.
There are two theme nights this year for which campers should bring along the appropriate outfits. They’ll need an Hawaiian shirt and grass skirt for the luau or, in the land of Disney, they’ll dress as their favorite character from Mickey Mouse to Mary Poppins.
Other luggage necessities include: sleeping bag and pillow; toiletry items and towels/washcloths; robe, slippers and flip-flops; warm jacket or sweatshirt for those cool mountain nights; comfortable everyday clothing and a dress-up outfit for the camp banquet; shoes for sports and hiking; swimwear and sunscreen; reusable water bottle with lid; camera; money for cooperative store and field trips.
Oh, and bring along a positive, cooperative attitude … a must for a positive, memorable experience
Pre-registration is not necessary as youngsters can sign up even the day before a session begins. Camp scholarships are available for families with a financial need. Although camp RMFU has an obvious rural connection, campers from the inner city and suburbs are just as welcome as are those with a farming and ranching background.
Bus transportation is provided from pre-set stops or parents can drive their child directly to the Bailey acreage. Cell phones are allowed but only for use during free time. No postal mail service is available at camp but arrangements for exceptions can be made. A child’s health history form and immunization record must be signed by a physician prior to camp.
Former RMFU camp attendees have expressed glowing reviews, including one delighted girl who planned her luggage inclusions for the following year’s session while on the drive home from the current one. (It always pays to plan ahead.)
Children leave camp chattering happily about their many new friends, the delicious and nutritious food they enjoyed, and the exciting hikes and field trips. Post-camp evaluations from parents always come back very high, said Camp Director Jennifer Luitjens Bahr.
“If you send your child to our camp while they’re in grade school, you’ll end up sending them every year till they graduate high school,” she said.
Bahr added that some children develop such a deep love for RMFU camp, they become staff members after they age out as campers.
There’s still a bit of time left to sign your child up for one of 2018’s June camp RMFU sessions if you do so prior to the first day of the desired session. Call Camp Director Jennifer Luitjens Bahr at (303) 283-3550, or her assistant, Sandra Baca at the main office number, (303) 752-5800. ❖
— Metzger is a freelance writer from Fort Collins, Colo. She can be reached at email@example.com.