by Cathy Statz, Education Director of the Wisconsin Farmers Union
Fair Trade coffee; fresh, local food; friends; shared values; and the cooperative spirit. Sound like a walk down the aisle at your local food co-op? Probably does. It’s also what you’ll find during a co-op camp session at Kamp Kenwood
Each summer, kids from the Midwest and beyond come to spend a few days in the pine woods on the shores of Lake Wissota near Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin for an experience of cooperation, fellowship and fun at Wisconsin Farmers Union’s summer camp program. (Willy Street Co-op is a regular sponsor of the camp.)
While “Farmers” is the name, this camp isn’t just for farm kids. While some campers come from farms and rural communities, others come from cities like Minneapolis, Milwaukee and Madison, or from as far away as the states of New York and Missouri.
A cornerstone of the camp experience is the creation of the Co-op Store, which sells treats and camp souvenirs. In keeping with cooperative principles, the campers themselves run the business, sell shares, elect a board of directors, and receive a dividend based on their purchases. On the last day of camp, members select a charitable organization or camp improvement to benefit from any remaining profit.
Past camps have also featured workshops that ranged from leadership development to international trade simulations to environmental sustainability education. Guest speakers have included representatives from co-ops, credit unions and CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farms, as well as returned Peace Corps volunteers.
All around the country are local co-op managers, employees and board members who first learned about cooperatives when they attended Farmers Union Camp as kids. We can begin to develop tomorrow’s cooperative leaders today.
For more information
To register or for more information, contact WFU at 1-800-272-5531 or email@example.com. The camp program is sponsored in