By Anne Marie Mast
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Area youth connect at first annual day-camp

 

Anne Marie Mast

Last week, the Kerrick Community Center (located in the former Kerrick Community Church) hosted CAMP CONNECT, its first annual day-camp for area youth. The mission was to highlight the connection between art, science, and nature, as well as to strengthen relationships between the children, the adult volunteers, and their local community. The planning team dreamed up the camp last winter when brainstorming ways to fully utilize the new Gracelynn Memorial Playground which is located right across the street.

The camp attracted 25 children from along the Highway 23 corridor, plus four teen assistants. East Central kids, Moose Lake kids, and homeschooled kids all became fast friends. The children spent their days rotating between art projects, science stations, nature walks and game time. Scrambling around the new Gracelynn Memorial Playground was a favorite activity! The camp ended with a mini balloon launch in honor of Grace, who is a major inspiration for so much of the creative community building that is happening around Kerrick.


Camp Connect's all-volunteer staff was made up of talented folk right here in our community. Sarah Kvasnicka Shefchik (Park Township), an environmental chemist pursuing her teaching license, led science experiments on natural dyes and growing salt crystals. Former art teacher Diane Piette (Kerrick) led porcupine quill and sand art projects. Jean Hendrickson (Kerrick), a farmer and artist, taught newspaper basket-making. Karen Kordiak (Fleming Township) led a pottery class. Luanne Kordiak (Askov) demonstrated safe natural dyes and taught the campers how to do Japanese flower pounding (Hapa-zome) and Gail Roberts (Kerrick) taught the art and science of bubble-making. Hila Dipman (Willow River) coordinated our food, and JoAnn Alexander of Kerrick was our camp nurse. Anne Marie Mast (Kerrick), chair of the Kerrick Community Center, led nature walks and games. Finally, Megan Johnson from the Sandstone DNR gave an interactive presentation on pollinators.

The United Way of Carlton County awarded Camp Connect a $700 community impact grant in recognition of the camp's goals of healthy local connections across the generations and educational enrichment through the arts and science. Between the grant and the volunteer staff, costs were kept to $40 per camper and lower fees or scholarships were available. There have already been numerous requests to hold Camp Connect again next year, and the coordinators are committed to making the program accessible to all local youth.


The Kerrick Community Center (KCC) is a non-profit organization that formed in 2016 after a group of local residents were offered the old Kerrick Community Church property. Randy Thompsen, Russell Hicks and the remaining congregation generously donated the building to the newly formed non-profit. The mission of the KCC is to strengthen and enrich our community by providing a place where all generations can grow together for the good of all.

Their goals are:

• To be a welcoming community destination.

• To provide classes, recreation and entertainment that encourage healthy living.

• To meet people's needs to connect with their neighbors of all ages through regular events.

• To meet the need for educational support and enrichment by offering summer day camp, a kid's club and possibly a mini-computer lab.

Major sponsors of the Kerrick Community Center operations include Daisy's Thrift Store, Sonshine Closet, Northview Bank, the Sturgeon Lake Lions Club, Kettle River Pizza, Federated Co-ops, Sandstone Dental Clinic, Doc's Bar and Grill, Casey's General Store, Kerrick Township, Park Township, and the city of Kerrick.

Upcoming Kerrick Community Center events include a National Night Out Picnic in conjunction with the Kerrick Fire and Rescue on Tuesday, August 7 at 6 p.m., the Duquette Halloween Carnival on October 27, and monthly community potlucks starting in the fall. Elizabeth Millard of Bruno currently leads a yoga class every Monday from 5:30-6:30. Look for flyers around town, or check the Kerrick Community Center Facebook page for more information. You are welcome to come and connect anytime!

Anne Marie Mast

 

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