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Monday, May 27, 2024

Summer Camp with a Cooperative Twist

Summer Camp is not just a luxury for wealthy suburban families. For more than 70 years, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union has offered a camp program that is affordable, educational, and fun. The RMFU Cooperative Leadership Camps are held at the beginning of June in Bailey, Colorado, at the National Farmers Union Educational Center.

Each year the camp curriculum covers a topic important to rural families. The campers come from all over the state, from inner city and ‘burbs to little towns on the prairie. Urban kids learn how rural life contributes to our nation’s food and energy security. Rural kids gain a better understanding of their heritage and how they can contribute to the sustainability of American agriculture and rural values. Everybody picks up some skills, sees how “the other half lives,” and comes away with new friends.

In addition to hiking, field trips, singing and dancing – the usual fare at summer camp – campers participate in cooperative games, team-building activities, and leadership workshops, and they even stock and run their own cooperative store.

RMFU campers have been developing self-confidence and leadership skills in the beautiful Bailey setting for three generations, and most of the counselors (and even some of the senior staff) are camp veterans.

The theme for this summer is Growing Good Taste. “We are building on the USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food program,” RMFU Education Director Jennifer Luitjens Bahr said. Campers will learn about good nutrition and the value of local sources of local foods.

“We’ll be encouraging kids to look at their eating habits, think about where their food comes from, and take the first steps toward making healthy food decisions,” Bahr said. “That’s what growing good taste is all about.”

RMFU coordinates transportation to and from Bailey and raises “campership” money to help with financial needs. But RMFU Summer Camp is remarkably affordable at around $50 a day for a four- or five-day camp experience. The camp schedule is June 6-9 for kids who have completed grades 2-4, June 9-13 for those who have completed grades 5-7, and June 13-17 for Senior Camp (completed grades 8-12).

“Summer camp is our way to give back to the grassroots communities that RMFU was built on,” said RMFU Foundation Director Ben Rainbolt. “Our young people are tomorrow’s leaders, and we want to make sure they are prepared to serve their country and community.”

For more information on RMFU Summer Camps, visit or call 303.752.5800.

Senior campers line up to buy snacks at the co-op store they stock and manage.

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