JANESVILLE, Minn. - Kathy Guse grew up on a farm and now farms with her husband. Still, every time she sits in on a session at Farm Camp Minnesota, she learns something new about modern agriculture.
"There's a lot of learning that goes on," says Guse, one of the volunteers who have been putting on the camp since 2012.
Farm Camp Minnesota, held at three farms in the state, teaches campers heading into third through sixth grade about the origins of food, how it is grown and how farm products are used in daily life. Campers learn about a variety of livestock and crops, as well as the equipment used on farms.
The one-day camps are scheduled this year for Aug. 7 and Aug. 8 in the Waseca area at Farmamerica, Aug. 15 near Rice on the Schmitt Family Farm and Aug. 16 near Dundas at Wolf Creek Dairy. Each camp runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Registration is limited to the first 150 campers at each session, for a total of 600 campers.
Guse says the camp was started to expose children to agriculture, especially those who otherwise might not realize milk comes from somewhere other than a supermarket.
"We've gotten so far removed from" agriculture, Guse says.
Farm Camp Minnesota is a way to reach out to young people and bridge that growing gap between producers and consumers. Children at the Dundas and Waseca sites also get rides in tractors. Even farm kids pick up new knowledge when they attend, Guse says.
"Just because they grow up on a farm doesn't mean they realize a lot of things we teach," she says.
While many of the attendees come from Minnesota, children from across the country have attended the camps. Children from as far away as California have attended, and this year some children from Georgia are coming, Guse says. Some parents or grandparents seem to look for things to do while in Minnesota for vacation or plan their vacations for times their children can attend the camps, she says.
Since the camp is entirely a volunteer effort, Guse says sponsorships from the industry keep it operating.
Early bird registration costs $15 per camper and is due June 10. Registration after June 10 costs $25. The fee includes lunch, snacks, a t-shirt and a fun bag to take home. Registration closes July 21 or as sites fill up. For more information or to register, visit https://www.farmcampminnesota.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 507-351-9348.