Youth Facility and Campground on the shore of Lake Washington, MN.
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Nestled on the shores of Lake Washington, Minnesota, is a camp that annually hosts more that 2,500 children during the four month camping season.
With 150 beds spread among 14 cabins, Camp Patterson facilities have been bringing campers in touch with "The Basics" since 1923 thanks to hard work of volunteers in the Mankato Downtown Kiwanis Club.
"They get the high tech cyberspace alternatives served up to them on a plate every day at home. We're not here to duplicate that experience." said David Cowan, Camp Patterson Committee Chairperson from the Mankato Downtown Kiwanis Club.
"Roughing it builds character!" he commented. "There is internet capability in the Kiwanis Dining Hall so laptops and smart phones will work to get weather reports and address the cyber needs of our customers."
Groups like Celebrate Me, the YMCA and 4-H find this "low tech" approach refreshing. Yes, there are plenty of watercraft - kayaks, canoes, a rowboat, and paddleboats are part of the experience if you want to cruise the lake. A pontoon boat is available, and a motorized fishing boat which substitutes as a rescue boat if a camper gets too adventurous. Paddleboards are handy if you can stand up on them long enough to enjoy the lake view.
There is a huge playing field, a volleyball pitch, a large nine target archery range, and an outdoor basketball court. All require a physical investment on the part of each camper. Plenty of swimming and fishing opportunities keep the young ones busy. Groups augment these activities with arts and crafts, among other skill enhancing opportunities.
A fire ring exists to roast those marshmallows and hot dogs and is just the right ambiance for a camp fire song or two. Flag raising ceremonies are common fare and are sure to produce a tear or two among adults.
A one or two week camp gives kids time to make friends with something other than a computer screen.
The camp has been a fixture within the camping community for generations. It is not uncommon to hear that several generations from the same family had their first camping experience at Camp Patterson. It's a habit that is hard to shake.
Some weekends are available each year for reunions and larger groups, no weddings, however. Though only the Kiwans Cabin is fully air-conditioned, most campers understand that a lake breeze is nature's way of cooling you down.
Mankato Downtown Kiwanis Club