116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
ATKINS — This year, people entering the corn maze at Bloomsbury Farm will have to take a trip around the sun to get out.
The new design for this year’s annual corn maze in Atkins will feature the logo of Camp Courageous for a good cause: raising awareness for the nonprofit encountering new challenges as it celebrates its 50th anniversary.
The annual tradition for Bloomsbury Farm continues one started in the 1990s as the farm partners with a new nonprofit every year to raise awareness. Last year’s beneficiary was Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Iowa.
“Ever since we started the business, my parents had a focus on partnering with nonprofits and organizations bigger than Bloomsbury,” said Samantha Petersen, a manager for Bloomsbury Farm. “We have a passion for using the design in our corn maze to build awareness for nonprofits.”
A ribbon cutting for this year’s maze, in honor of Camp Courageous, was held Thursday.
What: Bloomsbury Farm
Where: 3260 69th St., Atkins
When: Fall season begins Sept. 16; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday to Sunday
Cost: $12.95 online; $19.95 gate; children under 3 are free
Details: The Sunflower Festival will run Fridays through Sundays from Sept. 16 to 25. The Harvest Festival commences Sept. 30, running Fridays through Sundays until Oct. 30
What: Camp Courageous Pancake Breakfast & Open House and Ribbon Cutting for the Macek-Papke Multipurpose Field
When: Sept. 25, breakfast 8 a.m. to noon; ribbon cutting at 12:30 p.m.
Where: 12007 190th St., Monticello
Cost: Breakfast is $10 adults; $5 children 12 and under
Years after Camp Courageous first started bringing campers to Bloomsbury Farm, the partnership is a “win-win,” said Charlie Becker, CEO of the camp that provides year-round programming for children with disabilities.
“We’re big on having people give name recognition to learn more about the camp,” Becker said.
Becker said he hopes the campaign will reach families who have children with disabilities to make them aware of opportunities the camp has to offer all year long. In addition to popular summer camps and respite care, Camp Courageous offers older campers the chance to travel around the country and the world.
Since starting in 1974 with 211 campers, Camp Courageous has grown to about 10,000 campers each year. But, like many nonprofits, the organization has suffered this year in the long wake of the pandemic with interruptions to volunteering and the workforce it relies on.
“For years, year after year, we’d have 50 percent of staff come back. When COVID happened, all of a sudden that broke. We’ve been working hard to rebuild that,” Becker said.
He hopes the added visibility of the camp’s 50th year will encourage more volunteers to see the difference they can make in campers’ lives and for potential applicants to see fulfilling work opportunities.
With improved vetting from organizations like the YMCA and Camp Counselor USA, the organization is eyeing international recruitment to meet its needs during the summer peak.
“Even though we have beautiful facilities, it's the staff and volunteers that are key to a camper wanting to come back,” Becker said. “We don’t compromise on the staff, we want the very best. They make all the difference.”
As the organization celebrates 50 years, the CEO who has been there for 43 of them said the organization is most proud of the number of lives it has touched.
“This is the only place some families trust,” Becker said. “They rest assured that loved ones are well taken care of.”
In addition to greater focus on annual fundraisers like the Pineapple Gala and the Manchester Garage Sale this year, Camp Courageous will raffle a 1971 Volkswagen Bus for $100 per ticket. The van, used recently in a FOX promotional video for the Field of Dreams, has the signatures of baseball giants David Ortiz, Alex Rodriguez, Johnny Bench and Kevin Burkhardt on the glove compartment.
Camp Courageous also will be holding a ribbon cutting for the dedication of its new Macek-Papke Multipurpose Field at 12:30 p.m. Sept. 25 following its Pancake Breakfast and Open House held from 8 a.m. to noon. This new field complex, located in Camp’s Pictured Rocks Addition, adds several new activity areas for campers with disabilities, including baseball, kickball, soccer, basketball, pickleball, shuffleboard, 4-square and more..
The Camp’s new multipurpose field was made possible through the generous donations of many Camp Courageous supporters with the initial phase of this huge project started by the Macek and Papke families. Gary Macek, Craig Macek, and Carrie Lamb (Macek) gave a major gift to Camp in honor of Helen and Mike Macek, their parents and grandparents. The family of Paul Junior Papke, from Jackson County, choose to step forward to support the multipurpose field through Paul’s estate.
Through a partnership, the multipurpose field complex includes a Mini-Pitch System Modular Sports Solution used for playing soccer/futsal. This Mini-Pitch also will include basketball hoops for multisport play. Partners that made the Mini-Pitch possible include Kick It Forward, the U.S. Soccer Foundation, Target, and Musco. Scheels of Coralville assisted Camp Courageous by providing sports equipment for all of the field activities.
The dedication will be followed by games played by Camp Courageous campers on each field. Campers will enjoy games of soccer, baseball, and more. These fields will later be made available for rental by the general public when they are not being used by campers.
Camp Courageous is a year-round recreational and respite care facility for individuals with disabilities. The camp has served nearly 10,000 campers with special needs annually. Now in its 50th year of service, the camp is run primarily on donations, without government assistance, without formal sponsorship.
For more details on Camp Courageous and its fundraisers, visit campcourageous.org.
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