Camp Foster celebrates 100 years of friendship, serving - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Camp Foster celebrates 100 years of friendship, serving

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While most summer camps are closing down for the summer, there's one place that's celebrating the end of the year. While most summer camps are closing down for the summer, there's one place that's celebrating the end of the year.
SPIRIT LAKE, Iowa (KTIV) -

While most summer camps are closing down for the summer, there's one place that's celebrating the end of the year.

It's a special anniversary for Camp Foster, a faith-based camp in Iowa's Lakes Region, set up to teach its campers about friendship and unity.

As a child, Josh Carr spent many summers at Camp Foster. When he became its executive director in 2008, he knew the responsibility would be great.

"I knew what it would entail; I knew it was a lot of work. I didn't know all of the details but I do now," said Carr.

Paying attention to those details has helped Iowa's first YMCA-backed camp reach its 100 year anniversary. To celebrate, camp leaders held a chapel service for a group of former counselors and campers.

"You look at how Camp Foster has been thriving throughout the years, it's just an incredible legacy of what the people before us have left," said Norm Johnson, CEO of YMCA of the Okobojis.

Camp leaders say that tradition has been built by faith-based values.

"Camp Foster is not just in saying things in the Bible or memorizing verses. It's how you treat each other and how you serve each other," said Carr.

This lake has been at the center of what Camp Foster's been doing for 100 years now. In the summer, folks will try to swim across it, while in the winter, it's a place for ice hockey and other winter activities.

"It's more than just friendship, it's love," said Joe Veltri, a camp counselor.

Many counselors say these strong bonds are built through campers who return to the site year after year, and take an interest in mentoring younger children.

"You form this unity where you can kind of tell if people are having a bad day, and they help you pick up that slack," said Joe Veltri.

The camp continues to upgrade its facilities to help make the space even better.

"Every year, they're just adding new things, like the brand new buildings. But even as a kid, there weren't bathrooms in the cabins. There wasn't air conditioning. So, that's a nice addition," said Callie Border, a counselor and ten-year camper.

The camp hosts 7,000- 8,000 children every year. With plenty of open space to play and grow together, those numbers could go even higher.

"You wish that everybody could have an experience like this," said Veltri.

Another 100 years looks very reachable.

The founder of the camp, Thomas Foster, was born in Yorkshire, England and had worked at John Morrell there before coming to the states and taking over as the firm's general manager. He chose to build on East Lake Okoboji.

The camp was eventually named after him, to remember his vision and character.

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