Triangle Y camp kids are joining a nearly 50-year tradition when they enjoy a week of early morning dips in Lake Sakakawea to become "polar bears" or sign each other's paddles at the end of the week.
Camp director Cindy Mueller said her husband and children have also joined her at the camp and her son met his fiancee there when they were kids. One mother, a former camper, sang the camp song to her kids all the way to Garrison so they would remember it when she enrolled them at the camp.
Campers come from all over the area and range in age from early elementary to about 15. Former campers often go on to become camp counselors.
Campers at Triangle Y camp last week were back row, from left to right: Andrea Zastoupil, Bismarck; Marie Cadwalader, Minot; Kasi Sorensen, Watford City; Megan Stair, Bismarck; Madison Milbrath, Minot; Shelby Schmaltz, Bismarck; Caitlin Glaser, Bismarck; Jessica Stair, Bismarck; Brenna Pfau, Minot; front row, from left to right: Bre Sherlock, Velva; Bailee McEvers, Bismarck; Brittney Schmit, Bismarck; and Spencer Dirk, San Antonio.
The kids have their choice of being regular campers or, for a little more, signing up for the horsemanship camp, windjammers camp, climbers camp, explorers camp or survivors camp.
The camp owns 14 horses and rents another 13 horses for the campers to ride. One little girl made friends with the horse she was given to ride and the horse came up to the fence to greet her by the end of the session. She grew so attached to the horse that she asked to have the same horse again during the next year's camping session.
The camp is also able to make accommodations for children with special needs, so kids with diabetes, cerebral palsy, deafness, blindness or other disabilities can also attend camp. There is a nurse on site and a hospital in nearby Garrison.
Camper Jordan Walden, 10 of Washburn, said her favorite part of camp was "pranking," by doing things like putting horse dung in front of a cabin entrance or toilet papering a cabin. This is endorsed by the camp and the older kids said it is supposed to be done only to the counselors. Jordan said her victims were both kind of mad and kind of laughing when they stepped in the horse dung.
Many of the 14-year-old campers in Camp Sioux said they have been coming to the camp since they were younger than Jordan, and several of them will become counselors in a few years. They said they have made close friends at the camp and also have learned a lot of responsibility as well.
Mueller said the camp is slowly but surely replacing old cabins with new ones that are cooler, more spacious and have roofs that don't leak, but some of the older kids said they actually like the old cabins better because it feels more like a camp.
Mueller said the camp still needs to replace six of its cabins. At today's prices, that will likely cost more than $40,000 apiece. Donations are always welcome and also help some of the kids attend camp. Campers can apply for scholarships and also have the option of selling candy to help earn their way to camp.
The actual 50th anniversary of the camp is in 2014 and Mueller said the camp is planning a reunion of all the camp counselors that summer. Over the years there have been a lot of former campers and counselors in the area who have signed up for the camp.
There are still some spots in the camps being offered the last two weeks in July. Parents should call Mueller at the Minot Family YMCA for more information. Her number is 852-0141 and her email is email@example.com. More information about the camp can be found at (www.triangleycamp.org).