BRAINERD, Minn. (WCCO) — We are Goin’ to the Lake and this week, Natalie Nyhus and Mike Augustyniak are in the Brainerd Lakes Area.
They spent part of their Thursday at one of the most popular lakes in the area, Gull Lake, right off the shoreline of Madden’s Resort. Just up the road from Madden’s you’ll find a different kind of place.
The Camp Confidence Learning Center is on Sylvan Lake and like Madden’s, they too, had a lot of damage to clean up last summer after severe storms went through the area.
This is what Camp Confidence looked like last July.
“We lost our entire waterfront, all of our beach area, the docks, the boat launch, boat lifts, a couple of boats,” Camp Director Bob Slaybaugh said. “We were fortunate we didn’t have any major structural damage so everything was very minor, fairly easy to repair. We did lose hundreds upon hundreds of trees.”
Now a year later, all of that has been replaced and Camp Confidence is back to doing what it does best. Bob Slaybauh is the camp director.
“We are an outdoor center for people with cognitive developmental disabilities of all ages,” Slaybaugh said.
For many of the campers, this place offers something they can’t find at home. They can take a ride on a glass bottom boat, try archery and most importantly, gain the confidence they need to be successful in life.
“We have a lot of high fives here at Camp Confidence, a lot of high fives, and a lot of those moments where you just didn’t think something would happen or be possible,” Slaybaugh said. “We’ve learned there is no word I can’t and everybody can. They may have to do things differently. We can get just about anybody participating.
And that’s what makes this place so unique, whether it’s your first time here or your 100th.
“The youngest camper I had was 1 month old, the oldest was Viola. Her last camp she was 101,” Slaybaugh said.
Bob told us a story that shows just how big of a difference this camp makes in those campers lives. He had one family who gave their three kids a choice of camp or Disneyland and they choose Camp Confidence.