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By Unsie Zuege uzuege@swpub.com | Posted 

When four local Rotary Clubs — Excelsior, Chaska, Lake Minnetonka Excelsior and Chanhassen — collaborated to raise $45,000 for Campfire Minnesota's Camp Tanadoona, Chanhassen, it was a continuation of the special relationship that Rotary has had with Camp Tanadoona since the 1920s.

According to Kelly Abraham, Campfire Minnesota marketing and communication manager, Rotary's relationship with the camp dates back to 1924 when the Minneapolis Rotary Club raised money to gift the then 63-acre property for Tanadoona to the then Camp Fire Girls. Since then, Tanadoona has held 93 consecutive summers of summer camp for girls, and, now for boys, too.

In the past three years, the four local Rotary clubs raised money to help Camp Tanadoona in its capital campaign. Rotary's donation of $45,000 helped build one of three overnight cabins.

The cabin will be dedicated to these Rotary clubs on Tuesday, Sept. 13, with Rotary members and leadership present to celebrate Rotary's history and commitment of supporting youth in discovering and enjoying nature.

"Rotary is all about service above self," said Char Weber, Chaska Rotary president. "It's a way of looking in our own community and recognizing that our youth is really important to us. We give scholarships, and have a global mission to eliminate polio, but we are also focused on groups like Camp Tanadoona that inspires children, and in turn they go on to inspire others."

"One of the Rotary Club of Chanhassen’s key missions is to create life-changing experiences for youth," said Tim Mulcrone, Chanhassen Rotary Club president. "Camp Tanadoona is a unique place with an incredible staff who do just that."

"Camp Tanadoona has also been a great place for our members to do some hands-on volunteering, from dismantling and creating a new archery range, building a yurt and hosting a disaster relief camp for teens and young adults.

"We are really excited to support the Rotary Cabin to help preserve and renew Camp Tanadoona. We are proud to continue a great tradition of Rotary support."

Being local makes supporting Camp Tanadoona even more meaningful, according to Mark Williams of the Lake Minnetonka Excelsior Rotary Club.  

"Our Rotary chapter works very hard to raise money to donate to worthy causes while having fun along the way," Williams said by email. "Camp Tanadoona fits the bill perfectly. The camp is local, benefits a number of kids, and we can actually see it in operation. This is a very good use for our donation funds."

"We have a personal connection, not only as Marnie Wells (Camp Fire Minnesota CEO) is a member of our club," said Randy Schumacher, Excelsior Rotary Club. "While we don't show favoritism," Schumacher quipped, "it turns out we do have some members who once were Camp Tanadoona campers, and then their kids attended, and now their grandkids do.

"While the Rotary has had a long relationship with the camp, beginning in 1924 when the Minneapolis club donated land for the camp, and over the years, our clubs have supported it by meeting there, having our Christmas parties there, and donating scholarships. Molly  Swenson, our club president a couple years ago [2013-14], suggested taking on Camp Tanadoona as a local fundraiser, and she and Marnie got other clubs involved, too. We wrapped it up last year, to help them complete their Bluebird [overnight] cabin. The camp is a jewel in our city. It's one of our charities and we're happy to do it." 

About Camp Fire

Camp Fire Minnesota, a non-profit organization founded in 1912, provides year-round activities, as well as outdoor programs to Minnesota youth. Camp Fire Minnesota operates two camp properties, Camp Tanadoona in Chanhassen,  and Camp Bluewater in Grand Rapids, Minn., offering summer camps, nature education and rental opportunities year-round. Registration is open for fall and winter camps; summer camp registration opens in January. Visit www.campfiremn.org to learn more.