Experience White Memorial Camp!

A Place For Everyone

What day is it? Is it time for camp?

Despite the warm weather, it’s still January. Which can only mean one thing — IT’S A NEW YEAR, FOLKS!

Take a deep breath — I can almost smell the campfire and bug spray! That deep breath is important (though not recommended while applying bug spray), because in times of transition, big or small, it is necessary to take a pause and evaluate our surroundings.

I’m blessed, because as I take in my surroundings, I see Camp!

As I catch my breath and think of this idea of what a camp should be, the first thing that comes to mind is “inclusive.” Camp has been and will continue to be an oasis for all, allowing people from all walks of life a chance to escape their daily reality for a brief respite and return home renewed. Camp encourages us to be different, meet different people, and try different things. We grow by interacting with people who are different from us. Thanks to camp I have grown as a person and a leader and met the most amazing humans — all very different from each other! The great thing is that we know right away that we had one thing in common, we love camp. The rest is just miniscule details.

Other thoughts come to mind as I admire the prairie.  Camp is meant to be safe. Camp is meant to be healing. Camp is meant to allow for peaceful expression. Camp is also about practicing structure, discipline, respect and coping with the world beyond our stone gates so that you can take this idea of “camp” everywhere you go. Camp is fun and camp is here for you!

Camp will carry on this year. Due to the ongoing pandemic, Camp will look different, but we will not lose sight of our surroundings. Safety and structure have always been the most important fundamentals of running our camp. So even if the tactics have changed, our goals have not. It is through safety and structure that we can let loose and have fun. And we miss having fun! Camp may look different, but it’s still Camp, and it’s still for you.

Our team here loves you, misses you, and wishes you a safe, happy, and positive start to your year and we hope to see you soon!

Check out the rest of the January Edition of Smoke Signals here!

One of my favorite camper quotes comes from a guest attending our Arrowhead Camp for folks with I/DD many years ago. When overwhelmed, stressed, and finding it hard to see past an obstacle, their words remind me to try to catch my breath, take a step back, and look at things from another perspective. The quote came on a Wednesday, which anyone who has ever worked during a week-long camp knows how awesome of an experience it is. But, you also know how draining a Wednesday can be. Wednesday’s are when homesick feelings kick in, the “newness” has worn off, personalities begin to clash, the staff is drained, and that after-lunch nap is not to be interrupted unless Camp is on fire.

Experienced staffers know that this dread is temporary. Thursday’s wash away the Wednesday blues, which leads to the Friday sorrows, where everyone is overwhelmed with the realization that camp is almost over and we will all miss our new friends. Camp is quite the emotional rollercoaster, y’all, and when you’re on the uphill Wednesday track, you can’t always see the fun slope on the other side.

On that particular Wednesday,  I walked outside after lunch (drained and ready for the nap of a lifetime), when I saw the “lovebirds” casually sitting on the patio. This camper and his girlfriend were inseparable, and anytime we saw them, they were sitting next to each other sporting the biggest grins on their faces. I gave a pleasant greeting and asked how their day was going. He replied “Guess what?” I took the bait. He said “guess how long we’ve been dating.” I said something obnoxious like “That depends, what day is it?” He stood up and announced with pride to the entire patio, “In 9 more months, we will have been dating for one whole year!” choking back my laughter, I congratulated them and wished them the best. On the inside I thought “With that way of thinking, after I save $32,000, I will have paid off my entire $36,000 student loan debt – YEAH!”

The quote isn’t revolutionary. It’s honestly a little silly and gave me a good laugh at the time. But it is also a subtle reminder of how we all see the same world in different ways. Everyone has their own way of thinking, and when we’re having difficulties with something, whether it’s completing a task, getting through a week, or trying to communicate our point with someone – we need to step back and remind ourselves to try a new angle. It may just alter our reality.

Now, on tough Wednesdays, I know that in three days I’ll be missing my campers. The other takeaway is one of severe optimism. You’ve been asked if you see the glass as half empty or half full? This camper saw a nearly empty glass and was already celebrating the day the glass would be overflowing. It may not be healthy to think that way 100% of the time, but I think it could be incredibly beneficial to try that exercise in positivity and self-appreciation once a week or so! And just think, in eleven months, you will have practiced happiness for an entire year!

Checkout the rest of our December Smoke Signals Edition here

WMC 2020 Fall Newsletter

Creating a Covid-Conscious Camp

We have continuously consulted the Morris County Health Department, resources from the UCC-Outdoor Ministries Association, American Camp Association, and a virtual community of camp professionals to implement strong and safe practices that we can use for our camp going forward. The cleaning and germ prevention tactics we’ve used for Covid-19 will be in place at WMC from now on, allowing camp to stay proactive on disease prevention. We’ve updated our Health and Safety manuals and our Emergency Action Plan includes a clearer sense of how to monitor and manage communicable diseases.

We canceled all camps and large events for 2020. To keep the camp spirit alive and find alternative revenue that was in line with our mission, we opened our doors to families and small groups to rent cabins and activities. Our hope was to provide respite from the chaos and an opportunity to get outdoors. Thanks to our spacious grounds and facilities, groups can isolate by household and keep distance from others by staying in different cabins. We opened our pool to on-site renters with no lifeguards on duty and followed guidelines recommended by Red Cross. We adapted our High Ropes Course and Archery to meet CDC guidelines. We allowed at least two days between cabin use for sanitization which helped keep our staff safe. Guests were provided pre-mixed bleach water spray bottles and notified of health expectations prior to their arrival. We require the use of masks, social distancing, and handwashing.

This summer was possible because groups were responsible for their own well-being. But what about those that are in our care – our campers? We will be monitoring methods used in schools. If we cannot open fully, then we may offer alternatives like weekend-long family camps, limit event sizes to smaller groups, or offer weekend Day Camps. We will research and implement tactics from camps that remained open and safe in 2020. Read below to see tactics successfully safe camps used this summer that we may consider implementing.

  • Share health screening tips for parents
  • On-arrival temperature checks for campers and staff
  • Set aside a room for quarantine away from others
  • Daily temperature checks for staff
  • Maintain social distancing indoors (staggered eating groups, limit group size, etc)
  • Frequent scheduled handwashing breaks
  • Daily cabin sanitization done by staff
  • Travel and interact in cabin groups only
  • Require and provide facemasks for staff to wear at all times and campers to wear when interacting outside of their cabin group.

A camp is successful when it is operating at its safest. Safety brings comfort, and comfort causes the community to grow and creativity to thrive. We want campers to be able to disconnect from the world of over-stimulation and negativity and have fun. So while implementing extra procedures and structure may seem counterintuitive to our goals, it is the means to success by providing our staff and guests the foundation that we all need to feel at ease and have a positive camp experience.

For 2021, We will set “decision deadlines” to share if and how we will proceed based on information we have at that time. We welcome an open dialogue about our hopes and expectations. In the meantime, we’re here to answer any of your questions, provide clarity, and encourage you and your camper to stay involved with camp.

Click to read the rest of the Fall newsletter

Tell Your Story

With the summer of Covid-19 finally coming to an end and the fall upon us, things at camp are starting to slow down. However, with the unprecedented summer we had, we are missing our campers and staff a bit extra this fall. So, we have been reminiscing on some of our favorite camp stories and we would love to hear yours too!

It’s simple, just think back to anything that makes you smile about your time at White Memorial Camp. It can be a first memory, funniest moment, life lesson, most memorable person, something you want to share with future campers, or even a story that a family member has shared from their time at camp.

Thought of one? Great, now send it to us!

The ways to share your story with us are nearly endless. You can send us a direct message or tag us on social media using @ExperienceWMC. You can email us at info@whitememorialcamp.com or call us at 620-767-5165. Shoot, you can even mail us a letter about your favorite story at 1271 S. 1050 RD, Council Grove, KS 66846.

Your story can be written, shared through video, or told by pictures. None of those work? We would love to set-up a quick interview to hear your story. Whatever the method, we just want to hear about the great moments created through WMC.

We are looking for stories from everyone. Whether you were a camper, volunteer, guest, staff member, parent of a camper or your grandparents went to camp here: we want to hear your story!

Time is irrelevant. Our history as a camp stretches all the way back to 1963, so we would love to hear about the fun moments had at WMC from the very beginning to today.

Fall is here and things at camp have begun to slow down for the time being, but that does not mean the camp spirit dies. As we prepare for next season’s camps, keep the camp spirit alive with us and share your favorite story from WMC!

Checkout our Facebook for more information: https://www.facebook.com/ExperienceWMC/videos/2751679805044880 

Directions to Share Your Story:

  1. Think of a fun story or memory you have from WMC. 
  2. Share it with us by messaging or tagging us on Facebook at @ExperienceWMC, email us your story at info@whitememorialcamp.com, call us at 620-767-5165, or send your favorite story through mail to 1271 S. 1050 rd. Council Grove, KS 66846.
  3. Stories can be shared with us through writing, told through video, or demonstrated through pictures

Local Kids to Camp FAQs for 2020

• Registration Deadline: JUNE 15th! This lets us know who is interested and allows us enough time to prepare.

• Who qualifies for this free camp? Local Kids to Camp is a FREE camp for youth that have completed grades 3-5 (or going into grades 4-6 in August of 2020) in Morris and Wabaunsee Counties, that attend local elementary schools at White City, Council Grove, and Prairie Heights. Home-school students from these areas are also invited.

• Will there be “camp store?” No Camp Store (Snack Shack) but WMC will provide afternoon snacks for everyone. 

• Why allow Local Kids to Camp to operate? This camp consists of a clear separation of groups by grades, which limits group sizes. All youth and families are from a similar geographic area monitored by local health departments and sharing similar COVID-19 case rates and testing.

• What activities will be allowed at camp? Most everything will be available to do at camp, however we will have smaller groups and more cleaning to do which might slow down our pace. That being said, we plan on swimming pool, kayaks, canoes, paddle boats, high ropes course, campfires, and all of our fun stuff. 

What safety measures will be in place for Local Kids to Camp?

During Camp:

•Staff will take temperatures and perform general screenings during check in and check out.

•General group sizes of approximately 20 people.

•Eating meals in shifts to keep indoor gatherings small.

•Scheduled breaks to wash hands, sanitize toys and equipment

•No “low ropes” course activities since spotting and working closely with each other is required. We WILL do high ropes course with extra cleaning measures. 

•Encourage general social distancing. 

Drop off and pick up: 

•Limiting extra guests during drop off (have extra family wait in the car with the AC or linger on benches in front of the office away from the main check in area.)

•Drop off kids and luggage at the dining hall. WMC staff will help campers take luggage down to cabins to help in limiting outside exposure. 

•Scheduled drop off and pick up times for campers, to limit large gatherings. 

What if Local Kids to Camp is cancelled?

If we do not receive enough interest from our registrations to meet the needs of our grant/donor funding, we will cancel camp for 2020. We will then prepare Local Kids to Camp for 2021 and hope to see you there!

Cancellations and Continuations 2020

2020 Vision: Camp’s Plan for This Season

2020 Camp Cancellation Letter

Greetings White Memorial Camp Family,

After much soul-searching, debate, research, prayer, and communication with health and safety
organizations, WMC has concluded that we are unable to operate our 2020 Camp Season with a
quality camp experience our campers have come to know and love, while still keeping everyone safe
during the current COVID-19 Pandemic. We have made the decision that most White Memorial Camp
sessions and partner camps will be cancelled for the 2020 season. Currently, we plan to operate Local
Kids to Camp, because it is limited to our local population. WMC will be contacting campers over the
next two weeks to discuss the options available regarding registration fees and deposits.

White Memorial Camp Cancellations Include:

  • Arrowhead
  • Cottonwood
  • Last Blast
  • Cornerstone Camps
  • Young Adventurers
  • Prairie Run Cross Country
  • Camp Celebrate
  • Family Camp
  • Ag Camp

WMC serves youth of all ages, adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and individuals
with a wide array of health needs. Camper safety has always come first at WMC and now is no
exception. The safety guidelines and recommendations set forth for Resident Camps are well thought
out. When considering the logistics of adapting our camp to this structure, it did not add up to an
enjoyable WMC experience. If we could have figured out a way to run our traditional camps, we
would have. Instead, we have set our sights on the future and developing an incredibly awesome
2021 camp season!

COVID-19 has proven to cause difficult and disheartening times for many. Please know that you are
not alone— we are all in this together. Camp is not just a place. Camp is the people. Camp is the
experience. You can still capture the camp magic this summer. Try reaching out to your WMC
friends, sing some camp tunes, play camp games with your friends or family, and show us your best
s’mores recipe from home!

WMC wants to bring as much connection into your lives as we can. Checkout our social media, call or
email us, and stay connected. We will offer videos, pictures of camp, staff, virtual hang-out sessions,
family staycation packages, camp kits, discounts on 2021 registration, contests, and more.
We thank you for your continued support— for your phone calls, emails, answering our surveys, and
sharing & liking our social media content. We miss you. We are wishing you all the best. As soon as
we can be together again safely, we will. And it will be so much fun!

Justin Whittaker, Director

Camp Goes On- Safely. Slowly. Someday. Soon?

As discussion is growing about COVID-19 and the upcoming summer, we thought it was time we reached out to you, because no matter what information we are hearing and observing, it is YOUR opinions and preferences we NEED to best serve our unique community.

PLEASE take a few minutes to give us some feedback. Here is a link to the WMC Summer Survey:

We want to know how our WMC Family is feeling about this upcoming 2020 season.

WMC is continuing to work with our partners and the Morris County Health Department to plan and understand our road ahead. We want to ensure that when the time comes, and we re-open camp to the public again, that we are ready and can ensure the safety of our campers.

Thank you for your continued support, patience, and input as we do our best to make decisions about our 2020 season!

P.S.- Amongst all of this grim news, and the seriousness of this outbreak – our hearts and prayers go out to anyone aaffected by the illness, social or econimic struggles, and of course the heroes caring for our sick and keeping up with our basic needs.  

Our current contribution is simply to try and spread laughter and joy. So we hope you enjoy this silly video.

#ExperienceWMC 30 Days of Giving Fundraiser

logo 30 days of giving campaign.

The WMC 30 Days of giving fundraiser was extended into 45 days. We are so thankful, grateful, and blessed by EVERYONE that helped to BUILD up Camp! Your support helps us to GROW the WMC scholarship fund and provide quality outdoor adventures for youth, families, and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

We drew five raffle winners— Victoria, Anne, Sarah, Andrew, and Luca. THANK YOU to all of our SPECTACULAR supporters of Camp Life!! #ExperienceWMC #ThankfulGratefulBlessed

$20 Entry Fee. Players receive a WMC themed Dynamic Disc included with registration. A representative from Dynamic Discs will be on site for live disc golf tutorials. 

To honor our newly redesigned 9-Hole Disc Golf Course and to raise funds for our White Memorial Camp scholarship fund, WMC is hosting an Open Tournament and welcomes folks to join in the fun of the 2019 Inaugural Harvest Festival- complete with food, beer, music, and yeah, some adventure. Come join us!

Disc Golf Course Description: 9 Holes, Par 27, 2,435 ft

WMC course site includes water stations, restrooms, and on site activities such as: Axe throwing, Gaga Ball, Zip-Line, Rock Wall Climbing, and much more!!! Stick around after the tournament and join in the fun of the Harvest Festival. Disc golf competitors receive a discount on festival tickets.

Register here for the Disc Golf Tournament


Saturday, September 21 Harvest Festival

Mark your calendar for the WMC Harvest Festival. Fun for the whole family! Follow the WMC Harvest Festival Event on Facebook for updates!



12:45 PM – 1:00 PM Disc Golf  Registration

1:15 PM – 2:30 PM Disc Golf Tournament with Dynamic Discs

2:00 PM General Admission Opens!

2:00 PM – 8:30 PM Beer Garden, Cornhole, Ladder Golf, Yard Jenga, & MORE!

2:30 PM – 8:00 PM Hay Maze, Camp Grounds, Sports, & Games

2:30 PM – 4:00 PM Ag Olympics with FFA

2:30 PM – 4:00 PM Prairie Surfing

2:45 PM – 3:30 PM Disc Golf Workshop with Dynamic Discs

3:00 PM – 6:00 PM Zip line, Rock Wall, & Cargo Climb

3:00 PM – 6:00 PM Game of Throws: Axes, Archery, & Slingshot

4:00 PM – 7:00 PM Hayrack Rides

4:00 PM – 6:00 PM Gaga Tournament

6:00 PM – 7:00 PM Old Fashioned German Dinner

6:30 PM – 8:00 PM Laser Tag, Free-for-all Gaga Ball, & Outdoor Sports

6:30 PM – 8:30 PM Polka Cats!

7:30 PM Announce Raffle & Tournament Winners

8:30 PM Closing 



FREE General Admission: includes Ag Olympics, Axe Throwing, GaGa Ball, Prairie Surfing, Hay Maze, and WMC Outdoor Sports and Amenities.

Disc Golf Tournament: $20 (includes tournament entry and collectable disc.) Get registered for the Disc Golf Tournament HERE!

CLIMB-ON! Activities: Zip-Line: $5 each and Rock, Cargo, Milk Crate Climb: $5 each

Dinner and Music: $10 Old Fashioned German Meal and Live Band 

Beer Garden: $4 per drink

Harvest Festival Flyer (PDF)