Camp Finland 2020 Was Great Despite the Challenges

August 15, 2020

Despite the work it took to comply with all of the COVID-19 safety guidelines, Camp Finland did happen! It was in July instead of June, there were definitely fewer kids than usual, and staff wore themselves out somewhat with all the planning, but we did it! All in all, it was really fun!

It felt really good to have kids on the site and in the Center again. COVID forced us to think differently about activities with distancing and safety in mind (think: squirtgun painting, nerf gun tag, that kind of thing), and to have activities outside where the kids could spread out as much as possible. Teen Camp spent nearly all of their time outside. Sadly, we could not incorporate as much community involvement due to COVID concerns. We really missed our kite-flying volunteers and craft mentors! Fortunately, staff were very flexible and creative and worked hard to ensure that it was a quality experience for everyone.

What an outstanding group of staffpeople! Andrew Norcross, Jenna Pollard, Margaret Sager, and Robyn Char pulled off a beautiful week of Teen Camp with amazing activities and mentorship for the teens. Kenny Albrecht, Julia Littlewolf, Oliver Smith, Kyler Knaffla and Amber Lattin (4 of them are alumni of our Youth Program!) were our amazing Kids Camp staff, coming up with so many creative ways for kids to have fun together and remain distanced.

Our kitchen staff was also incredible: Nancy Anselment-Olson, Sandy Gunnink, and Heather Brown worked hard all week (and beforehand) to work out tasty and healthy meals and snacks and individually package everything for COVID-19 compliance and safety.

Big thank yous to all the folks who donated to support Camp: specifically Michele Stocke, Andrea Leabch, Wade Stromgren and Sue Rian, but there are many others who have donated over the course of the year in support of Camp and Youth Programming in general. Thank you all!

More big thank yous to all the folks who helped out with setting up and tearing down the giant tent: Ron Van Bergen, Dustin and Kelsie Williams, Gary Olson, Jeffrey Mitchell Jr, Blake Hawbaker, Jac Knife, Bob Nelson, Jared Conboy, Katee Ristuccia, Kenny Albrecht, Oliver Smith, and Kyler Knaffla. We could not have done it this year without that giant tent!

Teen Camp Slideshow

Kids Camp Slideshow

Everyone stay safe and healthy and we hope to see you at Camp Finland next year!

COVID Decisions for Clair Nelson Center – Phase 3

June 5, 2020

Dear Folks,

It’s been a long weird couple of months since this COVID-19 thing started and we had to make the hard decision to suspend community activities at the Clair Nelson Center. Now things are opening up again, kind of, and we are in the position of having to figure out what is allowed and what is not and also, what is safe and what is not. A complicating factor is that we are usually a “multi-use facility.” Many different activities can happen here at the same time. Normally that is a strength. We have often bragged about how much use this place was getting some days. Tuesdays used to be amazing, with the Craft Ladies in the meeting room, Toddler Playtime in the gym or outside, people coming and going all day, and meetings and basketball in the evenings. We really miss all of that. We’re confident that those times will be back, but right now, that kind of overlapping use is a danger to members of our community. 

We fall under multiple categories in the State of MN’s phased plan for reopening. As of June 10th, we are in Phase 3 of stay safe MNStay Safe MN. All large public gatherings are not allowed. Farmers Markets are considered essential services, so the Finland Farmers Market opened on June 11th with protocols in place for hygiene and distancing. Youth Programming will resume in July with almost entirely outdoor activities and a few distanced art and craft activities. Staff are working on the hygiene and distancing protocols now, as well as the timeframe and logistics. More information on youth programming will be announced soon. 

We have decided not to allow other activities indoors at the Center at this time. Under the current guidelines, distanced gatherings of fewer than 10 people are allowed, however, we do not have the staff to enforce the number limits or to keep everything cleaned and sanitized in between groups. Similarly, distanced gym activities would be allowed under the guidelines, but again, we don’t have the staff to enforce the numbers or to clean and sanitize between groups. 

We are happy to train people on the use of Zoom for online meetings. It’s free and easy to use. We can help you set up your own account, or use the Friends of Finland account (with some training and/or help from staff). 

As before, public internet is still available. The entryway library and outdoor bathroom are still open. 

Our outdoor facilities are available for groups of 25 or less practicing distancing, and folks following the MDH’s guidelines for Drive-in gatherings or the DNR’s Outdoor Recreation Guidelines. The RV Dump is open for the season. Use of all of our facilities is at your own risk! We clean and sanitize as much as possible, but we have a limited staff dealing with a large outdoor area and a lot of surfaces. 

We will revisit this decision whenever Phase 4 is announced or new public health guidelines concerning COVID-19 are put forth by the MDH. 

Thanks for your patience! We love our community! Let’s stay safe!

Contest For Youth Program Kids!

May 28, 2020

From the Youth Night Staff @ the Finland Community Center

UUUUGH!! Is this still happening?

Alright kids, here’s what’s up. We’ve been cooped up and isolated for a few months now and we know it’s getting old, but it ain’t gonna last forever. Here at the World Headquarters for Northwoods Youth Funness (AKA The Clair Nelson Finland Community Center) we are actively working on getting  you back together in all new ways that will include keeping you safe from this coronavirus thing. You’ll be hearing more about that very soon, but for now we figured we’d just send you some cool stuff that’ll get you out of the house and having fun right away. Enter to win

So, as well as sending you fun things to play with, we’re also announcing the beginning of our

1st-ever Youth Program  Graphic Art Contest for all YP kids ages 9-16.

The prizes will include:

  • 1st place: A set of 60 ARTEZA Everblend Alcohol Art Markers!
  • 2nd place: A set of 40 ARTIFY Alcohol Art Markers with Dual Tips!
  • 3rd-5th place: An ARTEZA 5.5X8.5” Spiral Bound Sketch Book!

If you draw or sketch, you know these alcohol-based markers are the best, so start creating something special and send it in to our panel of famous artist judges by the end of the day, Thursday May 28th (UPDATE – DEADLINE EXTENDED TO JUNE 4TH)! Only one entry per person, so make it your finest work. Any type of graphic art will be accepted (calligraphy, photography, painting, block prints, computer graphics, and regular old drawing). You can submit your art by:

  • Dropping it off at the Community Center anytime before the deadline (look for the “Art Contest Dropbox” just inside the entryway)
  • Mailing it to PO Box 582 Finland, MN 55603
  • Or emailing it to us using the form below

AND If you’re not an artist and wanna get in on the fun, we’re also holding a Free Drawing with some really great prizes including:

  • 1st place: A cherry red VIRO Rides VR 230 Attitude Stunt Scooter!
  • 2nd-4th place: A brand new fishing pole with reel and fishing line!

To win, all you have to do is enter before the end of the day on Thursday May 28th (UPDATE – DEADLINE EXTENDED TO JUNE 4TH), so do it now!!!.

To enter:

  • Call us at (218) 353-0300 and leave a message
  • Mail us at PO Box 582 Finland, MN 55603
  • Or emailing it to us using the form below

Make sure to include your  name and address when calling!

Winners will be announced on our Facebook page. If you don’t do Facebook, we’ll be mailing you your prize and a letter of praise and admiration, so keep an eye on the mailbox!

Lots of love,

 Amber, Nancy, Betsey, Andrew, Sheryl, Kinzee, Honor & Abram

Finland Community Youth Program

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Community During COVID-19

April 14, 2020

Honor and Alma covid 19

Honor and her family are hatching baby chicks and planning their garden right now.

Dear Community folks, we miss you! It’s good that we are all sheltering in place and doing our part to keep our most vulnerable community members safe and healthy, but it feels pretty strange to run a Community Center that community members can’t visit right now. It’s even harder when we know that some of our friends and neighbors are really struggling.

There are some positives. We are getting a lot of maintenance, cleaning, and reorganizing work done at the Clair Nelson Center right now while it’s closed. We are checking in regularly (via teleconference) with program staff to adapt and plan for the future and to make sure staff are supported during this time. Staff have really stepped up to keep themselves and others safe while still enthusiastically collaborating online on projects that can be done now while we wait for the time when we can all see each other in person again. We are continuing work on our organization’s evolution and structure to better serve community needs in the future.

Nancy with her dog on their favorite beach.

And…there are so many things on hold. So many unknowns that make decision-making difficult, if not impossible. Friends of Finland was already in the midst of a lot of growth and change before COVID-19. Core Staff had already been practicing being graceful and comfortable with uncertainty because of changes within our organization. The COVID-19 situation forces all of us to get comfortable with uncertainty. Graceful…? Anyway, we’re getting through it. And we hope you are too. Please reach out if you or anyone you know is in need. We will do our best to help or direct you to someone who can. We continue to monitor phone messages and email during this time and will do our best to respond.

Things we are thinking about and working on right now

  • Ways to help folks who wish to donate their forthcoming stimulus payment to those in need.
  • Ways to make sure community members have their basic needs met while sheltering in place.
  • Kaare and his family out cooking maple sap.

  • How we are lucky to live in a place where neighbors help each other and we still have resiliency built in to our community.
  • How necessary broadband internet is turning out to be. And how to support and assist those who don’t have it.
  • Supporting the Finland Food Chain in the work of building a more resilient local food system for situations just like this.
  • How awesome it is to have locally-owned grocery stores like the Finland Co-op and Zup’s still operating in our communities (many rural areas don’t).
  • How to support and assist many of the small businesses that are hurting right now.
  • How lucky we are to live in the woods – many people don’t have access to nature right now at all.
  • Planning the upcoming Finland Farmers Market to comply with social distancing requirements.
  • Spring! It’s slow, but it’s coming!

Hang in there, folks! We’re going to get through this. Community is still powerful despite the distance. We can still hold each other up!

Clair Nelson Community Center Information Requests

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Clair Nelson Center Temporarily Closed to the Public

March 24, 2020

Dear Community Folks,

We are unfortunately in a situation where we are required to temporarily close the Clair Nelson Center to the public in the interest of public health to help slow the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus).  The Center will be closed to the public beginning March 25, 2020 with all programs suspended indefinitely. We will continue to maintain office hours as much as possible, but staff will only be accessible via phone (218-353-0300) and email during this time.

  • Office hours will be Tuesdays 10am-4pm, Wednesdays 10am-3pm, Thursdays 10am-3pm, and Fridays 10am-4pm.
  • The outdoor bathroom and the entryway/library area will remain open. We ask that people use these areas one at a time to comply with social distancing recommendations, touch as few surfaces as possible, and leave each area as tidy as you found it.
  • Internet will continue to be available. The wi-fi password is posted in the front entryway. Internet is accessible in the front entryway and from the front row of the parking area closest to the building.
  • Staff can help with printing of documents for those in need if you email your document to us – we will figure out a safe way to get it to you.
  • The Recycling Trailer is going away for the time being – Lake County and the DAC currently do not have enough staff to deal with emptying it. We hope it will come back when the crisis is over. In the meantime, please do not bring recyclables to the Center, we do not have the resources or staff to deal with it.

We hope we can still be a resource while protecting the health of staff and the health of the community at the same time. Please give us a call (218-353-0300) if you are in need and we will try our best to help.  Please take care and stay healthy!

– Clair Nelson Center/Friends of Finland Staff

Contact us below:

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