Spring Newsletter 2024

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Lorraine’s Comments From This Fall

I have a love/hate relationship with fall. Finally it is quiet enough to hear the birds, but the birds are leaving for the year, species by species. For the first time since spring leaves have appeared, I can see the birds, but that means the leaves are rapidly collecting on the ground of the paths and road. It is a comfortable temperature to work, which means next thing you know it will be snowing and I will be shoveling.

That all being said, I still enjoy the beauty that comes with the change of seasons. Who could resist a wonderful fall day with leaves falling like brightly colored (very large) snow? The change in season this year brought us Red headed woodpeckers for the first time since I came to work here. These stunningly marked red/white/black have added another layer of joy to this autumn. All in all, yes snow and cold are coming (maybe sooner than later), but how can spring get here with another great summer camp season without first making it through fall and winter? See you all next year!

Catching Up an Alumni

Tim Washburn

I was 6 years old in 1948 when my Dad who was the county 4H agent , rented the Camp Kilborn for 2 weeks of 4H camp. This was an exciting experience for a 6 year old. I remember being impressed by 3 towering totem poles in the parking lot and the huge sour looking photo of Mr. Kilborn looking down on us as we entered the lodge. This is when my dad had the idea that this camp should belong to the people and youth of Van Buren county and surrounding area. It was also the beginning of my 75 years of constant involvement with what would become VBYC

I was officially a camper in 1950 as an 8 year old cub scout. I started counseling at 12, I was tall for my age so I got away with it. My mother, who was the first camp director spent the summer there, as did I except when duties on the farm demanded my attention, which was quite often. My first year on staff was in 59 when I worked for just a couple weeks but started the riflery and canoeing programs that year. My dad was seriously ill so I had to tend to the farm. For 4 years during high school I was also a folk dancer and German band member which all tied back to camp.

After high school graduation in 60, Dad was much better, so I joined the staff full time. I taught riflery through 65 as well as folk dancing. Part way through 66 I took over as camp Director from Phil Clark who had to leave early for a career opportunity. I remained director through 75. I was then appointed to the board of directors after about a year’s break and then appointed to the board as a life member. I took over the treasurer’s job from my dad and did that for 32 years.

I credit camp with giving me confidence to tackle most anything. Camp blessed me with close camp friends for my whole life. I call them my brothers and sisters, namely my camp family We remain very close to this day. We raised our kids together, vacationed together went through marriages, divorces, family deaths, births, and sadly camp family deaths. Camp challenged me to always put others first, never ask someone to do something you were not willing to do yourself, lead by example, and most important in this day and age, trust. I am extremely proud of what has been accomplished of who my former staff members have become as well as thousands of campers have gained personally and emotionally from their experience at VBYC.

Kermit (Tim) Washburn

Yonder Way!

At Yonder Way (formally known as The Upper 20) all of the learning is happening outside. A dedicated staff and amazing spaces to live and play make this a unique expansion of our current programs.



Programs at Yonder Way:

We are excited to begin our inaugural Yonder Way sessions during the 2024 camp season. Yonder Way is the name of our property right down the road from Main Camp, formerly referred to as the Upper 20.

Camp sessions will center around a theme and will all include extended nature-based activities such as nature walks, orienteering, foraging, fire-building, learning constellations, and more. These unique nature focused and relationship centered sessions extend even the most seasoned of campers a chance to experience camp in a totally new way. With a close-knit camp size of up to 15 campers, plus counselors and staff, adventure and excitement awaits at Yonder Way.

Facilities at Yonder Way:

Added to Yonder Way in 2019, the Bathhouse provides toilets, sinks, showers, and private changing spaces.

The YW Bunkhouse is a spacious cabin with bunk beds for 20. It has large, screened windows to pull in the fresh air and natural light. As Yonder Way sessions are open to all campers within an age division, the cabin is co-ed by nature. Open conversations about the expectations for privacy and respect on the first day of camp lay a foundation for a week where all campers feel comfortable and welcome in their accommodation. Private space for changing in the bathhouse will be utilized for all.

Picnic Pavilion
The Picnic Pavilion is another recent addition to Yonder Way. With a cool concrete floor and high ceiling, this is the perfect space to get some shade during a hot day. Campers, counselors, and staff gather here for meals, games, and other sit-down activities throughout the week.

The Field
The Field at Yonder Way is a wide-open space that allows campers to run around and play to their heart’s content. This is the site of many games such as capture the flag, food chain, relay races, soccer, football, and more. It’s also a great place for folk dancing!

Lou Chappell Trail
The Lou Chappell trail is a central part of the Yonder Way experience. Campers love walking the trails, watching critters at Chica’s Roost, and discovering all that nature has to offer.

YW Waterfront
The waterfront at Yonder Way provides access to Great Bear Lake. This is the perfect space for campers to park their boats on trips to and from Main Camp.

2024 Camp Schedule

Our camps are designed for youth in grades 1–12, and encourage both individual growth and community with others. During a recreational camp session, qualified, certified instructors lead organized programs in swimming, canoeing, kayaking, folk dancing, drama, nature exploration, arts and crafts, archery, riflery, sports, and team building. Every Camp session includes campfire skits and songs and all-camp games like water wars and Capture the Flag. Each camp session provides time for campers to plan activities together, take polar bear swims and participate in Evening Rec every night. All of these activities and classes promote opportunities for making friends, sharing, and laughing all the while having a fun-filled camp week.


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Board of Directors

  • Johnn Tapper (President)
  • Marge Durm-Hiatt
  • Sue Knudstrup
  • Brian Moon
  • Debra Berkey
  • Helene Moya
  • Eli and Danielle Field
  • Ben Holt
  • Lucia MacLeod
  • Dave Field
  • Jeremy Field

Life Members

  • Bob Gregory
  • Rick and Katherine Kinas
  • Russ Reynnells
  • Tim and Georgie Washburn
  • Jane Vaught
  • Joy Conrad