With heavy hearts and careful consideration, we inform you that Camp Daniel’s Leadership Team and Board of
Directors have made the difficult decision to extend our suspension of all programs and events until September 1st,
2021, including the summer camp season. Each camper’s safety and well-being is our top priority, and because of that,
we believe this is the prudent response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
At Camp Daniel, we strive to love our campers with disabilities the absolute best we can; we believe suspending
campus activities is the best way to love each one of them in the midst, and hopefully the end, of this pandemic. The
fun and quality of care that is standard at Camp Daniel is still not possible with the current suggested safety guidelines
regarding overnight camps.
Although it is devastating that we will miss another camp season, we stay hopeful for our camp family to reunite
this fall and winter. We have many new fun and creative programs and events in the works, like retreats/vacation
programs, a Christmas party, and our Grand Opening Ceremony. We will continue to do our best to be transparent as
new information is released and decisions are made. Keep updated by following along on our website and Facebook
We love each of you, and we share in your deep disappointment. Still, we hold fast to our trust in God’s plan for
Camp Daniel, and we are thankful for this loving community that supports us through these times of difficult decisions.
We have been working on the many side projects
that build up during the year. There are SO many small,
odd jobs that every day looks different! Our primary focus
remains the dining hall/ kitchen. We’ve worked on
finishing floors, installing kitchen storage and appliances,
continuing interior design, and so much more.
When we’re not in the dining hall, there’s much to do around camp. The campus-wide fiber optic that allows us to have a connected network and internet in all of our buildings is almost finished. This has been a work in progress for years, so we are happy to see it nearly completed. By the end of this month, we should have heat in our diner and movie theater, allowing us to continue working in the diner and watch movies in the winter - woohoo! We have also made a salt spreader for the skid steer, fixed the bulldozer, and converted our old gingerbread house float into a storage shed (pictured above)!
Back in 2019, we committed to what we called “The 2020 Vision”. It was a campaign to finish the campus and begin using the grounds for
what they were constructed for. It seemed like we were stepping into
a year of
celebration and kickoff of the grand vision God had given us so many years ago. With God’s help, we made great strides in raising the finances and building the last of the needed spaces. Little did we know what truly was lying in our path—massive change. The last year was certainly one that ushered in much change for all of us.
For my family, 2020 ended with Karol’s stroke and a total life change for us all. It has been a time when fear, worry, and pain constantly knocked on our door. As human beings, we tend to move towards what we are focused on. The past four months have helped me understand how easy it can be to focus on negative things. After Karol had her stroke and now battles to heal, it can be easy to focus on what she has lost physically. I can be quick to feel overwhelming anxiety, worrying she will never be able to talk or walk. I can find my mind drowning in fear over the lack of control over our lives’ recent events.
Yet, in this hard journey, I am emerging with a new and amazing focus. I have learned that thankfulness is more
powerful than fear. That humbleness and dependence bring me closer to God and others like nothing else. I have
learned that my thoughts can be controlled, and I don’t have to fall into a pit of despair when anxiety takes hold
—learning to accept God’s plan and trust His timing.
In my original plan when I started the internship in
the Fall of 2019 was to live and work on the grounds for a
year, figure myself out, and move out after my year was
up. Once it got close to the Fall of 2020, I faced the difficult
decision to stay at Camp Daniel as full-time staff or not.
After a lot of praying, I decided that I wanted to see the
dining hall completed and be there to host camp on our
new grounds (two things that have been pushed back by
the pandemic). So I’ve decided to stay on as a full-time
Since making this decision, I’ve found new areas to
work in around camp. The camp staff is small and what
ends up happening is that everyone fills multiple roles at
once. Camp needed a full-time landscaper, and I, with little
to no experience with such work, dived into serving in this
position. Karol leads me in learning this role. Ever since
Karol had her stroke, I wondered if I could actually be a
decent landscaper and even come close to the mastery
level that she has with the grounds. I have been mentally
preparing for the spring and learning bits and pieces about
what I can do outside once the snow melts. I feel ready to
step up to the challenge. We all work together as a team
here, so I am thankful that this is a safe place to learn how
to serve in new ways.
I remember back to the beginning of my internship,
and I think about my goal to “figure myself out.” In a way, I
was trying to find my purpose at camp. And I guess I never
quite came up with a single answer about what my
purpose is, but instead, I learned to see the purpose in
everything. Even landscaping!
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At Camp Daniel, we believe each person is here for a reason. We teach that no matter what you have been
through, God has a plan for your life. Although this is one of our core messages, I find myself always needing to remind
myself of this truth.
Currently, I spend my weeks keeping up with building and grounds maintenance, participating in team planning for
the future, managing the family home I live in, and helping with a lot of campus construction. At the start of my initial
internship here at camp, there was nothing but metal studs in our dining hall, and little by little, the dining hall is now
almost finished! I’m proud of all the work we’ve been doing, but in the day-to-day grind of building and taking care of this
campus, I often struggle to trust that God has a plan for my life and struggle with being the person God created me to be.
These feelings have only intensified with the changes to camp life because of Covid. Because of the campus being
closed, I haven’t been able to do what I love and what I am passionate about- building relationships with others. I love
making sure that every person that I cross paths with feels loved and knows that they have someone that they can call a
friend. With a closed campus, I have limited opportunities to build new relationships. This has been tough emotionally. So,
I try to focus on the bigger picture and remember that God has a plan during these changes! I also stay hopeful, and I
look forward to coaching Special Olympics, leading workgroups, hosting events, volunteering at The Hub Student Ministry,
and attending The Able Church again! I have been thinking about what it’ll be like when all the campers are able to come
to the new campus one day. So although it has been a struggle, I know I am here for a reason and that God has a plan
for my life!
Thirteen months ago, the church I was going to started a
series that posed the question, “what would you be doing if you
knew you only had a year left to live.” At that time, I was so proud
of my response to the question because in moving to camp as a
full-time missionary, I had just made the decision that seemed like
the scariest but most valuable thing I could do.
Even though I was stumbling through my first months as a missionary, I strongly believed that our purpose outweighed any circumstance that could come our way. Not a month later began a global reality check on priorities, vision, and purpose. What are the odds that after that sermon, life, as we knew it at Camp Daniel, did end?
The few knowns we had as a ministry became unknowns. In the unknowns, I quickly realized just how many ultimatums I had connected to my idea of my purpose at Camp Daniel. This is exactly where I’m supposed to be as long as l know what the plan is; this is my purpose as long as I’m doing what I’m good at; we’re fulfilling God’s vision as long as we’re actively putting on programs. This year has been a lesson on learning how to detach myself from my “as long as’s” and trust, diving deeper into God’s plan with no strings attached. I am definitely still in this learning process, so I am thankful for the team here and the people Jesus places in my life to walk through the unknowns with me.
I want to thank everyone who’s supported me emotionally and financially at camp over the past year. I’ve called Camp Daniel my home for a little over a year now, and if there’s one thing for sure, it’s that I couldn’t do this without the help of others. Please pray for this team, because in many ways, our programs, like summer camp, are our “break” where we get to see the payoff of all of our work. But know that we are thankful for this time that we get to spend building what camp of the future looks like and growing as we do so.
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Like almost all people during this last year of COVID, I have seen this season with mixed blessings! By nature, I
enjoy connecting face-to-face with campers and volunteers and sorely miss being with them in person. Yet, I am thankful
that Zoom, phone calls, and texting have kept me connected with campers and volunteers, allowing me to walk through
this season with each of them!
During a week of camp, I often interact with most of our campers and volunteers for short periods. While those
brief encounters are meaningful, we often don’t have the time to dive into deeper relationships. During this season, I have
had the privilege of getting to know some of our camper's daily lives and see many of the passions God gave them. One
place I get to dive into these deeper relationships is in our weekly leadership Zoom calls! There is a mutuality of
friendship that comes from being together weekly. In these weekly Zoom
meetings, we have been working on setting leadership and ministry goals. As
people are setting goals, others are contributing and helping think through barriers
to achieving those goals. It’s been amazing to see how resourceful these
individuals have become in moving towards their goals.
Julia is an excellent example of this. She loves the bible and ladies and
longed to lead a woman’s study. As we talked through the skills she needed to lead a study, we found that she needed a
mentor to walk her through the process. Now Julia and I meet weekly, plan the material, and co-teach a ladies’ study on
Saturday afternoons. It’s been a pleasure to do this with her and see her grow. In this season, it is easy to focus on all
we miss, but it is just as easy to focus on all God has given me personally and to those around me. Daily, I work to
choose to see the blessing and look forward to doing hospitality and meeting people face-to-face again!
-Laura Lee Wright
March is here, and we’ve been shut down to in-person
gathering due to the Covid for almost a year. If you had predicted this would happen and told me about it, I
would have said you were watching too much Sci-fi!
And yet, here we are. As we have been saying
throughout this time of isolation, The Able Church is all
about keeping people safe. We want so badly to open
The Able Church, but we will continue to do our
services through our videos every week until we can do
it safely in person.
For this time of temporary separation, the weekly videos provide a way for us to stay visibly connected with our church body. To view an episode of The Able Church, just go to our Facebook page every Friday night,
and you will see the latest segment of The Able Church video posted. If you are not on Facebook, just go to YouTube and search “The Able Church” in your search field, and we should come up as an option to view.
Janice and I have been talking with many of our campers and Able Church congregation by phone. Just to check in and say hello and make sure everyone is doing okay. Much like everyone else, we find ourselves thankful for these simple ways to reach out to the people in our community during this time.
For both Evan and I, the last year, but especially
the last four months, have been full of changes and new
perspectives. Change hit when my mother, Karol
(Co-founder of Camp Daniel), suffered a stroke on
November 14th; soon after, a new perspective started to
form. Stroke is the leading cause of serious long-term
disability in America. I have always been comfortable with
the concept of disability. It’s nothing new. It’s surely nothing
to be scared of but this new reality of my mother suddenly
having a disability hit me differently. Nothing about it seems normal, and it all seems really scary, but through the new
and scary, we have tried our best to embrace and not
endure this new way of living and working.
Because of this change in our family, our daily
routines look different. Every day I come to my parent’s
home on campus and care-give for my mom. I help her do
the things she can’t, lead her in physical and speech
therapy, cook, clean, and do my best to love her and my
dad well. The moments in-between caregiving and my
evenings are spent working on my camp to-do list. I still
manage our marketing, social media, screen printing shop,
grant writing, and have been working and planning new
programs and events for the upcoming year.
I sure have gotten better at managing my time! Through all of these changes, I have gained a new, up-close perspective on disability and caregiving. My life is being forever altered, and I know this experience has made me a better daughter and will make me a better missionary to the disability community.
For Evan, he has gained a new perspective on leadership. After Karol’s stroke, Tony was unable to lead the team in daily construction. Because of this change, he was pushed into a new stage of leadership. With Tony’s absence, Evan now does his best to manage construction daily. Prepping and organizing work for five other men is no small feat. With this new change, he has really felt a new weight of responsibility. He constantly is working on his communication and leadership skills and is always trying to stay focused on the vision. He feels like he has a window into the early years when Tony first began constructing the new grounds, mixed feelings of fear and excitement. The times are different now with a larger crew, and Evan is thankful for the men on his team!
We are trying our best to embrace these unique times while simultaneously looking forward to the future. We, as a family and as an organization, have clung to our Camp Daniel mantra... God made us, God loves us, and God has a plan for our lives... a reminder that we all have needed daily. Lastly, Evan and I want to thank everyone who has supported us spiritually & financially. Your kind words, prayers, and gifts encourage us to keep at it! We look forward to reconnecting with the larger camp community this fall and winter!
-Annissa & Evan Hartwig
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In the past year, God has shown himself in so many ways. He has been with me through the trials as well as the blessings that have come my way. While I have not
been able to cook for big camp groups or volunteer crews, I have continued to plan and cook meals for the staff and
residents here at Camp Daniel. Thanks to the Fox Valley Food Pantry, we have had a variety of healthy foods to use in
our menus, as well as some treats donated to us! All of us at camp have appreciated the support during this difficult time.
I am so thankful for the pantry, especially for the leaders who have been a blessing and encouragement to me every
week! As I look forward to the next year, I am confident that Camp Daniel is where God is leading me to continue serving
him. It is a place where imperfect people are loved where they are, for who they are, and where there is always room to
grow while sharing God’s love. I appreciate all of your support, both financially and spiritually, and I can’t wait to see what
God will do next in my life.
Camp Daniel has a registry Wish List on Amazon. It's an easy
way to give. Go to the campdaniel.org website, and click on
the "Shop Now" button at the bottom of the homepage. This
will direct you to the list, where you can purchase items and
have them shipped directly to Camp Daniel. Items are
regularly being added to the list.
Camp Daniel's Wish List is offered as another way for
you to donate for specific practical items that we are
currently in need of. All donations to Camp Daniel are tax deductible and a receipt will be issued.
3 ways to give:
New - you purchase the item
Used - you already have something you'd like to
Cash donation to purchase the item.
Stamps for Campers' birthday cards $100
A2 White Envelopes for b-day cards` $18
1x4 in address labels, 5000/box $30
HP ink 61 or Canon ink 280/281/250 $46 ea.
1 case copy paper $40
Salt for sidewalks $20 ea.
10 spruce trees $50 ea.
20 maple trees $150 ea.
1 bag grass seed $20
2 Electric Dryers $400 ea.
Car hauler tire straps $80
Classic board game pieces (can be gently used)Stamps for Campers' birthday cards $100
Camp Daniel is a 501(c)-3 non-profit organization.
All gifts are tax deductible. Donations may be made
by check, Paypal, or bank electronic transfer.
Go to campdaniel.org/donate
Mail above form to Camp Daniel
W10541 Army Ln, Athelstane, WI 54104