LOVE BEYOND AT CAMP MIHASKA’S FAMILY WEEK
Camp Mihaska’s family camp, an annual tradition that brings parents (and grandparents) and their kids together, is full of small, meaningful moments of love.
The slow pace of the camp at midsummer with the cicadas buzzing in the background marks the family week at The Salvation Army’s Camp Mihaska. Family camp makes time for a summer vacation that feels far away, but is only 70 miles southwest of St. Louis.
As summer pushes on, families share time in the pool. Adults play bingo, as kids have time on their own to explore.
Camp Mihaska stands for The Salvation Army’s emphasis on “Love Beyond.”
Love Beyond means creating lifelong memories for campers. Love Beyond means finding city kids a place to camp. Love Beyond means letting kids be themselves.
Ann Gunn is a 10-year veteran of Camp Mihaska, from her early childhood, her kids’ childhood, and now her grandkids’ childhood. Ann brought her 6-year-old grandson, Royal, and 2-year-old granddaughter, Reign, this year.
“This is an opportunity for my children to get away from the city, the hustle and bustle, to come out here, where it’s peaceful, in nature,” Ann said.
With Royal and Reign enjoying water time, Ann said the “faith-based” part of the experience was a difference maker for both she and her kids.
“They can learn about God, Jesus, and they can have fun at the same time,” Ann said. “Even for the adults, it’s good for us to get away, just spend time with our families, and learn about God at the same time.”
She said, “We talk about Camp Mihaska like it was yesterday and laugh the whole time. All of our friends, throughout the years, that we still know and remember to this day. Camp Mihaska is always near and dear to my heart. It always will be.”
Camp Mihaska has many outdoors recreation activities, including a zipline, mini golf, and ropes course. It has played host to campers and retreats for more than 60 years.
Chiquita Norwood is a first-time Camp Mihaska family week attendee, whose kids, Payton and Payge, are water fans, like Ann’s grandkids.
Chiquita, a single mom, was introduced to Camp Mihaska, she said, through the Ferguson Community Empowerment Center and The Salvation Army’s Spark Academy, which offers a rich social experience for local kids.
“I was like, ah, thank you,’” Chiquita said, with an exhale. “They were like, ‘We’ll pick us up for camp.’ I said, ‘Oh, I have things to do.’ But me being myself, on my own, wow, they found something for us to do. My heart feels relief or something. Not just that I felt that I had to do everything. Trying to put myself together, like, ‘Yay, somebody thought of me and the kids.’ Whew. I’m trying not to tear up.”
To donate to The Salvation Army's Love Beyond campaign and to learn more, visit salarmymidland.org.