LEROY — For nearly seven decades, area youth in surrounding counties have been making memories and learning lifelong lessons at Rose Lake Youth Camp, an nonprofit, self-supporting organization, on the pristine shores of Rose Lake in LeRoy.

“The camp being in operation for 70 years is a milestone,” said Bob Patterson, a volunteer at the camp. A native of Reed City, Patterson attended the camp as a boy. “Most youth who attend the camp are from Osceola, Lake, Mecosta counties and other local areas.”

Kids have an opportunity to spend five days experiencing the outdoors with activities such as swimming, kayaking, canoeing, campfires, sing-a-longs, archery, crafts, fishing, hiking, team building activities, cookouts, a bouldering wall, gaga pit a and waterside.

Although the camp now offers recreational and learning opportunities for boys and girls, it evolved from a Girl Scouts camp formed for a new Girl Scout Troop which began in LeRoy in 1948. By the 1960s, the board of directors for the camp changed the name to Rose Lake Youth Camp and established it as co-ed due to a disagreement with the National Girl Scouts of America, Patterson said.

According to an article from the Osceola County Herald in May 1948, leaders of the Girl Scout Troop were Neva Curtis, chairman; Mabel Garnett, finance; Hazel Erickson, public relations; Reubena Wells, camping; Margarite Engstrom, programs; Corrine Beckeman, leader; and Eleanor Larson, assistant.

“The scouts met this week at the school house to discuss plans for summer camp opening July 5 at Rose Lake Park. Mrs. B. J. Hafer and Mrs. Hugh Wilkin of Reed City met with them. The PTA is sponsoring the Girl Scout program in LeRoy,” the article said.

A month later, an article in the Herald offered more details, saying the Osceola County Girl Scouts Committee would run the camp from July 5 to July 31, saying several vacancies were available to non-Girl Scout members for girls of Osceola County.

The camp staff consisted of Director Margaret Lothrup, of Evart; waterfront director Colleen Labbe, of Lansing; assistant Joan Sadler, of Marion; program assistant Joan Savidge and Alice Wilcox, of Reed City.

The four weekly camp sessions were from 10 a.m. on Monday to 2 p.m. on Saturday. The camp fee was $7.50 per period for registered Scouts and $11 for out-of-county Scouts and others.

The two waterfront directors were furnished through funds of the Osceola County Red Cross chapter.

“Visitors are welcome on Wednesday nights during the camp. Parents and friends are requested not to visit camp on other days,” the article read. “A trading post amply supplied with handi-craft supplies, postage, post cards and candy will be provided. All money is banked to the Girl Scout’s name.

“Each girl will share the duties of the camp necessary to make life comfortable. At least once a week the scouts have the opportunity to prepare one meal over a campfire.”

Currently, Rose Lake Youth Camp includes a resident camp, for ages 7-13, which is a coed overnight camp with traditional outdoor activities; a day camp for ages 4-13; an explorer day camp, a three day session; and a discovery day camp, a three day session for high-functioning special needs children and adults with good mobility.

Campers sleep in screened platform tents which sleep up to seven people, including a counselor. Meals include fresh salad bars at lunch and dinner, and a breakfast bar with fruit, cereal, homemade granola and yogurt. All meals have hot food choices.

There are scholarships and funds available for those who may not be able to afford camp.