Passionate Participant of Camp Mihaska Through Generations of Change

Larry helps a camper identify leaf species in his Tree Hugger class.

By: Becky Kreienkamp, Midland Division

Larry Nolan is incredibly passionate about Camp Mihaska, and this summer he let it show at Kids Camp.

He enjoyed teaching classes, leading campers in devotions and activities, and bonding with his fellow camp staff members. Larry is an active member in The Salvation Army Gateway Citadel Corps, but each summer he takes a week of vacation from his duties to enjoy the beautiful Camp Mihaska.

“It’s a retreat from normal life,” says Larry with a gentle laugh.

His greatest joy at this year’s Kids Camp was teaching a Tree Hugger class to young campers, which was particularly special since his grandson was in the class. The Tree Hugger class allowed children to discover different tree species, types of leaves, parts of trees and the diverse uses of trees.

The class involved sitting in a classroom and learning from Larry and his helper Mike Rangel. Other class periods involved inspecting the many trees and leaves around the campsite, allowing kids to see for themselves what they learned about in the classroom.

Besides tree identification, the class incorporated lessons on forest fires and photosynthesis, and the most significant lesson was the importance of not cutting down trees. Even Larry was thrilled about the class content and admitted he gained knowledge from the class too.

“This class is about why you would want to save trees and what we use them for besides shade,” he explains.

Larry was especially excited about his discovery that trees are used to make Twinkies! Trees are used to make an astounding amount of products, and this was a true eye opener for the campers and teachers alike. The children were eager to tell Larry and Mike all the uses of trees they had learned.

“Oxygen! Pencils! Baseball bats! Maple syrup!” they shouted with their hands enthusiastically raised for their teachers.

It brought joy to Larry when he saw his campers learning and asking questions about trees.

Incorporating his interest for the Tree Hugger class, Larry also described his love for the picturesque infrastructure of the camp’s dining hall, which has built-in live tree trunks. The tree trunks were placed on the site, and the dining hall was built around them to create an outdoorsy, forest-like atmosphere in the building.

Larry is impressed by the extraordinary building and excited that it will last for future generations to enjoy as much as he does today.

He has a passion for more than just the camp’s trees, however. He could have sat down for hours and revealed the camp’s hidden treasures and stories. He spoke about the many renovations this camp has undergone.

Larry has seen three previous dining halls, but his favorite by far is the current dining hall with the built-in natural trees. He also spoke of the new cabins, apartments, swimming pool and many other attractions that have been built since Larry has been involved with Camp Mihaska. The most impressive new attraction that Larry has seen is the bottomless pond, which is completely natural.

Apart from Kids camp, Larry has attended many camps in the past as a participant instead of a teacher. A smile lit up his face when describing a Men’s Camp he had attended as memories of paintballing with fellow camp-goers came flooding back to him.

Larry has watched his children and grandchildren enjoy the camp as much as he does.

Camp Mihaska is filled with his memories, and it will continue to bring joy to Larry, his family and future generations to come.

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