Family effort creates Irish Rose cabin at Camp Friendship

The family of the late Fred and Irene Jude gathered on Sunday to dedicate a cabin to the memory of their parents at Camp Friendship.

Since 1964, Friendship Ventures has offered year-round programs at Camp Friendship for children and adults with mental and physical disabilities. And one of those summer visitors was the Jude’s son, Dennis.  In addition, Irene was a long-time volunteer and a Camp Friendship Auxiliary member.

“This cabin has given our family the means to keep alive the spirit of our parents, their feelings about Camp Friendship and giving back to the community,” said daughter Colleen Moe, who spearheaded the project.

The 1,200 square-foot cabin was completed in December as a result of a fund-raising drive by the Jude family and the efforts of Camp Friendship volunteers.

On hand for the dedication were the Jude’s children, Dennis Jude, Moe, Sharon Hagen, Linda Cantin, Fred Jude, and Larry Jude.  Colleen said the project started about a year and a half ago when she met with the Camp Friendship director and heard about the need to replace century-old cabins. “That’s when the seed for this project was planted,” she said.

Requests went out to family and friends for donations and materials that could help to make the dream of building the cabin a reality. Over $60,000 in cash and materials, in addition to professional donated labor, was provided.

And then there was the task of coming up with an appropriate name for the new building. Sharon said she, her daughter, and Colleen had just finished participating in the Race for the Cure, a cancer fund-raiser, and were sitting in a restaurant using crayons provided by a waitress to brainstorm ideas for the name.     “Bird and animal names just didn’t fit,” Sharon said. “But then we thought, what did Mom love more than anything? Roses. And Dad loved St. Patrick’s Day, so the cabin became “The Irish Rose.”

It was then up to Fred to create the sand-blasted sign that was installed on Sunday, christening Camp Friendship’s newest cabin as The Irish Rose.

Georgann Rumsey, Friendship Ventures president, welcomed visitors to the dedication ceremony by thanking the Jude family for their efforts and remembering the joy Irene brought to the camp through thoughtful gestures like dressing up for holidays. “She just came with that flair,” Rumsey said. “And she brought fun to this place when she came as a volunteer.”

Diane Graphenteen, annual fund director, introduced the chief construction volunteers, Cliff Schlangen, Joe Kiffmeyer and Andy Kiffmeyer, and thanked them and the members of their crew for the many hours they contributed to the project.

Rev. Gary Partridge, one of the pastors at the Annandale Evangelical Free Church, appropriately offered two verses from the Book of Jude as he offered a blessing for the new facility.

And Ed Stracke, Friendship Foundation president, announced that Camp Friendship was not done thanking the Judes. “One of this year’s special recognition awards will go to the Jude family,” he said. “It’s really an honor to be able to do that.”

Colleen, with an assist from Sharon, ended the program with The Irish Rose Blessing– “May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face. The rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.”

The Irish Rose cabin is a completely handicapped-accessible, year-round facility which contains four bedrooms that can sleep from six to 10. That brings the housing total at Camp Friendship to 20 cabins, 13 of which are year-round.

As a privately funded nonprofit agency operating since 1964, Friendship Ventures has annually hosted more than 3,000 children, teenagers and adults who participate in educational recreational and social programs that are provided at Camp Friendship on Clearwater Lake and at Eden Wood Center, located in Eden Prairie.

But Colleen said Camp Friendship is more than the facilities it offers.  “The people here have been wonderful to work with,” she said. “Their hearts are really into what they do. They are so kind and caring and it shows.”