True Friends

Mission Statement

Provide life-changing experiences that enhance independence and self-esteem for children and adults with disabilities.

Impact and Programs

Accomplishments Strategy #1: Provide life-changing programs and services that are affordable to a growing customer base Overall enrollment in core services (camping, respite care, travel and horse therapy) increased 5% (170 participants) with the largest enrollment gains in the True Strides therapeutic riding program and Ventures Travel. The major deterrent to increasing enrollment even more, is the fact that we could not hire enough seasonal staff members to accommodate all the participants on our waiting list. In addition to the nearly $1 million of planned subsidies to reduce the financial burden on families, an additional $305K in financial assistance was provided in all programs. Strategy #2: Expand our services and impact through innovative new programs and services and the development of strong partnerships Hosted the MN Special Olympics residential sports camp for the first time. Signed a three-year internship agreement with Minnesota Life College, which stems from a program started in 2014. One of the interns from that first year was hired as a respite counselor …what a great outcome! Children’s Cancer Camp (now called Victory in Progress – VIP) was saved in 2015 due to a team effort with Children’s Hospital and TF’s quick action and fundraising efforts with CycleHealth. Luther Auto and Spenser Somers Foundation. Conducted a pilot program that utilized our Team Quest ropes and True Strides programs to create a session for veterans suffering from PTSD…this experience will be used for future veterans programming. The list of partner relationships continues to grow…at last count, TF now has more than 40 partners within the disability community. Initiating new programming in robotics, arts, shooting sports, water sports and adventure programming. Volunteers are indeed the life blood of TF. There were 1,738 individuals who gave 33,662 hours in a variety of roles. There was an increase in the number of people who volunteered in the respite care program, resident camp, health care and maintenance areas, as well as support from corporate employees for group projects. Completed a Disability Awareness Survey from a large focus group about program needs, service gaps, service trends and advice/opinions about TF services, which led to a board resolution supporting “person-centered programming” throughout the organization. Jane Goodall Environmental Sciences Academy (JGESA) charter school (using parts of the Camp Courage Woodland campus) launched its inaugural school year in September with 104 students, Completed Projects that Enhanced Programming: A Multi-Sensory Environment (MSE) was completed at Camp Friendship. Installed a 600 ft. zip line, which is the first of 12 elements for the wheelchair accessible high ropes course at Camp Courage Installed a new playground at Camp Eden Wood, which was part of a joint effort between the City of Eden Prairie and TF. Completed a new, accessible fishing dock at Camp Friendship and expanded the accessible fishing dock at Camp Courage. Air Conditioning (AC) upgrades were made at Camp Friendship and Camp Courage…with many campers living in temperature-controlled environments, AC has become more of a necessity than a luxury. Completed a major remodeling of Crafts Building at Camp Courage that benefits both JGESA school and TF. Strategy #3: Grow revenue from operations and fund development that enable us to serve more customers and provide financial flexibility and sustainability. Conference & Retreat (C&R) and Team Quest (TQ) generated gross revenue of over $1.4 million and had a record profit of nearly $775K (20% increase from 2014) which provides a significant source of funds to support TF core services. Fundraising revenue increased in all giving categories. Contributions for operations and capital/restricted projects increased 20% or $339K. Contributions to the TF Foundation endowment grew by nearly $2 million (mostly due to a $1.85 million estate gift). The grand total of $4 million was more than double the amount raised in any previous year (this figure does not include the 2015 TF Foundation annual distribution of $425K and the $300K settlement from Savers). Forever Friends Legacy Society (FFLS) added 19 new members and a total of 34 new members since implementing a Planned Giving program in late 2014; these future estate gifts are estimated to be more than $10 million. After a year-long study of property assets, a process was approved to sell underutilized assets valued at more than $1.7 million. This initiative will provide a new source of funds and help reduce and streamline operating costs associated with utilities, maintenance and insurance. Strategy #4: Develop a strong brand with widespread name recognition Made progress in getting the True Friends name into the forefront of the disability community with exposure in more than 30 publications. Social media and website visits continues to grow by double digit percentage increases. PR campaign funded by the TF Foundation will improve giving presence on our TF website, dig deeper into autism research and increased advertising in metro publications. Strategy #5: Develop a well-trained and enthusiastic staff with a unifying culture that foster a well-run, growing organization with excellent customer service Had 79% retention of full time and regular part time employees in 2015 Improved the employee benefit package, which will help with retention and recruitment. Incorporated a formal staff development/training program into performance goals for all employees, rolled out an incentive-based performance program and started a wellness initiative.
Current Goals Our goal is to continue to serve children and adults with physical and developmental disabilities through our five camps and respite and travel programs. Our goal for 2016 was to serve 5,183.
Community or Constituency Served We serve children (ages five and older) and adults with physical, congenital, sensory, developmental, cognitive disabilities and speech and language disabilities. We also serve individuals with traumatic brain injury.
Geographic Area Served Five state area of MN, WI, SD, ND and IA

Reports & Finances

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Major Program Expenses
Summer Camp:
Winter Camp:
Therapeutic Horseback Riding:
3 Year Average Expenses
Program Services
Unrestricted Net Assets
End of Year:
Beginning of Year:

Organization Last Reviewed on 02/13/2017

This date is representative of when we completed our initial Accountability Wizard® nonprofit review, and provided the organization with their results. This review is good for three years from the date provided
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10509 108th St NW
Annandale, Minnesota 55302
Phone: 952-852-0101

General Information

Alternative Name: Friendship Ventures acquired two camps from Courage Center at the end of 2012. In 2014 we went through a rebranding and name change to True Friends. Prior to our final name change in 2014, we temporarily used the name Camps of Courage and Friendships from the time of the acquisition of the two Courage Camps to 2014 when we rebranded as True Friends. In addition to our organizational name, True Friends, we also file assumed names with the State of MN for True Friends Foundation, Camp Friendship, Camp Friendship Auxiliary, Camp Courage, Camp Courage North, Camp New Hope, Camp Eden Wood and Eden Wood Center.
EIN: 41-1543013
Principal Staff: Ed Stracke
Number of Full-Time Equivalents (FTE): 50
Number of Volunteers: 1,405
Number of Clients: 3,330
Ruling Year: 1988


Board Chair: John Bredemus
Number of Board Members: 15
Board Meetings with Quorum: 7
Average Member Attendance: 11.1

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