North Dakota Farmers Union celebrated its new camp facility Thursday, holding an open house for the public and recognizing businesses that worked on the project and donors for their contributions to the project.

Mark Watne, president of NDFU, said Farmers Union set a goal about nine years ago to grow the number of youth attending its camps, which combine cooperative education and leadership skills development with traditional camp activities.

The new James River Farmers Union Camp, previously reported to cost an estimated $4 million, is located on 19 acres at Jamestown Reservoir. The camp has a lodge with an indoor gymnasium, STEM classroom, game room and co-op store, as well as a dormitory, boathouse, outdoor volleyball court, softball field and other features. Farmers Union also operates a camp near Elgin on Lake Tschida, Heart Butte Reservoir.



People gather Thursday, June 24, 2021, outside the James River Farmers Union Camp north of Jamestown during its grand opening celebration. John M. Steiner / The Sun
People gather Thursday, June 24, 2021, outside the James River Farmers Union Camp north of Jamestown during its grand opening celebration. John M. Steiner / The Sun

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Watne said the site for the new camp was a natural fit.

“I don’t know how we lucked out,” he said.

NDFU worked with the Bureau of Reclamation and Stutsman County to lease the land where the camp is located.

“It’s just like it was built for a camp,” Watne said.

Watne recognized a number of organizations and businesses that contributed to the project and some of the organizations' representatives gave brief remarks congratulating NDFU.



Visitors had guided tours Thursday, June 24, 2021, of the James River Farmers Union Camp during the grand opening of the facility. John M. Steiner / The Sun
Visitors had guided tours Thursday, June 24, 2021, of the James River Farmers Union Camp during the grand opening of the facility. John M. Steiner / The Sun





Part of the grand opening celebration was a ribbon-cutting ceremony conducted by the Jamestown Area Chamber of Commerce, Jamestown Ambassadors and Young Professionals of Jamestown.

“It wasn’t even a full year ago we were here with you breaking ground on this project and I remember that ceremony being filled with hope and excitement,” said Emily Bivens, executive director of the chamber. “Well, today those hopes have come to fruition and this project has become a reality. Today’s ceremony is a tangible reminder of the vision and the commitment that North Dakota Farmers Union has for our community.”

The first camp for the new facility will be in early July. More than 1,200 kids in grades 3-12 attend Farmers Union camp every summer, NDFU says.





Mark Watne, North Dakota Farmers Union president, addresses a crowd Thursday, June 24, 2021, during the James River Farmers Union Camp grand opening celebration. John M. Steiner / The Sun
Mark Watne, North Dakota Farmers Union president, addresses a crowd Thursday, June 24, 2021, during the James River Farmers Union Camp grand opening celebration. John M. Steiner / The Sun