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From left, Jim Proebstle, author and Barrington (Ill.) Breakfast Rotary Exchange member, discusses the Camp Rabideau Academy and Learning Center with Carl Crawford, Chippewa National Forest acting district ranger; Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe District III Representative Eugene "Ribs" Whitebird; Camp Rabideau Chairman Randy Finn; and Leech Lake Chairman Arthur "Archie" LaRose. Pioneer Photo/Molly Miron
From left, Jim Proebstle, author and Barrington (Ill.) Breakfast Rotary Exchange member, discusses the Camp Rabideau Academy and Learning Center with Carl Crawford, Chippewa National Forest acting district ranger; Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe District III Representative Eugene "Ribs" Whitebird; Camp Rabideau Chairman Randy Finn; and Leech Lake Chairman Arthur "Archie" LaRose. Pioneer Photo/Molly Miron

Illinois Rotarians tour Camp Rabideau's Academy and Learning Center

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news Bemidji, 56619

Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

CAMP RABIDEAU -- Rotary members' motto is "Service Above Self," and that is the intention of a potential partnership between the Bemidji Sunrise Rotary Club and the Barrington Breakfast Rotary Exchange.

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Seven Rotarians from Barrington, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, are spending Wednesday through Saturday this week touring the North Country to consider projects their club might like to support. On Thursday, they visited Camp Rabideau northeast of Bemidji and learned about the Academy and Learning Center that teaches teens life skills, work ethics and educational values.

"We'll take it back to our members," said Mark Gibson. "Our club is always looking for the best way to use money, not just to scatter it here and there."

Barrington club members Gibson and his wife, Suzanne, said they attended a medical conference in Guatemala a couple of years ago, when they encountered Rotarians working with the people to improve living conditions in the Central American country. The Gibsons were impressed with Rotary outreach, joined the Barrington club and have since completed a clean drinking water project in Guatemala.

This week, the Illinois club members, as guests of the Bemidji Sunrise Rotarians, are seeking outreach opportunities in this area.

"They are interested in supporting youth opportunities in the Cass Lake and Bemidji areas," said Ann Long Voelkner, Camp Rabideau coordinator for the Chippewa National Forest. "To learn what's going on here."

The link between the two clubs was forged when Jim Proebstle, author of "Absence of Honor," a novel set in this area and reflecting Ojibwe culture, made a presentation about his book to the Barrington Rotarians. The Proebstles have a summer home near Cass Lake and winter in the Chicago area where they are now Barrington Rotary members.

The Barrington club members said they wanted opportunities for volunteer work in northern Minnesota with American Indians, Proebstle said.

"The people in Bemidji said we would like to do something together," he said. "I took the message back (to Illinois) and we started doing conference calls."

Rob Harper, former Chippewa National Forest supervisor, set up the Barrington club members' tour and meeting with Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Chairman Arthur "Archie" LaRose and Leech Lake District III Representative Eugene "Ribs" Whitebird Thursday at Camp Rabideau.

LaRose praised the academy saying the program is something like the Leech Lake Youth Build project.

"It teaches our kids job skills," he said. "It teaches them how to survive."

He said the emphasis of the academy is also for teens to graduate from high school or earn GEDs.

Whitebird said his daughter graduated from the academy last year and earned enough credits to move back into the mainstream school.

"This program excites me," he said.

Today, the Barrington club members will continue work in the Camp Rabideau restoration, visit Bemidji State University, participate in a pipe ceremony and review the North Country Dental Clinic Rotary project. On Saturday, they will visit Concordia Language Villages, take a Lake Bemidji Pontoon ride and bike on the Paul Bunyan Trail before departing for Illinois.

Y mmiron@bemidjipioneer.com

CAMP RABIDEAU -- Rotary members' motto is "Service Over Self," and that is the intention of a potential partnership between the Bemidji Sunrise Rotary Club and the Barrington Breakfast Rotary Exchange.

Seven Rotarians from Barrington, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, are spending Wednesday through Saturday this week touring the North Country to consider projects their club might like to support. On Thursday, they visited Camp Rabideau northeast of Bemidji and learned about the Academy and Learning Center that teaches teens life skills, work ethics and educational values.

"We'll take it back to our members," said Mark Gibson. "Our club is always looking for the best way to use money, not just to scatter it here and there."

Barrington club members Gibson and his wife, Suzanne, said they attended a medical conference in Guatemala a couple of years ago, when they encountered Rotarians working with the people to improve living conditions in the Central American country. The Gibsons were impressed with Rotary outreach, joined the Barrington club and have since completed a clean drinking water project in Guatemala.

This week, the Illinois club members, as guests of the Bemidji Sunrise Rotarians, are seeking outreach opportunities in this area.

"They are interested in supporting youth opportunities in the Cass Lake and Bemidji areas," said Ann Long Voelkner, Camp Rabideau coordinator for the Chippewa National Forest. "To learn what's going on here."

The link between the two clubs was forged when Jim Proebstle, author of "Absence of Honor," a novel set in this area and reflecting Ojibwe culture, made a presentation about his book to the Barrington Rotarians. The Proebstles have a summer home near Cass Lake and winter in the Chicago area where they are now Barrington Rotary members.

The Barrington club members said they wanted opportunities for volunteer work in northern Minnesota with American Indians, Proebstle said.

"The people in Bemidji said we would like to do something together," he said. "I took the message back (to Illinois) and we started doing conference calls."

Rob Harper, former Chippewa National Forest supervisor, set up the Barrington club members' tour and meeting with Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Chairman Arthur "Archie" LaRose and Leech Lake District III Representative Eugene "Ribs" Whitebird Thursday at Camp Rabideau.

LaRose praised the academy saying the program is something like the Leech Lake Youth Build project.

"It teaches our kids job skills," he said. "It teaches them how to survive."

He said the emphasis of the academy is also for teens to graduate from high school or earn GEDs.

Whitebird said his daughter graduated from the academy last year and earned enough credits to move back into the mainstream school.

"This program excites me," he said.

Today, the Barrington club members will continue work in the Camp Rabideau restoration, visit Bemidji State University, participate in a pipe ceremony and review the North Country Dental Clinic Rotary project. On Saturday, they will visit Concordia Language Villages, take a Lake Bemidji Pontoon ride and bike on the Paul Bunyan Trail before departing for Illinois.

mmiron@bemidjipioneer.com

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