COVID-19 Updates

Check below for the latest updates regarding changes to our summer programs due to COVID-19.

Camp Fire S.O.S. launches in Des Moines and Ames

Camp Fire S.O.S is a supplemental educational program designed to help students who are currently out of school complete their virtual schoolwork, stay engaged, form new friendships, and have fun.


We Welcome You to Hantesa!

And we’re mighty glad you’re here! Book a visit and enjoy a day at Camp Hantesa with family and friends.


Register for our Run for the Hills Virtual 5K

Register for our Virtual 5K, plan your own route, and run (or walk) before June 30th to help us get ready for #TheBestSummerEver in 2021! Youth and adults welcome to participate.


We’ve launched Curbside Camp!

Bring the fun of camp home with you! Each week, Camp Fire will be providing all of the supplies and instructions for some of our favorite camp crafts, games, activities and more! Tune into our social media daily to see some of your favorite counselors explain each activity.


A letter from our Executive Director

May 13, 2020

Dear Camp Fire Campers, Parents and Friends,

For the last six weeks, we have all faced a great deal of uncertainty and unease as our country has been battling the COVID-19 crisis, saddened by the loss of life for many, and coping with the challenges of isolation, social distancing, homeschooling and for many, loss of jobs.

At the same time, those of us here at Camp Fire Heart of Iowa have been researching, brainstorming, and discussing how we might be able to carry on our day and resident camping programs in a whole different way.

Camp is inherently a social experience, it’s a community and culture designed for children and adults who learn together, play together, live together and laugh together. Camp is a unique opportunity to connect with others through hugs, high fives, pats on the backs and team-building activities. The very essence and heart of some of our camp programs is incompatible with the strict form and expectations of social distancing, which for now is the only weapon in fighting the spread of COVID-19.

The safety of our campers and staff is, and always will be, of the utmost importance. The ability to provide quality programming is also a factor we as a staff have considered. It is with this in mind and a heavy heart that the leadership staff of Camp Fire Heart of Iowa have decided to cancel all camp programs at Hantesa, modify our programs at Canwita (Ames), and provide virtual camp opportunities for Des Moines day camp programs.

We recognize that you as camp parents – and especially your campers – will be very disappointed. For some, 2020 would be their first year as a camper, for some their last, and we know the excitement and anticipation of the activities they were looking forward to experiencing. Over the years, Camp Fire Heart of Iowa has provided opportunities for and enabled tens of thousands of youth to grow through experiential learning, become independent and truly discover who they are.

Along with disappointment of no or a different camp experience comes numerous questions. We have prepared a Q & A page that hopefully will answer these questions. Please check out the Q & A and let us know what you would like to do or if you have any other questions:

Your child’s program director will also be reaching out to you about the details of their particular program. Check out our website or our Facebook page for more information. While nothing can replace the joy and excitement of our summer camp opportunities, we have plans to stay connected to you and your camper while we plan for THE BEST SUMMER EVER in 2021! We thank you for your support and look forward to the time we all can be together again.


Kelly Peterson-Cruse
Executive Director
Camp Fire Heart of Iowa


  • How will you handle fees that have already been paid?
  • Why are some programs cancelled and not others?
  • What do you mean by “virtual offerings“?
How will you handle fees that have already been paid?

We are offering families who have already paid any amount toward their child’s camp fees three options for what to do with these funds. Please let us know by June 15, 2020 your choice for each camper you have registered.

  1. Convert all or portion of the amount already paid to a 100% Deductible Donation for Camp Fire Heart of Iowa. As you realize, a large portion of summer camp payments support the year-round staff and care of our sites to make sure they are well maintained and ready for the BEST SUMMER EVER 2021!
  2. Apply the balance to future camp programs or our virtual offerings this summer. We will hold the amount in your account as a credit to apply to future camp program offerings including our virtual camps this summer.
  3. Full refund. We understand many families are facing financial uncertainties. Please notify us if you would like a refund and we will mail you a check for the amount paid. or 515-274-1501
Why are some programs cancelled and not others?

As we evaluated our sites and the ability to provide safe programming and social distancing, we determined that this would only be possible for programs at Canwita (Ames). Social distancing restrictions in vehicles, facility limitations, cancellation or closure of many of our field trip destinations were also factors in our decision.

What do you mean by “virtual offerings“?

We are developing both “Curbside Camp” and “It’s Lit(eracy)” programs that will provide thematic week-long programs which you can purchase. Your child will receive a box of activities and supplies that will go along with virtual program connections with our staff. As well, we are providing free camp connection videos to engage your camper in some of our favorite activities, songs, games and challenges provided by current and former camp staff and volunteers. We also hope to keep you updated on the work we are doing on our sites in preparation for the BEST SUMMER EVER 2021!

Still have questions? Get in touch!

We’re happy to answer any other questions or concerns you may have.