News & Events

Widji's 90th Reunion

posted on Mon, Jan 28 2019 10:30 am by YMCA Camp Widjiwagan

Save the Date! Widji's 90th Reunion 

July 12-14, 2019

In 2019 Camp Widjiwagan will celebrate 90 years! We'll have a lot of ways to celebrate all year long, but mark your calendars for the 90th Reunion at Widji. Registration and details coming soon!

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Calendar of Events

posted on Sun, Jan 27 2019 11:30 am by YMCA Camp Widjiwagan

2019 Upcoming Events

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Widji's Winter Warm Up

posted on Tue, Jan 15 2019 12:15 pm by YMCA Camp Widjiwagan

2019 marks Widji's 90th anniversary and we plan to celebrate all year long! To kick off the celebration join us Monday, February 11 from 6-8pm for Widji's Winter Warm Up, where we tap into Widji's alumni to hear how they've had a positive impact on the environment.

Please register in advance so we can best estimate the food for the evening. If time is time though, we will take registration on site the night of the event (cash or check only). 

Adults: $20
Students: $10


Surly Brewing Co., 520 Malcolm Ave SE, Minneapolis


Gals to the Gulf. A Widji alumni crew of women who paddled the Mississippi River

In October of 2017, the Gals to the Gulf set off on their canoe expedition down the Mississippi River. Over the course of 60 days, the four recent college graduates paddled roughly 1,800 miles through the world's fourth largest watershed while raising money for the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cites' BOLD and GOLD programs. 

The Gals will be telling their stories, sharing photos and videos, and discussing the joys and challenges they experience on their unique adventure. 

The "Gals" consist of Siri Berg-Moberg, Grace Werner, Grace Heneghan, and Mandy Hoffmeister. 

Schedule of Events:

6-7pm: Social Hour and Widji Trivia
7-7:15pm: Welcome and update on Widji
7:15-7:45pm: Gals to the Gulf Presentation
7:45-8pm: Questions and more socializing

Come early if you're hungry and grab a bite to eat downstairs. Then join us in the event space upstairs for light appetizers and socializing. 

This is a great opportunity to be inspired by amazing Widji alumni, connect with friends, and help celebrate Widji's 90th anniversary! #widji90

Register Now

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Outdoor Learning Program - Fall Season Wrap Up

posted on Fri, Nov 16 2018 10:00 am by YMCA Camp Widjiwagan

Despite our cool temperatures this fall, Widji students were able to enjoy some terrific paddling together in the North Canoe.  They had some wonderful adventures exploring the woods, learning about the boreal forest and the history of the voyageurs.

Comments from some of our fall participants…

“Our students gained confidence in themselves.” -teacher

“Our students learned to support each other and gained knowledge of the environment.” - teacher

“Our students learned respect, responsibility and appreciation for the environment” - teacher

“The staff were exceptionally fantastic leaders. They taught so the children wanted to learn. They made learning fun. They made all kids feel comfortable and included. Awesome!” – parent chaperone

“Our instructors never said no and pushed us to do things outside our comfort zones.” - student

“We played a lot of games but we also learned stuff at the same time.” - student

“I had a lot of fun and it was a good break from being on my phone – which I needed but I don’t get.”  -student

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The Widji Lottery

posted on Fri, Nov 16 2018 9:30 am by YMCA Camp Widjiwagan

It’s Lottery season again folks! Every year, we kick off our registration season with a lottery. The Lottery process is designed to give all campers who have registered by our lottery deadline of January 4th at 5pm an equal opportunity to be placed in the trip of their choice. Our lottery is most important for campers hoping to participate in our Bighorns Backpack and Rocky Mountains Backpack trips. We are limited in the number of campers that we can send on these Backpacking trips by the number of permits that we are afforded by the districts where we travel.

On Lottery Day, we randomly assign every camper a ticket number then we go down the list and assign people their first, second or third choice trip based on where the fall on the list. We complete this process for our Advanced Campers first, then general returning campers, followed by new summer campers.  Once we have finished this process, we communicate lottery results via email for campers who have received their first choice and follow up with a phone call for campers who have been placed in their second or third choice.

Additional Lottery Information

Email Amy Hadow, Summer Program Director or call 612-465-0483.

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Risk Management at Widji

posted on Fri, Nov 16 2018 9:00 am by YMCA Camp Widjiwagan

The fall season always brings with it many engaging and informative opportunities to collaborate with others in our industry through conferences and retreats. Widji is always striving to improve our risk management practices and learning from others is just one way we do that! In partnership with YMCA Camp Menogyn and Camp Mantio-wish YMCA, Widji helps host the Midwest Risk Management Symposium (MRMS) every fall. The mission of the MRMS is to provide an opportunity for outdoor educators of the Upper Midwest to collaborate and to contribute to the advancement of risk management practices. This year we will have presenters from the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities, NOLS, Outward Bound, New Vision Wilderness, Wilderness Inquiry and more! For more information visit the MRMS website at You can also “like” MRMS on Facebook!

Another way we strengthen our risk management practices is by reviewing what happens in our own program. Every year we collect reports from incidents that occur in our program. These reports are entered into our master database which we’ve been using since 1999. This longitudinal data, along with the work Widji’s Risk Management Committee does in reviewing each incident, help us identify trends and areas of our program where there is still room for growth. We are always striving to learn from ourselves as well as others. The group of volunteers from the Widji Board and our great community that make up the Risk Management Committee do a lot of work and their dedication to our program has real and meaningful impacts.

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Widji's Growing Community

posted on Fri, Nov 16 2018 8:30 am by YMCA Camp Widjiwagan

Matt Poppleton, Executive Director

On Widji’s homepage we proudly declare that four generations of young lives have been transformed by a Widjiwagan experience, and that is indeed a great accomplishment.  What is also inspiring are the people who are connecting with the Widji Community for the first time today.  Through a number of intentional programs and opportunities we are looking to make a Widji experience more known and accessible to our greater community.

For the past three summers Widji has incorporated the BOLD&GOLD program into our summer progression of trips.  Boys and Girls Outdoor Leadership Development is an outdoor education program designed to develop cultural competency and leadership skills in young men and women through challenging outdoor activities.  These trips provide a new opportunity for campers to experience Widji who may not otherwise know about the program.  Once on the trip, campers develop cultural competency alongside Widji’s mission of respect. Learn more about BOLD&GOLD

Before summer officially wrapped up this past August we hosted “Celebrating Canoes, Past & Present” a weekend event were Widji partnered with the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association, Ely Folk School, and Ely Canoe Museum.  This was a great weekend of likeminded canoe enthusiasts from around the region.  Surprisingly many had never been to Widji before.  People from as far away as Michigan as well folks from Ely spent the weekend at Widji sharing their passion for wood canvas canoes.  We hosted a canvassing demo, held presentations on far north paddling and birch bark canoe building, and ended the event recognizing the canoe work of Joe and Norah Seliga.  Friendships were made and the Widji circle got a little larger.

As we welcome in 2019 Widji will be celebrating 90 years!  Work is already being done to plan our 90th Reunion, which is scheduled for July 12-14, 2019 at Widji.  In addition to the Reunion at Widji, we will be having events throughout the year to celebrate 90 years!  Mark your calendars and registration information will be coming soon.  Our goal in planning is to recognize the wide community that has been transformed by a Widjiwagan experience over the course of 90 years.  Everyone has their own unique story and the Widji Community stretches far and wide.  I look forward to connecting with the diversity of experiences and impacts that Widji has had on people lives.

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Staffing Updates

posted on Fri, Nov 16 2018 8:00 am by YMCA Camp Widjiwagan

Matt Poppleton, Executive Director

Staffing Updates

As the summer of 2018 wrapped up there was a flurry of staffing updates that are both exciting and bittersweet to share with the Widji Community.  As the dust was settling around Widji at the end of summer, Kathleen Floberg and Mike D’Arcangelo headed off on short canoe trip down to Ring Rock Island on Burntside Lake.  When they returned they were engaged!  We are very excited for Kathleen and Mike as they start this next adventure together.

News that came as being a little more bittersweet was learning that Jim Schwartz, Widji’s Canoe Master for 15 years, had taken the position as Property Manager for YMCA Camp Northern Lights; the Y’s newest Family Camp located on Bear Island Lake.  Jim served as Widji’s Canoe Master since 2003 and has had a tremendously positive impact on Widji.  Jim did it all, from repairing and restoring Widji’s extensive fleet of canoes, to being the first to build Widji’s Heritage Canoes off of the Seliga form.  Jim also supported Widji by preparing amazing meals in Kirby, helping with the maintenance and cleaning around camp, and being a renowned portrait and nature photographer.  We are extremely grateful for Jim’s work over the years.  We wish him the best in helping to start a new Family Camp and glad that he’ll still be working with the Y and in the surrounding area.

So to replace the Canoe Master was a rather daunting task, but we are excited to share that Mike D’Arcangelo has accepted the position!  Mike has been working with Jim in Widji’s Canoe Shop for the past two summers and brings his own unique skill set to help move Widji’s Canoe Program forward.  Mike had been working at Voyageur Outward Bound when he first came to Widji and also worked the past two years with the Outdoor Learning Program as an Instructor.

And as opportunities with the Y Camps in the northwoods seem to be in abundance, it’s more bittersweet news to share that Jake Cahill will be heading down the road to Camp du Nord to join their team.  We are sad to Jake leave Widji, but excited for this opportunity for Jake and that he’ll be just down the road.  Jake has had an extensive history with Widji and as of late has been helping Joe Smith with vehicles and maintenance during the summer and has been an Instructor and Weekend Coordinator with the Outdoor Learning Program.  Thank you Jake for all that you have given to Widji and best of luck at Camp du Nord.

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