News & Events

Widji Celebrates 90 years!

posted on Mon, Apr 22 2019 10:44 am by YMCA Camp Widjiwagan

By Mark Holloway and Sara Mairs, 90th Reunion Co-chairs

Planning for the 90th Reunion got off to a great start last fall with the formation of the 90th Reunion Planning Committee. The planning process engaged the committee in a detail focused, thoughtful and open minded planning process. A process informed by reunions of the past and expanded upon by our ever-growing, diverse and well represented community of people who hold Widji as a special place. We are striving for fun, connective and inclusive reunion where Widji alumni, family and friends can enjoy camp and the spirit of Widjiwagan. Whether that's by rekindling old memories, making new ones, or both, there is a place for all at the 90th Reunion. 

Our planning committee work has kept us busy in 2019. The registration is up-and-running and the program of events for the weekend is taking shape. We are currently in the process of dialing in the final program details. Here's some of what you can expect:

  • A Barn dance to start off the festivities on Friday evening
  • Yummy food and spirited fun at meal times
  • A wide variety of activities spread throughout each day for all ages (this includes supervised activities for children)
  • Time to connect with old friends and honor Widji's past
  • Time to make new connections and look towards Widji's future
  • Time to simply enjoy being at camp - walk around, go on a hike or paddle, breathe in the fresh Northwoods air and relax at Widji
  • Camp tours
  • Campfires, saunas and singing
  • The Morris Canoe Dedication - Joe Seliga's family canoes from his youth are being restored! There will be a special dedication ceremony at the 90th Reunion. The canoes will be water ready and available for paddling. More information

So...Widji alumni, family, and friends, please make plans to join the reunion this summer for a fun filled weekend to celebrate Camp Widjiwagan's 90the Anniversary. Laughter will echo across the North Arm of Burntside Lake and the loons will respond to our calls. The 90th Reunion will be a weekend not to miss. Come experience, once again or for the first time, the connective and powerful Widji spirit. 

If you have not already done so, get the dates on your calendar and register

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Summer Closing Celebrations & Banquets

posted on Mon, Apr 22 2019 10:29 am by YMCA Camp Widjiwagan

By Matt Poppleton, Executive Director

As campers conclude their wilderness trips, family and friends are welcome to join us at Widji for our Closing Celebration. This is a great opportunity to greet your camper, meet their trail mates and Trail Counselor and hear first-hand of their adventures. 

Closing Celebrations are always the day before the session ends. For example, if the session dates are July 12-23, the Celebration is July 22. 

The banquet dinners will also be a part of our Closing Celebration this summer, but space is limited and registration is required. Banquet registration can be completed online.

If our banquets fill up, everyone is still welcome to join the Closing Celebration that starts at 6:15pm.

Closing Celebration Schedule
5:00-5:30 p.m. - Arrive, check-in at the Sigurd Olson Center
5:30 p.m. - Banquet in Kirby Dining Hall
6:15 p.m. - Social time (meet your camper at Kirby Dining Hall if you did not attend dinner)
7:00 p.m. - Camp Tour (starts from the Tripping Center Circle)
7:30 p.m. - Closing Campfire (at the Amphitheater or Kirby Ding Hall depending on weather)

We have recognized in recent years the challenge with not having enough space in the Kirby Dining Hall for the number of family and friends hoping to attend the banquet meal. We have made adjustments to our schedule that allow for attendees to participate in the Closing Celebration even when the banquet meal is full. 

The Widji staff and board have been evaluating new alternatives to our Closing Celebration program that would be more welcoming for all families and not dependent on available seats in Kirby for the banquet meal. No major changes will occur for the summer of 2019, but keep an eye out for a new approach in 2020!

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Well Wishes to our 2019 Voyageurs and Mountaineers!

posted on Mon, Apr 22 2019 10:08 am by YMCA Camp Widjiwagan

By Amy Hadow, Summer Program Director

We would like to announce the names of our 2019 Voyageur and Mountaineer Leaders and campers. Our campers and staff have been planning their trips since January and excitement is building as camp approaches. Groups have already selected their routes and are picking out designs for their hats and sashes. We can't wait to wish them happy trails!

Voyageur Groups

Shawn Cope (Leader)

  • Andrew Bussen
  • Calvin Davies
  • Theo Deitz-Green
  • Charles Collinge
  • Conner Massey
  • Emmett Bikales

Caroline Herman (Leader)

  • Jane Andersen
  • Nardos Scott
  • Valerie Bares
  • Anna Smalley
  • Tatai Guillery

Claire O'Brien (Leader)

  • Luciana Benzan
  • El Boatman
  • Mackenzie Farrell
  • Amelia Evavold
  • Maggie Jones

Brent Saxton (Leader)

  • Zachery Kareken
  • Max DeJong
  • Peter Rock
  • Henry Benson
  • Ben Peters

Maggie Cahill (Leader)

  • Lina Dreshcler
  • Izzy Schwarz
  • Maggie Lafave
  • Emma Watson

Sela Patterson (Leader)

  • Lila Stokiner
  • Carrie MacDonald
  • Madeline Parr
  • Lily Cooper
  • Hazel Deharpporte

Mountaineer Groups

Allie Horick (Leader)

  • Lindsay Boettiger
  • Lizzy Kolb
  • Betsy Romans
  • Eleanor Fuchs

Nick Gardner (Leader)

  • Ian Black
  • Eli Kilpatrick
  • Charlie Moonen
  • Ryan Moore
  • Flynn Opatz

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Traveling to Public Lands

posted on Mon, Apr 22 2019 9:50 am by YMCA Camp Widjiwagan

By Kathleen Floberg, Wilderness Program Director

Every summer Widji groups travel to various wilderness areas, National Parks, National Forests, Wildlife Refuges, Provincial Parks, and other types of public lands in the USA and Canada. We are lucky in that each area has one thing in common: they all support efforts to get kids in the woods. In return, we do our part to respect all the areas in which we travel and our groups strive to be the model of how an LNT camper behaves.

Widji is required to obtain various special use permits in many of the places we travel. This permitting process can be cumbersome and restrictive in terms of the amount of people we can send to each area. For those of you who have ended up on a waitlist for a Bighorns or Rocky Mountain backpacking trip, you have experience these restrictions first hand. Even though these disappointments are frustrating, we try to keep in mind that these regulations exist in order to protect areas from overuse and exploitation. 

You may have seen headlines in the news this winter about the new Boundary Waters permitting system. This new system met with some significant challenges in the initial roll-out and many of the new requirements negatively impacted the camps and businesses in the Ely area. Fortunately, the Forest Service met with a number of businesses in the area, including Widji, after the initial roll out failed. We were able to have productive conversations about how to improve the system for a second attempt. While there are still some kinks in the system, Widji was able to secure the permits we need to have another successful season in the Boundary Waters!

The strong relationships we have built over the years with all these public lands and permitting areas allow Widji groups to maintain these coveted permits. our hope is that these areas continue to be managed in ways that support efforts to get kids into the woods. 

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Spring 2019 Garage Sale

posted on Mon, Mar 18 2019 9:27 am by YMCA Camp Widjiwagan

Held as a joint fundraiser for YMCA Camp du Nord and YMCA Camp Widjiwagan. The sale is held at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds during the month of May.

Minnesota State Fairgrounds
Merchandise Mart Building
1640 Dan Patch Avenue
Falcon Heights, MN 55108
Sale cell phone (May 4-11) 651-245-2332

Be part of the team of families and friends! Help make this Widji-du Nord sale successful!

Search your attic and basement for treasures to donate.
All proceeds fund the Camper Scholarship Endowment.
Teens earn valuable service hours; families can work together!

Volunteers needed

Saturday-Saturday May 4-11

  • Pick up items at homes around the cities
  • Set-up the sale (pricing, unpacking, arranging merchandise)
  • Help sell items while the sale is running
  • Clean-up after the sale
  • Serve on Planning Committee

Sign up to volunteer

Donate Goods

Saturday May 4, Noon -7:30 pm
Sunday-Tuesday May 5-7, 9 am- 7:30 pm

Search your attic and basement for treasures to donate such as books, patio furniture, sporting goods and more. View our donation guidelines and for larger donations, request a pick-up.

Shop for treasures

Thursday-Saturday, May 9th – 11th

  • Thursday -Friday 9:00 am - 7:30 pm
  • Saturday BAG AND CART SALE, 8:00 am – 4:00 pm

View the week-at-a-glance schedule

Camp Office: 651-645-6605

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Widji's 90th Reunion

posted on Wed, Mar 6 2019 9:06 am by YMCA Camp Widjiwagan

Register now! Widji's 90th Reunion 

July 12-14, 2019

Come make new memories and share old ones too – Help be a part of the 90th!

Join us - Widji alumni, family, and friends - for a fun filled weekend to celebrate Camp Widjiwagan’s 90th Anniversary. Enjoy an early morning swim, paddle a Seliga canoe, find a quiet place by the lake to read a book, sing your favorite song in Kirby, and take a late-night sauna – all with old and new friends. The long held traditions of protecting the environment, respect for self and others, and the Widji Way continue even as camp evolves.  There will be activities for all ages - including supervised children’s programs.

Laughter will echo across the North Arm of Burntside Lake and the loons will respond to our calls. The 90thAnniversary will be a weekend not to miss. Come experience, once again or for the first time, the enduring Widji spirit.

Housing at Widji over the weekend will include cabins as well as the option to tent on the Daisy Field. Please let us know your Housing Preference in the comment box below. Please include information regarding:

  • Rustic Cabin vs Cabin with plumbing (East & West Wind)
  • Tenting
  • Families you’d like to share a cabin with
  • Any other accommodations or requests for your stay

Our 90th Reunion Hospitality Committee will be reviewing this information and doing our best to make everyone’s stay comfortable.

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Widjiwagan Spring Banquet

posted on Wed, Mar 6 2019 8:53 am by YMCA Camp Widjiwagan

The Widjiwagan Board, staff, alumni and friends invite YOU to the 2019 Spring Banquet! Held this year at the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation in Saint Paul.

Help us celebrate Widji’s 90th Anniversary at this annual event.

An evening to socialize with friends, new and old, and enjoy good music and food.

A great buffet dinner of local and organic food will be provided by Eat for Equity with something for everyone, including gluten free.

This year we will:

  • Celebrate 90 years of Camp Widjiwagan and recognize Widji’s past Directors 
  • Connect with friends old and new 
  • Recognize Widji’s outstanding volunteers and partners
  • Share camp updates

Friday, April 12 5:30pm

  • 5:30 - 6:30 PM – Socialize (Beer and wine will be available through $5 drink tickets – cash only) 
  • 6:30 - 7:15 PM – Buffet Dinner 
  • 7:15 - 8:30 PM – Program

$40 per person - $25 young alums

Please RSVP by Friday, April 5

Amherst H. Wilder Foundation
451 Lexington Parkway North
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55104

See you at the Banquet! #widji90

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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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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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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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