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YMCA’s Camp Ihduhapi is where memories last a lifetime

April 28, 2008

By Jen Bakken
Staff Writer

Since 1930, the YMCA’s Camp Ihduhapi (pronounced EE-doo-hop-ee) has been nestled on the north shore of Lake Independence, just outside of Loretto on Hennepin County Road 11.

The YMCA’s mission is to develop the total person, spirit, mind, and body through character development programs that build strong kids, strong families, and strong communities.

Initially opened as a boy’s camp, a girl’s session was introduced in 1974, and a year later, the camp became co-ed.

The 177 beautiful acres of woods, prairies, and wetlands offer an amazing place to explore.

For 78 years, Camp Ihduhapi has been offering youth the chance to experience overnight camping. Designed for children ages 7-16, the sessions range from 3 to 14 days in length.

“The main focus and driving factor of this camp is still our overnight camps,” said Camp Executive Brian Burns. “Over 1,300 kids come to camp each summer, and what differentiates us from a lot of other camps is we are non-profit, and our mission is that every kid has the ability to go to camp. We will not turn someone away because of financial reasons.”

Camp Ihduhapi has far more than just experiences for campers; the conference and retreat center offers facilities for businesses to provide training seminars and work sessions.

The retreat center can house up to 225 guests in its winterized facilities.

The Adventure Learning Center enables groups of all ages and abilities the unique opportunity to challenge themselves through communication, respect, responsibility, cooperation, trust, team building, and problem solving.

Each year, a large number of groups from churches, schools, corporations, and non-profit organizations experience these challenges.

One memorable experience is the high events, which involve climbing poles, towers, a giant ladder, and rope courses.

“Most of our high rope events require you to have a partner,” said Joey Cottew, camp director. “On the giant ladder, they are tethered together while they climb, and have to use teamwork. All of these events help people work as a group or a team.”

Cottew began coming to Camp Idhuhapi at the age of 7, and after years of attending summer overnight camp, he became a camp counselor. For the past three years, he has been the camp director.

“I have so many great memories of this place. I looked forward to coming each year as a kid,” he said. “And now, I look forward to helping other kids have the great camp experiences I did.”

Camp Ihduhapi hosts community family events each year including a spring egg hunt, community open house, fall festival, and breakfast with Santa.

Many at-risk youth are referred from local schools for summer programming to learn character building and lifeskills.

The camp is also in its sixth year of offering a day camp experience for local youth in grades one through six. This is the first year they will be offering bussing for day camp.

“We have about 400 kids who come to day camp, mostly from the local area,” said Burns. “This year, we will be bussing from Delano and Buffalo areas. It’s an exciting opportunity for us to get more kids out here.”

Day camp runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. from June 9 through Aug. 29. Children in grades one through six will enjoy hiking through wooded trails, studying nature, canoeing, archery, swimming, fort building, camp crafts, and group games.

During this week, a day camp for children entering kindergarten in the fall of 2008 is also offered, called Wee Backpackers.

To find out more information regarding Camp Ihduhapi, where memories last a lifetime, visit www.campihduhapi.org or call (612) 822-CAMP.

2008 Boat Auction

A boat auction will take place Saturday, May 17 - 10 a.m. at YMCA Camp Ihduhapi.

Bid on sailboats, power and fishing boats, kayaks, ski boats, canoes – even boat parts and trailers.

The annual boat auction benefits Camp Ihduhapi and Camp Warren, another YMCA camp located near Eveleth.

If you have a gently used boat that you would like to donate for the auction, contact Brian Burns at (763) 230-9306 or e-mail bburns@ymcampls.org. Donations are tax deductable.

Other donations:

The YMCA Camp Ihduhapi Y Partners Campaign is the annual fundraising drive that provides essential financial resources for camp. Funds raised help Ihduhapi:

• offer camperships to low-income youth and families;

• offer scholarships to groups for an Adventure Learning or Conference and Retreat Center experience;

• purchase essential program equipment and supplies;

• provide quality training programs for the camp staff; and

• enrich every camper’s experience and keep YMCA Camp Ihduhapi available to everyone.

Do you know more about this subject, or have a comment? E-mail news@hjpub.com