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Have fun and develop respect for yourself and for the environment with hands-on learning from the YMCA

YMCA of the North outdoor learning programs can accommodate most group sizes, offer flexible program lengths, and can tailor their curriculum to meet your goals.

    Outdoor Learning is great for ...

    • Schools groups
    • Homeschool programs
    • Adult and senior groups
    Map of Minnesota's four biomes

    Four Biomes for Learning

    YMCA Outdoor Learning programs are designed to help learn more about Minnesota's four biomes and what makes each unique and essential. 


    • Coniferous Forests – Coniferous forests contain evergreen trees that bear cones. 
    • Deciduous Forests – Deciduous forests have trees that lose their leaves at the end of each growing season.
    • Tallgrass Aspen Parkland – Tallgrass aspen parklands are a mosaic of prairie and wetlands accented by groves of trees.
    • Prairie Grassland – Prairies are extensive areas of flat or rolling grasslands.


    Image and biome descriptions are taken from the MN Department of Natural Resources. Learn more at:

    Learning Opportunities

    Upcoming Events

    Custom Programming

    The following locations also offer custom programming.

    Camp Icaghowan

    Coniferous Forest Biome

    Explore our 40-acre island on Lake Wapogasset while enjoying a wide range of outdoor activities – just one hour east of the Twin Cities.

    Camp Ihduhapi

    Deciduous Forest Biome

    Situated on 165 acres of vibrant maple forest along the shores of Lake Independence, its close proximity to the Twin Cities makes Ihduhapi the perfect place to gather.

    Camp St. Croix

    Deciduous Forest Biome

    Explore our 400 acres of woods, prairies, and trails along the scenic St. Croix River – just 20 minutes from the Twin Cities.

    Camp Widjiwagan

    Coniferous Forest Biome

    Since 1929, Camp Widjiwagan has been providing transformative wilderness experiences from the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW).

    Gathering Pines

    YMCA Gathering Pines is situated on 225 acres of woods, prairies, and pastureland with five lakes just south of the Twin Cities.


    Frequently Asked Questions

    Public, Private, and Homeschool Options add remove

    YMCA of the North outdoor learning programs place a strong focus on individualized instruction:

    • Student-to-staff ratios of 16-to-1 (or lower)
    • Single and multi-day options are available (one to five days)
    • Options to support the Minnesota Graduation Standards and the Wisconsin Academic Standards

    YMCA of the North outdoor learning programs help people foster:

    • Awareness and appreciation of the natural environment
    • Understanding of ecological concepts
    • Knowledge of the cultural and natural history of the region
    • Problem-solving and decision-making skills

    Please bring the following items:

    • Bug spray
    • Sunscreen (if applicable)
    • Water bottle
    • Weather-appropriate clothing
    • Mask
    • Hand sanitizer
    • Backpack or bag to carry it all

    Please bring your own food and snacks unless other arrangements have been made. If you are attending as part of a group retreat or rental, refer to your organizing group leader to see if meals are part of your group reservation.

    YMCA of the North can provide bus transportation; however, self-drive – including pick-up and drop-off – is highly encouraged.

    Your student will need to bring electronic devices and any educational materials needed for distance learning. WiFi-capable spaces will be provided by camp for your student to check in to distance learning.

    Due to the custom nature of outdoor learning programs, Before and After Care is not available.

    Two young ladies at a climbing course

    Making Adventure Accessible

    The YMCA offers need-based financial assistance to help people access the programs that are important to them.

    Here to Help

    Have a question or need assistance?

    Our customer service team is always happy to help.