The term “banquet” has become synonymous with the completion and celebration of a Widji camper’s trip. However, it was not that long ago that this event primarily involved just the campers. Over time, family and friends have wanted to come to camp to help celebrate the return of their camper. For the past number of years this has involved the banquet meal in Kirby Dining Hall, along with time to connect with the campers and trail group, a tour of camp, and the Closing Campfire. These events have become a special part of the experience and serve as small mini-reunions for those that have a history with Widji.
One challenge with this program has been a growing interest of people wanting to attend the Closing Celebration, but a limited amount of seating for the meal in Kirby Dining Hall. We have also been challenged in trying to communicate that while the “banquet meal” is full, people are still welcome to attend and participate in the rest of the activities of the Closing Celebration. This seating capacity has led to people feeling excluded and unable to fully participate in the experience.
So we’re going to try something new! Starting in 2020 we will not limit registration for the Closing Celebration by the capacity of seats in Kirby. Instead, anyone will be able to attend, but we will not be offering the “banquet meal” for family and friends. The campers will have their banquet meal with their trail group and family and friends will then join them for dessert and songs. Below is the schedule that we will be using this coming summer:
Closing Celebration Schedule for Visitors
Closing Celebration Day:
5:30 - 6:00 p.m. - Welcome at the Sigurd Olson Center
6:15 - 6:45 p.m. - Dessert and Songs at the Kirby Dining Hall
6:45 - 7:30 p.m. - Social Time and Camp Tour
7:30 p.m. - Closing Campfire
We will still be offering a breakfast for families picking up their camper on the last day of the session.
*Closing Celebrations for Voyageur and Mountaineer groups will continue to include the banquet meal for family and friends as those are the only groups in camp at that time.
Our hope is that we can allow more people to attend the Closing Celebrations without the stress and concern of the banquet being full or not. There are plenty of options for meals in the town of Ely as well as picnic options in the surrounding area. We will still ask folks to register for the Closing Celebration and breakfast so we can plan accordingly.
More information will be shared in our summer communication, but as our lottery deadline approaches, we wanted to alert families to the change. We look forward to seeing even more of you at Widji this summer.