About family camp
Spending time together in nature is one of the best ways for families to grow together. That’s why the YMCA has added a second family camp in northern Minnesota through the purchase of Timber Wolf Lodge and Northern Lights Lodge & Resort.
Camp Northern Lights is unique among YMCA camps in that it provides programming centered on connecting families. Our mission is to strengthen families by providing opportunities for individual and family growth, supporting spiritual development, and enhancing environmental awareness in a wilderness setting.
YMCA Camp Northern Lights seeks to promote an atmosphere where all persons feel welcome, included, and respected. At Northern Lights, we pride ourselves on appreciating the value of diverse populations and welcome all! Our programs are designed to enhance the relationships of any and all those that you consider a part of your family.
About the property
If your family is ready to explore northern Minnesota, then we invite you to plan your next Minnesota vacation up north with us on Bear Island Lake near Babbitt. Our property includes incredible lakeshore, great hiking and skiing trails, and lots of recreational opportunities.
While Bear Island Lake is best known for its Walleye and crappies it also contains Northern Pike, Large- and Small-Mouth Bass and, of course, plenty of pan fish. There are no fishing or motor restrictions on this clear water lake and it is a structure fisherman's dream with more than 20 islands and over 20 miles of shoreline and bay fishing opportunities.
Fishing boats and pontoon boats are available to rent for an added fee. You can sign up for boat rentals when you arrive at camp.
While at Camp Northern Lights, you can enjoy free use of:
- Pedal Boats
- Stand-up paddleboards
- Water trampoline
- Swim raft
Camp Northern Lights operates two saunas. Our electric sauna is located in Sisu Village and our wood burning sauna is located in Buena Vista Village. Due to current state guidelines we cannot operate our saunas at this time. We hope to have different guidance this summer, and will hopefully offer family saunas.
Games and sports
While at Camp Northern Lights, you can enjoy playing:
- Ping pong
- Ladder golf
- Outdoor Connect 4
The Ely area averages 80 inches of snow per year, making it possible to pursue each and every one of your outdoor winter passions. Bring your skis, snowshoes, sleds or snowmobiles for winter enjoyment. Skis and snowshoes can also be rented at camp. Snowmobiles can be stored by your cabin, but need to be used only on the lake or nearby trails that are designated as snowmobile-friendly.
Fire wood is provided for you at Camp Northern Lights and is included in your reservation. Please do not bring fire wood to camp. Conservative camp fires are permitted.
No dogs are allowed at Summer Family Camp—house-trained dogs are welcome September to May in cabins Cygnus, Polaris, Callisto, Lyra, Karhu, Kivi and Virta. The fee to bring a dog is $25 per night per dog.
If you plan to bring your dog along to camp, please follow these rules. If cleaning needs are excessive you might be charged additional cleaning fees.
- Let us know in advance you plan to bring your dog(s)
- Know that some cabins/sites are designated as dog-free
- Ensure your dog has a current rabies vaccination
- Make sure your dog wears a collar and ID tags
- Leash your dog
- Pick up after your dog, secure waste in a bag and put in the trash
- Know you are responsible for any damage your dog causes
- Leave your dog unattended unless kenneled
- Allow dogs on beds or furniture
- Let your dog dig in sand or soil