Summer Family Camp - Camp Northern Lights

Enjoy the wonders of the wilderness in northern Minnesota this summer at YMCA Family Camp. Create family memories that will last a lifetime while you connect, renew and relax. Whether you're looking for fishing, hiking or total relaxation, we have something for you.

In the hustle and bustle of busy lives, it can be a challenge to find quality time to spend as a family. Whether by schedules or screens, we are often distracted from the people we love the most, Camp Northern Lights provides a much needed escape!

Camp Northern Lights takes you away from your normal routine. We offer a north woods escape, where you can surround yourselves in serene wilderness, take a break from life’s many interruptions and relax together as a family. Come for a week or long weekend in the summer and schedule outdoor activities from hiking and boating to cookouts and talent shows. If you're looking for a retreat in the fall, winter or spring, select from our many lodgings and enjoy your own getaway in the northern woods. We offer everything from family-friendly campsites to full-facility cabins.

Families come in all shapes and sizes. The definition of “family” can be different for many people. At Northern Lights, we appreciate the value of diverse populations and welcome all. Camp brings together families of all kinds, strengthening relationships and creating unforgettable memories that you’ll share for a lifetime.

Our 3 night and 6 night family programs offer staff-led age-specific programming for a portion of the day and all-family programs in the afternoons and evenings.

Our family programs offer age-specific programming in the mornings and all family programs in the evenings and afternoons. Whether you're looking for water activities, hiking or total relaxation, we have something for you.

Summer Reservations

View cabin pricing

2023 Session Dates

6-Night sessions run Sunday to Saturday

  • Session 1: June 11 - 17
  • Session 4: June 25 – July 1 (S.T.E.P.S. Session) Learn more
  • Session 5: July 2 - 8
  • Session 6: July 9 - 15
  • Session 9: July 23 - 29
  • Session 10: July 30 – August 5 S.T.E.P.S. LGBTQ+ Session – Learn more
  • Session 11: August 6 – 12
  • Session 12: August 13 - 19
  • Session 13: August 20 - 26

3-Night sessions

  • Session 2: June 18 – 21 (Sunday – Wednesday) 
  • Session 3: June 21 – 24 (Wednesday – Saturday)
  • Session 7: July 16 – 19 (Sunday – Wednesday) S.T.E.P.S. Session – Learn more
  • Session 8: July 19 – 22 (Wednesday – Saturday) S.T.E.P.S. Session – Learn more
  • Session 14: August 27 – 30 (Sunday – Wednesday)
  • Labor Day Weekend: September 1 – 4 (visit our Themed Weekends page for more information)

Prepare for camp

Schedules and activities

Preview the fun your family will have by checking out sample schedules and activities that await at Camp Northern Lights.


Good news campers! We may not have a dining hall (yet), but we have other options! Enjoy lunch or dinner from our food providers. No meal planning, cooking, or clean up required!

View your options

Otherwise, you are responsible for your meals during your visit to Camp Northern Lights. There are restaurant and grocery store options in nearby Babbitt and Ely. Plan on bringing food and beverages for your stay:

  • Full-facility cabins include full kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Bungalows include a refrigerator, microwave, toaster, picnic table, charcoal grill and access to a shared fire ring. Within two weeks of your session start date, if there are meal reservation openings, Bungalow campers can sign up for meals. More info.
  • Tent and RV sites include picnic table, food-storage container, fire ring and access to shared refrigeration. We will be offering limited lunch and dinner meal plans for tent site campers. Click here for more information 
  • Camp Map

Packing List

Everything you need for a successful trip to camp.

Leadership Development Program

Teens entering grades 9-12 will learn about leadership through training and helping camp counselors facilitate programs. Applications are due Friday, November 25th, 2022. Cost is $600 for a two-week session (transportation provided for an additional $40). Applicants will be informed by Friday, December 2nd, 2022. Learn more and apply.

Deposits and Payments

All Lottery and Open Registration reservations require a 10% deposit payment at the time of registration. The remaining balance will be billed in four monthly installments on February 15, March 15, April 15 and May 15.

Cancellation Policy

The 10% deposits are non-refundable. Cancelations must be done in writing and are due by 5/15/22 or full payment is required.

*If you are cancelling due to health or COVID concerns, please reach out to customer service and they will work with Camp Leadership.

*Any change(s) made to a summer reservation are subject to a $25 service charge per change.

For questions or inquiries regarding cancellations or changes, please contact Customer Service.