This page contains general information about Camp. For more detail, we encourage all campers and families to read our Information Guide. Each section below is covered in more detail in the Information Guide.

Session Schedule – Transition, Preparation and Adventure!

The key to a successful wilderness trip is preparation. All Widji sessions begin with two to three days at base camp. During this time, campers meet their counselors and fellow group members and begin planning. Campers are involved in all aspects of the trip preparation: goal setting, establishing a menu, route and honing the many skills they will use in the backcountry. Time spent in preparation at Widji also gives campers a chance to adjust to life in a more remote setting while still offering some of the familiar comforts of home. Session structure intentionally builds a progression of challenge into each camper’s experience.

The real magic of Widji happens in the wilderness - friendships form and memories are made! Once “on trail,” groups spend the rest of their session canoeing or backpacking in wilderness areas. Groups move most days and camp in a different place most nights. Free from the distractions of civilization, groups get to know each other and come together to accomplish their goals. Trip destinations are explained in greater detail in the Summer Camp section of our website. Please reference our Information Guide for additional information regarding the flow of a camp session.

Closing Celebrations

Each Camper’s experience will conclude with a Closing Celebration on the night before they depart. Closing Celebrations offer an opportunity to share in the Widji trail experience and celebrate the accomplishments of returning campers. We will not offer the “banquet meal” for family and friends but anyone is welcome to join us after dinner for the Closing Celebration. The campers will have their banquet meal with their trail group and family and friends will then join them for dessert and songs. 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 so we can plan accordingly.

Dogs and other pets are not allowed at Closing Celebrations. Please leave them at home or board them in Ely.


Closing Celebration Schedule for Visitors

  • 5:30 - 6:00 pm – Family and Friends Arrival at the Sigurd Olson Center
  • 6:15 - 6:45 pm – Camper Family Reunion at the Sigurd Olson Center
  • 6:45 - 7:15 pm - Social Time and Camp Tour
  • 7:15 pm - Closing Campfire

Families picking up their camper on the last day of the session should arrive between 8:30-9 a.m. for a 9 a.m. departure. We will not be serving breakfast to guests.

*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.

Trail Counselors

Leadership is the key to a quality wilderness experience. Widji trail counselors are teachers, role models, and mentors. All Widji counselors have participated in our extensive staff training and hold current lifeguard, CPR and Wilderness First Responder certifications. We select staff members based on their personal and professional experience and interest in wilderness trips and working with teens as well as their judgment and leadership ability.

Trail Groups and Friend Requests

Campers are grouped as much as possible according to age and experience. Groups are kept small, by design (4-8 people). A big part of what makes Widji special is the strong friendships that groups form on trail. We encourage campers to come to camp ready to meet new people and make friends. Most Widji camper attend camp individually. We also understand that sometimes two campers may want to share a trail group. We will try to honor friend requests for up to two friends but we cannot accommodate requests for more than two friends to be grouped together. Sibling pairs will be put in different groups if registered in the same session.

Gender Practices

The YMCA of the North’s Camping Programs welcome all participants into our programming including transgender, gender non-conforming, gender non-binary, and other gender expansive campers. We hope that our camps will provide a safe space for all of our campers to explore their identities and discover their life path. We value identity exploration as an integral part of adolescent development. Camp Widjiwagan offers all-gender and single gender session options at most levels of our programming. For more information about how Widjiwagan addresses gender, please review Gender at Camp.

Campers fishing in Minnesota

If your camper is interested in fishing while on their trip, please read the following! Our trip leaders do not have fishing licenses so campers are required to carry their own fishing license as required by the state where they are traveling. This email outlines the fishing regulations in Minnesota as well as how to purchase a fishing license for your camper. If your camper is traveling to another state as part of their Widjiwagan trip, please look up the fishing regulations for that state below.

Minnesota fishing regulations 

Any person younger than 16 who is a MN resident can fish without a license. Any person younger than 16 who is NOT a resident of MN may fish without a license IF a parent or guardian has a valid MN non-resident fishing license. Otherwise they need their own MN non-resident youth fishing license. All persons 16 or older need to have their own fishing license.  

MN fishing license info 

MN youth fishing license is $5 and information can be found here:   

You can purchase a MN fishing license online. If you do so, please forward the confirmation email as well as the PDF of the actual license to We will make sure the license gets to your camper!

Fishing information for other states