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.
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 invite parents/guardians, family and friends to attend their camper’s Closing Celebration. Closing Celebrations are free of cost but registration is required at least one week in advance. For accommodations in or around Ely, please visit ely.org.
The schedule of events for these evenings will be different from past years.
Closing Celebration Schedule for Visitors
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
Please note that the banquet dinner is no longer available to family and friends and the Closing Celebration begins after dinner. Additional information can be found in our Information Guide.
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.
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. Our current practice is to organize campers into trail groups according to the female/male gender binary. We invite campers who identify as transgender or gender non-conforming to group themselves where they feel most comfortable. We are also piloting three All Gender BWCAW Canoe sessions over the summer of 2021 to better serve this population of young people and offer all of our campers a trail experience that is less defined by gender. For more information about how Widjiwagan addresses gender, please review our Information Guide.