Camp Mishawaka

Grand Rapids, Minnesota    

Lantern Review of Camp Mishawaka

As one of the Midwest’s most historic camps, Camp Mishawaka is far from a time-capsule of a bygone era. Instead, it has succeeded in striking a balance by embracing its storied past and evolving to speak to the new generation of current camp families. Mishawaka has carved an interesting path in camp structure by creating a separate boys and girls camp on a shared campus. The result is a special blend of the benefits of choosing a boys or girls camp, but with the shared benefits of a partial coed experience. It is an intentional outgrowth in the belief that boys and girls should have their own experiences since many challenges and opportunities are unique to being a boy or a girl, yet an acknowledgement in the fun of shared experiences between boys and girls. Cabin areas and waterfronts are distinct for the boys and girls programs and the preponderance of the activities are offered separately. Sunday programs and activities like sailing and drama, however, are joint coed programs.

With cabins and program facilities situated throughout the camp, the view of Lake Pokegama is slowly revealed as you emerge from the forest, framed by the stark white trunks of birch trees. Sailing and horseback riding lead the core activities while a wide-range of special activities help balance the daily routine. Hiking, canoeing, sailing and fishing trips to nearby parks create adventure in the program. Campers choose daily activities among a few “protein” activities (as director Steve Purdum puts it), those which are purposefully designed to help develop character through skill development, and “dessert” activities, whose ultimate goal is about having fun.

An outstanding staff return rate of nearly 80% and an even more remarkable average length of tenure of 7 years among staff helps provide a meaningful and creative program here. These kinds of staff numbers demonstrate and reinforce a commitment to safety by maintaining maturity and hands-on counseling experience. Without questions, health and safety are a priority at Mishawaka and fostering long-term staff commitment is key for them.

By embracing traditions unique to separate boys and girls experiences while sharing a few events among the greater camp community, the Mishawaka culture of a shared, but separate boys and girls camp reinforces the notion that children are unique in their needs and grow within shared core values.

Fast Facts

  • Girls Only
  • Boys Only
  • 80 Campers per Session
  • 2-week, 4-week, 6-week, 8-week
  • Founded in 1910
  • $$

Director's Message

We believe in the value of a supportive Camp community, characterized by humor, joy, opportunities for growth, healthy boundaries and respect for one another. Camp Mishawaka is ideally sized so that each camper is known and valued by all staff and administration. Our program focus is to provide breadth and depth, exposing new activities to those who have not tried them before, and providing growth and skill development for all levels. Camp Mishawaka prides itself on its mix of "protein" cumulative skill-based activities, and "fun" activities-whose purpose is the sole enjoyment of that activity.

Program Highlights

  • 30 Activities
  • Team Sports
  • Arts & Crafts
  • Individual Activities
  • Drama
  • Tripping
  • Waterfront
  • Forest
  • Rural

Top 5 Activities

  • Sailing
  • Horseback Riding
  • Tripping
  • Archery
  • Crafts

Travel Information

Air, chartered coach, car


Camp Mishawaka

(800) 308-5011

(218) 326-5011

Steve Purdum