Camp Kooch-i-ching

International Falls, Minnesota    

Lantern Review of Camp Kooch-i-ching

Imagine standing on a rocky shore, staring across a crystal clear lake to an island oasis, whose trails wind through rocky outcroppings and red and white pines leading to rustic cabins, campfire rings and activity areas. If you’re lucky enough to be here at sunset, the rhythmic drum beats and chants of Indian dances may well echo from the hidden corners of Deer Island, this home of Camp Kooch-i-ching.

It’s hard not to be struck by the beauty of this wilderness setting which sits at the doorstep of some of the world’s greatest canoe country. It’s no wonder that Kooch-i-ching enjoys the reputation as one of the country’s finest wilderness tripping camps, grown from a deep philosophical belief in the benefits of tackling the challenges and revealing the opportunities unique to backcountry camping. It is about building camaraderie, courage and a reverence for things bigger than the individual. The gem of the Kooch tripping program is the canoe program, though hiking programs are available. A deliberate progression towards nearly month-long trips begin at an early age and slowly builds to the longest trips, paddling as far north as Hudson Bay in remote stretches of Canada.

This is not to say that the in-camp program doesn’t reveal its own opportunities. Kooch’s base camp program offers many of the fun activities one would expect to find in a traditional camp, plus a few surprises. It is not the goal here for campers to simply “try” new activities; instead the program is intended to build expertise. Among the dozen or so activities, two stand out in their uniqueness: Indian Dancing and Woodsmanship.

The Woodsmanship activities are clearly used as a tool to develop trail skills and competence to smooth the path as a tripper. It speaks to a sort of instinctual desire for boys to chop wood, carve and create. The tradition of the Indian Dance in full regalia is truly unique, a testament to the tradition of imparting the values shared among native people. References to the “Great Spirit” create a culture that encourages campers to think bigger than themselves. It is an outward manifestation of core value that is not contrived, but instead a source of pride and mystery for the boys here. Nowhere are these values more apparent than in the camp’s “Law of the Woods,” a basic code that all campers and staff learn to embody during their summers at Kooch-i-ching.

Kooch-i-ching’s sister camp, Ogichi Daa Kwe, is nearby, embracing many of the same values. Check out Ogichi.

Fast Facts

  • Boys Only
  • 120 Campers per Session
  • 3-week, 4-week, 7-week, 8-week
  • Founded in 1925
  • $$

Director's Message

Kooch-i-ching focuses on community, wilderness trips and learning. We celebrate the individual through inclusion and recognizing their is no "bench" to sit on while at camp. Everyone is a participant and we find the best in each individual. Our wilderness trips are some of the finest in the country. While in camp, our classes are set up so that campers learn real skills as opposed to just trying something once.

Program Highlights

  • 20 Activities
  • Team Sports
  • Arts & Crafts
  • Mountains
  • Individual Activities
  • Tripping
  • Waterfront
  • Forest
  • Rural
  • Remote

Top 5 Activities

  • Wilderness Trips
  • Canoeing
  • Sailing
  • Woodcraft
  • Indian Dance

Travel Information

Bus, shuttle, plane, personal vehicle. Shuttle picks campers up at Minneapolis/St. Paul airport. Campers can fly directly into International Falls Airport.


Camp Kooch-i-ching

(513) 403-8134

(218) 286-3141

JR Verkamp