Camp North Homes
The mission of Camp North Homes is to provide powerful new experiences for youth and adults in an outdoor setting. At Camp, we let the wilderness
be the medium as we support each other to have new experiences, step outside of old comfort zones and build both personal and practical
hard skills. The pillars of Camp North Homes are our adventure experiences, environmental education lessons and teambuilding challenges.
We welcome people from all backgrounds and abilities to deepen their understanding of themselves, their group members and the natural world
through a combination of education, adversity and support.
Here are just a few examples of the different activities available at Camp!
Adventure Activities & Outdoor Skills
Creative and Science Based Lessons
- Nature based art projects
- Creative writing
- Tree, plant and animal identification
- Music, dance or skit creation
Team and Self-Confidence Building
- Trust building challenges
- Team building games
- Service- learning projects
Through Camp North Homes experiences, youth and adults can have fun, create memories, step out of their comfort zones and gain confidence!
Camp operates year round, offering a never ending seasonal rotation of outdoor experiences. Whether it is splashing in the water on a sunny
day, creating memories while facing a team challenge under the fall colors or strapping on snowshoes to explore the Camp perimeter
trail, there are activities that can be tailored to meet your group’s needs and goals.
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Warm Weather Programming
Canoeing and Swimming
Camp North homes has 1,000 feet of lakeshore on the beautiful Hill Lake. Hill Lake is around 800 acres in size and offers a beautiful flatwater
paddling experience for new canoers. With a fleet of canoes at camp, you can launch right from the sand beach to hone the paddling and
communication skills needed to successfully maneuver a canoe.
Swimming is available when certified lifeguards are present. With a sandy point to swim on, youth are invited to enjoy the summer months safely!
According to the MN Department of Natural Resources, there are over a dozen types of fish available for anglers to catch. Hill Lake has been
stocked for walleye on and off since the mid 1900’s. Fishing is available in both winter and summer.
Whether it is a group challenge for all to work together to cross an imaginary “chocolate river,” engineer a small machine from simple items
or get through a maze using only nonverbal communication- there are endless opportunities for teambuilding at camp. By facing these crafted
challenges, you can practice dealing with adversity in a safe setting. By processing what happened, what was learned and what skills could
better serve them next time, they’ll be prepared for future challenges- whether they are at camp or in their everyday lives.
Camp North Homes features a full National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP®) approved archery range. Whether it is being used for
a beginner’s archery course, weekly practice by local youth or a friendly competition, the archery range offers youth the opportunity
to skill build in a fun, safe setting. With trained Camp employees on hand, youth can enjoy the many benefits of archery that are
accessible to students of a wide range of ages and abilities. Archery is often praised for its ability to help youth hone focus
skills, build a connection to the natural world and develop an ethic that comes with the responsibility of firing a bow.
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Camp is beautiful in the winter! From the base of the “North Homes Chalet,” seen below, people can enjoy a variety of winter activities. A
normal week at camp will find youth setting out on snowshoes (many for the first time in their lives), doing a cross country trip around
the lake perimeter or auguring a hole in the ice to catch a variety of fish. Walleye have been stocked over the years in Hill Lake and
the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) continues to study the lake as it is considered a great example from the “northern forest and
Great for beginners and the experienced alike, Camp’s full selection of snowshoes are ready for the next adventure. A quickly growing yet age-
old sport, it is a very novice friendly way to enjoy winter. One recent student event commented that “snowshoeing was the first time I’ve
ever had fun in snow!”
Cross country and back country skis are available to tour the perimeter of the beautiful camp property, venture out on Hill Lake or travel
a short distance to some of the many beautiful locally groomed trails. According to VisitGrandRapids.com, the Grand Rapids area offers
more than 212K of skiing on 19 groomed trails, just waiting for the next adventure.
Other winter time activities available include ice fishing, snow shelter building, campfire cooking and a winter Olympics weekend event! The possibilities are endless.
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This fall, a group of forty girls from Centennial High School came up from the cities for a day of teambuilding and canoeing. It rained all day and was a blast “facing adversity” and learning to work together. Camp Director Lindsey Lee could be seen out in the rain talking to the girls about safe space and stepping from the green or “your comfort zone” and into the “yellow zone” to face challenges. Out in the canoes, certified lifeguard and seasoned canoe expert Sue Kavanagh could be heard instructing both novices and experienced girls alike on how to paddle the canoe into the wind.
If rain isn’t your thing, no worries- Camp operates on beautiful sunny days as well! Once the snow flies, our winter chalet is open as a base for snowshoe, ski and ice fishing adventures. With the ability to groom trails on site and a close proximity to all that the Grand Rapids area has to offer, we keep busy all winter!
Programming Cost Information
The rates listed below are for day programming options. Included in the cost is coordinating an ideal visit, curriculum and activity facilitation, materials and equipment and the “behind the scenes” costs of using the property. It does not include meals, but adding a cost and providing meals is a possibility for the future.
A camp waiver will need to be signed and on file for each student and adult that attends Camp North Homes.
Day Programming (0-3 hours)
Full day programming (3.5-8 hours)
As we work to meet the needs of local schools and if we determine there is a more resource heavy activity that would benefit students, there may be an additional fee for materials. One example of an activity like this would be building bird houses.
Camp North Homes will provide quality programming as we continue to build our equipment and property. We are competitively priced to local and regional environmental learning centers, and are looking forward to working with your group to provide these experiences close to home.
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Summer Camp Program (CTSS)
Camp North Homes wrapped up its first summer of the brand new Children’s Therapeutic Supports and Services (CTSS) camp program in 2017. All summer long, youth grades k-12 were taking on new challenges and experiencing adventures while creating life long memories; which is exactly what any kid deserves from a summer “at Camp!” All youth who attend the program have received a diagnostic assessment and are receiving mental and behavioral health support services. Instead of traditional “camp counselors” leading activities, youth are working directly with Mental Health Practitioners in a skills based program.
The daily schedule finds youth sharing breakfast and lunch together in the newly renovated Lodge, then splitting off into their smaller groups to go to their outdoor “home spot” for a welcoming game or sharing activity. The idea is to get youth building camaraderie and forming friendships with their group members while learning important life skills such as communication and being a good friend. Days include team building challenges or a reflect-share activity.
Groups then travel through stations together. Stations have included a wide range of activities such as wilderness skills like fire and shelter building, fire safety followed by “s’mores and stories,” garden lessons while picking fresh raspberries, nature scavenger hunts, a variety of nature based crafts and so much more!
The end of the summer wrapped up with a slip and slide kickball tournament that had everyone splashing around laughing. A camp wide Amazing Race took place as youth demonstrated their skills with an archery tournament, canoe races, raspberry picking and so much more. Calls from families after the last day reported their kids “tried so many new things” and were “at home upset because they’re so sad Camp is over!” We look forward to many more fun, memorable and exciting summers at Camp North Homes! Registration for camp begins in early spring- contact Camp if interested in learning about how the CTSS program could be a good fit for your child.
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North Homes Youth and Families at Camp
North Homes Children and Family Services serves youth and families through a wide reaching continuum of care.
Youth served in North Homes’ Itaskin Center, Cottage and group home programs also regularly program at Camp year round. Coming from typically
high trauma backgrounds and with histories that can include abuse and neglect, the opportunity to come out to Camp can be huge for them.
Learning how to work together to start a campfire for s’mores, processing frustration and joy during a first time ever skiing, catching
their first fish and learning how to operate a power drill on a wood project are all experiences that offer many lessons. Kids who have
lived their whole lives in northern Minnesota and never been in a canoe have the chance to learn how to safely paddle on Hill Lake, and
so much more.
The comments from youth on their good days are the heart and soul of this Camp. From hearing a young woman with a history of abuse
say “I liked using the drill- it made me feel powerful!” To the boys group after a teambuilding exercise expressing that they are
“learning we can work together instead of argue.” Another young woman commented after skiing “that was the first time I can ever
remember having fun outside in the winter!” Even though- she didn’t want to go and took lots of convincing, that is a memory that
can last a lifetime. Kids who are in programs getting support they need, have a chance to come out to Camp and play, learn and
grow “like a normal kid” even though their past life experiences have been anything but normal. While Camp is open to all ages,
abilities and backgrounds to program as separate groups, Camp North Homes was originally purchased to serve youth and families
who are working with North Homes. An expansion in services to school and community groups has greatly benefitted all- as the growth
of Camp continues, so will the opportunities and resources for all who experience it.
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Lindsey has a background as a wilderness canoe guide and several personal trips totaling over 3,500 miles. Closer to heart however,
are the experiences she has had working with youth as an environmental educator, teacher and coach in Minnesota, Wisconsin, South
Carolina, Nevada, Utah and California. Two years working 24/7 settings in wilderness therapy at Thistledew and New Vision Wilderness
created a passion and varied toolbox to craft teachable moments out of pouring rain.
Lindsey says “a good day is when people are out having fun, making memories and being kids at Camp. The best days are when they are
having brand new life experiences, stepping out of their comfort zones in a healthy way, forming positive bonds with peers and
staff and learning that they are powerful.”
It is seeing these occurrences happen naturally in an outdoor setting that drives Lindsey’s passion to create the best possible outdoor
experiences for whoever she works with. Whether it is watching a group come together on a team challenge, a young woman experiencing
the thrill of woodworking for the first time or a team processing frustration at learning how to paddle a canoe, youth and adults
alike will have the opportunity to create positive growth and memories at Camp North Homes.
In her spare time Lindsey can be found canoeing, rock climbing, cooking and challenging anybody she can to a handstand contest!
Sue has rich experiences of the wilderness stemming from her many years as a Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness guide and program
director. Sue has spent many years working with youth in a variety of backgrounds such as a special education teacher, an outdoor
education professional and much more. She has a knack for matching energy and reading her group to ensure a valuable experience.
Hardworking and hilarious, try to keep up with Sue as she facilitates your group’s next experience at Camp! Look to the sky on
a weekend and you might see Sue enjoying her new found love of flying.
Wellness Coordinator and Facilitator
Eric combines a background in wellness, coaching and strength training with a patient and fun personality that engages groups easily
in activities. His ability to create a safe and supportive space makes him an ideal facilitator for your group’s next adventure!