Camp North Homes
Opening in 2016, Camp North Homes is primarily an extension of existing programs within our North Homes continuum of care – including opportunities for youth in our residential facilities, our foster care and adoptive families, youth in our school-based Children’s Therapeutic Services and Supports (CTSS) and other clients.
Camp North Homes’ mission is to provide powerful new experiences for youth and adults in an outdoor setting. From water-based activities like fishing and swimming, to survival skills and archery, as well as a newly constructed High Ropes Course – we let the wilderness be the guide as we support each other to build skills, have fun, be challenged, and grow friendships.
Camp North Homes is truly set up to be a place for all to experience healthy challenge and success in a supportive environment.
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.
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!
All Year Program Options
High Ropes Challenge Course!
Just built in winter of 2018, the Camp North Homes Ropes Course is a challenging outdoor personal development and team building activity. With low elements 5 feet off the ground, and optional high course elements 25—30 feet off the ground, the Ropes Course supports participants to "challenge by choice" by moving out of their individual comfort zone and go further than they ever thought possible. A Ropes Course experience invites participants to:
- Learn to accept and understand emotions
- Build self-confidence
- Develop problem solving, decision making, and risk assessment skills – all of which empower us to reach personal goals
- Recognize challenge as an opportunity to learn and grow
- Respect one another through encouraging and positive talk while learning to work together effectively as a community
- Recognize that the skills and concepts learned on the ropes course translate to our everyday lives
Designed and built by ABEE Inc., our Camp North Homes Ropes Course conforms to all National Association of Challenge Course Technology (ACCT) Standards, ensuring the highest quality course available. All facilitators on the Ropes Course are Challenge Course Certified through ABEE Inc.
Other activities available year-round:
- Survival Skills
- Shelter building
- Fire building
- Team-building and trust-building challenges
- Service learning projects
- Tree, plant, and animal identification
- Woodworking and other nature-based art projects
- And much more!
Warm Weather Program Options
Camp North homes has 1,000 feet of lakeshore on beautiful Hill Lake. Hill Lake is around 800 acres in size and offers a beautiful, flatwater paddling experience. With a small fleet of canoes, some paddle boards, and plenty of other toys and activities for the beach – the sandy point promises fun on the water for all ages.
We also feature a full National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP®) approved archery range. Archery is known to increase mental focus, improve coordination, increase confidence, provide relaxation, and teach teamwork and sportsmanship. 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 build skills in a fun, safe setting. With trained Camp employees on hand, youth can enjoy the many benefits of archery that are accessible to youth of a wide range of ages and abilities.
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 team-building 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.
Winter Program Options
Camp continues to be just as beautiful to visit in the winter! From the base of the “North Homes Chalet,” you can set out in snowshoes, explore the lake perimeter on skis, or augur a hole to do some ice fishing.
Other winter time activities available include ice fishing, snow shelter building, campfire cooking and a winter Olympics weekend event! The possibilities are endless.
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.
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!”
Compass Summer Program (CTSS)
Launched in summer of 2017, the Compass program is one of many additional programs designed to continue to support our clients. Compass is an extension of our CTSS school-based program (create hyperlink school-based page) – allowing youth who receive mental and behavioral support services in the school year to continue to grow and build their skills throughout summer. Open to all of our school-based CTSS youth in grades K—12, activities are led by mental health practitioners and professionals to ensure a therapeutic environment.
A typical day finds youth gathering in the Lodge for breakfast before splitting off to join their group for welcoming and team-building activities. This helps to build camaraderie and form friendships with their group members while learning important life skills such as communication and being a good friend.
The groups then get to explore 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! Summer of 2018 saw Compass support over 100 youth in grades K-12 for programming over 8 weeks. We look forward to continuing to offer programs for our school-based youth!
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.
North Homes Continuum 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. 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.
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 team-building 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!” 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 benefited all - as the growth of Camp continues, so will the opportunities and resources for all who experience it
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!