Camp Chippewa FAQs


FAQs for Campers | FAQs for Staff

What kind of training do the counselors receive?

All counselors attend an 8-day training period prior to the campers’ arrival. Many of our counselors are former campers who are knowledgeable and eager to carry on Chippewa’s timeless traditions. Completely new counselors to Chippewa, work with our leadership team who will provide the knowledge, qualifications and energy to work with all campers. Primary to our training is to educate our counselors in providing campers with the joys of adventure in our wilderness surroundings while engaging in age and skill appropriate risks under their supervision. Weekly staff meetings are held to reaffirm our commitment, discuss successes and challenges and prepare for the week ahead. Key to our success is bringing in outside resources, speakers, who are experts in the field of child development. Their professional instruction helps prepare our staff to deal with the emotions, conflicts and challenges as they arise.

Who will meet my son at the airport?

Our counseling staff meets each boy at the gate as he deplanes. They will be wearing a Camp Chippewa T-shirt (a photo of which will be emailed to you prior to travel day) and will have documentation issued by airport security allowing him to take custody of your son. The campers will wait in a designated area with members of our staff until all campers have arrived. Then they will be escorted to our coach bus for the ride up to camp. When your son leaves camp he will once again be accompanied by one of our counselors to his gate until he boards and the plane takes flight.

How are medications distributed?

The camp doctor/nurse distributes camper medications during “Club Med” following each meal and before bedtime in the Health Center. If your son needs a dose at another time, we can accommodate that. When out of camp on a trip, your son’s counselor will receive instructions from the camp doctor/nurse and will dispense the medication. At no time will your son be allowed to have medication in his cabin. We ask that you detail the medications your son takes in the Health History form and then be sure to send only what you have documented. Send medications in their original bottles with name and dosage labeled by the pharmacy. If a medication changes, please call the camp office.

What if my son forgets something?

Camp Chippewa receives packages nearly everyday from UPS and FedEx besides the USPS. Depending on what he forgot, you can ship it to him at camp. Toiletries, water bottles, flashlights, etc. are sold at the camp store which is open 2-3 times a week. Some items can be picked up in nearby Bemidji upon request and the cost will be charged to your son’s camp store account.

What if my son gets sick/injured?

A doctor or nurse is on staff and living at camp all summer. If your son isn’t feeling well he may see the camp doctor/nurse at meals or if it’s serious, he should ask one of the counselors to accompany him to the health center. In the case of a true emergency, our medical staff will evaluate the severity and determine if he will be taken to the hospital in Bemidji 25 minutes away. We will call you if such a situation arises.

How do you handle picky eaters/food allergies?

If your son has food allergies, you will be required to document those allergies in the online Health History form. Food allergy reports are distributed to the kitchen, camp doctor/nurse and your son’s counselor. Our kitchen staff strives to prepare nutritious alternatives for our campers who may be gluten-intolerant, vegetarian, or allergic to eggs, dairy, or something else. Communication between home and the camp directors is key.

Camp Chippewa serves meals that are balanced and nutritious. Our kitchen prepares the meals from scratch—all the way from baking fresh bread for the evening meal each day to making their own salad dressings. Campers sit at tables of 8 (6 campers and 2 counselors) and meals are served family-style. Unless there is a medical reason for avoiding a certain food, all campers are encouraged to try any new foods and eat what is being served. Picky eaters soon learn that food they may have found undesirable in the past, taste good when eating with their friends and counselors at camp.

Can I send care packages to my son?

Mail from home is distributed after lunch during rest period. Packages are opened in the camp office. Books, magazines and card games are acceptable items to send to your son at camp. Please do not enclose toys, candy, gum or other food items. Those will be collected and stored with your son’s valuables until he leaves camp. If too much candy is received, it will be discarded.

What percentage of kids are returning campers?

Over the past 5 years, 75% of our campers return. That number goes up when you consider the older group of boys who graduate out of the program.

What if my son isn't a strong swimmer?

Since camp is on two lakes and so many of our activities are in or around the water, all campers are required to wear PFDs. They may not go out onto any dock without a counselor present. Swimming lessons are a required activity for all campers until they advance through Level 6 through the American Red Cross.

Why can't my son stay for a shorter period of time?

Camp is about being engaged. Our program, both in camp and out on the trail, is one where boys need time to adjust to their environment and begin to thrive. The brain needs time to create and connect new pathways (without technology) so learning, growth and development can take place. When younger boys reach their stride, two weeks of camp are gone. On average, half of our Badger Camp campers stay for the rest of the session. They don’t want to miss out on the large group games, opportunity for advancement in activities and having a great time with their camper and counselor friends.

How can I communicate with my son?

Because we are technology-free, campers communicate with their families through the US Postal Service. Chippewa has mail service 6 days a week and everyone writes a letter home on Sundays. Not only will you receive a letter from your son each week he is in camp but also from his counselor. We recommend families write 2-3 letters per week.

Do you welcome occasional calls from parents or prefer email?

If you have a concern, please feel free to call the camp directors or send an email. We will respond to you promptly. On the day your son arrives at camp, we will call to let you know he is here and how he is doing.

Can I be in a cabin with a friend?

Boys are grouped in cabins based on the grade they will be entering in the fall. Because we are a small camp, we usually have one cabin per grade. If you are coming to camp with a friend who is in the same grade as you, then you will most likely be in the same cabin.

How do I talk to my parents?

Because we’re tech-free, we use good ol’ snail mail to talk to people outside of camp. Mail comes in 6 days a week, and everyone writes a letter home on Sundays. For families living outside the continental United States, letters can be emailed to the camp office. Campers can bring letters they written home to the camp office where we will scan and email them.

What if I get homesick?

Getting homesick is totally normal, and it can happen to anybody—even the staff!  If you ever feel homesick at camp, our counselors will be here to help you work through your homesickness so you can have the most fun possible at camp.

What if I don't know anyone before I go?

One of the best parts of Camp Chippewa is making new friends when you come to camp.  Many of our campers show up not knowing anyone and then make friends at camp that they keep for the rest of their lives.  We like to think that, once you’ve been to Camp Chippewa, you’re a part of our family, and our family sticks together no matter where you go!

What's the food like?

Our food is some of the best of any camp around!  Our awesome kitchen staff works hard each day to put out three excellent meals, and they make a lot of their food from scratch.  Some of the favorites include BLTs on homemade bread, baked chicken, and freshly baked cookies the size of your face.

What kind of activities will I get to do?

Camp Chippewa has lots of great activities to choose from!  Archery, riflery, canoeing, sailing, tennis, fencing, climbing, soccer—these are just a few!  You get to choose your activities every three days, so you’ll have plenty of opportunity to do all of the activities you want to do!  And in addition to having a lot of fun, you’ll get excellent training in each of your activities and develop your skills in all of them.  Many of our campers are lifelong athletes who started their activities at Camp Chippewa.

Where do I sleep?

All campers sleep in cabins.  Our cabins are simple, traditional, and historic!  Our very first cabin, built in 1937, is still being used today!  You’ll share a cabin with a 5-7 other boys and two counselors, and you’ll get to know each other and work together like a small family within camp.  Just like at home, you’ll have to keep your cabin clean.  But unlike at home, you can win a prize if your cabin is the cleanest of them all!

What kinds of activities will I lead?

Each of you comes to camp with a unique skill set, and we want to tap into those unique strengths.  During staff orientation, you’ll get to experience each of our regular program activities.  Then, you’ll have the chance to indicate which activities you’d like to lead and would feel comfortable leading.  You’ll only be scheduled to lead activities that you are and feel qualified to lead.

What's the weather like?

Northern Minnesota summers are some of the best anywhere in the world.  The highs most days are in the 70s and 80s F (about 20° to 25° C), and the lows are usually right around 60° F (15°C).  However, the weather can be unpredictable.  Being in the Midwest, Camp can get anything from hot and humid weather to nighttime temperatures that drop into the 40s F/below 10° C.  We’re also susceptible to rain and thunderstorms.  The best advice we can give concerning the weather is to try to pack and dress in layers.  That way, as the weather changes, you can adjust to make sure that you are comfortable all day long.

Will I be able to stay connected with friends and family?

Absolutely.  Camp Chippewa is blessed to be located in a remote part of northern Minnesota, but that does not mean we are totally disconnected.  We have phone service, and while it might not always be 5-bar service, we do get decent cell phone reception.  The camp uses cellular hotspots for its internet service and a limited amount of data is apportioned to each area of camp (office, medical, kitchen, counselors’ retreat). If your cell phone works, use your own data plan so the internet service can be used by staff who may not have any other means of staying in contact with family. Bemidji has coffee shops with free wifi you can visit during your time off.

What are the hours like/what's time off like?

Camp is a very different job from your typical retail or office position.  At camp, you’ll be working with our campers throughout the day.  This includes during meals, program activities, and free times like right before and after dinner.  You will even be on duty for bedtime and overnight.  It’s a demanding schedule, and you’ll need time off to rest, relax, and recharge.  That’s why we’ve put some extra time off in place.  Each day, you’ll have one of the hour-long activity periods completely off to do what you like.  You also get some time at the end of the day after the campers are in bed.  For more extended time off, you get 2 days off and 2 nights off each 4-week session, plus a day off at the end of orientation and a day off in between the sessions.  Days off are a full 24+ hours off, and nights off are 6 hours.

What is there to do on time off?

Though Bemidji, MN isn’t exactly a bustling metropolis, there’s plenty of good ways to spend your time off. You can relax on the beach at Lake Bemidji, work on your short game at Greenwood Golf Course, or just catch a movie in town. Senior staff members can point you to the local gems, and we’ve got a book on file with lots of time off suggestions. You’ll have no trouble finding fun and relaxing ways to use your time off.