Camp Du Nord

Family camp? This was a new concept to both Sarah and Andrew, but we had been hearing wonderful things about Camp du Nord from families we know in St. Paul for a few years, so this summer was our first time giving it a go. We are generally a do-it-yourself family vacation kind of family, so the idea of going somewhere where we could enjoy being on a lake AND having our days filled with activities we didn’t plan sounded kind of dreamy. We were not disappointed!

Camp du Nord is on Burntside Lake, at the south-central edge of the BWCAW.
Camp du Nord is on Burntside Lake, at the south-central edge of the BWCAW.
Griffin's certificate for completing the polar bear plunge on five consecutive mornings.
Griffin’s certificate for completing the polar bear plunge on five consecutive mornings.

Camp du Nord is a YMCA camp located near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) in extreme northern Minnesota, mere miles from Canada. Andrew and Griffin kicked off every morning with the “polar bear plunge,” wherein the doughtiest members of the camp all run screaming into the chilly lake. (For anyone who has done a real polar plunge, into freezing water, this was not really that bad.) After breakfast, the kids spent every morning in age-level activities led by an incredible group of counselors. Sarah and Andrew were gloriously free from all responsibilities during this time. In the afternoons we engaged in full-family activities, which included a canoe paddle to a nearby smaller lake where Andrew succeeded at his first canoe portage, Voyageur Days where the kids tried log rolling, and an all-camp hunt for the counselors who were hiding in the woods. There are cabins available to rent, but we opted for a tent site right on the shore of the lake where we slept and had breakfast and lunch. We took the advice of families before us and joined the full camp for dinner in the dining hall. A couple of evenings, we took advantage of the traditional wood-heated Finnish sauna, which always concludes with a dip in the lake! And every night, we fell to sleep excited and exhausted, ready to see what adventures awaited us in the morning.

Like all family vacations, there were smatterings of tears, whining, and impatience, but overall, we all agreed that we loved family camp and look forward to returning in the future!

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