YMCA Archives Logo
318 Elmer L. Andersen Library, University of Minnesota, 222 21st Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55455

An Inventory of Its Records

Historical Sketch | Contents Summary/Organization | Administrative/Access Info | Contents Details | Related Materials | Indexed Terms/Access Points


Creator: Young Men's Christian Association of Metropolitan Minneapolis. Camp Icaghowan.
Title: Camp Icaghowan records
Date: 1910-2007 (bulk 1940-1980)
Collection Number: Y.MPL.005-1
Abstract: Records documenting the administration of the camping programs of Camp Icaghowan of the YMCA Minneapolis. Available records include committee minutes, finances, evaluations, annual reports, and marketing materials. Includes alphabetical camp attendee rosters from 1910 to 1959.
Quantity: 4 cubic feet (4 boxes)
Location: See Detailed Description section for box listing.


Recognizing the importance of camping and exercise as a method of moral formation in young men and boys, the first Minneapolis YMCA-owned resident camp, Camp Icaghowan opened in 1908, one of the first organized boys camp projects in the state of Minnesota. Located on five acres on Green Lake near Chisago City, Minnesota, Icaghowan ("eye-KAH-goh-wahn") of Lakota origin means "To Grow in Every Way." Camp Icaghowan was designed to serve boys living in the downtown, northeast, southeast, south central, and south town areas in the Minneapolis area. Recognizing limitations within each of these communities, scholarship assistance from other groups such as the Rotary, Y's Men's clubs, and individuals provided financial assistance for those who would otherwise be unable to afford a summer camping experience.

The first campers stayed in simple tents without floors or cots, using a small cook shack for meals, eating in an adjacent tent. Some camping equipment was purchased, as well as a dining hall erected in the first couple of seasons. Additional improvements were made every season, including an enlarged dining hall, a well, and a headquarters building erected. By the 1915-1916 summer seasons, four camps of two weeks each were conducted with a total attendance of 103 boys. W.G.Cartlich, the boys' work secretary became the first camp director.

In 1916, money was allocated from the 1916 YMCA Minneapolis building campaign to buy an additional ten acres adjoining the first purchase along the lake front, for a total of 15 acres. More equipment was purchased. Four periods of two weeks each accommodated over 100 boys. The following year, tents began to be replaced with more durable shelters. Soon after, the Director's cottage was built. A new foundation for the existing dining hall was put in, with an addition to the east side of the building to provide for a proper kitchen and quarters for the cook. New steps to the lake shore were added, among many other improvements.

Christian fellowship had always been a focal point at Camp Icaghowan, with daily Bible study classes, evening tent devotions, and Sunday services. The spirit of the camp was summed up in 1940 as "growth, fair play, fun, and friendship, all based on the ideals and character of the Master, Jesus Christ." In 1947, the site provided a camping experience to almost 400 boys on an expanded 29 acres. A garden developed and maintained added to the urban-campers experience while also contributing to the meals served to campers. By 1948, the camp had expanded to consist of: a dining hall with kitchen, an old log lodge, a craft shop, infirmary, director's cabin with four rooms, cook's cabin, headquarters building, ten permanently constructed tent houses, two small storage buildings, two bathroom houses with running water, and a pump house.

Beyond the in-camp experience, Camp Icaghowan also provided beyond-camp excursions for those who wished a more rugged, on-the-trail camping experience, usually involving canoeing and/or backpacking.

Recognizing the limitations of the existing camp site after 41 years, including encroaching development, an exhaustive search lasting five years was conducted to find a new site for Camp Icaghowan. The camp had been enlarged piecemeal to accommodate the growing program, but by 1945 the existing lodge, built to accommodate 36 boys plus staff, was housing almost 100 people, using the same mess hall built in 1908.

In 1948, Icaghowan moved to a new site of 113 acres on Lake Wappogassett near Amery, Wisconsin. The land was purchased from the estate of Bob Wallace (of the Wallace Reader's Digest family), past president of Macalester college. Lyndon F. Cedarblade, city-wide program secretary wrote of the land, "This beautifully wooded tract, 35 acres of which is a peninsula, will be an ideal place on which to build a fine summer camp for boys. The increased capacity will permit serving a minimum of 550 boys each summer." Camp construction included eight cabins with fireplaces, a dining hall, toilets, a well, showers by the beach, and a building devoted for staff. The waterfront and docks were constructed at a later date.

On July 31, 1949, the new Camp Icaogowan was officially dedicated. The program included hymns, prayer, remarks by Charles W. Drew, the Dedication Committee Chairman, greetings from the Amery Mayor, words from Chiver S. Aas, chairman of the Camp Icaghowan committee, Harper Clesen, General Secretary of the YMCA Minneapolis, Malcolm McDonald, President, and concluded with the traditional song "Dear Old Icaghowan." While Minnesota Governor Youngdahl was invited, his schedule precluded attendance. In early August of that same year, the flagpole and flag presentation ceremony occurred, dedicated to a youth counselor who was killed in World War II, "the sacred memory of John H. Lindberg, who in war and peace served God and his fellowmen in Christian love and devotion."

Improvements and additions to the camping experience at Icaoghowan continued in the following decades, including a new pier donated by the metro group, Y's Men in 1952. A health services department and an addition to the Director's cabin were completed in 1953, followed by three more cabins and a waterfront building constructed in 1956. The lodge basement was also finished this year. A new updated camp entrance designed in 1957 added to the highly visible improvements. In 1963, 49 acres were donated, known within the organization as "the secret", and used for camping excursions beyond the main camp site.

The sailing program at Icagowan grew to six boats in the fleet and many campers qualifying as "skippers" by 1967, despite previous barriers to the program. The oldest bell (1894) in the Amery area was erected at Icaghowan in 1967, with over 105 residents gathering at the camp to celebrate the occasion. Between 1969-1971, significant improvements and renovations were completed, including a new residence, remodeling of the camp kitchen, new beds, mattresses, and floors in cabins, among others. Much-needed new boat motors were donated for camper enjoyment for many subsequent summers. Additional preparations and renovations for winter camping were completed.

In 1970, girls are integrated into the Minneapolis YMCA Camp programs, "in order to meet the growing need for service to the total family." In the 1972 annual meeting of sustaining members of Camp Icaghowan, it was noted that "the successful venture of a co-ed camp continued to be a source of satisfaction ... We saw more interest in joint activities and more acceptance of the shared use of the same site." Weekend family camping also became a focus during the 1969-1979 decade at Icaoghowan, with a growing number of multi-cultural and single families participating in the program.

A new passenger van was donated to the camp in 1973, and a new camp truck was purchased in 1974. New ceilings in the dining hall and lodge were added in 1977, as well as a new storage shed by the kitchen was constructed. In 1980, the camp kitchens were once again remodeled, followed by the renovations to the staff cabin in 1981.

Throughout Camp Icaghowan's history, programming and camp amenities have continued to evolve to meet the changing needs of the communities the YMCA Minneapolis serves. The camp remains a vital component to the YMCA Minneapolis organization.

(Information taken from Breaking New Ground, Building Strong Lives: 140 Years of Youth Work with the Minneapolis YMCA by Paul Hillmer, 2006; from Builders of Men: A History of the Minneapolis Young Men's Christian Association: 1866-1936 by S. Wirt Wiley and Florence Lehmann; and from the collection.)


Available records include committee minutes, finances, evaluations, annual reports, marketing materials, history of the camp, and facilities development information from 1910 to the 2003, with the bulk of the material covering 1940-1980. Includes alphabetical camp attendee rosters from 1910 to 1959.


Use of Materials:
This collection is protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). It is the user's responsibility to verify copyright, ownership, and to obtain all the necessary permissions prior to the reproduction, publication, or other use of any portion of these materials.
Preferred Citation:
[Indicate the cited item and/or series here]Camp Icaghowan Records. Young Men's Christian Association of Metropolitan Minneapolis. Kautz Family YMCA Archives. University of Minnesota.
See the Chicago Manual of Style for additional examples.
Processing Information:
Processed by: Jesse Harpestad and Kathryn Oosterhuis, May 2012.
Catalog Record ID number: 6410570


Box 70 ACT capital campaign, 1980-1989. 2 folders.
Annual reports, 1966-1973.
Board Material:
Box 70 Board, 1970-1989.
Board, 1995-1998.
Board of management, 1989-1996. 2 folders.
Minutes, 1993-1995. 3 folders.
Camper lists, 1928-1939, 1960-1973, 1979-1983. 7 folders.
Missing years 1934, 1936, 1962, 1968, 1970, 1974-1978.
Box 71 Camper lists, 1928-1939, 1960-1973, 1979-1983. 5 folders.
Missing years 1934, 1936, 1962, 1968, 1970, 1974-1978.
Campers, years attended A-L, 1910-1959.
Alphabetical listing with years attended.
Campers, years attended M-Z, 1910-1959.
Alphabetical listing with years attended.
Capital needs, 1961.
Committee minutes, 1951-1955.
Devotions, 1928-1949.
Box 71 Architect, 1947-1949.
Building specifications, 1947-1954. 2 folders.
Caretaker, 1960-1979.
Counselor cabin manual, 1950-1959.
Lake Wapogasset sanitary district, 1960-1979.
Maps and property, 1940-1979.
Box 72 New construction, 1960-1979.
Oliver Aas memorial, 1950.
Park and dam property, 1960-1969.
Renovation projects, 1970-1979.
Septic project, 1970-1979.
Sig Christensen memorial project, 1966-1968. 3 folders.
Wallace property use agreement, 1970-1979.
Five-year plan, 1989-1994.
Gifts, 1959-1975. 2 folders.
Handy booklets, 1930-1949.
Includes non-YMCA booklets on children's games, stories, and activities.
Box 72 Big bell, 1894.
Construction, 1943-1949. 2 folders.
Historical papers, 1940-1979.
Miscellaneous history, 1910-1939.
Letters, 2003-2004. 4 folders.
Loans, 1972.
Box 72 Articles and brochures, 1957, 1968, 1992.
Brochures, 1920-1929, 1940-2000.
Kybo campaign, 2003. 4 folders.
Presentation materials directed towards donors on Camp Icaghowan and how their appreciated donations were utilized.
St. Croix area newspapers, 1970-1979.
Memory book camper list, South Town period, 1942.
Minutes and reports, 1916-1992. 4 folders.
Box 73 Minutes and reports, 1916-1992. 12 folders.
Miscellaneous, 1920-1929.
Miscellaneous, 1995-2003. 8 folders.
Old Timers reunion, campers list, 1916-1929.
Recruiting, 1970-1979.
Song manual, Southeast period, 1921.
Southeast campers, 1926-1944.
Rosters of boys from the Southeast branch who attended Camp Icaghowan.
Southeast Y's Men, 1947-1962.
Box 73 Dinners and reunions, 1970-1979.
Records, 1963-1974. 2 folders.
Missing Year 1971.
Roster, 1948.
Summer staff positions, 1950-1979
Whangdoodle news bulletin, 1918, 1924.
Official diary of Camp Icaghowan from the North side district.
Y-Partners, 2001.
Youth citizen, 1970-1979.


See also the Publications and ephemera records of Metropolitan Minneapolis, separately catalogued in the Kautz Family YMCA Archives.


This collection is indexed under the following headings in the catalog of the University of Minnesota Libraries. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons or places should search the catalog using these headings.
Camps -- Minnesota -- History.
Camps -- Management.
Young Men's Christian associations -- Minnesota -- Minneapolis.
Cedarblade, Lyndon F.
Young Men's Christian Association of Metropolitan Minneapolis.
Young Men's Christian Association of the City of Minneapolis.
Camp counselors.