Why Choose Camp Kamaji?
Kamaji is Kid-Centered
We design our programming to help grow our campers as people but also to let kids be kids. Dress up in silly outfits, splash in the water, run down sandhills, etc. But it is also true if a camper asks us to switch activities because “I can’t get up in waterskiing”. We encourage her by saying, “Let’s talk to the instructor so you can learn new strategies and finish out the week”. As adults, we know that there is great value in fulfilling a commitment by finishing the scheduled week but also an opportunity to do accomplish something even if it is hard. Hopefully that camper WILL feel the thrill of getting up on skiis, but even if she doesn’t, she knows it will be okay and she can be proud that she kept trying. We make decisions based on what is best for the campers.
Diversity All Around Us
Kamaji, working towards achieving a camp community that is as diverse as the society in which its campers live, is enriched by its diverse population — religiously, culturally, racially, socio-economically, and geographically.
Different people with different beliefs, different hopes, different dreams, Kamaji’s campers most definitely learn to respect and celebrate, rather than fear, differences.
Unplugged yet connected
We can all agree that kids are overly dependent on their phones, SnapChat, Instagram, text chains, etc. There is an anxiety about being virtually connected all the time, instant gratification and having a filter to make things “prettier”. Being unplugged from technology at Kamaji allows campers to truly connect with each other, face to face, as their true selves.
An “x” on Meanness & “NCA”
Each person at Kamaji — campers and staff alike — is expected to treat all others as they wish to be treated — with care and respect. The expressions, “Put an X on meanness” and “NCA” (not camp appropriate) are part of our vernacular here. Unkind behavior and words are not accepted nor appropriate here so we give campers the language to identify words and behaviors that don’t belong. We are committed to highlighting positive interactions and correcting those that are less-than-positive.
Life Lessons & Skills
Kamaji balances out what a camper learns during the academic year by providing her essential life lessons and skills.
Skills like self-reliance, self-confidence, exploration, respect, responsibility, conflict resolution, leadership, cultural awareness, communication, and teamwork.
Skills necessary for life success.
Much of Kamaji’s philosophy promotes the development of lifetime character-building skills and social skills of positive interaction so that Kamaji’s campers can live life well, feel stronger and more confident in their day-to-day at home and in school, and be positive contributors to our broader communities.
Leave the Hairdryer at Home
Girls get many messages about how they should look and behave. These not-always-healthy-and-yet-powerful messages start when girls are very young and are told that how they look on the outside is what matters most. These messages are evident on TV and across the Internet, in song lyrics, on YouTube, on celebrity Instagrams and in SnapChat filters.
At Kamaji, campers can relax and not worry about their overall appearance. While we are not lax about hygiene, at Kamaji anything goes when it comes to how we dress. Kamaji’s campers will bring their comfortable, old clothing and fun, silly costumes when packing for camp. . . and leave the hairdryer at home because there are no electrical outlets in the cabins!
Kamaji urges its campers to try things they might not otherwise try and step up to leadership opportunities they may not otherwise tackle- which they are not always encouraged to do in this male-dominated society.
At Kamaji, girls pitch tents, carry packs and canoes across portages, rock climb, rig sailboats; jump in mud puddles . . . and then jump in the lake to rinse off; for evening all-camp programs they sport the craziest of costumes and outlandish outfits – all for fun, silliness and joy.
Kamaji campers are free to be exactly who they are – their true selves.
Staff Are 100% Committed
Kamaji’s staff, many of whom have grown up as Kamaji campers, affects, shapes, and defines Kamaji’s campers’ summer. The staff recognize that camp counseling is not only a very demanding job but also a very rewarding one. Staff spend over a week each summer training for their positions and to be prepared for their campers and their needs. In 2021 the staff committed to spending their time-off in camp, never leaving our site, in order to minimize the risk of exposing our campers to CoVid. These are people that put the campers FIRST.
Kamaji’s staff are 100% committed to doing what it takes to provide Kamaji campers with the best summer camp experience of their lives. They are child-like but certainly not childish!
Old But Not Old-Fashioned
Many camps can boast second and third-generation campers; Kamaji has fourth-generation campers! Kamaji is the oldest continuously-run camp for girls in Minnesota.
Steeped in history and rich in tradition, today’s Kamaji campers live in cabins similarly designed to the original cabins, canoe the Mississippi River, sing camp songs that echoed across the camp in the early 1900s, and participate in Kamaji traditions still in practice nearly 100 years later…just with a few updates like renovated cabins, flushing toilets, private shower stalls and waterski boats (just to name a few)!
Discover More opportunities
In an era where specialty camps are everywhere, Kamaji ‘specializes’ in girls rather than in any one specific activity.
Kamaji’s structured instructional program in over 20 program areas and its wilderness trip program are designed to challenge Kamaji’s campers, help them develop their personal best, and discover more about what they are capable of achieving.
In school and at home, girls are encouraged to develop their one “thing” that defines them, whether it be as a dancer, soccer player, thespian or as a top-of-her-class student. At Kamaji, we work to develop the whole self.
Campers who might be nervous to dance at home can do it here without feeling self-conscious, natural athletes on the soccer field can come and try out our ceramics wheels and girls who might feel more comfortable being sedentary at home are instead seated on a boat with a tiller in hand!
Leading with Care, Honesty, Respect, Responsibility & Trust
As Kamaji’s Directors, we are hands-on and directly involved in everyday life at camp. Kat “grew up” at Kamaji as a camper, counselor, summertime Leadership Team Member and, then as the full-time Kamaji’s Associate Director for over 10 years. She partners with husband, Jason, who spent his first full summer at Kamaji in 2013 learning the “behind the scenes” of camp as a Maintenance Assistant and Trip Leader, this was after 10 years of finance and operations management in Chicago.
During the camp season, you can find Kat in conversation with campers and staff on the deck of the office, participating in an Evening Program, checking temperatures in the Health Center, driving a ski boat or taking pictures on the waterfront.
You’ll find Jason overseeing the kitchen, out on the motor boats, playing kickball with campers, or welcoming back a group of campers from an overnight camping trip. And you’ll definitely always find them at camper meals, they’ll never miss a meal!
We are parents, like you. We understand the extraordinary responsibility we have to you and our campers.
Just as important, we partner with and reflect the values of Kamaji’s camp families with caring, honesty, respect, responsibility, and trust as our guidelines. We are determined to provide the best Kamaji experience possible for each and every camper.
We are genuine, welcoming, and nurturing and when a parent entrusts their daughter to our care, we take that responsibility of caring for each camper very, very seriously. We view this relationship as a partnership with you, the parent.
Kamaji: Celebrates Courage
When there is a camper on stage who makes a mistake during her song solo, the audience chooses to sing along to encourage her to keep going; when it is the last week of camp and a camper passes her swim check after working so hard, campers erupt in applause and cheers; when the youngest campers in camp invite the entire camp community to join them at a “spa” they are hosting during their Free Period, there is a line out front, filled especially with some of camp’s oldest campers…these are examples of how our Kamaji community celebrates courage.
It might be because of all of our mixed-aged programming, the role modeling our staff provides, or how kindness and thoughtfulness are rewarded and applauded, but our campers recognize that it takes courage and bravery to be yourself, to put yourself out there, to work hard, to be vulnerable and to take chances.
Because of that recognition, we take time to applaud it, participate alongside and celebrate loudly and in support.
This is a camp for nice, fun, silly, adventurous, kind, funny, brave, loud, quiet, outgoing, reserved, sporty, theatrical, artsy, bookish, outdoorsy girls… there is a place for all kinds.
Because, being true to yourself can be hard, and at Kamaji, we want to encourage your individuality by celebrating it.