The campers at Camp Mishawaka come from all over the United States, and we almost always have some campers from Mexico and Europe. The camp community is made up of many different types of personalities and skills. Some campers have been coming to camp for over five summers, but there are always new campers in every session. Some campers choose to play sports every activity period, and some would rather learn how to sail or make something in the crafts cabin. You will probably make friends with someone that is very much like you and you’ll also be friends with someone that is very different from you.
When the sessions begin, you will choose from a list of activities that you will do every other morning during your stay. You’ll end up with Monday, Wednesday, Friday activities, and Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday activities. These activities will be more “skill based” where you learn new things every activity period and get to practice them. These activities work best when the whole group works and progresses together. Some good examples of these types of activities are: sailing, drama, crafts, canoeing, swim instruction, horseback riding, tennis, etc. Every afternoon, you pick from a list of activities happening that day. Some activities that happen in the morning can also happen in the afternoon. If you just want to try out sailing without signing up for a session long class, you can sign up for open sailing one afternoon. Some other examples of afternoon activities are: soccer games, ultimate frisbee, basketball, floor hockey, tubing, nature hikes, mountain biking, snorkeling, fishing, and a whole bunch more. Evening activity periods are different every day and usually include at least one “group game.” Every day is different, and there are plenty of “Mishawaka Specials” that happen once or twice a summer.
Most of the counselors are college aged men and women. Some of them are former campers that have come back to be on staff, while others are experiencing their first summer at Mishawaka. Many of our staff members come back to work at Mishawaka every summer. On average, two out of three staff members were also on staff the previous summer. We also have staff members that are married and parents of current or past campers. We only hire staff that are excited to work with campers and help them learn new skills and become more confident. Just like the camper population, staff members come from all over the US and a few from overseas. Staff members are cabin counselors, activity leaders, and trip leaders. Because of our size, you’ll get to know all of the staff members, and every staff member will know who you are, too.
Many campers coming to Mishawaka for the first time don’t know anyone else here. You’ll make friends quickly and chances are the friendships will be very strong. You’ll be placed in a cabin group with kids the same age as you and you’ll get to know them very quickly. Most of our activities are not separated by age groups, so you’ll also get to know campers that are older and younger than you. There are about 80 boys and 80 girls at Mishawaka when it’s full, and while that may sound like a lot, you’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll recognize everybody and how fast everyone will get to know you.
It’s really normal to be nervous about missing your parents and friends from home. Sometimes, campers do get homesick at some point during their stay at camp. It’s natural, and nothing to worry about. The counselors and schedule at Mishawaka will keep you very busy during the day so you won’t have too much time to think about what’s going on back home. If there are times that you do struggle, there are plenty of people that can help you out. Every staff member is ready to listen and help you realize why you and your parents decided that Mishawaka was a good place to spend part of your summer. Some of the older campers at Mishawaka went through similar feelings, and can help you work through it. A big part of being at camp is to learn to be more independent and confident, and the staff will do everything they can to make that happen. Many campers come to camp and never feel homesick at all. Chances are you’ll be surprised how quickly the time flys by!
You can check out the schedule to see what a typical day might look like. Basically, the days are made up of activities, eating, and sleeping! You’ll have lots of opportunities to learn new things during four different activity periods, in addition to free swim and evening activities. Rainy days will sometimes alter the schedule, but we have lots of things to do indoors if it becomes necessary. There is also down time built into the schedule where you get to do whatever you choose. Reading, ping-pong, tether-ball, chess, ga-ga, basketball, four-square, 500, and Frisbee are just a few options for down time and it’s really only limited by what you want to do. The down time is really designed to let campers play.
There is not a pool at Camp Mishawaka, and there never will be. Lake Pokegama is a big, clean, cool, and clear northern Minnesota lake. It’s part of the Mississippi river chain and is over 5000 acres. Swimming in the lake happens every day and it’s a integral part of the Camp Mishawaka experience. There is a morning and afternoon free-swim period and lots of our activities take place on or in the lake. If you’ve never been swimming in a lake before you’re missing out! It’s a great way to cool off, and you won’t end up smelling like chlorine!
Most of the activities are done as separate camps, boys with boys and girls with girls. The two biggest exceptions to that rule are sailing and drama which are coed activities. Boys Camp and Girls Camp are on either side of central facilities like the Dining Hall and Health Center. Each camp has their own docks on the lake and their own cabins. We all eat together in the Dining Hall for each meal, with boys on one side and girls on the other. There is 15 minutes of gathering time before each meal where you can visit with the opposite camp, and this is typically where brothers and sisters can check in and say hello. Sunday’s activities are coed large group games with separate swim periods afterwards. Sunday dinners are usually all camp cookouts outside the Dining Hall. Most of the time, however, Boys Camp and Girls Camp are each doing their own things.