Campers entering grades 3 to 5
Miniwanca days are intentionally designed to encourage Darers (entering grades 3 to 5) to discover their best, live a balanced life, and contribute to a positive community. Campers live in cabin group with a dozen peers and a dedicated staff leader, creating a dynamic and supportive environment. Cabin groups serve as their family at camp, eating family-style meals and participating in daily community activities and games together.
A typical day at Miniwanca features plenty of community time, free time, and the opportunity for campers choose from a variety of Interest Groups to create personalized daily experience. Each evening our community gathers for a high-energy, all-camp activity, before bringing the day to a quiet close during Evening Reflection while the sun sets over Lake Michigan.
As the youngest and often newest members of our camp family, Darers spend their time at Miniwanca learning how to live in community with their peers. They take the first steps toward identifying their personal values and are introduced to the idea of best self.
All campers leave Miniwanca with lasting memories, new skills, friends, and newly gained confidence in themselves and their ability to make a positive difference in the world.
Summer 2024 Registration
Summer 2024 registration is a first-come, first-served model, and waitlists will be created when programs fill. Explore all our Darer program offerings below and sign up for our email newsletter to receive summer 2024 updates.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your continued support!
2024 Dates and Rates
Darers entering grades 3* to 5
One week: June 30 to July 6
Two weeks: July 7 to July 19
Three weeks: June 30 to July 19
One week: July 21 to July 28
Two weeks: July 28 to Aug. 9
Three weeks: July 21 to Aug. 9
*Darers entering grade 3 are only eligible for the one- or two-week sessions. They cannot register for the three-week option.
The AYF is committed to making summer camp accessible to all youth. As a nonprofit foundation fueled by generous donations from our alumni and families, the AYF offsets the price of every program for every participant. AYF also offers need-based financial aid and sibling discounts.
A Typical Day at Miniwanca
Most weeks at Miniwanca consist of four or five typical days and two or three special days. We know consistency is important for campers, so we ground the week in regular schedules and activities, while making time for atypical celebrations and exciting activities.
Special days may include Opening and Closing Days, the Fourth of July, and other camp-specific holidays like Founder’s Day and Nostos.
7:50 a.m.: Polar Bear Call
8:00 a.m.: Rising Bell
8:40 a.m.: Morning Stretch
9:00 a.m. Breakfast
9:45 a.m. Camper Free Time
10:30 a.m. Community Time
11:30 a.m. Interest Group 1
12:45 p.m. Lunch
1:30 p.m. Rest Hour
2:35 p.m. Assembly/Quad Meetings
3:00 p.m. Passing and Prep Time
3:15 p.m. Interest Group 2
4:15 p.m. Snack Time
4:30 p.m. Interest Group 3
5:15 p.m. Camper Free Time
6:15 p.m. Dinner
7:30 p.m. Night’s Doings
9:00 p.m. Evening Reflection
9:30 p.m. Bed Time Prep
10:00 p.m. Lights Out for Younger Campers
11:00 p.m. Lights Out for Older Campers
What are they and how do they work?
Each week, campers sign up for three different Interest Groups, activities designed to have fun, learn a new skill, and practice being their best selves. Campers also have the opportunities to make new connections with campers of all ages.
Typical Interest Groups will include:
• Pool Party/Swim Games
• Paddle sports (kayaking, canoeing, stand-up paddleboarding)
• Lake Michigan beach time
• Sports (soccer, dodgeball, Ultimate Frisbee, volleyball, and more)
• High ropes course and rock climbing
• Arts and crafts (knitting, friendship bracelets, copper enameling, print making, and more)
If campers have a new idea for an Interest Group, they’re encouraged to share their thoughts and help create special Interest Groups for the following week! Previous camper-created Interest Groups include Creative Writing, Harry Potter Fun, and Hike and Dip.
Daily Schedule FAQ
Campers can choose to wake up a few minutes early each morning to take a quick dip in Lake Michigan. If a camper completes Polar Bear every morning while at camp, they’ll earn a Polar Bear T-shirt at the end of the session!
Morning Stretch brings the camp community together each morning to interact and reflect before breakfast. We warm up with stretches, dances, and other fun activities, and then a cabin presents thoughts for the day. Campers then have a few minutes of quiet reflection to gather their thoughts, think through what others have shared, and get ready for the day.
Assembly brings the community together to watch and interact with a fun, variety show put on by our Leaders in Training. Campers just waking up from Rest Hour will have a chance to reenergize and laugh as the LITs entertain through a series of skits.
Each cabin of campers in split into one of four Quads, or teams (Draws, Dunes, Ridges, or Trails), that engage in friendly competition throughout the session. Campers clean their cabin, promote positive mental attitudes, compete in Community Time games and Night’s Doings games, and create and perform skits and songs. At Quad Meetings, campers will plan, create, and practice their skits and songs for upcoming camp-wide gatherings.
Campers gather with their age group community to make new friends, create deeper connections, and play fun games. A variety of activities will take campers through high-energy fun and games that allow them to meet people outside their cabins and to compete for their Quad. Community Time finds creative and interactive ways to focus on the ideals of best self, balanced living, and positive community.
Night’s Doings is one of the most fun and active times of the day with a new activity, game, or event. Night’s Doings can resemble a classic game of capture the flag with a camp twist, involve trying to catch leaders dressed as safari animals, a talent show, and much more.
“My daughter and I talk about Miniwanca all year long. Especially as she's gotten older and is more able to articulate her thoughts, we talk about things like how we can help each other be our best selves and lead balanced lives. It's a wonderful legacy that will be with her for her whole life.”
– Miniwanca Camper Parent