Miniwanca

School & Youth Programs

Community building, leadership development & environmental education.

Miniwanca’s school and youth programs are intentionally designed to develop individual skills, enhance group effectiveness and positively influence school or organizational culture. Utilizing our core program curriculum, we are able to customize a multi-day program to meet the specific needs of your school or organization. Our staff facilitates fun and engaging experiential activities as metaphors for real world challenges. These experiences have a lasting, positive impact on children’s academic achievement and social skills as they return to their home and school communities.

The pristine shores of Lake Michigan set the stage for young people to open their minds to new ways of seeing themselves and each other. Students create a community where respect, cooperation and kindness serve as a guide for all interactions. Miniwanca staff creates opportunities for children to practice our motto, My own self, At my very best, All the time. Students are encouraged to take on challenges and real responsibility as they live, play and learn together.

Our School & Youth Programs utilize Miniwanca’s forests, wetlands, mountains, and lakes, along with initiatives, ropes courses and climbing walls, to create safe and exciting opportunities for students to engage in their learning. Carefully guided discussions allow all types of learners to build relationships and make connections to concepts they can apply back in their home communities and schools. Curriculum topics include community building, environmental education, and character and leadership development.

Learn more through our FAQs, meet our staff or review parent & program contact resources.



A Day in the Life

Frequently Asked Questions

Where do students stay while they are at Miniwanca?

We offer 3-season heated duplex-style cabins, each with beds for up to 16 children and 3 adults. For larger groups or winter programs, we also offer a fully winterized lodge.

How are children supervised while they are at Miniwanca?

Our staff supervises children throughout all structured program activities. Teachers, administrators or chaperones serve as the primary guardians, and are responsible for free time and overnight supervision.

We are committed to a student to Miniwanca staff ratio no higher than 12:1.

What kind of food does Miniwanca serve?

Following our Food Program guiding principles, we aim to serve a variety of healthy options, including a balance of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables incorporated into a child-friendly menu.

What if a student has a food allergy or special dietary need?

We are able to accommodate certain allergies and dietary needs. Miniwanca is a peanut aware facility. We do not serve peanuts or tree nuts from our kitchen during meal service. In addition, we can provide vegetarian, gluten free and dairy free options with advance notice. We may ask families to provide certain food items for children with complex allergies or dietary needs. We are committed to making a plan that works for everyone. Please contact us if you have questions about our offerings.

What qualifications do staff members have?

Our staff members are passionate about their work. Many of them have backgrounds in education, youth development and environmental education. They all hold first aid and CPR certifications, are at least 21 years old and have had background checks run against multiple national and local databases.

How many groups are at Miniwanca at the same time?

We hope Miniwanca feels special to every group we work with. Though there may be some small overlap between communities, we typically reserve our 300 acre site for one group at a time.

What should students pack?

Weather in Michigan is quite variable from day to day and season to season. Appropriate clothing and gear will depend on the length of the program, time of year, and scheduled activities. Please refer to the relevant packing list in the ‘Resources’ section of this page for more specific information.

Will my child feel included at Miniwanca?

We enthusiastically welcome children with diverse backgrounds, experiences and identities. We value each participant’s right to fully experience Miniwanca free from prejudice and harassment. All of our staff members are trained to supervise children and to prevent and address incidents of conflict or bullying based on any aspect of a person’s identity, including, but not limited to: race, ethnicity, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, and religious affiliation.

Program Outcomes

Miniwanca’s community and school programs serve hundreds of youth, educators and youth advocates through programs designed to enhance not only a participant’s skills, but their confidence in themselves and their future. Miniwanca programs help participants develop their character and their connections to the wider world. Our outstanding staff work to create communities where youth feel supported and empowered. Participants discover who they are and what they are capable of achieving.

Season: Year Round
Session: Short term residential



"I realized we need to think about how we affect others. Through everything we did, I learned that even little things like being away from home for the first time is a reason to celebrate. I learned that I can do anything if I set my mind to it. I also now know that it doesn’t matter whether or not you are a boy or girl, you can cheer for everyone. I will never be able to forget these things."

– 6th Grade Student