Boys Camp & Girls Camp

Trailblazers experience the best of both worlds by taking on the challenge of adventure trips while still enjoying their favorite in-camp activities.

In their introduction to the Four Trails program, Trailblazers will explore the terrain of Michigan through a short multi-day hike on the North Country Trail, the nation’s longest scenic trail. After their hike, they’ll canoe for several days down Michigan’s Manistee River. All the while, they’ll learn and practice valuable outcamping skills that will continue to be useful throughout their Four Trails experience.

While not on trail, Trailblazers will choose from a variety of in-camp activities including arts and crafts, sports, performing arts, rock climbing, sailing, and more. They will discover new skills, experience friendly competition, and reflect on becoming their best selves in a supportive atmosphere. Campers choose new activities each week, giving them the opportunity to discover and explore new interests and strengths in a dynamic and supportive environment.

Each evening, our community gathers for all camp Night’s Doings fun. Favorite events include the Leader Hunt, Wanca Kart, and the Talent Show, where campers perform and support their friends. Evening Reflections brings a quiet close to the day as we reflect, set goals, and learn more about one another.

Campers leave Miniwanca with lasting memories, new found skills and friends, and newly gained confidence in themselves and their ability to make a positive difference in the world.

Look below for more information, or check out our FAQs, meet our staff, and review parent resources.

A Day in the Life

Trailblazer Overview

What is the overall experience for a Trailblazer paddler or hiker?

Minwanca’s paddling program at the Trailblazer level is designed to introduce campers to the fundamentals of canoeing during short river trips.  Camper gear is loaded in dry bags and water-tight containers and then transported in canoes along with essential group gear and food items in water-tight containers. Groups stay at approved campsites along the Manistee River.

Miniwanca’s backpacking program at the Trailblazer level is designed to introduce campers to short multi-day hiking while living as a low-impact mobile community overnight in the backcountry. Campers will carry all of their personal gear as well as the necessary distributed group gear items (stoves, pots, pans, utensils, tents, tools and food rations). Packs may weigh between 30 and 50 pounds, and leaders will be very intentional about each participant’s pack to body weight ratio. Groups will be traveling to approved campsites along the North Country Trail.

What does an average day look like for a Trailblazer?

While in-camp for their first and third week, Trailblazers wake to the rising bell and have the option to jump into Lake Michigan or Stony Lake for the Polar Bear plunge. They’ll sin up for and participate in new interest groups each week, giving them the opportunity to discover and explore new interests and strengths in a dynamic and supportive environment.

In their second week, Trailblazers will transition to trail life. While canoeing, groups will generally paddle between 3 and 4 hours a day depending on wind, group speed, and water level. While backpacking, groups will generally hike between 3 and 7 miles a day. Wake up and meal times will vary and will be dependent on the group’s time management, efficiency and other environmental factors. Leaders make it their main priority to reach camp safely with time to make dinner, enjoy the evening and rest for another challenging day.

Throughout the day, campers and leaders will exercise all four folds in order to work towards logistical, personal, and group goals. Trip groups will also engage in some type of reflective activity in hopes of bringing meaning to their individual and group experiences.

How should Trailblazers prepare for camp?

Even for Trailblazers, who will be participating in shorter trips than our older campers, it is important that campers arrive with a base level of fitness that will allow them to participate in physical activity for up to several hours at a time.

The best way to train for a backpacking trip is to go backpacking. Take your school backpack or another large pack and put some weight in it. Just getting used to walking with weight will make doing so for long stretches easier.  For backpacking specifically, it is important to be thinking about your feet as they are your vehicle.

Any activity that engages the upper body or arms is a good one to prepare for canoeing. Some simple strength training exercises we recommend include push-ups or sit-ups.

What equipment does Miniwanca provide?

Miniwanca provides all group camping equipment which will include canoes, backpacks, PFDs, paddles, dry bags, tents, stoves, fuel, food, water containers and sanitation items. Leaders will carry emergency equipment including extensive first aid kits, cell phones, satellite phones, an itinerary, and a complete set of maps.

How should a Trailblazer pack for camp?

Please see our Trailblazer Packing List for details. For more clothing and gear recommendations, visit our Amazon list.

2020 Dates and Rates

Entering grade 8

Session A
3 week: June 28 – July 17 $3,890

Session B
3 week: July 19 – August 7 $3,890


Related programs

Darer      Challenger

Frequently Asked Questions

What safety measures does Miniwanca take?

Miniwanca is fully accredited by the American Camp Association and meet or exceed state health requirements and industry safety standards in both our in-camp and adventure trip programs. American Red Cross standards guide our waterfront activities. We have a team of committed, on-site health professionals, staffing multiple fully equipped health centers, with the nearest hospital just 12 miles away. Miniwanca campers are supervised throughout the day and maintain a 1:6 staff to camper ratio so that we can provide a fun, safe summer for our campers.

Will my child feel included at camp?

We enthusiastically welcome children with diverse backgrounds, experiences and identities. We value each camper’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.

What qualifications do staff members have?

Staff members strive to be excellent role models by adhering to the camp motto, My own self, At my very best, All the time. Our senior staff members are caring professionals who work with children year-round in camp, school programs and conferences.

Our cabin leaders have completed at least one year of college, are certified in first aid and CPR, and go through two weeks of extensive training at camp prior to the arrival of campers.

Four Trails adventure trip leaders participate in a rigorous training program in which leaders gain hands-on experience in each of Miniwanca’s program areas: backpacking, cycling, canoeing, and kayaking. Our leaders are certified in first aid, and many of our leaders are certified as Wilderness First Responders. In addition, each Four Trails adventure trip has at least one leader who is 21 years of age or older.

How do parents communicate with their children during camp?

Children love to hear from their families while at camp! Campers are encouraged to write letters during the session and parents are also welcome to send mail to their camper, or send emails through our one-way email provider, which our office staff print and distribute every day.

If families have an urgent message, question or concern about their child, our directors are always willing to speak with parents on the phone.

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.