YMCA Camp du Nord

Ely, Minnesota

September 27, 2013


This past weekend we drove up into the North Country of Minnesota. We watched the colors on the trees become more vibrant and the weather turn colder on our 5 hour drive up from the Twin cities. Arriving at du Nord we knew that it was a Family Camp facility and that it was a volunteer work weekend, nothing could have prepared us for the warmth and full emersion into the du Nord family that we received. Tim, the volunteer coordinator walked us around with his son Daniel. They showed us all of the slightly different cabins each one with a unique homie touch and cottage feel to it. They are simply beautiful inside with multiple bedrooms, they often have large picturesque windows, porches or decks and full kitchens with beautiful cabinets donated by Tim. It is easy to be proud of the camp but pride is an understatement. After eating a family style meal with some of the work weekend volunteers it was clear to Jack and I that the families of du Nord are passionate and grateful to be apart of  du Nord. Love for this place runs deep, generations of families have returned year after year not only to enjoy the beautiful location and to be reenergized by their fun loving staff but also to give back to camp. The volunteer culture here is unlike any other place we have been. They have multiple work weekends where families come up to camp and work on a variety of projects, the whole family pitches in and in the end it saves camp tons of money as well as building in more pride and ownership for the place.

Jack and I got to pitch in too, Jack worked with the “dumb muscle” lifting heavy stuff like washing machines and helping to operate their dump truck. I got to harvest and clear out the garden getting it ready for winter. It was nice to get our hands dirty and fun to hear some of the families stories about what brought them to du Nord and what keeps them coming back. One couple in particular really took us under their wing. They heard our story and immediately thought of their own children who are about our age. They took us to our very first sauna experience. Something very unique to du Nord and also to us. The first building built at camp was by finish architects and it is this log cabin sauna. At night both genders have an hour to enjoy the heat which can get up to 200 degrees and then our favorite part running off the ramp into the cool refreshing lake. We feel lucky to have visited and have a renewed sense of purpose after being infected by the love at du Nord.


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