Summer Camp

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Girls swimming at Camp Ojiketa on Green Lake, near Chisago City, Minnesota, 1931. Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society via Minnesota Digital Library.

With the formation of many organizations for children in the 1910s, outdoor activities and camping was becoming a regular feature of childhood. Many camps opened in the 1920s for girls as well as boys. However, the children of farmers and the urban working-class were not the only ones who were thought to benefit from these camps. It was felt that the children of an emerging middle class were spending too much time indoors and losing the relationship to nature that their parents had. Summer camp offered children structured time in which to learn new skills, outdoor activities to foster a love of nature, and a chance to socialize with other children.

Camps opened across the country, often near lakes. At camps such as Camp Kiwadinipi and Camp Ojiketa in Minnesota, girl campers would canoe, swim, fish, and hike. Girls were also encouraged to complete “gypsy trips,” on which they would trek through the wilderness without a route or destination, often for days.