Approximately 300 youth, ages 10-15 converge on Camp Ripley, Minnesota in Juy-August to attend the Annual Minnesota National Guard Youth Camp. The youth, dependents, nieces, nephews, brothers, sisters and grandchildren of current and retired Minnesota Guard members, spend seven days experiencing Camp Ripley and its surrounding environment during the one week camp session.
The idea for establishing a youth education program for the Minnesota National Guard was first discussed in the summer of 1988. In September 1989, the Adjutant General, Major General Eugene Andreotti, appointed the Family Program Manager to establish a youth camp program. A State Coordinator was appointed in November and the first planning meeting was held in December 1989.
Since that time, the Youth Camp Program has developed into a Minnesota non-profit organization. The Internal Revenue Service recognizes it as a non-profit organization, and a Board of Directors oversees the planning and conduct of all operations. It solicits, screens and trains volunteers who serve as the staff for all youth camp activities. All volunteers are active or retired members of the Army or Air National Guard, spouses or dependents. In October 1992, the American Camping Association (ACA) after undergoing a thorough investigation during the 1992 camp session, classified Youth Camp as an accredited camp. Youth Camp was the first accredited National Guard Youth Camp in the United States. Youth Camp continues to go through the re-accreditation process and remains an ACA camp.
In 2001 Teen Camp was created. This one week camp was developed to include 13-15 year olds. The intent of this camp is to promote respect, friendship, leadership, team skills, self-confidence, self-esteem and community involvement.
The purpose of the Minnesota National Guard Youth Camp is to:
Provide a unique and enjoyable opportunity for dependents of the Minnesota National Guard to explore the environment in which they live and be more responsible in maintaining the environment for future generations.
Provide a positive experience in a safe and caring environment.
Assist youth in gaining an understanding of why their Guard member servers in the National Guard.
Help youth cope with the stress and confusion of separation/deployment.
During August 1991, 104 youths attended the First Annual Minnesota National Guard Youth Camp. It was a resounding success. Interest in the Youth Camp has increased and this summer 300 campers will be attending.