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Camp Onyahsa History

YMCA Camp Onyahsa: Proud Past – Fantastic Future

Year Historical Happening
1898 Established as one of the first resident camps, to meet community needs
Early 1900s YMCA Boys’ Camp, site located near Prendergast Point
1915 Known as Camp “Mason”
1924 Purchased site in Dewittville, through Y Campaign, later expanded
1924 Roy A. Wagner began 22-year tenure as Camp Director
1925 First summer with name “YMCA Camp Onyahsa”
1930–1939 Onyahsa serves youth through the Depression
1938 Darrah-Hultquist Dining Hall constructed
1941–1945 Young men from Onyahsa join Allied War effort
1955 First permanent cabin constructed — now Dawson Cabin
1962 Spiro G. Bello, former Onyahsa camper made Director (to 1984)
1968 Most old tents replaced with volunteer-constructed cabins
1969 Pioneer Side land acquired, used for nature programming
1970's Co-educational, disabled youth, family, and school-year programs
1971 Sheldon Program Center and Alden Lodge constructed
1972 Vital land acquisition made through Roesser family gift
1980's Onyahsa hosts International campers and staff
1986 Rotary Handicapped Camp offered, Mark Eckendorf, Director
1987 Former camper, Jon O'Brian, named Camp Director
1990's Renewed image, growing enrollment
1990 Increasing enrollment from diverse backgrounds
1994 Vital land acquisition to control upper creek, new Nature Area
1998–2001 Centennial Campaign — raised over $1.5 million for renovations
2000–2001 Major physical development and wilderness conservation
2002 Capacity enrollment and accredited program, group use increases
2004–2005 Inauguration of year-round youth and family programs
2005–2012 Addition of wilderness properties and adventure focus on 180 acres; Onyahsa is one of the three longest-established YMCA Camps in the US
2012–2015 Increased year-round programs and site winterization construction; serving over 1,000 youth annually from a variety of backgrounds
2015 Launch of $1.5 million Fantastic Future Fund drive to implement Master Site Plan, create Scholarship Endowment, and Facility Fund
2015–2020 Implementation of Development Plan, winterized cabins, new lodging, year-round program venues, and increased youth camps, group use, and collaborations September-June
2019-2020 Completion of $1.5 million Fantastic Future Capital Campaign, opening of year-round recreation center, fitness room and tent backhouses; Covid-19 Contingency programming
2020 Safely and responsibly offered expanded youth day camp and weekend family camps during COVID pandemic
2021-2022 Rebuilt the program post-pandemic with improvements including Day Camp Joheh-goh
2023 Celebration of 125th anniversary milestone!