Camp History

YMCA Camp Onyahsa: Proud Past – Fantastic Future

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 backhousles. Covid-19 Contingency programming.
2020 Safely and responsibly offered expanded youth day camp and weekend family camps during COVID pandemic.