Small Stewards, Big Impact: How Camp Mini-Yo-We Shapes the Future One Camper at a Time

Rich BirchBlog

Think about this reality: the person who may one day be responsible for groundbreaking medical research, or for streamlining a business to higher levels of efficiency, or for leading the next generation could be packing their bag for Mini-Yo-We right now? The secret ingredient in their future success could be the seeds of “stewardship” that are sown and nurtured at Camp Mini-Yo-We.

Leaders leave things better than they found them. At Camp Mini-Yo-We, we instill the value of stewardship, emphasizing the importance of caring for and improving whatever one is responsible for. Stewardship is one of the six pillars of leadership we work on as we attempt to develop tomorrow’s leaders through life-changing adventures in God’s creation. From personal belongings to shared spaces and the environment, we promote continuous improvement and responsible management.

Research has found that kids who learn the principles of responsibility and accountability—the key ingredients of stewardship—don’t just excel in academics; they also shine socially [ref]. They emerge as problem-solvers, resilience rock stars, and forward-thinking leaders. Sounds like the kind of people we need in boardrooms, classrooms, local churches, and council chambers, doesn’t it?

At Camp Mini-Yo-We, we believe in the potential of every camper to make a difference. How do we do that? We weave the value of stewardship—leaving things better than we found them—into the fabric of camp life.

Oh … that’s why you make a big deal about cabin clean-up!

An essential part of our daily routine at Camp Mini-Yo-We is what we affectionately call “cabin clean-up.” Now don’t let the name fool you—it’s more than just a task; it’s a fun-filled daily ritual during which our campers compete for points and prizes. But beyond the laughter and friendly competition, the clean-up carries a deeper message. By encouraging our campers to tidy up their cabins daily, we’re teaching them that stewardship begins at the grassroots level. It’s as simple as ensuring that your socks find their way back into your bag at the end of the week rather than being left behind. In this way, we not only keep our cabins shipshape but also ingrain in our campers the critical value of taking responsibility for their surroundings—a lesson that will serve them well beyond the borders of our camp.

Scaling the Peaks of Responsibility

Check out our Rocks & Ropes adventures and you’ll find more than just safety and adrenaline. Our Activity Leaders show by example how to care for communal resources, leaving the climbing gear better organized and cleaner than it was at the start of the day.

Turning Criticism into Kudos

Feedback is our secret sauce for continual improvement. Our young leaders eagerly plunge into debriefing sessions to improve both their actions and their attitudes. This ethos of stewardship and improvement is a stepping stone toward becoming an effective leader in the future.

Raising the Bar for Service

As our young leaders ascend the leadership ladder, they’re not focused just on their growth. They are actively exploring new ways to better serve our campers and you, the parents. To us, stewardship means improving all aspects of Mini-Yo-We and always striving for the best.

Even at the Most Senior Levels of Leadership

This legacy has been carried forward by our leadership team and handed down from one generation to the next for almost 80 years. Our board, staff, and volunteers have sought to continuously improve the physical site & programming at Mini-Yo-We so that it will be better than we found it for the next generation.

A prime example is the huge task we undertook recently: replacing all our waterfront docks. The old ones served us well, but the new ones, well, they’re not just docks—they’re testaments to our commitment to leaving things better than we found them. The improved design, which is quicker to install each spring and minimizes environmental impact, helps to ensure that we’re leaving Mary Lake better for future generations.

And the journey of stewardship doesn’t stop at the shoreline. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we have funded nearly $2,000,000 in bathroom upgrades across the site. As well as being visually appealing, our new bathrooms have been designed so our incredible volunteers can maintain them easily & they are better on the planet because of more efficient fixtures. This functionality, in turn, fosters a more hygienic and enjoyable environment for our campers.

By sending your child to Camp Mini-Yo-We, you’re not only giving them a summer of joy and adventure. You’re investing in their future by cultivating the skills and values they’ll need to make a positive impact in their world. You’re empowering them to embrace stewardship in their lives and in their leadership.

Kids who are encouraged to solve problems and make improvements become more resilient adults [ref]. This resilience is both a personal strength and a social one that can be used to uplift others and society at large.

Stewardship might seem to be a big word for our young campers, but we’re firm believers that even the smallest hands can make the biggest difference. So, let’s pack those bags, tie those shoelaces, and embark on a journey of stewardship that leaves a trail of positive impact extending well beyond the setting of the summer sun.