About us

Our Story

Camp Cavell is a three season camp which has served children in the Metropolitan Detroit Community for over 100 years. We are located on 55 acres of land, with 1,800 feet of beautiful Lake Huron shoreline in Lexington, Michigan.

We work with a unique mix of children and adults from very different economic and social backgrounds. A large number of the children we serve are from economically depressed areas, have a disability or are “at risk” in some way. We feel these groups of children need to be exposed to new challenges and growth opportunities in the out of doors. 

Our programs feature Fun Family Weekends, Women’s Getaway Weekends, 50+ Senior Weekend, Kid’s Overnight Summer Camp and Day Camp. Activities include: waterfront, crafts, archery, horseback riding, kayaking, technical tree climbing, and lots more!

We also serve over 50 community groups and organizations. They utilize both our programming and our site each year. Many of the groups with whom we work serve participants who are “at-risk” or have a disability.

Organizations who utilize our services include the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Champs for Life (Children in foster care due to abuse in home), American Heart Stroke Survivors, Girl Scouts, ARC (Mentally disabled adults), Interim House (our family shelter).

Altogether we serve over 3000 people in a year for an average of 48 contact hours each. That is over 192,000 people contact hours a year! We feel strongly that camp is a special place like no other!

 

Camp Cavell Logo

It is a safe place where people can learn about one another and their environment as they try new experiences and grow together.

Please contact us if you have questions, suggestions or would like to help!

Jill Laidlaw, Camp Director

Our History

Back in 1914… far removed from the destructive din of the battlefields of Europe, a whole new world of adventure and excitement opened up for thirty Detroit girls at a camp sponsored for two weeks by the Girls’ Work Department of the Detroit Young Women’s Christian Association. The setting was Elizabeth Lake, and the program featured: rising, scripture and prayers around the flag pole, meals, inspection twice a day, sports and swimming, quiet hour, closing camp fire and to bed at nine o’clock. Borrowed tents comprised its meager equipment. From this simple beginning, the Detroit YWCA girls’ camp progressed through seasons of three, four, six and eight weeks from various temporary sites – Tecumseh on Lake St. Clair (1915), the Grindley Farm on Long Lake, notable for the luxury of wooden floors in the tents (1916-1917), and Oxley on Lake Erie where the custom of entertaining parents was inaugurated with a camp circus (1918).

In 1919, at the Carrigan site on Lake Huron (1919-21) the enterprise was christened “Camp Cavell” in honor of Nurse Edith Cavell whose heroic patriotism so fired the imagination of the girls of the post- war period. Sleeping tents for one hundred and twenty-three campers were set up along “Cavell Boulevard,” and for the first time a permanent though primitive recreation-dining building was erected. In 1922, Camp Cavell was moved north to Lakeport. Here “Kamp Kavell Knoos” flourished weekly, and many traditional camp songs penned. Riding and creative arts were introduced, Indian tribal organization effected, and the first differentiation in age groups made.

In 1927, proceeds of the Women’s Building Fund campaign made possible the purchase of Camp Cavell’s present site on Lake Huron – 30 acres with 1,000 feet of lake frontage – 4 ½ miles north of Lexington. Later 10 more acres were added which made 40 acres with 1400 feet of lake frontage. 

By July, 1929, a spacious Recreation Lodge, Crafts Wigwam, a few cabins and a temporary dining hall were ready for Camp Cavell’s 14th season. Each year has seen additional buildings and equipment added – tennis courts, stables, dining hall, shower house, director’s cabin and additional cabins, and in 1958, three new Unit Houses, a new Brookside Unit and a CIT cabin. 

In 1963, during our 50th Anniversary Year, all new winterized Northwood and Southwood Unit cabins were erected as well as a new Health Cabin, and winterizing done to the kitchen and Dining Hall.

We now have 55 acres and 1800 feet of lake frontage. Programs in Technical Tree Climbing, Wood shop, Kayaking and Backpacking have been added. Ramps and walkways now make Camp Cavell accessible to all. Thanks to our “Camp Friends” herb gardens, a turtle pond, a picnic shelter, an animal petting farm and comfortable porches make camp more inviting then ever! As we enter a new century, we will continue to grow and develop new programs and improve our buildings and facilities. 

To insure the camp’s future the Camp Cavell Conservancy was formed in March of 2013 and in the following September the Conservancy entered into a land contract with the YWCA of Metropolitan Detroit to purchase the camp. The Camp Cavell Conservancy has committed itself to providing stewardship of the property while continuing to provide camp experiences for children in the Lexington, Port Huron, Metropolitan Detroit, and other communities throughout Michigan. 

The Conservancy is continuing to improve Camp Cavell’s facilities with the addition of a new Brookside Bathroom complex, two new bathrooms in Northwood, enclosed picnic shelter, upgraded infrastructure and expanded programs. We are excited as we enter this new era with renewed spirit and a commitment to our mission.

Our Staff

Join our team to learn, grow & gain experience. Click here to learn more

Jill Laidlaw
Executive Camp Director

Rebecca Nielson
Associate Director

Marian Reid
Business Manager
& Kitchen Manager

Public Relations

CAMP CAVELL is a unique environment set aside from our hectic world. It is not just a place, but rather, “camp” is a philosophy, a way of operating. Within the boundaries of camp, lifetime friendships are formed spanning all cultural, ethnic and social lines. CAMP CAVELL fosters the ideal that individuals from diverse backgrounds can celebrate similarities while learning to appreciate diversity.

Click Here to download MORE INFORMATION on who we are and those we serve.
(This PDF file includes Camp Cavell at a Glance, The Groups we Serve, Evaluations Comments, Our goals and Objectives.)