Camp Odayin

31 May

Imagine not wanting to go to summer camp because you didn’t want to have to explain the scar on your chest from heart surgery or a parent being too scared to send their child off to camp because they would be too far from medical care.  This is what the families of children with heart disease had to think about before Camp Odayin came along.

Camp Odayin provides safe, fun and supportive camp experiences and community building opportunities for young people with heart disease and their families. 

Sara Meslow knew about heart disease.  At just 13 years old, she was diagnosed with supra ventricular tachycardia which caused abnormal electrical impulses sometimes made her heart to beat wildly.  She grew up to be an elementary school social worker and volunteered for several summers at a camp for young heart patients in California.  Sara’s mother suggested that she start one of these camps in Minnesota and Camp Odayin was born.  

The camp was formed in 2001.  Odayin means “heart” in Ojibway.  The goal is to make the camp an ordinary camp so the kids don’t have to feel like a heart patient. 

The main office is located in Stillwater, Minnesota but their camp programs are held around the area.  They have a resident camp in Crosslake, Minnesota; a day camp in St. Paul, Minnesota; and a winter camp and family camp in Amery, Wisconsin. 

The only cost to campers is a $25 registration fee per person to attend.  The actual costs are between $100 and $600 per child depending on the program.  The additional funds are contributed by generous donors and four annual fundraising events.  They also utilize an all-volunteer staff, including highly trained pediatric cardiac nurses and physicians, in addition to the camp counselors and program directors. 

The resident camp is for children with heart disease between 8 and 17 years of age, the day camp is for children with heart disease that are 6 and 7 years of age, and the family camp is for families with a child with heart disease.  All camps are for children who would benefit from connecting with other young people who may share similar health, emotional, and social concerns.  Camper eligibility is determined upon recommendation by a pediatric cardiologist and approval by the Camp Odayin Medical Director.

The organization hosts three annual fundraisers.  The Heart & Sole Fun Run/Walk features a beautiful 5K run and 2.5K walk at Como Park in Saint Paul, Minnesota in September.  The Whole Heart Golf Tournament is an annual event in June at the Indian Hills Golf Club in Stillwater, Minnesota.    The Have a Heart Benefit is a music event held each winter.  You can learn about these fundraising events on the organizations website.  These fundraisers return about 93% to their campers.

How can you help?

  • Each summer over 120 volunteers are needed as counselors, nurses, and cardiologists.  Camp counselors stay in the cabins with 7 to 9 campers.  Each cabin is also staffed by a nurse who administers medication and monitors the health of the campers.  You can learn more and apply for these positions here.
  • The organization also utilizes volunteers who serve on event planning committees and provide office support.  You can learn more and apply for these positions here.
  • You can purchase Camp Odayin logo clothing on their website.
  • You can also make a monetary donation using the “Donate Here” button on the organization’s website.

You can learn more about Camp Odayin at their website,  You can also connect with them via e-mail, Facebook, or Twitter.


Posted by on May 31, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization


Tags: , , , , , ,

5 responses to “Camp Odayin


    May 31, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    I am a Volunteer at Camp Odayin and i love it, Thanks so much for Blogging about camp <3

    • Sergey

      June 20, 2012 at 9:40 pm

      camp moja is a very fun camp to go to and to be at every year because you have every fun caslses to be in and plus we have a good event for all the campers to be in and plus some of the counselors help in it and also we have a talent show that everyone that want to be in it can be in it witch means the campers that want to be in the talent show is what that means on that and sometimes the campers ask the counselors to be in it with them to there in the talent show there at camp moja every year ok.

  2. Sydney Kathryn Taylor

    June 5, 2012 at 5:21 am

    I have been a camper at Odayin for 3 years (and now am too old :( ), but I can honestly say Camp is the best week of the year for all of us. I had been to other camps, but did not have enjoyable experiences – I was teased not only by the other kids but also by the adults simply because I couldn’t keep up with the rest of the group. I was left out, and there were things I could not participate in. I NEVER wore a bathing suit that revealed my scar because I was ashamed and always got strange looks. When I went to Camp Odayin, ALL of that went away! From the moment I got off the bus, I really felt like I was part of the family. I plan on coming back as a volunteer counselor and one day, a volunteer cardiologist! Please, PLEASE help out in any way you can because without it, Camp could not survive!

  3. Meg

    June 20, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    Susan, we have the pictures, but we’ve not peostd them on the Camp Barbee Facebook page. It’s our intent to create a Camp Barbee page at and post the pictures there.

  4. Frankie

    June 21, 2012 at 12:00 am

    I have just entered an apipocatiln for Ariel Stephan for Camp Moja. Ariel attended the camp for about 7 years until we moved to Wisconsin. We are going to be vacationing in Kansas City (with his sister) during the time of the camp and would like Ariel to have the renewed experience of the camp.He had wonderful experiences at MOJA and hopes he can go again.Thanks,Carol Stephan


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