History of
YWCA Camp Cavell
"Indeed ‘tis upon the past that we build the present and dream of the future."

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 so 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 1000 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, 1927, 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, Woodshop, Kayaking and Backpacking have been added. Ramps and walkways now make Camp Cavell accessible to all. Thanks to our "Camp Friends" new gardens, a turtle pond, 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!


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Camp Cavell | 3335 Lakeshore Road, Lexington, Michigan 48450
tele: (810) 359-2267 | e-mail: office@campcavell.org
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