On June 26, 1937, Camp Hiwela officially opened in Wild Rose.
At that time, the residents of Oshkosh had a powerful belief that their daughters could benefit from a residential camping experience. From the architects who designed the cabins and dining halls, to the volunteers who built and maintained the camp, to the parents who gave up a week of vacation every summer to act as camp nurses or rangers, the whole community supported Camp Hiwela.
Jean Collier, past camper, counselor and current Hiwela Youth Fund committee member, recalls the 13 years she spent at Camp Hiwela.
“When I was a child, Hiwela was important to me as it allowed me to be in the outdoors with girls my age. It is difficult to describe the fresh air, beautiful pristine lakes and the aroma of pine,” says Jean.
“I loved sleeping in screened cabins and open-air tents, singing, swimming, canoeing, hiking, and spending time being a kid in a kids’ world.”
For 58 years, Camp Hiwela taught the value and joy of being outdoors and camping. After the sale of the camp in 1995, the Winnebagoland Council of Camp Fire Boys and Girls used the proceeds to create the Hiwela Youth Fund. It was the first field of interest fund focused on youth within the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation. Annually, the fund supports youth-related programs and activities focused on camping, environmental education and outdoor learning experiences. Since the fund was established, 477 grants totaling $1,243,000 have been awarded.
“A donation to the Hiwela (Youth) Fund honors the spirit of our predecessors and their commitment to residential camping for all children in the Oshkosh area. Contributing to the Hiwela (Youth) Fund maintains and strengthens the Hiwela legacy: the belief that spending time in the outdoors is childhood’s ultimate joyful experience,” says Jean.
The Hiwela Youth Fund committee will be hosting a celebration of Camp Hiwela’s 80th anniversary on June 24, 2017, at the Paine Art Center Prairie Woodlands in Oshkosh. The event will feature all the things that happen in a day at camp. Visit www.camphiwela.com for all event details.
2017 Youth Grants
With support from the Hiwela Youth Fund, Oshkosh Youth Fund and the Turner Youth and Children Fund, $25,175 was awarded in February to local nonprofits that support youth development.
Best Friends of Neenah Menasha
Learning Harbor – Support educational program that teaches youth life skills through the art of boat building.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Fox Valley Region, Inc.
Fish for Kids’ Sake – Provide fishing supplies to 75 children to participate in Fish for Kids’ Sake event.
Boys’ & Girls’ Brigade Association
Character Development and Leadership Training – Provide scholarships for children to participate in the 22-week program, which teaches new life skills and reinforces positive character traits.
Boys and Girls Club of Oshkosh, Inc.
Keystone Conference 2017- Send teens to attend the National Keystone Conference in Chicago, a character and leadership program.
Friends of Camp Anokijig
Outdoor Education Experience – Help students gain a better understanding of the environment through hands-on experiences and learn life-long skills, healthy leisure activities, teamwork and responsibility.
Girl Scouts of the Northwestern Great Lakes
Girl Scout Experience – Provide financial aid to approximately 75 girls to cover membership dues, troop dues, uniforms and fees.
International Youth Sailing of Oshkosh Ltd.
School-site Cross Country Skiing – Make cross country skiing accessible to 1,000 students by reducing participation fee of ski sessions.
Junior Achievement of Wisconsin, Inc.
Economics for Success – Support participation of four eighth-grade classrooms in the Economics for Success program.
Paine Art Center and Gardens
Bridge to Enhance Nature Learning Area – Install a 12-foot long cedar bridge.
Adventure Camp – Fund participation of boys in a week-long wilderness program that provides educational and personal growth opportunities, skills development and therapeutic counseling.
School District of Omro
Middle School Outdoor Environmental Education – Support two-night camping experience for sixth graders that brings environmental studies to life and provides recreational learning opportunities.
Winnebago Audubon Society
Birds in the Air Everywhere – Bring Avis Wildlife Alliance and touchable artifacts, pictures and live animals to elementary schools in Oshkosh.
2017 Hiwela Youth Camperships
Supported by the Hiwela Youth Fund, the following organizations were awarded a total of $34,357 in February to provide scholarships for youth from Winnebago County to attend camp:
Best Friends of Neenah Menasha for community-based mentoring at Camp Onaway.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Fox Valley Region, Inc. for community-based mentoring at Camp Onaway.
Boys’ & Girls’ Brigade Association for Camp Onaway scholarship assistance.
Boys and Girls Club of Oshkosh for camping scholarships at Camp Whitcomb Mason and Camp Radford.
Christine Ann Domestic Abuse Services, Inc. to support participation of eight teens in F.I.L.T.E.R. Camp.
Easter Seals Wisconsin for Camp Wawbeek camperships.
Friends of Camp Anokijig for camperships for needy children.
Girl Scouts of the Northwestern Great Lakes to fund at-risk girls to attend their choice of area Girl Scout camps.
Lourdes Academy of Oshkosh for sixth grade Trees for Tomorrow trip.
Winnebago County 4-H Leaders Association, Inc. for Upham Woods 4-H Camp camper financial assistance.
Wisconsin Badger Camp for camperships scholarship assistance..
The Oshkosh Area Community Foundation is a nonprofit charitable organization created by and for the people of Winnebago County, Waushara County, Green Lake County and Ripon. Through charitable giving, the Community Foundation strives to make our communities thrive.