Mike Endres’ first summer on Cass Lake was 1958. With degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Geology-Geophysics, Science Education, and a Master’s of Education, Mike spent 30 years teaching science before devoting his full attention to educating boys in a wilderness setting.
Mike’s leadership, education, and experience give him the tools to properly train and prepare counselors to understand their role in supervising, counseling, and creating an environment where campers will grow and thrive. Additionally, his ability to see situations through the eyes of a teacher, parent, and a camp director gives Camp Chippewa a leader who can fully realize its mission.
Mike has paddled thousands of miles and portaged hundreds of canoes over the ancient voyageur trails both as a camper and counselor. His favorite trip is still the paddle from camp to Star Island and back. Mike is an Expert Rifleman and is often found down on The Range teaching a camper how to properly aim, squeeze the trigger and follow through.
Mary Endres was a freelance graphic designer and fitness professional before beginning her adventure as director of Camp Chippewa in 2012. She handles the business operations as well as serving families before, during, and after their sons’ camp attendance each summer. As a mom, Mary understands the emotions of sending your son to camp as well as the huge benefit both parents and campers receive during this time away from each other. Mary enjoys long walks with Ivy (the camp dog), biking, fishing, cooking and baking, games, puzzles, knitting, and many other creative endeavors. At camp, you will find Mary working in the office, the camp store, or walking around camp with Ivy watching the campers in the activities. Together, Mike and Mary have raised two sons, Sam and Jacob, who continue to be a part of the tradition at Camp Chippewa.
Jacob has been a part of Camp Chippewa for 18 years. After being a camper for 10 summers, he started working as a counselor teaching tennis and leading canoe trips. He is now the Staffing Coordinator and manages the canoe tripping program. He graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College with a bachelor’s degree in Biology. After spending two years working in outdoor education at the Emerald Cove Outdoor Science Institute and The Ecology School, he began working for Camp Chippewa year-round. He enjoys playing tennis, climbing, skiing, and backpacking. During the summer, you can find him in the trip house or canoeing in Canada.
Will has been a part of Camp Chippewa for 17 years. He started in Badger cabin when he was eight years old, ending his camper career in Athabasca after nine years. He has now been on staff for the last eight years. Will graduated from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign with a double major in Earth, Society, & Environmental Sustainability and Geography and Geographic Information Systems. During the school year, Will works in the outdoor/environmental education world. He enjoys hiking, camping, sailing, ultimate frisbee, canoeing, fly fishing, and reading. At camp, you can find Will sailing in the middle of Cass Lake, working with the CLTs, or canoeing somewhere in Canada!
Ben’s first year with Chippewa was 2002 and he has been unable to get away ever since! Advancing through the ranks at Chippewa, Ben became a jack of all trades (and master of some!), honing his skills on the trail and at camp. Ben graduated from the University of Richmond with a degree in Economics in 2014. During the off-season, Ben works as an arborist and moonlights as a small business consultant. Ben can be found sailing, climbing, tripping, or fishing.
Abby has been a part of Camp Chippewa for 3 years. Before Camp Chippewa, she was a camper and counselor at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center for twelve years. She graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College with a bachelor’s degree in geology. Abby has taught at the Science Museum of Minnesota and at two outdoor science schools, one in California and one in Maine. In the off-season, she assists in a 3-year-old preschool classroom in Minneapolis, MN. She loves spending time outside in canoes, hammocks, and tents. If she’s not exploring outside, she may be playing a board game with friends or snuggling with the camp dog, Ivy. You can find Abby scheduling activities for campers and counselors, teaching at the climbing tower, or leading nature activities around camp.
Sam has been a part of Camp Chippewa since 2002. After ten years as a camper, he returned as a counselor and has led many canoe trips throughout Canada. Sam graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College in 2016 with degrees in Biology and Environmental Studies. Wilderness experiences at Camp Chippewa inspired him to pursue further adventures in the outdoors, including working as an outdoor instructor in New Zealand, biking the Continental Divide from Canada to Mexico (with Camp alum Spencer Dillon), and completing the Arrowhead 135, a winter bike race in Minnesota known as one of the hardest races in the world. Sam is a nationally-registered EMT and a Wilderness Medicine Instructor. In the off-season he works in a visionary role for Camp Chippewa, sharing the importance of nature and community for young people. Sam lives in Minneapolis with his partner Emily and five of their best friends.
Each summer, Tina comes to camp to train our staff on many of the revolutionary principles from her books, including her New York Times Bestseller The Whole-Brain Child. Staff learn about the power of positive relationships to to change the brain and build resilience, as well as about how behavior is communication so that counselors focus on skill-building and teaching. In their time with Tina, our counselors learn the “4 S’s” of helping campers feel safe, seen, soothed, and secure in knowing that they will have someone show up for them and help them feel connected. From these training experiences, our staff and campers have more positive camp experiences and learn skills that go beyond camp.
John “JP” Endres is the son of the founders, Cap and Mom Endres. In 2001, he and his wife, Cammy, became Director Emeriti after more than 40 years as directors. During his tenure, JP developed many of Chippewa’s activities and opened the next chapter of the camp’s tripping program with the first Canadian canoe trip in the 1950s. The tennis court still beckons, as do games of washers and stories around the campfire. If stories keep us connected, then JP’s stories connect us to Chippewa’s past. JP followed in Cap’s footsteps by serving his country in WWII, teaching and coaching, and directing camp for many years. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Founders and pioneers Otto “Cap” and Helen “Mom” Endres began bringing boys to northern Minnesota to escape the summer heat of Oklahoma. Cap was a teacher, coach, and military captain. Mom was a bookkeeper, cook, and mother to all. During the Depression, they shared a vision that boys needed to stay physically and mentally strong in the summer. Their spirit lives on today in our mission to develop character, through adventure, inspired by tradition.
Where we’ve been—tradition. Where we are—program. Where we’re going—vision. In 1999 Camp Chippewa made the transition to become a 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit organization. A board of directors was assembled and the ground work to honor the past, support the present, and lead toward the future began. All nine board members have close ties to Camp Chippewa as a past camper, counselor, or family member of a camper. Each brings their passion for camp as they work to make the Chippewa experience even better. Prior to the pandemic, annual meetings were held at camp. Now, Zoom meetings take place several times a year to ensure proper oversight and a road map for innovation, outreach, and sustainability.
If the program is the heart of Camp Chippewa, then the kitchen is the soul. Our kitchen team of six makes a Swiss watch look out of sync. Three meals a day include variety, nutrition, and food prepared from scratch. Busy campers and counselors need good eats to keep their engines running.
Behind the scenes is our maintenance staff who keep the grounds in great shape, ensure the washhouse is clean, and make repairs promptly. They are all more than just faces that say hello. Our staff will get to know campers by name while they laugh together, sing a song, or play a game.
Our medical center is staffed with a resident physician or nurse. Many of our doctors have returned year after year and consider Camp Chippewa their summer home. Modern medical facilities are found in Bemidji, twenty miles away.
Counselors are selected for their maturity, character, and leadership capabilities, as well as their desire to be role models and mentors to our campers. Their enthusiasm creates a fun and engaging atmosphere, while their unique skills help foster growth and mastery in a wide variety of activities. Many are former Chippewa campers who pass on the skills and experiences they gained when they were younger. Counselors from foreign countries share their unique skills and culture. All are college-aged or older, with a variety of backgrounds, from teaching to recreation and everything in between.
In addition to our background verification and interview process, all of our staff and volunteers must pass criminal background checks that exceed state minimum standards.
We take great care in choosing our leadership and camp counselors. If you would like to know more about what it takes to join our crew, we welcome you to visit Work at Camp for more information.