Our History

For nearly one hundred years, Camp Tekakwitha has served young people through its camper-focused ministry. 

We're glad to share some of our history here with you, and we invite you to share your memories of camp with us by emailing us at camptekakwitha@gbdioc.org. Thank you!

  • 1926

    A foresighted lady, Mrs. Rose Van Laanen, wanted girls from the Catholic Diocese of Chicago to enjoy a camping experience in Northern Wisconsin. She had an idea and wanted to honor her son with founding of this camp, so she found property which was split between land on Shawano Lake and land across the road. The site consisted of a barn, small lodge, and four cabins. Girls from the Chicago area paid five dollars for the summer and enjoyed nature at its best. With ten girls the first summer, the Catholic Girls Camp was established.

  • 1929

    For the next few years, the camp expanded, and word of mouth from the campers encouraged more girls to come to camp. At the time there was a piece of property on Loon Lake in the same area, and because this property was larger with more potential, Mrs. Van Laanen investigated. The director, resident priest, and campers that summer were excited about the possibility of a new home and felt like pilgrims going to a new site. They took four wooden boats and a picnic lunch and rowed through the three connecting lakes to arrive on the shore of Loon Lake in the summer of 1929. Eventually, the two owners traded properties and the new location of the Catholic Girls Camp was founded. Upon arrival on the new territory, they found a loon (the bird of the area) with a broken wing. A local taxidermist was hired to stuff the bird, and to this day, the loon stands proudly in the main lodge.

  • 1929 - 1935

    Several cabins and a rustic chapel were added. The rustic chapel still stands (as the Theatre in the Woods) with the altar remaining as a piece of history where Masses and religious ceremonies were held on a weekly basis.

  • 1930 - 1945

    A bath house was added to camp along with an infirmary, pump house, trading post, and dining hall (accommodating up to 200 campers). A paved driveway and tennis court were later added. The camp was also painted white which led to it's very attractive appearance at the time.

  • The 1950's

    Additions were made to the 10 cabins to accommodate the ever-increasing enrollment!

  • 1960

    A large recreation hall was completed with a fireplace, stage, and bathroom. This building was used extensively for all sorts of activities including dancing, Christmas in July, talent shows, and rainy day activities. The rec hall was named Bishop Bona Hall and is used in emergency as a shelter from severe weather.

  • the 1960's

    A contest was held by the Diocese of Green Bay to rename the camp, previously known as Catholic Girls Camp.. Many names were submitted, but the committee decided upon Camp Tekakwitha. Kateri Tekakwitha was a North American Indian who was canonized a Saint in 2014. It was felt this would be an appropriate name for a camp which teaches all the qualities she had during her short life. 

    Thus, for the past 50 years, the site has been called Camp Tekakwitha. Truly, all the young girls and boys who attend camp have such a holy woman of faith to emulate.

  • 1981

    Camp opened its gates for the first time to young men ages 7-14 while still offering young ladies aged 7-16 the same opportunity. Because it was hard for the public to accept the change in the tradition of Camp Tekakwitha, the male weeks were not as successful as the female weeks. However, each summer again and again the board was reminded of the ever-growing co-ed camps.

  • 1984

    Camp again opened their gates to yet another group of co-ed campers which proved to be very successful. All campers were offered a well-rounded program consisting of swimming, boating, canoeing, water skiing, sailing, arts and crafts, archery, sports, horseback riding, primitive camping, campfire programs, religious programs, hiking, and nature studies. 


    At the time, campers were coming from all over the country - Wisconsin, Illinois, Mexico, Washington D.C., California, New Jersey, etc. The camp served all girls and boys regardless of race, creed, or religion, offering young adults the opportunity to learn and explore with others from different ways of life while experiencing a new way of life together.

  • 1998

    Camp Tekakwitha had nine cabins, a main lodge, Bishop Bona Hall, an infirmary, sandbox, arts and crafts cabin, chapel, trading post, garage, tennis courts with basketball hoops, director's house, waterfront area, and a large area of lakefront property with trails through the woods. The grounds were well-kept and very sandy.

  • 2004

    Camp added a new lodge, director's quarters, and health center. As a bonus, the bunkhouses were built for year-round programming and summer lead staff. A large donation was made to build a new chapel which was to be named St. Francis of Assisi chapel. Camp was very happy to have so much support for improved buildings.

  • 2016

    Camp Tekakwitha introduced a new mission and vision statement, deepening its focus on missionary discipleship. Take a moment to read them on our Mission and Vision webpages.

  • 2026

    It's not too early to start thinking about the year 2026 when Camp Tekakwitha will celebrate its 100th anniversary!