Over 80 years of successful, fun and safe day camp, sleep-away camp and other kids summer programs have been possible through careful attention to high safety standards, selection and thorough training of staff, as well as solid programming.
Your child’s West Michigan summer camp experience will give them incalculable benefits, from learning their skills and talents to meeting fellow kids from across Michigan, including Grand Haven, Muskegon, Whitehall, Montague, Grand Rapids, Detroit and beyond. Pendalouan has long been a Chicago summer overnight camp destination, with young people coming up the coast for a Michigan sleep-away camp experience. Our leadership camps for kids provide an even more specialized, tailored approach to the concepts we instill in all of our campers.
YMCA Camp Pendalouan provides you with a peace of mind that comes from knowing you'll be getting a camp dedicated to safety and fun, with particular emphasis on healthy living and personalized character development. The same positive enrichment and activity that your child can receive at a YMCA can be found at Pendalouan, the best YMCA camp in Michigan. Our camps can even provide benefits beyond that, as students learn self-reliance and responsibility in a summer camp routine.
The first Muskegon Young Men’s Christian Association Camp
The first Muskegon Young Men’s Christian Association Camp was conducted at Duck Lake in 1923 under the direction of General Secretary, Leland S. Westerman. The camp was supervised by James Waring and Ralph “Deac” Bennett. Borrowed equipment was used by 35 campers and adult leaders.
Big Blue Lake
The next year, 1924, camp was moved to a site on Big Blue Lake, now known as Hiawatha Beach. Here 36 campers and 4 leaders ate and slept in tents for a two-week period.
Muskegon Hunting and Fishing Club property
In 1925, the camp occupied a portion of the old Muskegon Hunting and Fishing Club property, located on Big Blue Lake, which had been deeded to the Muskegon Humane Society. At this time, a dining hall and kitchen were constructed on a spot immediately in front of the present NIKANA lodge. The camp had adopted the name of “Camp Williams” in honor of Sir George Williams the founder of the Young Men’s Christian Association in London, England in 1843.
Howard Townsley was director of Camp Williams from 1925 to 1928
Howard Townsley was director of Camp Williams from 1925 to 1928. During this time, six permanent sleeping lodges were built in a semi-circle, facing the lake. Service clubs provided the funding for four lodges—Exchange (Iroquois), Kiwanis, Lions (Great Star) and Rotary (Hopi). The Y’s Men’s Club and the Foreman’s Club (Ottawa) assumed the indebtedness on two lodges (the Foreman’s Club was renamed International Management Council). Single cots and straw-filled mattresses were used. Enrollment was about 120 campers a 8 leaders for the season. Cooking was done on a wood-burning stove and kerosene lanterns were used for lighting. One 16 foot point well provided drinking water. Toilet facilities were privy-type outhouses. A washbasin with pail was provided for each cabin.
Francis W. Beedon served Camp Williams as interim director
In 1928 Francis W. Beedon served Camp Williams as interim director for six weeks of camping for a total of 140 campers and 8 leaders.
Walter F. Moessner became Camp Director
In 1929 Walter F. Moessner became Camp Director. Many significant changes took place during the following years.
Camp motto officially adopted
1929-1934: Camp motto officially adopted: “I’m Third,” meaning God First, the other fellow Second, and myself third. The first fleet of four wooden rowboats was purchased and a 31-foot sloop was contributed by a friend of camp. Brush, nearly obscuring the lake, was cut from along the shoreline. A beach area with a dock and a raft for swimming was established. Wildwood chapel was begun and a council ring area improved. Upon recommendation of the Camp Committee, the YMCA board of directors officially changed the name of the camp to Camp Pendalouan, honoring an Ottawa Indian Chief whose tribe inhabited the area surrounding Big Blue Lake.