History of Camp Miller

1898       YMCA Camp Miller was started as the 9th YMCA Camp in the United States.  Today it is the 6th oldest camp in the nation.  Over the years, Camp Miller has been relocated to a few different sites.  Initially it was located in Ely, MN.

1902      Camp Miller moves to Deerwood, MN, (on Serpent Lake) and remains there for the next 10 years.  During these years the camp was run during the month of August and was for boys only.

1903      Norman McLeod became camp director and continued on in this position for 46 years.  Mac, as he was affectionately known, helped to shape the lives of thousands of young boys.

1913       Camp Miller moved to its present-day site on Sturgeon Lake.  The new 54 acre site was purchased for $1000.  As years passed, more land was purchased and today Camp Miller rests upon 340 acres.

1917       This year tents were replaced with a camper cabin – Moore Cabin.  The following year two more cabins were built.  1918 was the year that Camp Miller escaped the Moose Lake fire.

1941       Congdon Hall was built and served as the dining and recreation hall for 50 years until it was dismantled in 1992.

1949       Norman McLeod retires from his position as Camp Miller Director.

1952       The Camp Miller Committee of Management was formed and they began plans to rebuild a now much worn down Camp Miller.  Today, they continue to be an integral part of carrying out the Camp Miller mission.

1953-1968            Ten new cabins were built.

1956       McLeod Lodge was built as a memorial to Norman McLeod who had passed away in 1951.

1958       American Camping Association accreditation.

1970       Purchase of Camp Miller farm.

1976       Camp Miller became winterized, making it possible to provide year-round camping programs. Wade Woods was purchased.  Les Blacklock provides a naturalist’s interpretation of the natural Camp Miller property.

1983       YMCA Service Club chartered.

1984       For the first time in Camp Miller history, girls came to camp.

1985       YMCA Camp Miller Endowment Fund was established.  (Both the Endowment Fund and the YMCA Service Club offer Campship support to Camp Miller which allows low-income children to attend.)

1992       Mitchell Lodge and Conference Center is built; named for the Mitchell Family who had been involved with both the YMCA and Camp Miller since 1903.  Dining and programming are enjoyed in this state-of-the-art facility.

1996       Camp Miller welcomes its first female director, Tracie Clanaugh.

2000      The old Pine Palace bathhouse is demolished and replace with the new Pine Palace

2004       Jack McLeod Leadership Lodge is built to host leadership opportunities for youth.

2012       Jack McLeod Courage Course is built to help campers and others build skills and gain the experience of a high ropes and challenge course.

2014       Culver cabin is moved from the south end of camp to its current central location as preparations were made to remodel into the Camp Miller museum.

2015       Construction begins on a log pavilion located on the old Congdon Hall site. All posts and beams are sustainably harvested from Camp Miller trees.

2016       The Jeff Palmer Museum in Culver Cabin and The Boman Pavilion are dedicated and opened to the public honoring two long time stewards of camp and the Duluth Y.


With over 100 years of history to share with future generations, YMCA Camp Miller is collecting artifacts for the Jeff Palmer Museum in Culver Cabin.  If  you have any items from Camp Miller with historical significance, we would love to accept them as donations.  Help us teach the history of Camp Miller to all of the campers of today. Dedicated in May of 2016, Camp Miller's Culver Museum showcases 120 years of Camp Miller history. Stop in if the gates are open!

Email Eric Sommer for more information


YMCA Camp Miller is attempting to compile and archive old and new articles featuring Camp Miller.  If you have any articles to share, have access to local archives, or know where we can get our hands on some, we would love to work with you in compiling this piece of Camp Miller History!

Email Eric Sommer for more information




YMCA Camp Miller
89382 E. Frontage Road
Sturgeon Lake, MN 55783
Camp Miller Duluth Y Office
302 West 1st Street
Duluth, MN 55802
218-722-4745 ext. 143
Eric Sommer
Executive Director of
Camping Services
Damita Miller-Chasson
Camp Miller Retreat Director

John Maly
Resident Camp Director