2023 Annual Impact Report

Heart Heroes - Letter from Executive Director, Sara Meslow

In the Disney movie Hercules, Zeus says, “A true hero isn’t measured by the size of his strength, but by the strength of his heart.”

Our 2023 annual impact report highlights many heroes in our family with strong, courageous and kind hearts.

Our super hero campers:

Dylan – Dylan’s talent show performance at Winter camp – he led his cabinmates in the Pine Cabin (dubbed the ‘Pine Street Boys’) in an epic rendition of “I want it that way”.  Before long, the entire camp was on their feet singing.   
Dylan’s superpower – CONFIDENCE!

Tobin – 7-year-old Tobin attended camp last summer for the first time. Likely the most memorable part was doing the morning polar plunge in the lake with his cardiologist.  Tobin says if he were director for a day, he would give all the kids two extra lunches!
Tobin’s superpower – COURAGE!

Corwin – At four years old Corwin, was the youngest heart hero at Family Camp when his family first attended in 2016.  Now 10 years old, Corwin shared this motto with his with his cabinmates – “It’s more important to be kind than cool.”
Corwin’s superpower – KINDNESS!

Will30-year-old former camper who made a donation to Odayin says he stays in touch with many of his camp friends and also shared that he uses “Odayin” in most of his passwords!
Will’s superpower – keeping CONNECTIONS!

Our super hero volunteers:

In addition to building the superpowers of confidence, courage, kindness and connections, Odayin supports the mental health of our campers in a big way, due in part to our incredible volunteers that help shape and support our campers.  In 2023 we had 525 volunteers donate 9,560 hours to Odayin.  We could not fulfill our mission without them!

Our super hero supporters:

As Hercules taught us:  “At the end of the day, it’s not about muscles, or fame, or any physical marker. Heroism is defined by how hard a hero loves, how far they are willing to go to defend what matters, and just how good they are”.  Your hearts are GOOD. Thank you for your generous role in the Odayin story.  I’m grateful.

Sara Meslow, Executive Director

Super hero campers and volunteers on blue background
Camp Programs

Our supportive programs were attended by 675 people in 2023. In addition to our in-person and virtual camps, we offered some creative opportunities for connection and learning. We hosted an “Arctic Adventure” near both Minneapolis and Milwaukee. These fun winter activity days welcomed 63 heart heroes and family members, many of whom had never experienced Camp Odayin. The alumni camper network, Mortimer’s Mates, continued to grow and hosted a variety of gatherings. In total, 332 heart heroes and 343 family members benefitted from one or more Camp Odayin experience.


parents at Dads Day and two Moms Retreats

Two dads day participants holding up a burger at a grill


campers at Residential Camp

Camper and volunteer playing messy Twister


heart heroes tuned into our virtual Ticker Talks and Hearts@Home

Hearts@Home camper opening the mailed box


heart heroes and family members at Family Camp

Family dressed in matching red and black plaid
  • Moms Retreat is a time for moms of heart heroes to connect for support, education and empowerment in Stillwater, MN and Lake Geneva, WI.
  • Dads Day is a day of outdoor recreation in Excelsior, MN to build camaraderie and connection between dads of young people with heart disease.
  • Hearts@Home virtual camp is for campers in grades 1-11. All campers receive a mailed “camp in a box” which includes a camp t-shirt and activity supplies.
  • Residential Camp offers campers in grades 1-11 an opportunity to enjoy traditional camp activities in a medically supervised environment during a five-day overnight experience in Crosslake, MN and Elkhorn, WI.
  • Family Camp is an opportunity for families of a child with heart disease age birth to 12th grade to come together for fun, education, and connection.
  • Ticker Talk is a free, mini-camp experience hosted virtually throughout the school year for online campers in grades 1-12.
  • Mortimer’s Mates is a group for former Odayin campers that provides continued connection, alumni events, speakers, and more.
  • Winter Camp offers campers in grades 1-12 the chance to reconnect for frigid fun in February. Winter Camp was not hosted in 2023.
100% of campers shared they feel accepted at camp
Camper in mask and cape, holding a drawing that says you'r a superhero
100% of campers shared they made new friends at camp
Geographic Reach
US map with hearts in WA, ND, SD, AZ, CO, TX, MN, IA, WI, IL, MI, IN, PA, NY, GA, FL, and MA
Campers in 2023 represented 17 US states
Campers in life jackets standing on a dock
A camper looking over their shoulder while riding a horse
Aerial photo of two smiling campers on a beach
Mental Health Benefits

In conjunction with the Mayo Clinic we surveyed our campers and presented our findings at the World Congress of Pediatric Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery in Washington DC in August.  We were so proud to share the following:

  • 52% of campers self-reported improvement in their mental health following one week of summer camp. 
  • On a follow-up parent survey, 65% of parents reported a continued improvement in their child’s mental health six months after returning from camp.
  • An increase in self-confidence among campers was the most frequently observed benefit reported by parents following  camp – a whopping 92%!
Super hero campers and volunteers on a red background
2023 Financials
Income and Expense Pie Charts
Balance Sheet

As of December 31, 2023

Cash – non-interest-bearing129,922
Savings and temporary cash investments93,597
Pledges receivable – current, net230,101
Inventories for sale or use5,619
Prepaid expenses18,396
Land, buildings, and equipment164,501
Accumulated depreciation(158,667)
Fixed assets, net5,834
Right-of-Use assets – operating leases2,590
Pledges receivable – noncurrent, net42,767
Investments – publicly traded securities866,744
Deferred revenue1,875
Accounts payable and accrued expenses12,948
Operating leases2,590
With donor restrictions163,687
Without donor restrictions1,214,470

Financial Overview

Allocation of Program Expenses

  • MN Residential Camp ($441,469) – 41%
  • WI Residential Camp ($286,991) – 27%
  • Family Camp ($132,041) – 12%
  • Parent Retreats ($101,254) – 9%
  • Arctic Adventures ($42,014) – 4%
  • Hearts@Home Virtual Camp ($26,051) – 2%
  • Other ($48,470) – 4%
Two "flying" superhero campers
Photo and quote: "It's like she transforms into the most confident version of herself at Odayin." - Katie, mom of 11 year old camper, Izzie
Two campers sitting on the beach
Campers and volunteers playing outside with large foam building pieces
Three teenage campers holding the Odayin turtle logo

“Amory has really enjoyed attending Residential Camp for the past two summers. It is a space where he feels welcomed and valued. At Odayin, insecurities that are part of his daily life slip away, because of the culture of respect and inclusivity that is fostered there, campers embrace the differences in each other that are sometimes judged in other parts of their lives. Camp Odayin also teaches Amory empathy, acceptance, and kindness…camp is an environment in which vulnerabilities and challenges that children often hide are shared, acknowledged, and accepted. Amory sees that every one navigates the world with different sets of strengths and difficulties, whether they are visible or not. He is more able to approach situations and people with an open mind and open heart than he would be if not for his experiences at Camp Odayin. Amory has also built lasting friendships based on shared interests and mutual respect during camp.”

– Gael, parent of 13 year old camper, Amory


Camp Odayin provides fun, safe and supportive camp experiences and community building opportunities for young people with heart disease and their families.

Kids Play.
Worries Rest.
Fun Happens.

Volunteer and camper smiling

Sara Meslow, Executive Director
Alison Boerner, Assistant Director
Matt Olson, Finance Director
Kris Lukkarila, Director of Operations
Brooke Hohag, Program Director
Aidan Di Giacomo, Marketing and Program Director

Board of Directors

Maura Flynn Galganski, RN, Secretary – Herma Heart Institute, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin

Micaela Griffin, Treasurer – State of Minnesota Department of Commerce / former camper

Jaymie Gruis, Interim Treasurer – Cardiovascular Systems, Inc.

Vicky Hidalgo, Vice Chair – Nordstrom

Tom Hipkins – Fredrikson & Byron

Fred Hoiberg – University of Nebraska (Honorary Board Member)

Dr. Jonathan Johnson – Mayo Clinic

Dr. Brian Joy – University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital

John Mack – Medtronic – retired

Sara Meslow – Camp Odayin

Leah Saarela, Chair– Medtronic / Parent of a camper

Dr. Andy Schneider – The Children’s Heart Clinic

Erik Schuck – Dem-Con Companies / Parent of a camper

Michael Stuart – First Midwest Bank / Parent of a camper

Dr. Shweta Stuart – NorthShore University Health System / Parent of a camper

Tanya Sullivan – Boston Scientific

Alador Yemaneab – ServiceNow

Superhero campers & volunteers on blue background

Stay up-to-date with Camp Odayin!

Camp Odayin: For Children with Heart Disease

We provide fun, safe and supportive camp experiences and community building opportunities for young people with heart disease and their families. 

We welcome people of any race, color, creed, religion, national origin, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status.

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Charities Review Council Meets Standards

Contact Us

Office Address

  • 3503 High Point Drive North
  • Suite 250
  • Oakdale, MN 55128