After receiving an ICD (implantable cardioverter defibrillator) in January of 2000, our founder, Sara Meslow, learned of a camp in California for children with heart disease and decided to join their ranks of volunteers. She saw the impact camp has on these young heart heroes and how being in community helps to heal these children holistically.  Upon arriving back in Minnesota and doing a bit of research, she realized there wasn’t a camp in the Midwest area to support children living with heart disease. Sara recognized the importance of bringing the heart camp experience to the Midwest. 

With the support of many people and organizations, we welcomed 53 campers from 6 different states to Residential Camp in our first summer of 2002. Since then our program growth has been tremendous and campers come from all over the country to join our Odayin family.

Since our first summer, I’ve had the privilege of watching campers form life-long friendships and courageously try something for the first time.  I’ve witnessed unmatched compassion and acceptance in our heart family.  I’ve celebrated milestones parents never thought possible and wept at the graves of our heart warriors.  Thousands of people and businesses over the last 20 years have encouraged, contributed to, and believed in the impact we make.  Together we are helping to shape lives filled with confidence, resilience, and courage.

Sara Meslow, Executive Director

Our Adventure

Timeline from 2002 to 2023
Three campers on a swing set in 2005 camp t-shirts
2010 camp counselor and camper in fancy hats
photo of a circle of campers' and volunteers' faces taken from the ground up

Our Name

Before Camp Odayin started, we wanted a name that reflected the beauty and people of Minnesota.  A “name that camp” contest was held and ODAYIN (Ojibwa word for heart) received the most votes.

We consulted with various indigenous people, groups, and organizations to ensure using the word ODAYIN was appropriate and respectful.

We acknowledge that our partner camps and program locations in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and office in Minnesota, are on the stolen lands of Indigenous People. With honor we acknowledge our use of this land and the Ojibwa language, and we affirm Indigenous sovereignty, history, and experiences. May our hearts and actions be full of respect and gratitude for this land, its original people, and its history.

Text: 20 Years of Camp 
Image: polaroid style snapshots of camp from 2002-2021 arranged in heart shape

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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.

Great Nonprofits: Top-Rated Nonprofit
Seal of Transparency Platinum from GuideStar
Charities Review Council Meets Standards

Contact Us

Office Address

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