Chikopi, Algonquin for land of white birch, was founded in 1920, by U.S. Olympic Coach, Matt Mann II. Chikopi is acclaimed for being the world’s first “All Sports Camp” with the esteemed honor of also being the world’s “First Swim Camp”. Matt and his wife Lea believed that boys learned better “away from home”, there was so much to learn from nature and the best setting is in a wilderness environment. His strong belief in “The golden rule,” was paramount to his teaching the value of sport and competition. Matt found his wilderness location on Ahmic Lake during a fishing trip. It was the perfect setting where boys from urban environments could teach each other how to get along in a natural, wholesome environment. While Chikopi coaches taught a large variety of sports, Matt coached and taught swimming, “you can’t find a better sport to save your life, every child will learn how to swim and a whole lot more.”
Matt and Lea had two children, Matt III and RoseMary. In 1928 Matt and Lea purchased a piece of land on the other side of the lake from Chikopi. There they established Chikopi’s sister camp and called it Ak-O-Mak, Algonquin for across the water.
After Matt’s death in 1962, his son Matt III and wife Buffy directed Chikopi’s operations while daughter RoseMary and husband Bruce directed Ak-O-Mak. Both continued the traditions instilled by their father, lead by example, be nurturing and supportive.
In 1975 RoseMary and then husband Buck Dawson purchased Chikopi from Matty. They offered Bob Duenkel the position of swim coach in 1976 and he has been the Director and owner since 1981. Bob married wife Colette in 2000.
For over 96 years, Chikopi has continued the traditional values established by Matt and Lea Mann. Through sports boys achieve personal growth and develop strong team building skills. Some of the most important rewards of the Camp Chikopi experience are independence, self-confidence, strength, (safe) risk taking, and diversity.