YWCA Edmonton began camping programs on Lake Wabamun in 1916 in Seba Beach. Unfortunately, early records of the camp are almost non-existent and as a result, extremely little is known about the years 1907- 1946.
The Early Years
In 1946, YWCA Edmonton decided to select a permanent site for their camp and lease negotiations for 48.6 acres of land on the Coal Point peninsula were initiated. At that time it was the property of Dr. Mildred Newell. YoWoChAs Camp officially opened in 1953 with 4 cabins, an ice house with a power unit and a cook shack. Camping programs operated seasonally until 1981.
The “Golden” Years
In 1957, the dining hall was built by the Rotary Club and a cabin was donated by Mr. Golden. In 1958, linoleum was laid in the cabins, and the rec hall was built, the ice house was overhauled and a stove and fridge were received. Electricity was installed in 1960. In 1964, the Dining Hall was extended and received fluorescent lighting. As well, Mrs. Brine donated two cabins and Beaver Lumber donated one, enabling 55 campers to spend the night. 1966 saw the arrival of the waterfront cabins, and flood lights in the compound. Peter Bowden Drillingâ€™s donation of a bunkhouse, Mrs. Brineâ€™s donation of six tent cabins for Senior Hill, and the arrival of a freezer, a washing machine, three canoes, and new pier sections completed the 1967 developments. In 1968, the lighting system for Senior Hill was installed.
Did You Know?
The name YoWoChAs (pronounced you-woke-us) was created by a child camper and it made up of the first two letters of the words Young Women’s Christian Association.
YoWoChAs operated as an active residential camp for girls (age 9 – 14), Counsellors in Training (age 15 – 17), and staff (18 years and older).
On September 20, 1981 YoWoChAs Outdoor Education Center formally debuted as a year round outdoor education centre after completing upgrades and the development of new buildings around camp.
Since 1981, many upgrades have been completed around YoWoChAs and many programs have come and gone. Through the 1990’s weekend programs for adults to learn to specific skills, such as cross country skiing or sailing, were popular at YoWoChAs.
In 2002, YoWoChAs, the YWCA Counselling Centre and Wings of Providence entered into a partnership to provide a respite program called Lakeside Haven. The weekend program is for women and their children who are recovering from domestic violence.
Franklin Wetlands Preserve
In 2004 the Franklin family donated a 10 acre parcel of land adjacent to the YoWoChAs property and construction of the Franklin Wetlands Natural Area began in 2007.