The first committee of Edina Rotarians to lead Camp Enterprise included T.P. Anderson, Earl Geiger, Jim Hogg, and Jim Perkins, among others. The committee consulted with faculty at Gustavus Adolphus for some expert guidance and Earl Geiger volunteered to travel to Columbus, Ohio, the birthplace of Camp Enterprise, to observe their program.
The first year, Camp Enterprise was held at Camp Courage in Maple Lake, MN. In the days before the internet, recruiting students required Rotarians to staff phone banks and follow-up with by mail. Just as today, students were transported to camp by bus from Southdale Mall in Edina. The content was primarily lecture-based, followed by small group discussions led by Rotarians. Speakers include business leaders and local government representatives, including the Mayor of St. Paul. Camp also included a short, non-denominational chapel service, a pizza party, campfire and dance with music provided by the Edina High School Pep Band.
Somehow word of that first Camp Enterprise made its way to WCCO Radio and Dennis Hykes was interviewed on the air “live” from Camp Courage. The students shared his enthusiasm and one evening attempted to organize a co-ed “sleep-over” in the main meeting room. After some quick thinking, Dennis regretfully informed the students that the sleep-over would be a violation of the Fire Marshall’s orders and, as a surprise visit was possible at any moment, it would be in the students’ best interest to return to their cabins. Thankfully, they agreed.
After the first year, the Rotary Club of Alexandria ceded full responsibility for Camp Enterprise to the Rotary Club of Edina. Beginning in 1992, Camp Enterprise became a collaborative project between the Rotary Club of Edina and the newly-chartered Edina Morningside Rotary Club. Camp Enterprise remained at Camp Courage for many years before moving to YMCA Camp Ihduhapi in Loretto, Minnesota, in 2009.
After nearly 40 years, Camp Enterprise remains a signature project of the Rotary Clubs of Edina and Edina Morningside, with support from more than 50 other Rotary Clubs throughout Districts 5950 and 5960. Every fall, a team of nearly 100 Rotarians donate their time and professional talent to introduce students to the free enterprise system and help foster the values of entrepreneurship, leadership, and business ethics.
Camp Enterprise was founded in Minnesota by the Rotary Club of Alexandria in the late 1970s. In 1980, after experiencing some difficulty engaging other Rotary Clubs and recruiting students due to its distance from the Twin Cities metro area, Alexandria Club President John Lervick met with the President of the Rotary Club of Edina, Dan Hallberg, to request assistance in sponsoring and facilitating Camp Enterprise. Recognizing the tremendous potential of the project, Dan immediately agreed and called on his close friend and fellow Edina-Rotarian, Dennis Hykes, to lead the initiative.
Driven by the obvious synergy between the core values of Rotary and the goals of Camp Enterprise, including Rotary’s mission to develop the next generation of leaders, Dan and Dennis recruited a
number of fellow Rotarians to help.