Happy trails at Camp WaNoKi

By Mary Runkel on July 14, 2015 in Blog


INHF acquired the 77-acre Camp WaNoKi property in November 2014. The Webster County Conservation Board manages the land (with help from volunteers like these) to keep it properly maintained.

Saturday, June 27, was a good day.

We’re sure the oak savanna agrees. It’s easy to see why Camp WaNoKi is an American Indian abbreviation for “beautiful land and scenery.” And it’s easy to imagine the fun had in the woods.

Saturday, June 27, was one of those secretly profound days. Nothing huge happened; there wasn’t a celebrity to see or even a grand view. No fireworks. Just people coming together for a cause greater than themselves.

Twenty-five volunteers gathered for an oak savanna restoration at Camp WaNoKi, where we removed invasive woody brush from an oak savanna that was over-grown by ironwood and maples. We were on a hillside near a field that will one day be prairie, clearing the way for many gorgeous oaks by opening up the area to light.

At any given time, there were three to four chainsaws running, and the volunteers helped “swamp” around the saws, meaning they made piles of the brush that the chainsaws removed. There were also a handful of people that used handsaws and loppers to get the “smaller stuff.”

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The space is an old Campfire Camp just outside of Fort Dodge, so it seemed only fitting that of the 25 participants, six were ages 6-13. It’s not hard to imagine what it would have been like to be a camper there.The trails are still partially visible; you can see old buildings still standing and places where buildings once stood. With a slight detour, you might pass the wooden outhouses to go watch the river flow by.


Linda and John Halgren

“We used to blaze these trails,” Linda Halgren proudly declares. Halgren was the camp director at Camp WaNoKi for many years. She and her husband, John, came to participate in the work day. “I just can’t believe you are all out here. It’s so great.”

After the work day, we all gathered in the camp’s future “education center” (with a flushing toilet!) and the Friends of Camp WaNoKi provided sandwiches, fruit and cookies, which made room for some awesome conversations.





Learn more about INHF’s volunteer program.