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Camp Katharine Parsons

Camp Katharine Parsons Restoration Project

Camp Katharine Parsons Logo

Camp Katharine Parsons: A Restoration Project

Camp Katharine Parsons Historical
Camp Parsons, 1990s

For more than 40 years, generations of Northside youth spent summers at Phyllis Wheatley Community Center's Camp Katharine Parsons, a natural oasis and a unique piece of Minneapolis’ cultural heritage.

At Camp Katharine Parsons, kids and teens from our neighborhoods learned valuable life skills that prepared them for success as adults; they experienced nature and all of its benefits for the mind and body; and they found the mentorship and guidance, stability, safety, and structure they needed to grow into strong citizens.By the early 2000's, the camp's infrastructure began to fall into disrepair. PWCC closed the summer day camp out of concern for safety and its inability to bring the property up to code. Mounting costs and reduced financial support rendered PWCC unable to continue to sustain the beautiful 100-acre piece of property and its buildings. Camp Katharine Parsons, which sits on a peninsula jutting into Oak Lake in Carver County, has lain almost completely dormant for 20 years, reverting to a natural habitat for birds and other wildlife and a conservation site in the midst of the suburbs.


Despite the organization's precarious financial outlook and several opportunities to sell the property, PWCC retained ownership of Camp Katharine Parsons, always hoping to see its revival and return to serving its donor's intended purpose — to give poor, urban youth the chance to experience summer camp in Minnesota.

Today, under new leadership committed to making the organization a central resource in our North Minneapolis area once again, Phyllis Wheatley intends to see the camp fully restored and able to provide the important services it once offered to youth and families in our community.


To learn more about Camp Katharine Parsons and how you can get involved, read on below. We will continue to update our neighbors and supporters as we learn more about the history of the camp, and of PWCC. To see updates, please check here back soon.

Postcards from Camp Parsons

On July 10, we heard Sen. Bobby Joe Champion, artist Seitu Jones, and Autumn Frazier, granddaughter of longtime Camp Katharine champion, leader, and legend, Carrie Hoffman Wallace as they had a conversation about their experiences at Camp Katharine Parsons.

The evening was lovely, with many Camp Parsons alumni in attendance and ready to share their memories as we prepare to begin reconstruction of the site in Carver County and plan for future programming. 

We thank the Minnesota Historical Society and the amazing staff at Sumner Library for helping us bring everyone together for such an inspiring evening.


Watch the video for the full panel conversation!

Support the restoration of Phyllis Wheatley's majestic respite for our Northside youth by making a gift. To find out what other ways you can get involved in this historic effort, or if you're a former PWCC Camp Katharine Parsons alum, we would love to hear from you.


Please contact Aaron Raivo-Lynch, our Director of Camp Operations at

Join us in bringing back a legacy.
Donate today. 

Make a gift to the Camp Katharine Parsons restoration and be a part of the reclamation outdoor spaces for African American kids, where they can experience the outdoor adventures that helped shape the lives of generations before them.

Phyllis Wheatley Community Center is committed to empowering the youth of North Minneapolis. With the restoration of Camp Katharine Parsons, a youth day camp for Northside kids that was donated to the organization in 1956 and ran for 50 years,  where programming will focus on development, mentorship, and raising great citizens, through outdoor adventures, environmental education, and individualized support and mentorship. Help us give the next generation of Northside kids the inspiration they need to dream big, and find hope for better futures, for themselves and their community.



Former campers and youth development leaders talk about Camp Katharine Parsons' history, and why it matters to Northside kids still today.

Hundreds of people who grew up on the Northside remember summers spent at Phyllis Wheatley's Camp Katharine Parson, which the organization ran from 1957 until the early 2000s. We've documented just a few of their stories to share the many ways generations of youth benefitted from the opportunity for outdoor experience and education the camp offered, why they think the camp is an important component of youth development, and how today's kids can once again learn, grow, and thrive at Camp Katharine Parsons.

 For more perspectives on Camp Parsons, and to see more of what we're doing at Phyllis Wheatley, check out our YouTube channel.

We want to hear your stories 

Do you have memories of summers spent at Camp Katharine Parsons when you were a youth? We want to hear from you! Your stories can help us as we work to piece together our organization's nearly 100-year history as an advocate for African Americans in Minneapolis. 

Please contact Katy Nelson, Development and Communications Director at PWCC, at to tell your story, reconnect with Phyllis Wheatley, and help us better understand our rich history in the community we share. 

Thanks to our Camp Katharine Funders 

Fredrikson and Byron logo
SnowKreilich Architects logo
Minnesota Historical Society logo
Cultural Wellness Center logo
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