Skip to main content
Camp Basics

With the YMCA, you will develop life skills, build interpersonal relationships, and learn to appreciate nature. You will also be able to try new things and explore personal interests.

Most Day Camps are week-long experiences. Some locations also offer longer, two-week options for teen campers.

Campers participate in small, age-appropriate groups to build self-esteem and learn new skills.


You are welcome to bring your child directly or register for the bus program.

Bus and Care Locations
What to Bring

Our recommended packing lists can be downloaded below. These items are not required, and you are welcome to modify the list based on unique participant needs and session type.

Packing List (PDF)launch
Character Development

Our well-trained counselors lead quality programs that are safe, fun, and enriching. At YMCA adventure centers, we approach Social Emotional Learning as the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply knowledge, skills, and attitudes to:

  • Develop healthy identities 
  • Manage emotions 
  • Achieve personal and collective goals 
  • Feel and show empathy for others 
  • Establish and maintain supportive relationships 
  • Make responsible and caring decisions
Program Options

You can register your child for a Traditional or Specialty Day Camp.

  • Wee Backpackers (Pre-K–K)*
  • Traditional Camp (Grades 1–6)
  • Specialty Camps (Grades 7–9)

All Participants are assigned to age-appropriate groups. Participants can also interact with other groups through large group activities.

* Some locations offer Little Seeds Summer camp as a half-day option for 3-4-year-olds

Sample Schedule

Your camper will be sent home with a schedule for their group on Monday, the first day of camp.

9 a.m. – Opening ceremony

9:30 a.m. – Snack and small group time

10:30 a.m. – Traditional activities

11:30 a.m. – Lunch

12:30 p.m. – Specialty activities

3:00 p.m. – Closing ceremony

3:30 p.m. – Load buses & Pick up


Each staff member undergoes an extensive hiring process, including a criminal history background check, reference checks, and an interview.

Staff members receive over 40 hours of training in camp program areas relating to children, health and safety skills, and are First Aid and CPR certified.

All staff members are committed to being positive role models for participants

Family Fun

Some camps offer a Family night while some offer a Family Fun Day as an opportunity for families to come to see camp.

It’s when your participants can show you the exciting things they’ve experienced at Day Camp. Meet camp counselors and tour the camp! You’ll see the crafts your participant has been busy making and sing the songs your camper has been singing all week. It’s great family fun!

In addition, some locations offer hotdog and brat dinners during Family Nights as a fundraiser, with the proceeds supporting adventure center facilities, programs, and scholarships.

Lost and Found

The YMCA is not responsible for lost or stolen items.

  • As part of the daily camp routine, we display lost-and-found items.
  • Any items left at camp after the session are kept at the adventure center.
  • Claimed items will be held for two weeks and must be retrieved from camp.
  • Anything not retrieved within two weeks will be donated to a local charity. 
  • We do not keep undergarments, socks, or swimwear for sanitary reasons.
  • To claim lost items, please call the Camp.
Behavior Guidelines

At YMCA of the North, bullying is inexcusable, and we have a firm policy against bullying. Each participant is expected to treat all other participants respectfully and help each other achieve the best possible experience.

Parents and guardians may be called upon if a participant has difficulty meeting this expectation.

Our leadership addresses all incidents of bullying seriously. Our staff is trained to uphold our core values and follow proper communication channels to report and respond to bullying. Our team works with their groups to ensure all participants receive safe and equitable programming opportunities.

Safety First

It is our goal that Day Camp staff make every effort to ensure all campers have a safe and positive camp experience. We believe our success at camp stems from a safety-first mentality. Day Camp is designed to be a fun and unique outdoor experience for kids, but we recognize that small and large group activities may not always be the best fit for all campers.

Social Emotional Learning

To best support the safety and enjoyment of camp, we approach Social Emotional Learning as a strategy for systemic improvement for all, as it supports adults to strengthen practices that promote equity.

Social Emotional Learning is the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions, achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.

We believe that our campers have the opportunity for growth and support within the five pillars of Social Emotional Learning and development- self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision-making, relationship skills, and social awareness.

Individual Camper Care Plans

At the Y, we believe every family and child should have access to camp. We aspire to create a safe, inclusive, and welcoming camp community that exemplifies the Y's core values of Caring, Honesty, Respect, Responsibility, and Equity. We recognize that campers come to us with various backgrounds, experiences, and histories, which may be reflected in their mental or behavioral health while at camp. While working with children at camp, we aim to collaborate with families.

To help in this effort, we utilize an Individual Camper Care Plan to help us inform and prepare our staff. We ask families to fill out this form only if there are particular concerns or situations they feel we need to know about. The more detailed information and helpful "tips" you can give, the better prepared we are to work with your child.

Care Plan Form (PDF)launch
Action Plans

While working toward our goals of providing a safe and positive camp experience, we may implement Action Plans. Action Plans are tailored to children and their specific needs. We work with campers, families, and camp staff to determine appropriate action plans for a camper. When determining action plans, we strive to partner with families and meet campers where they are in their development, all while keeping safety at the forefront.

We train and empower camp counselors to support campers' individual needs by implementing action plans. These action plans are designed to work with campers personally to reach success while ensuring we meet each camper where they are.

Harmful Sitations

When a situation becomes harmful to an individual or the group or cannot be resolved, we will bring in additional support from the Camp Leadership team. Examples of this could be a camper running away from their group or not staying within sight and hearing range of their staff members, endangering the health and safety of themselves, other children, or staff, purposefully hurting themselves, another camper, or a staff, physical violence, or bullying toward another camper or staff.

Our Day Camp Leadership teams include a small team of Blue Card® holders trained in CPI Nonviolent Crisis Intervention®. This team is trained in crisis intervention, de-escalation, non-restrictive and restrictive intervention. If camper behavior escalates to physical violence, endangering the health and safety of themselves, other children, or staff, purposefully hurting themselves, another child or staff, restrictive intervention will only be deployed as a last possible resort due to extreme danger or intent to harm.

Our Y Camping teams hold a range of compassion and expertise in certain areas, but we are not mental health professionals, social workers, or 1:1 camper-to-staff support.

Program Removal

We will support your child the best we can to make camp successful. Suppose change has not been made after a thorough action plan. Should a camper need support that goes beyond what we can safely provide — or should a situation escalate to a level where we can no longer safely find a resolution for the camper — an action plan may determine the need to remove a child from a program for any amount of time, including the remainder of the summer season.

Health and Safety
Illness or Absence
  • For the health and safety of all children in our programs, please do not send them to YMCA programs if they are ill.
  • Please notify the adventure center if your child is ill or must miss camp. If no one can take your call, please leave a message.
  • Children must be free from symptoms for at least 24 hours before returning to the YMCA, and a doctor should clear any contagious illness.
  • Parents/Guardians must notify the Camp Director if their child contracts a communicable disease as soon as diagnosed. When a communicable disease occurs, the YMCA will notify other participants in writing, including the cause and symptoms.
Injury or Emergency
  • YMCA staff will call 911, perform immediate First Aid, and contact you
  •  After 911 has been called, it is up to the emergency response team to decide what actions will be taken.
  • If a parent/guardian cannot be reached, we will continue to call through your designated emergency contact list until contact is made.
  • YMCA staff will accompany the child to the hospital and stay until the parent/guardian arrives if emergency transport is required.
Sun and Bugs
  • Please apply sunscreen and bug spray before sending your child to camp.
  • We will remind participants to reapply sunscreen and bug spray throughout the day and monitor as appropriate. 
  • Wisconsin Licensing requires additional forms for children ages 4-6.
Individualized Healthcare Plan
  • If your child has any specific health needs, please communicate those needs/plans to the day camp with the Individual Care Plan.
  • If your child is being sent to camp with medications (daily or emergency), please complete the Day Camp Medication Form.
  • Please give the medication to the Y Team Member checking in your child.


  • Counselors are required to be engaged with the participants when their group is swimming.
  • Children will never be forced to swim if they don't want to.
  • Participants are required to take a swim test to ensure their safety.
  • Participants may be required to wear a lifejacket depending on their swim ability.
  • Our boating program is an introductory opportunity for children to learn basic boating and safety skills.
  • All children and staff wear life jackets while in the boats.
  • A Certified Lifeguard is always present and within sight of all boats while children are boating.

Camp is held rain or shine. We have many fun-filled activities planned for rainy days.

  • Your child may come home wet and muddy. Activities are modified outside to fit rainy days and will continue if it is not lightning or thundering. Some of the best childhood camp memories can be had on rainy days!
Severe Heat

To keep participants safe during extremely hot days, we will occasionally cancel certain activities.

We always encourage participants to drink lots of water, play more water games, and stay in the shade.

Severe Weather

All of our staff have been trained in emergency procedures.

  • If a tornado warning has been issued while the children are at camp, they will be instructed to go to the tornado shelter.
  • The Camp Director will notify the YMCA immediately if the bus will be delayed.
  • Day Camp Heritage and Day Camp Spring Lake will be bussed offsite for severe weather. Communication will be sent out to families if bussing offsite is necessary.
Air Quality

In times of Air Quality Alerts, we carefully follow the guidance from the Minnesota/Wisconsin Pollution Control Agency, National Weather Service, CDC, and Minnesota/Wisconsin Department of Health.

  • We monitor and adjust programming to ensure children can safely participate in our outdoor programs.
  • Adjustments include slowing down physical activity, emphasizing hydration, and spending more time in our indoor spaces (when available – not all Day Camp locations have indoor space).
  • For campers with specific health concerns, sensitivity to air quality, or other concerns, we encourage guardians to send an N95 mask and speak with a camp leader for accommodations.
  • Your child's safety and welfare is our top priority.