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Camp Basics

With the YMCA, you will develop life skills, build interpersonal relationships, and learn to appreciate nature.

Most Overnight Camps are week-long experiences, but some offer shorter (sampler) and longer (bridge) options.

You will also be able to try new things and explore personal interests.


You are welcome to bring your child directly to camp or some camp locations offer bus transportation.

Camp Transportation
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.

Character Development

Our well-trained counselors lead quality programs that are safe, fun, and enriching. At YMCA camps, 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 
  • Geel and show empathy for others 
  • Establish and maintain supportive relationships 
  • Make responsible and caring decisions
Friend Requests

Children make many new friends at camp and enjoy their old ones. 

  • Most campers come alone and make friends quickly.
  • Participants may bunk with one or two friends if they are within two years of age (and the request is made in advance).
  • We limit the number of friends coming together to three per cabin to support strong group dynamics.

If you forget to make friend requests during registration, please get in touch with Customer Service.

Camp Stores

Every location has a camp store that sells camp merch and other helpful items.

Cash is not accepted, so gift cards must be purchased beforehand.

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A well-trained, enthusiastic staff is crucial to a unique and unforgettable camping experience. YMCA camp staff members are carefully selected based on leadership skills, prior experience working with children, decision-making capabilities, environmental respect, and safety awareness.

  • All camper groups are lead and supervised by at least 1 staff who is 18+.
  • 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, licensing policies, health, and safety skills, and are First Aid and CPR certified.
  • Staff members are committed to being positive role models for participants.
  • Our Waterfront staff also has extensive training and certification in lifeguard and brown water safety.
  • Trip leaders are trained as wilderness first responders and lifeguards.
  • Emphasis activity leaders have special knowledge and training in their specialty area.

"Snail Mail"

Mail takes 3–4 days to arrive at camp, so send yours ahead of time, and we'll save it for your participants when they are here.


If you send care packages, please do not send food, candy, soda, or perishables to camp. And please waive the signature for express packages.


We do not provide email access to participants.

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 camp.
  • 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.
Participant Requirements

Camp requires effort and the ability to communicate. To ensure your child has a safe summer camp experience, your child must:

  • Be able to understand, remember, and follow instructions.
  • Be able to respect and relate responsibly to others in a group.
  • Be able to participate in primarily outdoor activities in large and small groups.

To ensure camper safety, swimming ability will be assessed at camp to determine the swimming section and needs for PFDs during swimming.

As a minimum requirement, participants must able to right themselves and remain face-up in the water with the aid of a Personal Flotation Device (lifejacket). PFDs are provided by the YMCA and must be worn and zipped in all boating activities.

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.

Acceptable Behavior

Actions should reflect the YMCA's core values of caring, equity, honesty, respect, and responsiblity.

When in doubt ...

  • Ask for Help – Participants should talk to a counselor or any YMCA staff member if they are uncomfortable with any experiences or need assistance at camp.
  • Be Nice – Include everyone, do your chores, leave other people's stuff alone, and listen to Counselors.
  • Use Kind Words – No name-calling, teasing, or put-downs. No swearing. And no gossip.
  • Keep Your Hands to Yourself – Hitting, pushing, shoving, and unwanted physical contact should be avoided.
Unacceptable Behavior

The following actions have consequences:

  • Refusing to follow behavior guidelines or YMCA rules
  • Using profanity, vulgarity, or obscenity
  • Stealing or damaging property (personal or YMCA property)
  • Refusal to participate in activities or cooperate with staff
  • Disrupting a program
  • Leaving a program without permission
  • Endangering the health, safety, or wellbeing of children and staff
  • Use of illicit drugs, alcohol or tobacco, or sexual conduct of any kind
  • Teasing, making fun, or bullying other participants or staff
  • Unacceptable Behavior
  • Physical violence and fighting of any kind
Level One Consequences

Level one includes arguing, swearing, refusing to listen, being inappropriate, and personal space issues.

First Incident

  • Immediate consequence: time out, removal from activity, or loss of privileges, followed by debriefing.

Second Incident

  • Immediate consequence: time out, removal from activity, or loss of privileges, followed by debriefing.
  • Meeting with the Unit Leader and Camp Director. Brainstorm possible solutions.
  • Phone call home to update parents and guardians to work on solutions together.

Third Incident

  • Immediate consequences: time out, removal from activity, or loss of privileges, followed by debriefing.
  • Phone call home by Camp Director and likely removal from camp.
Level Two Consequences

Level two includes stealing, violence, or threatening violence (i.e., hurting others, self, or property).

First Incident

  • Meeting with the Unit Leader and Camp Director to brainstorm possible solutions.
  • Phone call home to parents and guardians and to work on solutions.
  • Consequence and behavior contract or removal from camp.
In Case of Removal

Physical violence or bullying toward another participant or staff member will result in immediate dismissal from the camp program.

Participant fees are non-refundable if a participant is sent home for behavior or disciplinary reasons.

Health and Safety
Health Information

Understanding a participant's medical history is one of the best ways to mitigate risk in the wilderness. We review all participants' medical information before their arrival. Once on-site, this information is also reviewed by the on-site Health Officer with your participant's guide. We aim to make our wilderness trips accessible to as many participants as possible while maintaining their physical and emotional safety.

Secure Health Records

YMCA of the North has partnered with CampDoc, the leading electronic health record system for camps. CampDoc is secure, encrypted, and password-protected to ensure the privacy of your child's health information. Please see CampDoc's Privacy Policy and Security Policy for additional information.

Updating Health Records

We require yearly updated health records, including dietary needs, to help keep your participant safe and healthy.

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Food and Diet

To ensure we get your child the fuel they need, if they have any food allergies or different dietary requirements, please include them in your child's health records, and we will do our best to accommodate.

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Risk Mangement

YMCA camps have a proven safety record of providing participants with a fun environment. While we cannot guarantee accident-free travel, our priority is the health and well-being of all our participants. Our attitude and investment in accident prevention and incident response enable our staff to respond appropriately and situationally. We train our staff members in professional-level wilderness first responder skills, provide them with a thorough knowledge of the areas we travel through, and have established policies and procedures to reduce the likelihood of illness and injury. In addition, we provide communication devices to our trip leaders to allow them to access additional resources whenever technology and the environment allow. In the event of an illness or injury, parents and participants must acknowledge that communication with emergency medical services is not always possible due to the remoteness of our trips.

Sun and Bugs


Participants are encouraged to apply and reapply sunscreen daily. Staff will provide appropriate assistance as needed.

Ticks and Bugs

Vector-borne illnesses are of growing concern in the areas we travel. Participants are encouraged to bring adequate and effective bug repellant. We recommend DEET and Picaridin. Additionally, you may want to consider treating your camper's trail boots and clothing with Permethrin.

While on the trail, campers are encouraged to apply and reapply bug repellent daily. When traveling through tick-prone areas, campers will check for ticks daily.


Please carefully check your participants for nits and lice before driving them to camp or the bus stop. If your child has lice, they will be removed from the camp, and your session will not be refunded.

Illness and Injury

Please notify us if your participant shows any symptoms of illness before coming to camp. If your child is sick or injured while at camp:

  • Participants who require non-emergency medical treatment while staying onsite receive first aid from an onsite healthcare provider.
  • Participants who require non-emergency medical treatment while in a backcountry wilderness setting will receive first aid from their Trail Counselor, trained in professional-level wilderness first responder skills.
  • Suppose a more serious injury or illness occurs. In that case, a participant staying at a YMCA camp will be taken to a local clinic or hospital, and a parent or guardian will be contacted.
  • When necessary, the YMCA will work with local contacts to remove ill or injured participants from the backcountry and transport them to medical care. 
  • If an illness or injury precludes a participant from continuing with our programming, a parent or emergency contact will be called to make arrangements for pickup.

YMCA camps operate on the "no news is good news policy." To preserve every participant's wilderness experience, groups only contact the camp if they require assistance or additional resources. 

The camp's administrative team also follows this policy in communicating with families. We will not contact you unless we have a pertinent update on your participant's experience.


We are equipped with over-the-counter medications, but your camper should come to camp with any scheduled medication. We can also work with you and your child's medical providers to create a plan or explore reasonable accommodations.

Preparing Medications

All medication will be turned in to the Camp Health Provider upon arrival at camp. Medication should be in the original container and labeled clearly with dosage, frequency, and participant's name. This includes both prescription and over-the-counter drugs.

Be sure there is enough medication for the entire session at the beginning and one night at the end of the participant's session. Please send extra doses if they get wet or damaged while on the trail.

Please contact your camp team if your participant requires assistance administering their medication or if medication has special or complicated directions.

Administering Medications

The camp will administer medications following the prescription from a medical provider. Please make sure your camper's Health Records and prescriptions are up-to-date.

Medications Requiring Injections

We understand that campers may need to take medications that require injections. Our staff cannot administer medications via injections except Epinephrine via auto-injector or vial/ampule and syringe. All trail guide staff are trained in the proper administration of Epinephrine via auto-injector or vial/ampule and syringe.

Severe Weather

YMCA camps have weather radios and access to weather radar and monitor these resources. Onsite participants and staff will be moved to a safe location inside a building in the event of severe weather.

Parents, guardians, and participants should know that no backcountry place is safe from lightning and severe weather. Severe weather is an objective hazard of wilderness travel. YMCA counselors receive training on policies and practices designed to minimize this risk following industry best practices and NOAA's recommendations on Lightning Risk Management.

Emergency Drills

To ensure the continued safety of all participants in an emergency, we will hold emergency procedures (waterfront emergency, lost participant, tornado warning, bus evacuation) drills regularly. Your child must participate in these drills, like in fire and tornado drills at school.