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Health and Safety

While outdoor adventure comes with a degree of risk, managing participant health and safety is our priority.

Illness and Injury

Sick or Absent Participants

  • For the health and safety of all children in our programs please do not send your child to YMCA programs if they are ill.
  • If your child is ill or must miss camp, please notify the adventure center. If no one is available to take your call, please leave a message.
  • Children must be free from symptoms for at least 24 hours before returning to the YMCA and any contagious illness should be cleared by a doctor.
  • 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 cause and symptoms.
  • To dispense medication, a signed Medication Form must be submitted.

Injury or Emergency

  • YMCA staff will call 911, perform immediate First Aid, and contact you
  •  After 911 has been called, it is then up to the emergency response team to decide what actions will be taken.
  • If a parent/guardian is not able to be reached, we will continue to call through your designated emergency contact list until contact is made.
  • YMCA staff will also 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 will monitor as appropriate. 
  • Additional forms are required by Wisconsin Licensing for children ages 4-6.


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 as long as it is not lightning or thundering. Some of the best camp memories for children 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 and will 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.
Water Safety


  • 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 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.
Overnight + Wilderness Camps
Essential Eligibility Criteria

Outdoor adventure comes with a degree of risk. To help you identify the skills you will need to successfully participate in an Overnight or Teen Wilderness summer program, the YMCA of the North has created the following Essential Eligibility Criteria (EEC).

Participant Requirements
Health Information

Understanding a participant’s medical history is one of the best ways we can 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. Our goal is 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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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 that 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 adventure center 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. 
  • In the event of an illness or injury that precludes a participant from continuing with our programming, a parent or emergency contact will be called to make arrangements for pickup.

YMCA adventure centers operate on the policy of “no news is good news.” To preserve every participant’s wilderness experience, groups only contact the adventure center if they require assistance or additional resources. 

The adventure center’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 reach out to your adventure center team if your participant requires assistance administering their medication or if medication has special or complicated directions.

Administering Medications

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.

Food and Diet

We do provide vegetarian options when serving meat but many participants have other dietary needs. To ensure we get your child the fuel they need, If they have any food allergies or other dietary needs, please include them in your child's health records and we will do our best to accommodate.

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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 us apply and reapply bug repellent daily. When traveling through tick-prone areas, campers will check for ticks daily.


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

Severe Weather

YMCA adventure centers 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 be aware that no place in the backcountry 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.

Risk Management

YMCA adventure centers have a proven safety record of providing a fun, safe environment for their participants. 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 designed 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, it is important for parents and participants to acknowledge that communication with emergency medical services is not always possible due to the remoteness of our trips.


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

  • All camp counselors are a minimum of 18 years old.
  • 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 in wilderness first aid and lifeguarding.
  • Emphasis activity leaders have special knowledge and training in their specialty area.
Emergency Drills

To ensure the continued safety of all participants in case of an emergency, we will hold emergency procedures (waterfront emergency, lost participant, tornado warning, bus evacuation) drills on a regular basis. It is important that your child participates in these drills, just like they participate in fire and tornado drills at school.

Two young ladies at a climbing course

Making adventure more accessible

The YMCA offers need-based financial assistance to help people access the programs that are important to them.

Here to Help

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