Discover All that Camp Independence Has to Offer!
With an overnight stay that will immerse you in nature, YMCA Camp Independence has what you’re looking for! We offer an overnight camp experience that helps campers build self-reliance and lasting friendships.
A child ziplining
Traditional Overnight CampCampers foster lasting friendships while playing sports, creating arts and crafts, singing around the campfire, paddling a boat, and more. As this may be the first chance for many campers to spend a night away from home, they are encouraged to become active participants in their own care as well as their continued development of independence. Campers are shown that even though they have some differing abilities, they can be anything they want to be and are provided with an environment where they can be successful. Most importantly, the camp offers them a welcoming atmosphere where they can have fun!View Programs
Be Prepared for an Awesome Adventure!
At its best, camp is a fun and unforgettable experience. But we at YMCA Camp Independence know that spending time away from home can be new, unfamiliar, exciting, and sometimes scary for campers. You’re bound to have questions, and we want to address each and every one. That way, you and your camper can both relax and enjoy the adventure!
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Registration forms will need to be sent in AHEAD of time. They can be mailed to camp or emailed to Emma at [email protected]
Parent/Guardian Camp Forms (campers 19 and under)- Please make sure you have all forms submitted AHEAD of your arrival.
Adult Camp Forms (campers 20+)- Please make sure you have all forms submitted AHEAD of your arrival.
At YMCA Camp Independence, camper welfare comes before everything else! Our camp is accredited by the American Camp Association, has a health officer on site during programs, and all our activities operate under strict policies and procedures.
Our staff members live in the Camp Independence Lodge with campers and are thoroughly trained in emergency and security procedures, including CPR and First Aid. All visitors must check in at the camp office before entering, and parents and guardians must show a photo ID before we will release their child from camp. Directors are in constant communication with our health officer, supervisors, lakefront staff, and other activity supervisors. Fire and storm drills occur each session.
During overnight camp, a health officer lives on site and is available 24 hours a day. The camp maintains a well-equipped health center with restrooms and separate living quarters. Campers must have a health history and a form consenting to treatment on file with the health officer. If there is a serious illness or an emergency, 911 is called and parents will be notified right after. Our healthcare staff works closely with local physicians and area clinics and hospitals.
All campers will take a swim test on the first day of camp. The purpose of the swim test is to evaluate each camper’s skill and endurance in the water so that they can be safe during all activities. Their swim test will also determine which boats they will be able to use at the waterfront. All campers and staff wear life jackets when boating and blobbing, and aquatic activities are always supervised by certified lifeguards.
Swim Test Details
Blue Chip swim test: Campers must swim two pool lengths, tread water for two minutes, and perform multiple strokes in water up to 12 feet deep.
White Chip swim test: Campers must swim one pool length, tread water for one minute, and perform two strokes in water up to 12 feet deep.
Red Chip swim test: Campers must put on a life jacket and float on their back in the three foot area.
Our health care staff keeps a variety of over-the-counter medications and health supplies on hand to treat common health concerns. Campers who bring prescription medications must bring them to camp in their original containers. Parents will receive a medication form as part of our healthcare packet, which will need to be filled out and sent to camp with the medicine. Except for asthma inhalers and epi-pens, all medications are kept under lock and key at the health station and given at the times indicated on the medication form. If your child has an inhaler or an epi-pen, they may hold onto it during their time at camp. Campers turn all other medications over to the health officer on the first day of camp.
Homesickness is a very normal experience for children, especially for those away from home for the first time, and usually subsides when campers become more comfortable with their surroundings. On average, most kids at camp will overcome any anxiety or homesickness on their own within 24-36 hours.
There are many ways we work to minimize homesickness. First, campers are kept very busy. Our program is highly structured and full of activity from sunrise to sunset. Campers are encouraged to find a buddy when going to activities, and we keep a 1:10 staff to camper ratio. This allows campers to have quality time with their counselors, and for homesick campers to receive the loving care and the supportive atmosphere they need.
Our belief is that camp is a great place for kids to learn how to deal with homesickness. Experience shows that having a child call home actually makes the situation worse. Because many kids will experience homesickness at camp, we only notify parents if it becomes unmanageable. One way to try to limit the severity of homesickness is for parents to remind their kids how much fun they will have at camp and how many new friends they will make. Remind your child not to worry about family back at home, and tell them to go out and have a good time!
We encourage campers to use the washroom throughout the day, and all campers have a bathroom break before bedtime. If a camper needs to go to the washroom in the middle of the night, they must notify a staff member. However, from time to time, bedwetting occurs, and staff members are trained to deal with this. First, measures are taken not to embarrass the camper. The sleeping bag and/or sheets and blankets will be cleaned and returned to the bed as quickly as possible. To prevent future accidents, we have found that measures such as frequent bathroom breaks and limiting heavy fluid intake after supper work well.
We strive to make camp a positive experience for everyone. Each cabin group works with their counselors to establish rules for the camp session. These rules are very similar to what kids might encounter at home and school (for example: no bullying others, no fighting or hazing, listening to counselors, respecting other people and their property, no foul language or swearing, etc.). The counselors meet one on one with campers that act against these rules. In some cases, the situation might require the involvement of a counselor's supervisor or camp director(s).
We work hard not to dismiss children from camp. However, some cases require us to send a camper home if they begin to endanger others, or if they require an unsustainable amount of attention from one or more staff members. While we keep parents informed of behavior issues, some situations may require immediate dismissal without prior communication with parents. Parents are required to arrange for the pick-up of their child if they are sent home for behavior issues.
Parents must drop off and pick up their child at camp.
We will provide you with a list of everything your child should bring to camp based on the length of their stay. For packing efficiency, we recommend soft-sided luggage.
We encourage campers to bring clothes that can get dirty, and to bring enough clothing to last the entire session. If they stay for multiple sessions, clothing must be taken home to be washed. The camp does not provide laundry service (except in the case of bedwetting).
Campers are responsible for their own belongings. Parents are encouraged to mark their child's belongings with their name. During camp, lost items are gathered and throughout the week we take time to return items. We do our best to locate and return lost items, however we will not reimburse families for lost clothing or other items brought to camp. We will hold all items left at camp for one month.
We provide campers with the opportunity to purchase snacks and souvenirs at our camp store. Campers should not bring cash to camp. Instead, parents are asked to set up a store account prior to their child's session. We will keep track of what your child orders and charge your credit card after their stay.
Balances from checks or cash sent for store purchases cannot be refunded and will go towards our scholarship campaign.
Store items include:
- T-shirts ($15-$20)
- Sweatshirts ($25-$30)
- Stuffed Animals
- Playing Cards
- Dog Tags
- Ice cream
- Bottled Water
Camp is designed as a place for children and teens to learn independence. For this reason, and due to the structure of the program and the number of youth in attendance, telephones are not available to campers. Exceptions may be made for special circumstances or emergencies. Please do not give your child a cell phone, pager, or calling card, or promise them that they can call home. Cell phones will be collected and returned to the campers when they leave. We have found that cell phones do not allow children to acclimate to the camp experience.
However, campers are encouraged to write letters home during camp! We provide them with postcards, which they must complete and mail to parents and guardians. Early in the session, parents may receive letters indicating homesickness. This is common, and letters often become more cheerful as the session progresses.
You may also want to send self-addressed, stamped envelopes to camp with your child to promote letter writing. Campers enjoy receiving mail. Please write to your camper! Keep in mind that the tone of the letter makes a difference. Keep letters light-hearted and friendly, as anxious letters from parents make it hard for kids to overcome homesickness. It is okay to send some packages. While snacks are allowed, we ask that you do not send beverages.
YMCA Camp Independence will also utilize Bunk1, a website that we are able to post secured photos each week and you are able to send one-way messages to your camper. Messages are printed out each morning and distributed at lunch. Bunk1 log in information will distributed upon check-in at camp.
For security and homesickness management, we do not offer visiting days during camper sessions. If you want to meet the counselors and see camp during the summer, we recommend that you come to camp on the final day of the session. If you pick up your child early from a session, please check in at the main office upon your arrival. You will need to present a photo ID.
If you want to tour our facility prior to the beginning of camp, you may attend one of our open houses or call the office to set up a weekday tour.
Campers are assigned to cabin groups prior to the start of the session. Assignments are based on age, gender identity, and program. We assign cabins with the goal that no one will feel left out.
Going to camp with a friend is very common. If the friend is the same gender and age (or one grade apart), the two can be placed together in the same cabin. There is space on the registration form to list friends. However, we cannot honor the request if campers are two or more years apart in age.
While we try to honor camper requests for particular counselors, we cannot guarantee any assignment. We also cannot honor requests for particular cabins.
The Camp Independence lodge is grouped by gender and each week’s program is by age.. Any exceptions to these groupings are determined by the camp director:
- Youth Camp - 7-12 years old
- Teen Camp - 13-19 years old
- Adult Camp - 19 and up!
Meals are of course a very important part of camp. Our food service manager takes great pride in serving well-balanced, nutritious, and filling meals. Meals are served family style, and campers will always find plenty of options. Each cabin group sits together with their counselor(s). Meals last 45 minutes so campers have time to relax. During hot days, campers are encouraged to drink more fluids.
Campers take turns setting/cleaning their dining table and sweeping the floor for their cabin group.
If your child has severe food restrictions, we encourage you to talk with our food service director before enrolling them. We will allow campers to bring food from home in place of our camp meals if this makes the camper and parent feel most comfortable
If you cancel a session up to ten days before it starts, it is understood that the camp will refund you all monies paid, except the administrative fee. If you cancel within ten days of the start of the session, it is understood that all fees paid are non-refundable and non-transferable. No refunds or transfers will be given if a child is dismissed from camp due to disciplinary action, or if they leave early due to homesickness or personal commitments. If a child cannot attend camp due to an illness or injury and their enrollment is canceled within ten days of the start of the session, the camp will refund 60% of all fees paid upon receipt of a physician's written notice.
Yes! We work hard to create a positive environment for all of our members, including those with disabilities. View our Inclusion Services page to learn how we work to make each member feel welcome and supported.