Camp Duncan
Jul 2, 2021

What’s changed—and what hasn’t—at YMCA Camp Duncan

As YMCA Camp Duncan celebrates its 100th year of fostering confidence and self-reliance in children and teens, campers and staff are thrilled to return to their home away from home in Ingleside, Illinois after a yearlong hiatus.

Due to COVID-19 safety protocols, Overnight Camp looks different today than in years past, and Executive Director Bobby Thomas describes this year’s YMCA Camp Duncan adventures as “a similar, incredible experience as past summers with a few twists.”

One of these twists involves campers engaging in the day’s recreational activities alongside their cabin groups and age-group cohorts so as to prevent the risk of cross-exposure. While this change was an adjustment for experienced participants used to traversing YMCA Camp Duncan’s 300-acre grounds independently, campers and staff alike are delighted to find the new setup conducive to making deep, genuine friendships.

“Campers say that they enjoy spending more time with their cabinmates,” said Thomas. “Rather than doing an activity like archery with a bunch of people they don’t know that well, they’ll always have a friend nearby with this new schedule. This scheduling format definitely makes sharing a two-person kayak or paddle boat a little less awkward.”

Thomas added that this year’s campers are enjoying mealtime more than ever under this year’s adapted schedule. With longer meal periods, campers can fuel up, relax, socialize, and reflect on their camp experiences alongside peers and counselors without feeling rushed. And YMCA Camp Duncan’s new food vendor has been a hit among the camp’s kids, who often remark, “Wow, this does not taste like camp food!”

Amid all of these adjustments, what makes YMCA Camp Duncan so special for generations of campers hasn’t changed: it’s still a place where youth can be their fullest, most authentic selves, surrounded by friends and role models who embrace them for exactly who they are.

One teen camper participating in YMCA Camp Duncan’s LIT (Leaders in Training) program spoke at length about finding a sense of belonging at camp: “At school and in my neighborhood I have to kind of dress up or act a certain way. I have to make sure I don’t act too goofy or silly at school. At camp, acting that way is encouraged and you’re the oddball out if you act normal!”

With the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago’s Overnight Camps running through August, it isn’t too late to sign the camper in your life up for a meaningful and adventure-filled summer experience! Visit our Overnight Camps webpage to explore our campsites throughout the Midwest and register today.