Summer Camp - Welcome to Camp Pinewood!





Mission and History

Camping became a cornerstone of Y programming in 1885 with the aim to provide children with a positive developmental experience through making new friends, building confidence and growing in self-reliance. Those goals still hold true today. Focusing on the values of honesty, caring, respect, and responsibility; Camp Pinewood hopes to assist staff and campers in living these values within our camp community. We take time for reflection everyday to explore these and other topics in meaningful ways with our campers.

YMCA Camp Pinewood is part of the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago serving over 35 Centers, Human Services Sites and Community Schools in the Chicago Area. We were bought in 1925 for the sum of $10.00 and our original building, Niles Lodge, was built as the first Outdoor Center of its kind in North America. We serve 1,000 youth and family campers each summer from the Chicago Area, Northern Indiana, Southwest Michigan, and from over 6 countries. The vision of the YMCA of Metro Chicago in 1925 was to bring inner-city youth to an outdoor facility, giving campers a different perspective and cultural experience than life in the city. We still hope to accomplish that vision today.

Our operation as a summer only facility continued until 2001, when we moved from a four month season to a year round program serving the local community. We now also serve 5,000 students from Michigan Schools in our Outdoor Education programs in the Fall, Winter, and Spring annually.


Health and Safety

The Health and Safety of our campers is our priority. We follow industry standards for risk management policies and practices. All of our staff are certified in First Aid, CPR and AED; as well as receive training on camper health and well-being. We also have an on-site health officer that takes care of basic health needs, medication administration, and responding to emergencies.

The health and safety of our campers is one of our top priorities. At camp, a number of things may affect your camper’s health and well-being; as an organization that prides ourselves on the emotional and physical health of our participants, we take great steps to insure their safety while participating in our program.

In the first 24 hours, health checks are administered to each camper. These include asking questions about allergies, medications, past or present illnesses, the mental well-being of each campers and, the ever important, lice check.

All of our staff are certified by Red Cross instructors in First Aid, CPR & AED. Additionally, all of our trip staff and some of our leadership staff are trained through national organizations in wilderness medicine. Each of our staff undergoes training that covers, but is not limited to: homesickness, allergies, asthma and bullying awareness. Staff are required to carry first aid kits at all times and each of our program areas has a fully stocked first aid kit available.

On site, a Health Officer is present and available 24 hrs a day while our programs are in session. This Health Officer, at minimum, holds the required certifications for State licensure of childcare programs. Our Health Officer takes care of basic health needs, administers medications, conducts health checks within the first 24 hours of a campers stay, is required to document all maladies and responds to emergencies.

While our site may seem remote, hospital services are located just 17 miles away. Local emergency response units annually inspect our facility and trails to familiarize themselves with the location. Response time, in many situations, is less than ten minutes.


State and American Camping Association Accreditation

YMCA Camp Pinewood is proud to be accredited by the American Camp Association and licensed by the State of Michigan.

Each year, Camp Pinewood undergoes an inspection through the Michigan Department of Human Services in order to receive a license through the Bureau of Children and Adult Licensing. The following are areas addressed to determine if a license will be issued: operator clearances that involve a criminal history check to assess the moral character and suitability of those who interact with campers; a general provision evaluation that assesses the camp staff requirements, health services, food service, camp activities, policies/procedures, records, and facilities; and a fire safety evaluation assuring compliance with essential safety requirements. The decision to issue a license is based on a review of information contained in the application, licensing record clearances, evaluation of compliance with licensing rules, and an onsite inspection. Each year, we go to great lengths to assure the safety of our campers and continue our compliance with state requirements.

Click here to find out more about State of Michigan camp licensing requirements.

The ACA believes, as stated on their website, that “camp professionals care about the successful development of children; that camp is for everyone; that camp offers a supervised, positive environment in the outdoors where kids can grow within a set of boundaries; that camp is more than a place, it is an experience that gives kids a world of good, and that camp provides an opportunity to develop key life skills”. The main purpose of the ACA-accreditation program is to educate camp owners and directors on the administration of key aspects of camp operation, particularly those related to program quality and the safety of campers and staff. The standards establish guidelines for needed policies, procedures, and practices. Then it is the camp’s responsibility for ongoing implementation of these policies.

Not all camps are ACA accredited. Camp Pinewood chooses to go through accreditation so that we as an organization provide the most up to date program policies and safety regulations to our participants. Every three years, most recently in 2013, our program goes through a thorough accreditation process. This process includes a day-long inspection on our written policies and physical conditions by two ACA Site Visitors in the following areas: aquatics, trips, program design, operations, human resources, risk management, transportation, health services, food preparation, and facilities.

We choose accreditation for the following reasons:

Click here to find out more about the American Camp Association.


Food and Dietary Restrictions

Meals are a very important part of camp. Our food service manager and cooks take great pride in serving well-balanced, nutritious, and filling meals. Campers will find plenty to choose from at breakfast, lunch or dinner! Breakfasts include an entrée, side and a breakfast bar which includes oatmeal, cereal and fresh fruit; lunch includes an entrée, side and salad bar; and dinner includes an entrée, two sides, dessert and salad bar. Entrées will include kid friendly and nutritious food like chicken, pancakes, spaghetti and hot dog cook outs!

Meals are served family style where each cabin group sits together with their counselor(s). Meals last approximately 45 minutes to an hour so campers have time to relax and enjoy. During hot days, campers are encouraged to drink more fluids. We make sure to offer water at every meal, only offering orange/apple juice at breakfast and bug-juice during lunch. Milk is also available during breakfast and dinner. Campers take turns setting/cleaning their dining table and sweeping the floor with their cabin group.

We are able to make reasonable accommodations for campers with food allergies and dietary restrictions, such as peanut/nut allergies, lactose or wheat intolerance. It is a good idea to provide familiar foods for your camper as a supplement to meals if they do have any of these restrictions or allergies. Please indicate on the Health History Form if your camper has any special non-medical needs that the staff needs to know. Please contact the Camp Director prior to your camper’s session to discuss and food related situation so that we can assure a positive experience for your camper.


Facilities and Maintenance

Our facilities and grounds are kept beautiful by our friendly and helpful maintenance staff.  All facilities receive yearly health and fire inspections, annual water testing, and inspections by state licensing organizations.  Most facilities at Camp Pinewood have been recently renovated or remodeled, ensuring that our buildings are clean, modern, and functional.  Any maintenance needs that arise can be addressed with any of our staff; our close working relationships means that any issues are handled promptly.

Housekeeping staff performs daily cleaning of Bathhouse facilities and group use areas to maintain camper cleanliness and health.  Additionally, all facilities are cleaned and disinfected between camp sessions and user groups.

We take great pride in our facilities and buildings. Below is a list of the different buildings your child will get to appreciate while here:

Butler Lodge:  Renovated in 2012. Butler Lodge is the hub of camp life at Pinewood.  Improvements include increased accessibility, a refinished cathedral ceiling, and a fully updated kitchen and serving facility.  Butler Lodge features dining capacity for 240 campers, a large fireplace, our camp store, main offices, meeting/breakout rooms, and Wi-Fi internet access.  It is surrounded by our outdoor picnic and cookout area and sports spectacular views of Lake Echo.

Camper Cabins:  Camp Pinewood maintains 14 recently renovated, seasonally heated camper cabins.  Cabins comfortably sleep 12 campers; many cabins feature built-in oak bunks with comfortable mattresses and ample storage for belongings.  Additionally, all cabins are enhanced with a deck and picnic table for quiet contemplation or outdoor gatherings.

Adreani Lodge:  Completed in 2001, Adreani Lodge is a 32 bed group facility that features private bathrooms and showers, a large central meeting room with a kitchenette and gas fireplace, a spacious deck with quiet views of Lake Echo, and 2 basement meeting/breakout rooms.  Adreani  is perfect for smaller groups or those who need easier access to bathroom facilities.

Tipiwakan Health Center:  Our Health Center, renovated in 2011, functions as the Camp Pinewood’s health and wellness center in the summer and as group lodging the remainder of the year.  Tipiwakan features 5 private bedrooms with bathrooms, 3 with showers (including one jetted tub!), a communal lounge area and kitchenette, and a screened porch.   The Health Center sleeps 20 and is perfect for smaller groups and leadership staff.

Ottawa Staff Lodge:  Our Ottawa Staff Lodge underwent an extensive renovation and expansion in 2012 and now features five bedrooms, 3 ½ baths, a full kitchen with breakfast room and dishwasher, and a fully finished basement meeting and lounge area with TV and laundry facilities.  When not occupied by camp staff, Ottawa is available for use by groups.

Niles Lodge:  Built in 1937 as the first outdoor education center in the US of it's kind, Niles Lodge offers rustic camp lodging with 32 beds, large deck and open floor plan. Only used in July and August. 

Bathhouses:  Our 2 main bathhouses were renovated in 2012.  They are modern and clean and feature ceramic tile, individual toilet and shower areas, multiple sinks, and plenty of hot water!  Both bathhouses are handicap accessible.

Pioneer Unit:  This area, set away from the main camp, features an elevated platform yurt where older campers can rough it in style.  Water is available from an annually tested hand pump well.

Our Program Facilities are certified by ACCT & Experiential Systems, and consistently maintained. Your campers will have the opportunity to choose different activities that could include any of these program areas:

Grounds:  Camp Pinewood is located on 200 acres of rolling woodlands with mixed pine and hardwood forest, wetland areas, 2 large activity fields, a fully irrigated and groomed football/sports field, and miles of maintained trails that are perfect for hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and exploration!

Lake and Waterfront:  45 acre Lake Echo is truly the crown jewel of Camp Pinewood.  With no public access, Echo offers unmatched quiet and privacy for aquatic adventures.  Swimming, fishing, canoeing, sailing--Echo is a perfect setting for learning something new! Our waterfront area features our Navajo Boathouse, lakeside shelter lounge area, Fishing pier, new “hammock star” hangout area, and our natural sand beach with a brand-new cedar planked swimming and boating dock.  Our beach is also the launching point for our fleet of canoes, rowboats, sailboats, and fun-bugs.

Chapel:  Our Chapel is a perfect setting for large group assemblies and is also a great spot to contemplate the quiet beauty of Lake Echo.

Bike Shed:  The bike shed houses our stable of modern, aluminum-framed mountain bikes.  Mount your steed and ride it hard!

Archery Barn:  Focus.  Breathe.  Be the arrow.  Our Archery range will help you find your inner marksman.  In winter, the Archery Barn serves as the starting point for Cross-Country skiing and tubing on our tubing hill.

Arts & Crafts:  The Arts and Crafts shed houses (almost) everything you need to fuel your creative side!  From tie-dye to God’s eyes, friendship bracelets to lanyards, Camp Pinewood has got you covered!

Fire Rings:  Camp Pinewood has 2 LARGE fire rings with enough seating for large group gatherings.  Additionally, there are 6 small group fire rings throughout camp that are perfect for cooking Hobo Pies and roasting marshmallows for s’mores.



Other-vball, Gaga, etc.


Camp Store and Snack

While at camp your child will have access to our camp store. Items available for purchase include: shirts, hats, stuffed animals, snacks and other souvenirs. Snacks are $1-$3, and daily limits on the number of snacks purchased are maintained.

It is not required that you establish a store account for your child. For parents who wish for their children to have access to the store, there is only one method of payment for store accounts:

You may provide a credit card number in advance that will be charged with the exact amount spent by your camper. Charges will be applied to your credit card at the beginngin of each session, remaning funds will be refunded at the end of camp. Through our online registration portal you may also set up an account online that you can monitor while your child is at camp. 

Campers are provided with three complete meals a day and an afternoon snack. Additionally, if a camper is hungry, staff are happy to help provide a healthy snack. Campers may also bring their own snacks, which must be stored in the lodge and is accessible under the supervision of a staff member. Refrigeration is not provided. Please consider our counselors’ sanity when sending caffeinated and/or sugary drinks and snacks! If we see an excessive amount of these items, we will limit their consumption and send any extra home with them. CAMP PINEWOOD IS A NUT FREE FACILITY! Please do not send your children with snacks that contain nuts or nut products.