With summer only three short months away, many parents are lining up activities to keep their children engaged and active during the long break from school. Open up your local summer activity guide and you’ll find options ranging from sports enrichment programs to Science and Technology workshops to church camps. All of these options offer your child a chance to leave the house, engage with other children, and keep their minds and bodies active when rising temperatures would otherwise drive them inside. However, we believe that an overnight session at Camp Wood YMCA offers something entirely unique from the other options you may be considering.

Camp Wood YMCA builds character.

Sure, we build skills too—but all summer programs do that. In contrast, Camp Wood YMCA focus on building character—in particular, we focus on developing Respect, Responsibility, Honesty and Caring in our campers. Our counselors are trained not just in First Aid but in Character Development as well—and they teach the 4 values in subtle ways every hour of every day—modeling good behavior themselves, creating cabin environments where these values are practiced regularly, and rewarding these traits in others with a simple compliment or pat on the back.

We believe that overnight camp is a particularly powerful place to develop character. For seven days and six nights, campers are immersed in an environment saturated with respectful, responsible, honest and caring behavior. In no time, they begin to reflect those traits back to everyone around them. Parents often remark on the improvement in their child’s attitude, even if they were already a stellar kid, upon returning from camp. They just seem more mature, more responsible. That’s the YMCA character traits in action.

Camp Wood YMCA is more diverse than most local options.

Though your local school’s summer STEM program may offer your child amazing experiences or your family’s church may provide great summer activities, your child will probably attend these programs surrounded by the same peers they see during the school year. These are kids who come from your same neighborhood and probably come from families very similar to your own. Though this can be a very comfortable environment for your child, it doesn’t challenge them to make new friends or learn new things about themselves and others.

Historically, Camp Wood was the state YMCA camp, and it drew campers from every community throughout Kansas. This is still true today. Children from Elmdale (population 55) stay in cabins with children from Wichita (population 388,000) and during the course of a week—around campfires and breakfast tables, on horseback and while cheering for one another at the climbing tower, they become the best of friends. Each of their lives is altered for the better by the experience of getting to know someone “different”—someone they never would have met without summer camp. They learn to respect their differences and seek out their similarities. What a wonderful skill to cultivate in today’s world.

In addition to diversity among campers, several of our staff members every summer come to us from countries other than the United States. It’s possible that your child could have a counselor from England or Spain. They undergo the same training as our US counselors and often become some of our most popular staff. Who knew that a week in rural Kansas could give your child an education about the cultures and peoples of Senegal or Mexico?!

Camp Wood YMCA reintroduces your child to nature (in the Flint Hills!)

Contact with nature is so beneficial to children—reducing stress, increasing physical activity and encouraging creativity and problem-solving. Yet children today spend 90% of their time indoors. Overnight camps offer your child an extended break from electronic devices and the pressures of social media and re-introduces them to nature in a fun, safe environment.

At Camp Wood YMCA, this natural environment is truly one of a kind. We are located in one of the rarest and most beautiful ecosystems in North America—the Tallgrass Prairie—and there are few summer options for your child set in such a stunning natural setting. As campers sleep out under the impossibly starry Flint Hills sky on campout night, a symphony of prairie dwellers serenades them to sleep. There are no other ACA-accredited residential Y camps in the Tallgrass Prairie—making encounters like these wholly unique to the Camp Wood experience.

You can “try before your buy”.

You want a safe, caring place for your child this summer and you’re a little nervous about sending them away for a whole week to overnight camp. That’s why we offer several options for families who want to get to know Camp Wood YMCA better before committing to a full week of summer camp for their child.

  • Attend our Open House. On Saturday, May 7th, 2016 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., we invite you and your potential camper to come visit us. Check out the cabins and bathhouses, see where meals will be served, meet some of our staff and try out some of our programs like archery, arts & crafts, and canoeing. The day’s events are free and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have while you’re here. This year’s Open House also marks Camp Wood YMCA’s 100th Summer and you’ll be able to learn more about our history through various displays and presentations throughout camp. Many alumni are also returning for this year’s event—feel free to ask them about their summer camp experiences. Learn more about our Open House.

  • Join us for Family Camp. We offer Memorial Day and Labor Day Family camps every year. Bring the whole family and help your potential camper get comfortable with the camp environment. We also encourage families to join us for Summertime Family Camp – during which you’ll get to try out classic summer camp activities like archery and horseback riding. You choose the dates and the length of your stay (anywhere from 1 to 6 nights!) and which activities your family is interested in. We do the rest! This is a great option for families who want to witness summer camp first-hand before signing their child up for their first summer camp session. Learn more about Family Camps.

  • Try Mini-Camp. If your child seems ready for camp but you’re not sure either of you could handle a full week session yet, Mini-Camp is a great option. Tailored to campers between the ages of 5 and 8, Mini-Camp is only 3 nights instead of 6 and is designed as an introductory camp experience. A shortened stay and increased staff-to-camper ratios in each cabin will help make you child’s first summer camp experience a safe one while easing them into time away from home. In addition, the daily schedule has been modified so that mini-campers can sample a wide range of camp activities during the day and still get to bed early enough to recharge their energy at night. Learn more about Mini-Camp.

Camp Wood YMCA has been caring for campers for 100 years.

Camp Wood YMCA was founded in 1915 for the “youth of Kansas”. A century later, our programs have positively impacted the lives of hundreds of thousands of young people. Throughout ten decades of summer camp seasons, we’ve maintained our reputation as a safe, fun and caring environment trusted by families from throughout the state and beyond. Our experience sets us apart in every regard—staff selection and training, program design and implementation, and in the history and traditions on display throughout our beautiful camp grounds. Few summer options offer your child such a rich, time-tested environment for learning, friendships and self-discovery.

Camp Wood YMCA is accredited by the American Camp Association.

We are the only ACA-accredited Y camp in the state of Kansas, which means that our programs, staff and facilities meet the highest standards in safety and quality. Through a rigorous certification process, repeated every few years, Camp Wood YMCA programs, procedures and policies are reviewed to ensure that campers and staff are healthy and safe and that our camp programs and activities meet industry standards for quality. Learn more about the advantages of sending your child to an ACA-accredited camp.

With so any options for your child each summer, we hope you consider the advantages of overnight camp at Camp Wood YMCA. If you have any additional questions about our summer camps, please visit our website at www.campwood.org or call us at (620) 273-8641. We’re happy to visit with you and would love to welcome your camper into the Camp Wood YMCA family this summer.