Frequently Asked Questions

We’re sure you’ve got questions! Remember, if at any time you want more information we welcome your call, email or visit. We want to ensure that you feel confident and comfortable at the Des Moines Y Camp, and part of that is getting answers to your questions. Here are some of the questions frequently asked in the past.


At what age can my camper attend camp?

Des Moines Y Camp’s Day Camp program starts at 6 years of age. For Overnight Camp, we begin with Mini Camp at age 7 as we feel that younger campers may struggle with being away from home for the first time. Mini Camp is a half-week program and full-week programs begin at 9, at which point Traditional Camp, Ranch Camp and some specialty camps.

Does Y Camp accommodate dietary restrictions? How are they best communicated?

The Des Moines Y Camp is happy to accommodate any dietary restriction, so long as it is brought to our attention in advance of arrival on camp. We can provide alternative meal options for restrictions. We do not serve peanut butter unless for special meals or pre-communicated instances.

If you have a need that Y Camp can meet, please communicate with the staff coordinating with your group or school at least two weeks before your trip to camp. For overnight and day camp, please complete the Dietary Restrictions section on the Medical Form.

How does Y Camp handle allergies (non-food related)?

We want to ensure that all of our guests be comfortable and safe while at camp. To do this, we first ask that you, the group leader or school organizer communicate all allergies clearly to Y Camp staff prior to your visit. For overnight or day camp, these can be documented on the Camper Confidential Form filled out during registration. We will work to protect all affected from the allergen when they are at camp. If need arises, Y Camp has several Epi-Pens on-site in case of emergency. That being said, if you or your camper has a personal epi-pen, we highly encourage you to bring it with you to Y Camp.

How are medications handled at Y Camp?

For overnight and day camp, we request that you check all medications (prescription and over-the-counter) in with our staff at check-in. You will need to have instructions prepared to ensure that all are administered properly. During overnight camp sessions there will be a registered nurse on-site to sign-off on all medication administration at the end of each day. Unless necessitated, all medications are delivered at breakfast, lunch, dinner and bed time. All staff are First Aid and CPR certified and only approved staff will administer any medications. All medications are kept in a locked storeroom on camp.

For groups and schools, we request that an adult on-site is selected and approved to administer medications. We also request that medications are kept in a locked, safe location to prevent misadministration or loss. For more information, please speak with your Y Camp staff liaison or call our offices.

What are the camp facilities like? Will there be restrooms, air conditioning, heat etc.?

While staying at the Des Moines Y Camp, you or your camper will sleep in one of Y Camp’s twenty-eight cabins. With the exception of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer cabins, used exclusively in summer, all residential facilities are air conditioned and heated. There are fourteen cabins that have bathrooms in the building and those spaces are in Pioneer, Riverview and Hillside Villages. Those without restroom or shower facilities in the cabin are nearby the KYBO shower house. Chase Lodge, the Pioneer Center and dining hall are equipped with central air and heat and restrooms. There is Wi-Fi available to guests and is password protected. Please speak with your Y Camp liaison for the code to get access.

What is the plan for inclement weather?

In case of thunderstorm of heavy rain all Y Camp program participants or campers move indoors. They will remain under cover until 30 minutes after the last roll of thunder and rain has diminished. If a tornado warning is raised for Boone County, all campers will take cover in one of the shelters on-site. All Y Camp staff monitor weather via radar and forecasts throughout the day to ensure that they are prepared in case of inclement weather. Updates will be posted to social media during or after any severe weather situations.

What should I pack for a stay at Y Camp?

Being in Iowa, the seasons present different conditions at the Des Moines Y Camp. In spring, it’s always a good idea to pack a rain coat, boots and warm clothes for the possibility of cold mornings and evenings, for example. The best packing list to start with contains the following: pants or shorts depending on weather (long pants are required to ride horses, if that is part of your camp experience), shirts, a sweatshirt pullover for cooler weather, rainwear, shoes that you are comfortable getting dirty or wearing outdoors, toiletries, towels, swimsuit (during summer), bedding (camp does not provide blankets, sheets or pillows), water bottle, sunscreen and bug spray. In winter it’s important to remember clothing for cold temperatures and potential snow as well. We encourage you to remember that Y Camp is not responsible for lost, broken or stolen items, so it’s not a great place to bring expensive or valuable items if they are not necessary.

What can I not bring to Y Camp?

Alcohol, tobacco and any other drug that is not a medication will not be permitted on Y Camp property, in accordance with YMCA regulations. Additionally, personal weapons are no permitted on camp property, including guns and knives. Personal pets or animals are not allowed on camp without the consent of the Executive Director. As a reminder, Y Camp is not responsible for any personal equipment that is broken, stolen or damaged. If you have any questions about something you’d like to bring to camp, be sure to call our camp office at (515) 432-7558 to learn more.

How do I best contact my camper?

We encourage all camper parents and guardians to remember that part of the camp experience is fully immersing oneself into the program. For that reason, we do not recommend calling a camper, unless in case of emergency, while they are at camp. Instead writing letters or sending an email through our email service is a better alternative. If you’re concerned about your camper, please contact our camp office and we can look into it on site. If we feel it is a situation that is best resolved with a phone call, we will make that decision, but encourage all parents and guardians to remember that phone calls can sometimes have a more negative effect on a camp experience than intended.

How are campers supervised?

At the Des Moines Y Camp we aim for a staff to camper ratio of 1:6. All campers on-site through Y Camp programs will be supervised by a Y Camp staff who is certified in First Aid and CPR as well as trained in any program they lead. During Overnight Camp, at least one staff member will be in every cabin and no staff younger than 18 will be alone with campers.

How do I request a cabin mate for my camper?

If you would like for your camper to be in a cabin with a friend or relative during their week at camp, you will need to complete the Cabin Mate Request form on the CampBrain Registration site


We will easily accommodate any requests for campers within one year of age and attending the same session, however we can help with larger age disparities with a conversation with our Summer Camp Director.

The Des Moines Y Camp strives to make camp affordable for all. Through the generous donations of Y members, community members and local businesses we are able to offer Financial Assistance to individuals and families at all income levels to make our programs accessible to all. To fill out an application and view our policy please click here