Parent Information

Overnight Camp and Day Camp provide incredible opportunities for children to grow and thrive in a new environment, however it can present anxiety for parents who want their child to be safe, happy and comfortable.


We fully understand the questions that come up and the number of “what-if’s” that pop up as you consider the adventure your camper is about to take on. We hope that the information here can help you feel better about camp, but if you have questions not answered below, please feel free to contact us and we’d be happy to help you.

Preparing Your Child for Camp
Tips to Prevent Homesickness
Y Camp Staff
Zero Tolerance Policy
Payment Information
Trading Post Account
Check In/Out Information
What to Bring
What Not to Bring
Telephone Calls, Cell Phones and One-Way Email
Illness or Injury
Health Screening
Head Check
Bed Bugs
Financial Assistance

Preparing Your Child for Camp

A week at camp can be intimidating for both child and parent. Sometimes it is the first time that a child has been away overnight and can cause some anxiety. A little anxiety is perfectly normal and expected for every camper. Here are a few things to remember:

  • Camp is a growing experience and growth means change. The short-term uneasiness often creates opportunities for long-term growth.

  • A week at camp builds confidence and a new sense of independence. Your camper is gaining important personal skills through their new experiences.

Tips to Prevent Homesickness

  • Being familiar with camp helps; talk with experienced campers, visit camp and contact us with questions!

  • Set your child up for success: don’t promise to rescue your child if he or she is homesick. Focus on providing positive support and how proud you will be when he/she succeeds. Campers who make up their minds to enjoy the week avert homesickness by seeking new friends and getting involved in camp activities.

  • Some campers feel guilty about leaving the family or pet behind. Assure your camper that you love him/her, that you will be happy thinking about the good experiences he/she is having, and that you’ll look forward to hearing about them after camp.

  • Please don’t suggest phone calls – these are extremely difficult to manage and campers should focus on having fun and participating, not on a phone call. If your camper is experiencing a significant difficulty, the Summer Camp Director will contact you to work on an action plan.

Y Camp Staff

Y Camp staff are carefully screened and selected to ensure a safe environment and the highest quality experience for your camper. Each staff member participates in a week-long training, during which they learn safety awareness, camper relations and programming options. Y Camp staff are required to have current certifications in CPR, First Aid and AED. We use a 6:1 camper to staff ratio; well below American Camp Association standards.

Zero Tolerance Policy

If any camper chooses to tease, bully or physically confront another camper with the intent to cause harm, they will be expelled from camp by the discretion of the Summer Camp Director. Refunds will not be awarded to camp families for campers sent home for disciplinary reasons. Parents are responsible for transporting campers from camp and are expected to respond in a timely fashion.


Y Camp staff are trained to deal with inappropriate behavior in a constructive, safe and non-degrading fashion. Campers will be held responsible for their actions in a positive manner. Y Camp reserves the right to send a camper home at the parent’s expense if the camper’s behavior consistently takes away from the experience of others or endangers his/her safety or others. A camper will immediately be sent home for incidences concerning violence or threats of violence. Again, parents are responsible for transporting campers from camp and are expected to respond in a timely fashion.

Y Camp is Nationally Accredited by the American Camp Association on over 350 standards of safety and program excellence. Y Camp understands the first priority for all campers and staff is safety because without that, no one gains the benefits of everything else camp has to offer. For more information, visit the ACA website.

Payment Information

Sleep Away Camp- a $50 non-refundable deposit is required per session, per child. 

Day Camp- A $20 non-refundable deposit is required per session, per child. 

Full payment will be required prior to your camper's arrival at camp. Simply go to the CampBrain Registration Site and sign in with your email address and password. You may make payments using the Return to Pay feature as often as you like as well as view and download your account statement.

Check In/ Check Out Information

Sleep Away Camp:


**Check-In procedures may change. To be determined**
Check-In is a drive-thru process. Families will be able to talk to the Executive Director, the Summer Camps Director, and the Camp Nurse. Campers will receive a head check for lice, a COVID-19 symptoms screening, and be able to deposit money into their camp store account if they have not done so already. Families will then be directed to park their vehicles near their camper’s cabin. Once there, they will bring their camper and belongings to the cabin to move in and meet the cabin Leaders.

For the safety of our campers, Leaders will help campers move their belongings inside and families will not be permitted to enter the cabin. Out of courtesy for others, we would appreciate it if unvaccinated family members wear face coverings while in close proximity to others.

To check out campers you will need to be listed on the Camper Confidential Form under Authorized Persons Allowed to Check In and Out my Camper and you MUST show a photo ID for the safety of the campers.

We ask that families abide by the following suggested Check-In times:

  • Campers with last names A-M 2:00pm-3:30pm

  • Campers with last names N-Z 3:30pm-5:00pm


**Check-Out procedures may change. To be determined**
Similar to Check-In, Check-Out will be a drive-thru process in which cars exit camp through the North gate. Adults will have an opportunity to stop by the camp store and visit with the Camp Nurse before picking up their camper. Adults will then be directed to park near their camper’s cabin and will sign out their camper at the cabin. 

  • Check-Out is between 8:45am- 10:30am  

Day Camp: 

Campers can check- in and check- out at one of three locations:

Boone: Herman Park, 621 South Green Street
  Check- in 7:30 a.m.- 8:00 a.m.
  Check- out 4:15 p.m.- 5:30 p.m.

Ames: Lloyd Kurts Park, 3710 Hyde Ave
  Check- in 7:30 a.m.- 8:00 a.m.
  Check- out 4:45 p.m.- 5:30 p.m. 

Y Camp Office: Pioneer Center, 1192- 166th Drive
  Check- in 7:45 a.m.- 8:30 a.m.
  Check- out 4:00 p.m.- 5:00 p.m.

To check out campers you will need to be listed on the Camper Confidential Form under Authorized Persons Allowed to Check In and Out my Camper and you MUST show a photo ID for the safety of the campers.

Trading Post Account

You may deposit money into your camper's trading post account during Step 3 of the online registration process. If you'd like to add money after you've registered please contact us at or 515.432.7558. You will also have the option to deposit money on check in day. 

The Trading Post is open for campers every day. Items for sale consist of snacks and camp merchandise. All unspent money is returned to the camper prior to checking out. Your child will not be permitted to spend over their account credit, so please deposit enough for his/her needs. On average, Sleep Away campers have between $30 and $50 in their account; Day Campers between $5- $10 weekly. Prices range from $1 for snacks to $15 for t-shirts, or more for a sweatshirt. Personal items such as soap or toothpaste are available to campers that need them.

What to Bring

A common question among parents sending their children to camp is: “what should I send with them?” The first thing to remember is: Y Camp is not responsible for lost, stolen or damaged items. If it’s too precious or expensive to lose, please find an alternative item or avoid packing it. Labeling items you do send can help too! The second thing to remember is that, while we provide clean and comfortable accommodations, camp can be dirty! Mud, sand and sweat will come home on most articles of clothing, footwear, etc. Prepare for those elements when packing at the start of the week. Here is a short list of suggested items:

Sleep Away Camp and Day Camp: 

  • Face Mask- It's the new fad! Also available for purchase at the camp store.

  • Book – Y Camp encourages reading, so bringing a great book to enjoy during down-time can help with summer learning and improving literacy.

  • Water bottle- Keeping hydrated is a top priority! All campers are required to have a water bottle.

  • Swim wear – For all those trips to the pool! Campers will stop at the pool at least once a day. Please be conscientious of the swim suits that are brought to camp. We ask that females wear one piece suits or tankini’s and refrain from bringing two piece suits. For Males please refrain from Speedo type suits.

  • Towels – Always good to stay dry.

  • Jeans – Your camper will need them to go horseback riding.

  • Sunscreen – While camp has back-up bottles, you know your campers skin-care needs. Sending your own bottle is a good plan.

  • Bug Spray – To deet or not to deet? Another personal choice, as chemicals like bug spray can irritate both mosquitoes and your camper’s skin. Send the spray you use at home. Camp has back-up spray that does not contain deet.

  • Disposable Camera – It’s a great way to remember camp and keep the memories with you!

  • Multiple pair of shoes – Camp can be dirty and it can be nice to have dry shoes to change into. (Please do not pack Flip-Flops, as they can be hazardous around camp.) Closed toe shoes will be required for horseback riding. 

  • Day Campers will need to bring a backpack daily to keep these items in. 

Additional items for Sleep Away Campers: 

  • Personal Care Items – Toothbrushes, soap, shampoo, etc. are all suggested for hygiene and cleanliness.

  • Clothes for All Weather – Some mornings and evenings can be brisk and a sweatshirt or jacket can be a good idea.

  • Bedding- Sleeping Bag and Pillow – Sheets can be nice, but can also be a hassle. Camp beds have twin mattresses but not sheets or blankets. Sending a sleeping bag is a great way to keep warm and it’s an easy option. (Reminder: Camp’s cabins are air-conditioned- except Treehouses).

  • Flashlight – It can get dark at night at camp! Pack a hand-held light to help avoid bumps and bruises.

What Not to Bring

Some items will be taken and stored safely until Check-Out. Other prohibited items will require a phone call to parents or result in the dismissal of a camper from camp. DO NOT BRING candy/food, electronics (handheld games, iPods, cell phones, etc.), cash, knives or other weapons, fireworks, alcohol/tobacco products or illegal substances, personal sports equipment, animals, flip flops or lighters.

Telephone Calls, Cell Phones, One-Way Email

Y Camp restricts telephone use at camp for two reasons:

  1. The number of camp phones is limited

  2. Homesickness often increases after speaking with a family member

Parents are encouraged to call in case of an emergency. To communicate with your camper, please use our email service or send a letter. This is important to fostering a sense of independence and confidence in the camper.

Cell Phones should be left at home. First, Y Camp holds no responsibility for lost, stolen or damaged electronic items and cell phones easily fall into all three of those categories. Cell phones can also take away from the camp experience and can be a distraction. If Y Camp finds a camper in possession of a cell phone, we will place it in our safe until Check-Out.

One-Way Email for Sleep Away Campers only- option is available for parents, siblings, grandparents, etc. Simply visit the email site here. Emails are printed Monday through Friday at 3:30 p.m. and delivered at dinner. 

Illness or Injury

In the event your child becomes ill or injured while at camp in a manner that requires a stay in the Good Health Center or need further attention by the Health Care Provider the child’s parents will be contacted.

To avoid overheating and dehydration during the week, water bottles are mandatory at Y camp. Campers are welcome to bring one from home or purchase one from the Y Camp store. Dehydration is a serious matter! Help us prevent heat related illness. If your child has special needs that require specific attention, please notify Y Camp. We will make all reasonable attempts to accommodate those needs, however, our staff is not trained to handle all medical or psychological needs.


All medications (including any over-the-counter or “as-needed” medications) must be turned into the Y Camp Health Care Provider during check-in for Sleep Away campers. Day Campers will check- in medications with the Leader at the check- in site.

All medications must come in their original bottles or packages. Prescription medications must contain original prescription information. We encourage families to include only enough doses for the week.

Medications are only distributed during meal times (8:00am, 12:30pm and 6:00pm) and bedtime (9:30pm).

Health Screening

Sleep Away Camp specific:
Upon arrival at camp parents will be asked to fill out a short screening form detailing the general health of camper. Please be honest when answering, as the health and well-being of camper is foremost on our list of priorities. Screening forms are reviewed by Y Camp’s Health Care Provider. Anything abnormal will be addressed privately with a camper’s family, and in some cases a camper may be asked to attend alternate weeks.

Immunization Requirements
Every camper must have an up-to-date immunization record on file at the time of check-in. These records are required to ensure that all Y Camp participants are properly protected from the diseases tetanus, mumps, measles, rubella, polio, pertussis (whooping cough), and diphtheria. The only exemptions from immunization requirements are for biophysical reasons (e.g., the individual is allergic to a serum component) or personal faith. All participants must complete an “Immunization Exemption” form if they are not immunized.

Head Check

Sleep Away Camp specific: 
At Check-In, Y Staff will perform a head lice check. This check is necessary to avoid an outbreak at camp. If lice are found, the camper will be sent home for treatment. Campers are welcome to return 24 hours later for another check. Campers will not be admitted without a clear scalp examination.

Bed Bugs and Y Camp - We Need Your Help

Sleep Away Camp specific: 
Bed bugs have made a resurgence recently, especially in the hospitality industry. Camp is included in this category and needs your help to prevent visits from these pests. As a human issue, bed bugs can be brought into camp at any time by any guest. Our staff are well trained in detection and response and Y Camp has procedures in place in case the pests are brought in. Please help us out by following these tips:

  • Wash and dry (on high heat) all items you are sending to Y Camp prior to packing your camper’s bag.

  • If you are concerned that you have an infestation, contact Y Camp to work through how best to prepare your gear and how Y Camp can help make sure the pests don’t come with your camper.

  • When your camper returns home, leave his/her bags outside until everything in them can be washed and dried on high heat.

  • Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed to talk about bed bugs. Having bed bugs doesn’t mean you are dirty or unsanitary – it means you had the bad luck of coming in contact with them. More awareness and information is key in helping Y Camp in the fight against bed bugs. 

For more information on bed bugs visit:

Financial Assistance

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