Leadership Development Program

In today’s world there is more need than ever for strong, positive leaders. At the Des Moines Y Camp, we believe we’re called to help build up the leaders of tomorrow and so we created the Leadership Development Program.

Each step within the program, be it Volunteers in Progress (VIP), Leader Assistants (LA) or Counselors in Training (CIT), will focus on skills essential to good leadership. Service, knowledge and vision are all components of what makes a good leader, and each part of the program will emphasize a separate proficiency within a fun, supportive, character-driven environment.

To apply for VIP, LA or CIT programs, campers must submit an application and two letters of recommendation from the following list: teacher, family member, adult family friend, pastor/clergy/faith leader, current or former Y Camp Leader, Y Camp Board member or a local community official.

Applications are open yearly beginning September 1st for the following summer. 

A fully completed Application and 2 Recommendations MUST be received before your Application will be processed for the weeks chosen.
Once your Application has been processed Y Camp Staff will confirm weeks and process the registration. A $50 deposit per week is required and the balance is due the Friday prior to each session attending by logging into your registration account and using the
Return to Pay feature. 

Please contact Y Camp at ycamp@dmymca.org with questions or concerns
regarding the Leadership Development Program. 

Campers who are part of the Leadership Development Program do not stay over on weekends unless registered for a weekend session.
Weekend sessions are available between weeks 5 - 6 and weeks 6 - 7.
Campers must register for the weekend session. Cost is $25 per weekend.

VIP (Volunteer in Progress)

Ages 14 – 17

As a VIP, campers take the first step in becoming a Y Camp Leader. This two-week program teaches campers about service to others. Their primary function is working in Cownie Dining Hall, where they will do dishes after each meal, clean the dining hall and help provide a great environment for the other campers on camp. When they aren’t serving others, they will take opportunities to enjoy camp and will go through several team-building exercises with their peers throughout the week. This program is a great first step into the Leadership Development Program and lays the foundation for good leadership: service.

$85/week (minimum of two-week commitment required; maximum of 5 weeks)

Week Date
Week 2 WAITLIST June 18- 24
Week 3 WAITLIST June 25- July 1
Week 4  July 2- 8
Week 5 WAITLIST July 9- 15
Week 6 WAITLIST July 16- 22
Week 7 WAITLIST July 23- 29
Week 8 WAITLIST July 30- August 5
Week 9 WAITLIST August 6- 12
Week 10 August 13- 19

Apply Here 

LA (Leader Assistant)

Ages 15 – 17

LA is the step between the VIP and CIT programs. Knowledge is essential to the success of a Y Camp Leader and is an element of good leadership. The LA program focuses on learning more about the activity areas on camp as well as supporting others. Participants are placed in “tracks” based on their interest and are assigned to assist in any one of Y Camp’s program areas: archery, ranch, climbing tower, building and grounds, aquatics, nature and cabin assistance. During their track they will practice the fundamentals of program delivery and gain experience “behind the scenes” of some of camp’s most iconic activities. This is great for campers wanting to learn more about becoming a staff member but who are not yet eligible for the CIT program.

$300/week (minimum of two-week commitment required; maximum of 5 weeks)

Week Date
Week 2 WAITLIST June 18- 24
Week 3 June 25- July 1
Week 4 July 2- 8
Week 5 WAITLIST July 9- 15
Week 6 WAITLIST July 16- 22
Week 7 WAITLIST July 23- 29
Week 8 July 30- August 6
Week 9 August 6- 12


Apply Here 

CIT (Counselor in Training)

Ages 16 – 17

As the final step toward becoming a Y Camp Leader, the CIT program is a three-week extensive program aimed at teaching teens how to becoming exceptional Y Camp Leaders. Skill development in leadership, safety, relationship building, character development and program facilitation are all part of their experience. All of these culminate in educating our campers in the value of vision and mission when leading. Through observation, discussion and hands-on experience, CIT’s expand their knowledge of great Y Camp leadership. As a part of the program, CIT’s will take a Y Camp-led Red Cross Lifeguarding course that, upon successful completion, will certify them as lifeguards. If you want to become a Y Camp Junior Leader, want to hone your leadership skills or simply want to learn more about working with children, this program is for you!

$800/three-week session

Session Date
July Session (Weeks 5- 7)  July 9 – July 29


Apply Here