Overnight Camp

At the Des Moines Y Camp a week of Overnight Camp is more than a week away from home: It’s an opportunity to grow. For us, Overnight Camp is architecture. Instead of designing and constructing a beautiful new home or a skyscraper to tower above the city, we are building confident, caring, independent young people.

We start with a foundation centered on our core values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility. From that base we support every camper with positive role models in the form of Y Camp Leaders. Each Leader is well-trained and motivated to ensure that every child builds positive relationships with cabin mates and fellow campers. The week is framed with opportunities to try new things like horseback riding, archery, canoeing, zip lining, rock wall climbing, crafts and more. Campers are strengthened by the sense of confidence gained by learning new skills and making choices throughout their time at camp, all of which allow them to learn more about themselves. Finally, every camper will come home decorated from head to toe with tie-dye shirts, friendship bracelets, dirty shoes and beautiful new smile. As they leave, they’re reminded to take camp with them and “do all the good you can".


Traditional Camp

Ages 9 – 12

Traditional Camp is the mainstay of the Des Moines Y Camp’s summer program. It is a great opportunity to experience the many programs and activities that Y Camp offers. Campers are part of a cabin of similarly aged peers, with whom they decide what their week will entail. Our afternoon schedule is designed to give campers and their cabin mates as much flexibility and as many creative opportunities as possible by allowing them to build the schedule as they go. Y Camp also encourages campers to choose their own adventures through our skills program. They select a set of two to three skill areas they wish to learn more about and spend four days of the week becoming more proficient. Every evening we close the day with one of our evening programs, which are a chance to bring the whole camp together and enjoy being a part of the community. If your camper is looking for a diverse and empowering experience, Traditional Camp is the place to start!

One-Week Sessions 2022
Date Week Price
June 19- 25 Week 2 $575-Member / $625 Program Participant
July 10- 16 Week 5 $575-Member / $625 Program Participant
July 17- 23 Week 6 $575-Member / $625 Program Participant
July 24- 30 Week 7 $575-Member / $625 Program Participant
Aug 7- 13 Week 9 $575-Member / $625 Program Participant


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Mini Camp

Ages 7 – 8

Mini Camp is, in essence, an introduction to Y Camp. It’s designed to give our youngest campers a chance to learn about Overnight Camp without needing to stay the full week. As a four-day, three-night program to prepare our young campers for the week-long program, Mini Camp mixes large and small group time so that campers develop friendships and build character every day. It’s the start of the journey toward a strong and long-lasting relationship with Y Camp.

Mini Camp Sessions 2022
Date Week Price
June 19- 22 Week 2A $290 Member / $315 Program Participant
June 22- 25 Week 2B $290 Member / $315 Program Participant
July 10- 13 Week 5A $290 Member / $315 Program Participant
July 13- 16 Week 5B $290 Member / $315 Program Participant
July 17- 20 Week 6A $290 Member / $315 Program Participant
July 20- 23 Week 6B $290 Member / $315 Program Participant
July 24- 27 Week 7A $290 Member / $315 Program Participant
July 27- 30 Week 7B $290 Member / $315 Program Participant
Aug 7- 10 Week 9A $290 Member / $315 Program Participant
Aug 10- 13 Week 9B $290 Member / $315 Program Participant


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Teen Camp

Ages 13 – 17

Teen Camp translates the Y Camp experience into a program that caters to our older campers. Today’s teenagers face many challenges, several of which stem from a need for belonging. Y Camp creates an atmosphere of acceptance and a tradition of community so that every teen develops a strong relationship to camp and fellow campers. We find that teenagers prefer more time to build friendships with peers, a more relaxed schedule and opportunities to express themselves; that’s where Teen Camp comes in. We give our teens opportunities to socialize and develop relationships with one another, provide a wide array of skills and activities for camper to find their niche and design a schedule that offers more “down time” to relax with friends in the “Closest Place to Heaven on Earth".

One-Week Teen Camp Sessions 2022
Date Week Price
June 19- 25 Week 2 $575 Member / $625 Program Participant
July 10- 16 Week 5 $575 Member / $625 Program Participant
July 17- 23 Week 6 $575 Member / $625 Program Participant
July 24- 30 Week 7 $575 Member / $625 Program Participant
Aug 7- 13 Week 9 $575 Member / $625 Program Participant


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Specialty Camps

Specialty Camps are designed to focus on a particular program or area of interest. Some camps, like Dismantled and Camper vs. Wild provide a different experience to some of our older campers, while others give more advanced instruction in skills such as Art and Fishing. If your camper is looking for a different, exciting camp experience, please look into our Specialty Camp and find the camp that fits your needs!

Camp “Dismantled”

Ages 12 – 15

Week 6 / July 17- 23

$617 Member / $667 Program Participant

Dismantled is a program full of opportunities to make the camp experience completely different.  We decided to throw our regular schedule out and create a camp that is, well, dismantled. With activities like late night arts and crafts and canoeing by torchlight, Dismantled offers a different set of rules. Campers will have a tie-dye battle, have dinner for breakfast and paint a horse. These new experiences come with the strong friendships and learning opportunities that Y Camp is known for. Sometimes it’s relieving to turn camp on its head and do things a little differently, just ask our Dismantled campers!

Adventure Camp

Ages 9 - 11

Week 5 / July 10- 16

$617 Member / $667 Program Participant

Adventure Camp activities allow campers to play in the mud, build bird houses and go carts, go fishing, explore the woods around camp, and more. The program provides Leaders who are positive role models for the campers, encourages respect and responsibility in each camper’s journey, and teaches the values of confidence and individuality. The adventures are just around the corner, as each camper will gain friendships and learn lessons to last a lifetime.

Camper vs Wild

Ages 10 - 15

Week 7 / July 24- 30

$617 Member / $667 Program Participant 

Designed for those with adventurous spirits, this camp is full of campfire cooking, tent camping and survival instruction. Campers leave the cabins behind and journey into the wild for a week of challenges, such as building a fire, making a meal and building shelters. With the guidance of our enthusiastic and trained staff, campers will embrace their inner woodsman or woodswoman and grow in confidence and respect for the outdoors.


Ages 9 – 12

Week 5 / July 10- 16

$575 Member / $625 Program Participant 

Art-rageous is a week long camp directed toward campers who love to create and express themselves. Working closely with a professional artist and former art teacher, campers in this great art camp spend every morning drawing, painting, sculpting and more. With their cabin, they will also get their afternoon and evening hours to experience the traditional camp activities available. By the end of the week, campers bring home more than just their artwork; they bring home a sense of creativity, confidence and the importance of being unique.

Gone Fishin’

Ages 9 – 12
Week 7 / July 24- 30

$575 Member / $625 Program Participant

With a fishing pole and open water, Gone Fishin’ campers learn the techniques of fishing and take with them a hobby that will last a lifetime. Our young anglers will spend time fishing in our own Pugh Pond, test their skills fishing in the Des Moines River and enjoy a trip to nearby Don Williams Lake. Under the supervision and guidance of our skilled camp instructor campers will learn how to tie a hook, cast, identify different types of fish, and how to handle fish. Gone Fishin’ follows the DNR’s “Fish IOWA!” program and encourages a love of the outdoors and conservational awareness. Grab your pole or use one of camp’s and join us by the water. Do you have what it takes to catch the “big one?”

Top Chef Camp

Ages 9 – 12
Week 6 / July 17- 23

$ 617 Member / $667 Program Participant

Grab your spatula, measuring cup, and ingredients! Top Chef Camp is designed for the aspiring chef. You’ll learn how to cook some basic meals as well as prepare more advanced delicious creations to take home. Campers will make their own cookbook, have an opportunity to make their own new dish and spend the week in the kitchen. When the young chefs are not in the kitchen, they are out enjoying camp and building relationships with cabin mates! Fire up the oven and put your apron on, because this week has all the ingredients for a learning and growing opportunity!

Ranch Camps

The mist hangs low in the Des Moines River Valley and dew hangs heavy on the grass as the sun rises and begins to warm the woods and pastures. Their boots wet with that dew, our ranch campers walk toward the Y Camp ranch ready to saddle their horses and spend a day riding, grooming and learning. The ranch program is a great fit for horse lovers of all ages. Each week our talented and enthusiastic instructors prepare lessons for campers that cater to skill and experience. Campers will learn more about grooming and horse care, horse equipment, and riding techniques. On day one, each camper is partnered with a horse for the week. The two develop a special bond as a result of the hours spent together each day. Ranch camp provides a good mix of lessons and trail rides to ensure that campers learn riding skills and enjoy spending time on horseback. The program lasts from 6:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., so that campers can still enjoy some of the traditional camp activities during the afternoon. Listed below are the experience and age-based programs Y Camp offers!

Pony Express

Beginner (Suggested Ages 9 – 11)
Week 2 / June 19- 25
Week 6 / July 17- 23

$625 Member / $675 Program Participant

Pony Express campers are often beginners looking to learn the basics of horse care and riding technique. These campers receive instruction from our ranch staff on grooming, tacking and more. During the week campers go on trail rides, learn basic commands and ride to breakfast in the morning. For those who love horses and are looking for more riding experience, Pony Express is the camp for you.

Bronco Busters

Intermediate (Suggested Ages 12 – 15)
Week 5 / July 10- 16
Week 9 / August 7- 13

$625 Member / $675 Program Participant

Designed for the intermediate rider, this camp is the next step up from Pony Express. The program combines more advanced instruction with longer trail rides so that campers have more time to develop a bond with their horse. During the week campers continue to review the fundamentals of horse care and riding while learning new skills every day. Bronco Busters is a great opportunity to continue he journey to become a Y Camp wrangler.

Ranch and Rodeo

Advanced (Suggested Ages 13 – 16)
Week 7 / July 24- 30

$625 Member / $675 Program Participant

Ranch and Rodeo is for the advanced rider who is ready to take the next step in their horseback riding career. Campers will learn and practice new skills in the riding arena while taking their responsibility to a whole new level. Every morning campers will catch their own horse, groom and food them, saddle them and take them to the arena. Ranch and Rodeo builds confidence with its mix of instruction and independence. Those who complete the program are official wranglers, and may someday teach campers as a member of Y Camp’s ranch staff. We recommend prior riding experience before joining this camp, as the instruction will include more advanced lessons and require more confidence.