YMCA Camp Ohiyesa

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Caring, honesty, respect, responsibility and inclusion – these five core values are integrated into everything kids do during summer camp at YMCA Camp Ohiyesa.

“We want to teach youth life skills, to help them grow in independence and to set them up for success… starting with an adventurous, healthy childhood,” says Ryan Mertz, Executive Director of Camping Services for the YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit.

And that’s exactly what campers do at this century-old camp, located on the shores of Fish Lake in Holly. Through both day and overnight camps, kids from kindergarten through 12th grade learn important life skills and make life-long friendships.

The summer camp experience is an important one for children to have. “It’s a place youth gain real life skills. At camp kids learn to safely navigate the world- they follow a schedule, work together as a cabin group, keep track of their own things and make decisions that have a tangible impact on the community around them. Kids learn friend-making skills, set goals, challenge themselves, and explore the natural world… all under the careful guidance of responsible role models,” Mertz says.

YMCA Camp Ohiyesa prides itself in balancing tradition and innovation.

“Each summer brings new ideas to our campers’ experiences. This summer, we plan to have an increased emphasis on cultural awareness and environmental stewardship, including weekly hands-on games and activities to give campers experience with things like gardening, composting, animal habitats, orienteering – all related to the theme of each week,” he says. “We offer specialty programs each week. There are arts, sports and science-based activities, every week. There really is something here for every child.”

YMCA Camp Ohiyesa offers different specialty programs each week, with some of the most popular being the Ponderosa horseback riding camp, Mad Scientist camp, CSI camp and Camp Chef, which is an outdoor cooking introduction to culinary skills. Arts and crafts, archery, climbing, sports and swimming are among the traditional activities at camp. Overnight camps have a different theme each week as well, which provide a backdrop or story line for the camp each week.

“Another really central aspect of the camp experience is that children are closely mentored by positive role models who aren’t their parents,” he says. “That dynamic learning from a positive role model outside of their own family is a powerful experience. Our staff are mostly university students studying education, social work or recreation. These highly trained role models help guide kids towards being the best versions of themselves. They are amazing, relatable and they continue to push each other to make camp absolutely incredible for each camper each summer.”

The 2020 day camps kick off on June 15 and continue through Aug. 30. Day camps take place 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, with the option of before- and after-care. Kids as young as entering kindergarten in fall 2020 can participate in these camps.

Seven overnight camp sessions run from June 21 until Aug 29. Overnight camps are open to kids entering third grade and older. For children who want to get a feel for overnight camp but aren’t ready to commit to the full experience, there is a mini camp from Sunday until Wednesday. Teen leadership programs run as two-week sessions.

The camp buses children from busing locations in Milford, Howell, Novi, Brighton, White Lake and Birmingham.

For more information, visit the YMCA Camp Ohiyesa website.

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