YMCA Camp Ohiyesa

Featured Businesses Category: Camps + Classes, Day Camps, and Overnight Camps


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

“We want them to learn skills, gain independence and friendship-making skills and learn to live in the moment,” 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 life skills and create memories that last a lifetime.

The camp experience is an important one for children to have.

“It’s a place youth gain independence, build friend-making skills, challenge their limits, explore the natural world and create lifelong habits of healthy living under the careful guidance of responsible role models,” Mertz says.

YMCA Camp Ohiyesa prides itself in balancing tradition and innovation.

“Each new year brings new staff, cultures and ideas to our camper’s experiences. We host international exchange staff that shares their unique cultures and skills from their home countries – with our campers,” he says.

These skills include Gaelic football, origami and rugby, among others.

“This summer, we plan to have an increased emphasis on 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.

In addition, the camp is working with University of Michigan engineering students to give campers hands-on experiences with physics, learning about release angles, lever lengths, potential and kinetic energy, wind resistance and gravity.

YMCA Camp Ohiyesa offers different specialty programs each week, Mertz says, with some of the most popular being the Ponderosa horseback riding camp, Robotics camp, CSI camp and Camp Chef, which is an outdoor cooking introduction to different culinary skills. Arts and crafts, sports and swimming are among the additional activities at day camp.

Overnight camps have a different theme each week, too, which provide a backdrop or story line for the camp that week. The camp activities all remain consistent, though – including fun on the waterslide, swimming, a climbing wall, zip line, an Alpine tower and archery.

“Another really central aspect of the camp experience is that children are closely supervised or mentored by really 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.”

The 2019 day camps kick off on June 17 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 kindergarten can participate in these camps.

Seven overnight camp sessions run from June 23 until Aug. 30, 2019. These camps are open to kids entering third grade. For children who want to get a feel of overnight camp but aren’t ready to commit 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, Farmington, Novi, Brighton, White Lake and Birmingham.

For more information, visit the YMCA Camp Ohiyesa website.

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