A Century of Camping at YMCA Camp Ohiyesa

YMCA Camp Ohiyesa is celebrating its 100th summer of offering traditional camps with an innovative twist to kids in kindergarten through grade 12.

YMCA Camp Ohiyesa in Holly is celebrating 100 summers of bringing day and overnight camp experiences to kids in the metro Detroit area. Ryan Mertz, executive director of YMCA Camping Services, says campers come from around southeast Michigan to Camp Ohiyesa each summer for a real camp experience.

“We are very intentional about creating a balance between tradition and innovation. The staff is incredibly caring and they challenge each other to create really amazing, magical experiences for every child that comes to summer camp,” Mertz says. “It’s more than just having fun. We have a strong emphasis on character-building and cultural awareness and we try to incorporate those core values into all of our activities.”

Camp Ohiyesa, located on Fish Lake, offers 300 acres of lakes, woods and wetlands. Here, kids can enjoy 11 weeks of day camp and seven weeks of overnight camp this summer. Day camp is open to kids entering kindergarten through eighth grade Overnight camp is for those entering grades 3-12.

Campers will have the chance to participate in age-appropriate activities. For the younger campers, there are opportunities to play with a parachute, visit the petting farm, try the rock climbing wall and archery. Mertz says the kids also have time for typical summer camp activities such as swimming, drawing with chalk on the basketball court, or making a craft to take home.

Older campers can work on skill development in various areas and have the opportunity to make progress over the summer. This allows the campers to hit different milestones, set goals and grow personally in an encouraging environment.

“Campers can learn about goal-setting with positive role models. We carry this idea through the teen programs and teach them more about leadership. Maybe one day they will become a camp counselor themselves,” Mertz says.

While the camps run throughout the summer, Mertz says that families find a schedule that works best for them. Some campers come all 11 weeks, while some will come for three days or one week.

“The staff brings the same level of excitement to week one as they do on week 11. We do this because we know campers might be coming in later in the summer and only have that one experience,” Mertz says.

And that experience, Mertz says, is something that every kid should be able to have.

“We’re part of the YMCA of Detroit and the community we are serving is all of southeastern Michigan. We feel that every kid should be able to come to summer camp. That is why we have transportation in six different locations around the area. It’s important to us to make it really convenient for everyone who wants to come,” says Mertz.

Daily busses run from Birmingham, Novi, Milford, Brighton, Hartland and White Lake.

“Everyone is welcome at camp and deserves to feel welcomed. If the child has never been to camp or away from their family, it’s a great opportunity for growth and independence,” Mertz says.

The day camps run Monday through Friday and overnight camps are Sunday through Saturday. Mertz says there is also a mini overnight camp for kids who want to try it out without committing to the week-long program.

“We try to create a welcoming experience from the moment the campers arrive. We encourage challenge by choice and goal-setting, but no one is required to do or try anything they aren’t comfortable with,” Mertz says. “The counselors are great guides and the campers have a chance to make new friends, challenge themselves and create lifelong habits of healthy living.”

For more information about the camp program, call 248-887-4533 or visit ymcadetroit.org/ohiyesa.


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