Planning Your Retreat Group

The sun is shining, the morning birds are chirping, and the wind bends the tallgrasses to their breaking point. As Spring awakens life outdoors, Camp Wood YMCA is starting to get busier than usual as well. Our unique property, settled in the beauty of the Flint Hills, will soon be coming to life with school groups, church retreats, college leadership trips, and lots of excited families! Wondering how YOU can get in on all the action and bring your group or family to this amazing place? Planning a retreat with Camp Wood YMCA is a simple process and we do everything we can to make your stay as easy and relaxing as possible.

Steps to booking your group with Camp Wood YMCA…

1.     Give us a call or send us an email. 

Let us know what dates you’d like to utilize camp, how many people you want to bring and what services you are interested in such as facilities, programs and meals.  We will answer all your questions, get you on the calendar and send you a contract for your stay.

2.     Two weeks prior to your stay, check in with your group.

Get a head count of all the people coming with your group and any special accommodations they may need during their stay (food allergies, accessibility, etc.). We love to know this information in advance, so we’ll give you a call to find out what information you have for us and how we can make sure your group is as comfortable as possible.

This is also a good time for you to send out information to your participants. Remind them about bringing clothes for activities, to prepare for any weather, as well as any bedding or other packing essentials that may be necessary for their overnight stay. Make sure your transportation is all set, as well as chaperones knowing what is expected of them!

3.     We’ll give you one more call before you come.

A few days before you venture our way, we will check one more time to make sure you have everything you need and to answer any questions you may have. We’ll do a final overview of your schedule, give you a personal point of contact for your arrival and go over any last-minute details.

4.     We’re so happy to have you!

We are so proud of our little piece of heaven, here in the heart of the Flint Hills and we love to share it with others. During your stay, it is a privilege for us to help and accommodate you in any way, so your group can have the opportunity to fall in love with camp like we have. Just as this amazing place is important to us, so are you and nothing pleases us more when people enjoy their experience with Camp Wood YMCA.

Do you have a church youth group, sorority/fraternity, school group or family reunion that you think would enjoy a getaway or needs a meeting space?  Don’t want to have to worry about planning schedules, activities, meals or clean up?  Camp Wood YMCA just might be what you are looking for and the process to book your group couldn’t be simpler. Take the first step and give us a call.  We’d love to share our home with you!

Unconditional Love

Valentine’s Day is an occasion to express our love to those special people in our lives that have a way of making every day just a little bit better. Often, it is those people that love without expecting anything in return that not only mean the most to us but make the biggest impact in our daily lives.  Unconditional love is rarely found, but here at Camp Wood YMCA we are fortunate enough to have many people that devote their time, energy and heart to camp while expecting very little fan-fare or accolades. Some people call them support staff, but we call them heroes. 

Our unsung superstars put in some of the hardest work of the entire year during what most people often refer to as the “off-season”.  Without even the sound of crickets chirping at night, winter time can seem very quiet and somewhat uneventful.  Behind the scenes, however, our dedicated staff are making camp buzz with the sound of hard work. This is where you will find Mark, Head of Maintenance and Grounds, 20 feet in the air cleaning every light fixture in Ritchie lodge, and pulling off every air vent to be thoroughly washed.  And Rick, Maintenance Staff, painting all the walls and trim in the health lodge.  This is where you will find Cheryl, Head of Housekeeping and Dining, moving and deep cleaning every piece of kitchen equipment. And Tammy, Housekeeping Staff, power-washing and vacuuming every inch of floor in the Dining Hall.  This is where you will find Nancy, Office Manager, getting everything in line for registrations and making sure all our campers are prepared for the best week of their summer.  And Jeri, Book Keeper, getting all that’s needed organized for audits, paychecks and campaigns.

This group is lovingly called support staff because camp could not function without their support.  And although the work is often dirty, tedious, and demanding it is noticeably done with a spirit of unconditional love for Camp Wood and its mission.  They do it because they love the campers.  They do it because they want to make every kid, family and guest comfortable. They do it, so our visitors don’t have to sweat the small stuff and feel taken care of.  They do it so Camp Wood can stay operating with the utmost levels of integrity in all our day to day operations.  And they do all of this without ever getting the hugs at the end of a summer session or getting to see the tears as a camper leaves forever changed by the impact of camp.  They do it knowing that even if it goes unnoticed, it matters, and that is a perfect definition of unconditional love. So, join us, on this day of celebrating love, in thanking these unsung heroes and their dedication to Camp Wood YMCA.  We wouldn’t be the same without them!

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Uniquely Beautiful by: BJ Murray

I have been lucky enough to work in the camping profession for almost 20 years.  Within those two decades, I have seen well over 50 camps from New York to Colorado. You could say it’s kind of a hobby of mine. And while most camps are set in beautiful places and have their own distinctive features, I can say without a doubt that Camp Wood YMCA is one of the most uniquely beautiful camps I have ever seen.  With the surrounding Tall Grass Prairie and the views of the Flint Hills it is an incredible landscape.  Just the other day, after a long stint without rain, to look out on the prairie and see how just a little bit of moisture had turned the grasses into an incredible orange hue was a site to behold. 

Yes, the scenery is awe inspiring, but as you look at our buildings, facilities and program areas, I would still rate Camp Wood at the top of my list.  Camp Wood is entering its 102nd summer! But even after so many years of being well loved by generations, our coveted property still looks remarkable.  We are completely blessed in the buildings and facilities that we have.  Those facilities allow us the opportunity to serve campers and guests.  Ritchie Lodge gives us places to break bread with one another, and build community.  Trusler Lodge provides guests the chance to create and express themselves artistically.  Jones Village gives guests a safe, comfortable, and convenient location to meet, sleep and recreate.  And I could go on and on about our facilities, each with its own unique quality, beauty and intentional purpose.    

So, how, after 100 years, has Camp Wood been able to do that?  How has this little camp that started with a 40-acre donation in 1915 grown to 868 acres complete with a lake (Lake Hall), a chapel (Hutherson Hall), riding arena (Koger Horse Pavilion), and much more that now serves over 6,000 guests a year?  The truth of it is pure generosity.  We have been blessed with donors and partners throughout this 100-year history who have provided camp with incredible resources to continue the mission.  The immense list of committed donors who believe in what we do and want to provide a place for all ages to enjoy the Flint Hills, while building character, and finding community is the reason we are still here today. 

Even now we are amid a new capital campaign.  We have some incredible projects coming up including: revamping our lake to provide more swim and boating areas, building a new climbing wall and high ropes course, new shade structures, and developing the front of Ritchie lodge for seating and gathering.  All these amazing projects will allow us to dig deeper in helping campers reach their personal goals as well as build stronger relationships with others.  It will provide access to some great programming that will challenge and excite everyone.  If you have interest in giving to camp, we would love to hear from you.  There is always a need, whether it is for capital dollars or scholarship dollars because, as always no camper is ever turned away due to an inability to pay.  All in all Camp Wood YMCA has been truly blessed, and we are so thankful to our community of donors, friends, campers and guests who have continued a tradition of excellence. 



Happy 2018!

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It’s that time of year again when we all set new resolutions. We look for ways that we can change and improve ourselves, or find something better that we could be doing, or in some cases stop doing (I need to stop eating the sugar cookies at Casey’s – they’re delicious). 

Camp Wood YMCA is not immune to setting goals for the New Year.  2017 was a pretty incredible one for us at camp.  We had record numbers of kids, ran some new programs, and continued to grow.  But we are not ones to sit back on our current successes because we believe in never settling.  We always want to be better.  We know there are more children, families, schools and groups who could benefit from camp.  We know those that do utilize us can continue to have a great experience, and we want to find ways to improve upon those experiences.  So how do we do that?  Well, that is what we as a camp team are digging into. 

So, as we go into the New Year, here are a few of Camp Wood YMCA’s resolutions:

Service – We are looking at every aspect of our camping experience and finding ways were we can better serve all campers and guests.  How do we make registration easier? Where are areas of camp we can make more comfortable for our guests? We want to make sure that none of our campers, guests, or families have to sweat (metaphorically speaking).

Program Development – We want to be running the best possible programs in the country.  How do we do that?  In our view it is by focusing on four elements. 

     Magic - The extra effort to create a unique and memorable experience.

     Skill Development - Creating a safe environment where participants can gain confidence      and competence in any given area.

     Values Based - All programs based on role modeling the ideas of Caring, Honesty, Respect, Responsibility and I’m Third.

     Community - A feeling of fellowship with others as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

Everything we do as we approach this summer will be focused on consistently following these virtues. As we strive for excellence in all aspects of Camp and as we consider the many families and groups that we serve, we remember that the reason we strive at all is because of you. We wouldn’t be dreaming of doing more without you and the love & support you have for camp. This last year has been amazing for Camp Wood YMCA, but we are excited to see what 2018 has for us and everyone that experiences camp throughout this next year.

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Meet Stubby: the Camp Wood barn cat


Hi, Stubby the Camp Wood barn cat here. I've heard that some campers are missing camp, which is obviously code for missing ME. So, I thought I'd ask one of my minions (otherwise known as the year-round staff) to share this little note with my loyal followers on the internet. Word is that cats pretty much rule the internet, so I figured I'd add my story to the record. So here it goes...

I am one of 6 or 7 siblings. It's hard to remember since I couldn’t see for the first weeks of my young my life. But they've moved on and now, I consider myself a lone wolf, I am the sole, full-time tenant of the Koger Horse Pavilion here at Camp Wood YMCA. Sure, there are horses who live here and a few humans that fill my bowl with water, but we all know I'm the only one that matters. And in my few years of life here at the barn. I've learned a few important things I'd like to share with you.

The first and most important thing I've learned, is that despite what the staff will tell you, I, Stubby the barn cat, am the real reason campers come to the Koger Horse Pavillion. May I suggest we change the name to the Koger Cat Pavillion? Anyway, I'm telling you, the horses are merely a side show to my main stage. No matter the season, when kids or adults alike enter the barn, they come to me first. Not to the horses, not to the staff, but directly to ME. They pet me, they hold me, they raise their voices to this really high pitch (which is strangely soothing) to ask if I’m a good kitty.

I never knew I would become so popular. In fact, when I lost most of my tail in that accident years ago--I thought maybe I'd lost some of my charm. But no, I think the knobby tail makes them love me even more. What can I say...I'm irresistible. However, the only confusing thing is that after about 10 minutes, they all get on horses and they disappear. I’m still trying to figure out what they are doing out there on the prairie.


And that brings me to my second point--there is no reason to ever leave the barn. I mean, it's so windy out there and the grass is so tall! What's the appeal? The horses say the views are beautiful--something about a rare Tallgrass ecosystem. Whatever. Horses know nothing. There is NO REASON to leave this gorgeous barn. The humans come to me, my job chasing mice keeps me busy, and I NEVER worry about getting wet in the barn. Granted, sometimes I'll venture out onto the patio to get some sun, but there are plenty of things to keep me busy inside. Plus, if I wandered outside, I might miss the next time people visit and miss being petted. Now THAT would be a tragedy.

The third and final thing I have learned in my first of nine lives, is that you can nap anywhere if you try hard enough. I hear campers chatting about all the fun things they're doing and all the games they play in the evenings and it all sounds so...exhausting. I mean, I am usually up all night keeping mice and other curious critters away from the barn, so I need my time to rest during the day. While the cement floor under the basketball hoop is my normal spot, I like to move around to keep things interesting. I have tried sleeping in the riding arena (which is frankly dangerous with all those campers on horseback cantering around), in the tack room on some old saddle pads, and on the balcony. But my absolute favorite spot to lay is on tables, especially when they are all set up for activities. I get the feeling this annoys the staff who like things organized and, I don't know, without cat footprints all over. But, what can I say, I just like to be a part of the action, even while I am sleeping. Plus, shooing me off the table is no way to treat one of Camp Wood's main attractions. These kids come back year after year to see me. The least the staff can do is let me lounge wherever I want. 

So yeah, life up at the barn is pretty great overall. There are people to pet me, great spots to nap and the horses aren't TOO big of a nuisance. For the most part, they're nice to me and never step on me or chase me. I just REALLY wish that they would learn to only use the restroom outside. How uncivilized of them! This is my HOUSE, afterall.

Oh, and before I forget, anyone who wants to come visit their buddy, Stubby, should register for Winter Camp. By that time it should be good and cold up here and I'd love a few visitors. You can register for Winter Camp (and petting me) here. I hope to see you then.

Your loyal barn guardian,