There's still time!

Did June get away from you? Don’t worry, there’s still space in many of our July and August sessions. Browse open sessions by date below!

Or maybe your child attended camp earlier this summer and was begging you to come back? Make their dreams come true and sign them up for a second session this summer! The best part? All your forms are already submitted, so it’s just a matter of making your deposit! Limited space is available in the remaining sessions. Sign up soon!

Open sessions:

Staying in touch while giving them space.

For many parents, the week that their child is away at camp can be a challenge. Parents are used to monitoring what and how their children are doing throughout the day and often check in with them frequently via cell phone when they’re not at home. While there are no cell phones or similar electronics allowed at camp, you can still touch base with your son or daughter. Here are a few ways that campers and parents can ease their separation this summer.

Plan ahead.

Colorful paper and some fun new pens might entice your child to write to you from camp. Don’t forget to pack stamps and an envelope, too! Or maybe your child prefers to draw? Ask them to draw pictures in a sketchbook throughout the week and then share them with you when they return home.

Nothing beats a simple care package.

A deck of cards, a bag of suckers to share, and a nice note telling them how you hope they’re having a good time—what could be better? Just be sure to include enough treats for the whole cabin and avoid any foods with peanut products (to protect our campers with allergies) and gum (it’s no fun to clean up). Address your care packages and letters to: Camper Name, Cabin #, Camp Wood YMCA, 1101 Camp Wood Road, Elmdale, KS 66850

NEW THIS YEAR! Send them a one-way email.

What’s a one-way email? Well, it’s just a regular email that you send to your child. The one-way part means that they will not be able to email you back (they’re too busy making new friends and having fun to sit inside on a computer!). Send your message to You MUST include your child’s full name and cabin number or we will be unable to deliver your message. Emails are printed daily at 11 a.m. and anything received afterward will be distributed the next day.

Spy on them.

Well, not really. But you can browse through the daily photos we post on Facebook and Flickr. We can’t guarantee a photo of every child—but more than likely you’ll get at least one glimpse of them during the week. And don’t worry if they’re wearing mismatched clothes or their hair’s a mess—that’s part of the fun of camp! No one cares what you’re wearing as long as you’re having fun and being safe. We hope these daily pictures capture the newfound independence and confidence of your children as they learn new skills and make new friends. Enjoy them!

We hope these tips help you to keep in touch while your child is at camp. Often, it’s harder for the parents than it is for children since we keep campers busy throughout the day. At night, they’re often so tired from the day’s adventures that there’s not much room for homesickness. This is a good thing! All children need opportunities to grow in confidence and independence—and summer camp is the ideal place to do so.

Thanks for sharing your child with us this summer! If you have any further questions about keeping in touch, give us a call at (620) 273-8641 or email us at

Meet Katey: Outdoor Education and Events Director

We are excited to introduce Katey Noel, our new Outdoor Education and Events Director, to the Camp Wood YMCA family. She joined our team in late March and jumped right in to ensure that schools and other special use groups enjoyed their experiences at camp this spring. Many of you may have met Katey during registration at the Centennial Celebration in May. She helped ensure that the day ran smoothly and enjoyed the chance to be a part of such a special milestone for Camp Wood. We are thrilled that she and her family have joined us and we look forward to welcoming them during their first summer on the Kansas prairie. Get to know Katey better in the interview below! 

What are your first impressions of Camp Wood?

I am very impressed with the values-driven mission of Camp Wood. Also, the staff was a primary factor in my decision to move to Kansas and join this team. I have been welcomed and feel like part of the team already. I am really enjoying watching the seasons change on the Tallgrass prairie. When I arrived at the end of March, very little was in bloom. Now, after the burn, I’ve been astonished at how quickly the land has turned green. I’m learning a great deal about the Flint Hills and Tallgrass prairie which is quite fun and very different from Oregon’s old growth forests.

What experiences do you bring to Camp Wood's Outdoor Education program?

I have been involved in camping since I was a teenager. Summer camps lead me to pursue a teaching degree. I taught elementary school initially and then began teaching Adult Basic Skills & GED Preparation classes. I think my experience with education and non-traditional learners will help me as I support our Camp Wood instructors and the teachers who bring their students here for Outdoor Education.

What impact has camping made in your life?

People often say that camp has impacted or changed their life whether it was just one week as a camper or several seasons on staff. I too can say that. I began working at camp as a volunteer when I was in high school and met my (future) husband at that time. Camp has taught me self-awareness, leadership skills, and helped me develop a heart for service. My husband and I have been fortunate to raise our children in a camping environment by working at camp in the summer seasons. Many parenting conversations are made easier by referring to the YMCA values (and only invoke a little bit of eye-rolling from my children).

Speaking of your children, tell us a little about your family.

My husband's name is Errol. My daughter is Makenna (16) and my boys are Beckett (11) and Thatcher (9). My dog is Dixie.

Errol and I met at camp 30 years ago. It has always been a dream of ours to live and work year-round on camp. Our kids have grown up going to seasonal summer camp but have not yet had the full-year experience. Right now, they are excited to see a new state (Kansas is very different than Oregon!) and a new camp. My daughter, Makenna, is looking forward to horseback riding and meeting new camp friends. Beckett is excited about swimming in the lake, playing in the creek and hunting for reptiles. And Thatcher is ready for horseback riding, swimming and hopes to help wash dishes or do maintenance this summer.

You'll direct Camp Wood's outdoor education program year-round. Why do you feel time outdoors is so important for today's families?

In recent years due to a number of factors, children (and adults) are spending a very small amount of time outdoors. Research is showing that we gain problem-solving skills, gain attention spans, and increase our ability to focus just by regularly being outside. The role of a child is really to ask, “why?” Being in the outdoors naturally provides children that opportunity.

Besides working at camp, what are some other activities you enjoy?

Most of my friends would say that camp is my hobby. But, beyond that, I enjoy being with my family, especially when we can be outdoors exploring. I love going to the beach, hiking, and relaxing. I’m an avid reader and rarely am without a book. I enjoy baking and recently have started doing jigsaw puzzles.

Anything else you want to share with the Camp Wood YMCA family?

Thank you for making me feel so welcome!

Is your school, youth group, scouting troop or family looking for a place to gather this fall or winter? Give Katey a call at (620) 273-8641 or email her at She can help you plan your group's outing--from outdoor education activities to meals to lodging needs. For more information, visit our Schools and Rentals pages.  

Exciting changes coming this summer!

By B.J. Murray, Senior Operations Director

In looking at this upcoming summer, we wanted to make the best use of our schedule so campers can get the most out of camp and so we can make a positive impact in camper lives. We also want to maximize the skills of our staff and allow them to share their interests and enthusiasm with campers in their care. Therefore, we decided to make a few changes to the summer schedule. Below is a quick list of some of the changes, as well as a quick explanation of each.

  • Check-in is more welcoming. Before a camper gets to their cabin, they will interact with at least seven staff, including year-round, full-time staff. This gives both campers and parents the chance to meet staff and feel comfortable with them. It also sets the tone for the engaged, enthusiastic staff interactions we want each camper to experience every day they’re here at camp. Plus, more staff helping get campers checked-in, means a shorter, smoother check-in process.
  • Sundays are more active. Instead of orientation (i.e. sitting), we’ll kick off the week with all-camp games on Sunday. Don’t worry, campers will still learn all the rules and traditions—just in a more interactive way. We’ve also built in more friendship-building time through cabin activities and getting-to-know-you games. Another change…we’ve moved swim tests to Monday morning--because who wants to get into a swimsuit and take a test first thing Sunday?! Ultimately, we want kids to have fun and get to know one another so that they expend any nervous energy and feel more comfortable on the first day at camp.
  • Skillbuilders are getting a makeover. We really looked over our Skillbuilders (morning programs, like archery or canoeing, that campers focus on for the week), and have added to or reworked the curriculum. By doing so, campers will have more fun, feel a greater level of achievement and will feel like they can learn something new in that skill area year after year.

  • Afternoons are more open. Each week, every cabin is scheduled for daily swim time, a horse ride and a chance to climb the tower. Beyond those activities, each cabin schedules their afternoons themselves. This allows for creativity and flexibility of the cabin staff and their campers to build the experiences they want into each day. So, if you have a group of young campers who love Arts & Crafts, their counselor can sign them up to go more than just once. Or, if you have an especially adventurous group, they can go climbing more than once. Or, if you have a cabin of teens, they and their counselors can go exploring the creeks and hills, doing what teens love best (talking and having adventures).

Another new feature is a “free-play” session before dinner. During this time, campers can play Gaga, Frisbee, soccer, basketball or a selection of other quad-based activities together. It’s a chance for them to visit with their new friends and decide what they want to do for themselves. Staff will be around to supervise all the activities and keep everyone safe—but campers will be free to move from one activity to the next as they choose.

  • We'll engage with parents more during the week. We understand it can be hard to leave your child in the trust of someone else and not see them for a week. You usually end up missing them quite a bit! Therefore, we want to fill that hole through more communication. So, a small selection of daily photos will be posted for you to see, e-mails will let you know what’s happening at camp (if there was a storm or we have an especially great story to share), and we’ll give you access to camp through a strong presence on social media (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter). We can’t guarantee a picture of your child will be posted every day (afterall, we want them playing, not worrying about pictures) but, we can guarantee you’ll feel like you know what’s going on at camp between drop-off Sunday and pick-up Saturday.

We are excited about these changes for Summer 2016 and although it may seem like a lot of changes, they are really just tweaks to our already strong line-up of summer programs. We continue to hire only the very best staff and train them to be the best versions of themselves. We continue to offer strong programs and make every activity fun and engaging for our campers. We continue to be known as a place to build strong friendships, grow in confidence and try new things. Camp Wood YMCA will always be these things. We just want to be sure our 100th summer is the best one yet!  

Meet: B.J. Murray, new Senior Operations Director at camp

I am very excited to have found someone with so much experience and who has a heart for YMCA camping. Camp Wood YMCA will benefit from B.J.’s heart and his knowledge.
— Ken Wold, Executive Director

Camp Wood YMCA is growing—what a blessing as we enter our 100th summer! Camp’s growth means that our year-round staff team is growing as well.

This year, we are happy to welcome B.J. Murray into the newly created Senior Operations Director position. B.J. and will oversee the complex logistics of Camp Wood’s summer camps and year-round retreat programs, ensuring that they all run smoothly and meet the needs of our campers and families. He will work closely with Executive Director, Ken Wold, and other staff to make sure Camp Wood starts its second century of service just as strong as it began its first.  

We are excited about the experience and enthusiasm he brings to this position. B.J. brings with him his wife, Stephanie, and their two children, Callen and Will. When you see them this summer, be sure to welcome them to the Camp Wood YMCA family!

Welcome to Camp Wood YMCA! What do you think of your new home and workplace so far?

Camp Wood is beautiful. I am very impressed with the facilities and with the sense of joy I find on camp. In meeting the full-time staff team, I have found them to be warm, kind, and inviting and am very excited to join them in continuing the tradition of Camp Wood excellence. The landscape is very different than previous camps I have been involved with, but it may also be one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. 

Tell us about your background in camping and how summer camp has impacted your life.

My entire adult life has been spent in camping.  I started as a summer camp counselor in 1999 and never really left camping. I moved from Camp Counselor to Program Director, to Summer Camp Program Director and even three summers as an Executive Director. I have done just about everything in camping from plunging toilets to wrangling horses to building climbing towers to writing budgets and running annual campaigns.

I love camping. Camp has never been a job for me, but a way of life. I have grown my family through camp, and have gained some of my greatest mentors and friends through camping. Camp has made me want to strive to be a better person on a daily basis and to live out the virtues and character values of camp in every part of my life.

What do you think the Camp Wood YMCA experience offers children and teens today?

Children can find themselves and be themselves while at camp. Outside of camp, they may be the super sporty kid, but at camp they become the artsy kid, or vice versa. Also, at camp it doesn’t matter if your family is well-off or if you are on a full scholarship, those same two kids will share a bunk. It is awesome to see how you can take total strangers and create a family. I have seen alumni from camps who are still friends after 10, 20, even 50 plus years because of the experiences they shared at camp together. Camp does that like no other institution out there.

We're not only welcoming you to camp--your family has moved here with you. Tell us a bit about them.

My family is a camp family. We love the outdoors, and love being a part of camp. Our 2 kids love the freedom of camp and of not having fences. They also love that they find friends from all over the world. My wife loves that we are in a place surrounded by role models who we want our own children to grow up to be just like. 

Tell us a few more things about yourself.

Best Movies…Cinderella Man, Braveheart or Good Will Hunting

Favorite Books…The Bible

Hobbies…Time with family and friends; reading; movies; golf; exercising; taking out the kayak; just being outdoors. 

Good quotes…”Doing the impossible is kind of fun.” – Walt Disney


Is there anything else you want to say to Camp Wood campers, families and supporters?

There are few things in life I believe in more than the power of camp. Camp is a special place for children and families, and I cannot wait to be a part of the Camp Wood YMCA family and culture. 

Thanks, B.J.! We're excited to welcome you to camp!