Camp Life

The Spirit of the Northwoods…

is the essence of Camp Olson. We strive each day to make Camp Olson an active, life-learning experience for all our campers and staff while soaking up the nature around us. Camper-elected activities include sessions of learning new skills, fostering friendships, practicing leadership qualities, and having fun! Campers and counselors interact together throughout the whole day. Schedules create opportunities for campers to spend time with many other campers and counselors throughout their day.

The health and safety of our campers are our first priority. We are committed to physical and psychological safety and aim to create an inclusive camp community where each camper is valued and celebrated for who they are.

Camp Olson YMCA Facts:

  • Accredited by the American Camping Association and annually licensed by the Minnesota Department of Health.
  • We provide an overall staff to camper ratio of 1:4.
  • Professional health care staff (Registered Nurses or MDs) are on duty 24/7 in the Camp Olson Health Lodge to respond to any medical needs, provide first-aid, and distribute prescription medications.
  • All campers and staff receive a health check by our professional health care staff upon arrival.
  • All staff and volunteers undergo comprehensive background and sex offender registry checks at the local and national levels.
  • Staff participate in a one-week training that includes topics on homesickness, bullying, camper health and hygiene, sexual abuse prevention, behavior management, mental health, and trauma-informed practices.
  • The majority of staff are CPR, First-Aid, and Lifeguard certified by the American Red Cross.
  • We have a clinical mental health professional on-site.
  • All outbound trips leaders are Wilderness First Aid, and Lifeguard certified.
  • Storm and emergency response drills are practiced and reinforced throughout the season to keep our staff prepared. 



At Camp Olson YMCA, we understand that food not only fuels fun but also friendships. Meals at camp are an excellent opportunity for creating community through table conversations and authentic interactions with cabinmates and counselors. Our large dining hall can seat all campers at once for a community dining experience and offers a covered outdoor dining space. Campers enjoy three hearty meals per day (served buffet-style), with an afternoon and evening snack available at our trading post.

Our skilled food service staff serve up a wide variety of dishes to please the pickiest of eaters. Weekly menus include cereals, french toast, pizza, pasta, sandwiches and burgers, tacos, chicken, and plenty of salads, vegetables, and fruits. We do our best to accommodate dietary needs by making vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free,nut-free and gluten-free options. However, we cannot guarantee there will be no cross-contamination from food ingredients from facilities that also process nuts, dairy, or gluten products. If your camper has any dietary restrictions or allergies, please be sure to note these on your health forms.


Cabins are the basis of the camp community – a place to connect, a group to identify with, and cabin counselors to have as role models. Creating friendships, developing leaders, and increasing self-confidence are the goals of Camp Olson YMCA’s programming and cabin environment. Each cabin houses 8-10 campers and two counselors. We carefully place campers in cabins with youth of similar ages and gender (also see our gender-inclusive cabin options). Campers are also welcome to request a cabin mate, though they are sure to make new friends regardless of whether they come with friends from home or not.

Our cabins are cozy, rustic, well-maintained, and ideal for small-group living. All cabins have electricity and screened windows for fresh lake breezes. Campers sleep in twin-size bunk beds with access to their own cubbies or storage. Every cabin is a short walk from a modern bathroom and shower facility.

7:30 amRise and ShineGood Morning Camp Olson!
7:45 amFlag RaisingCamp comes together as a whole community to raise the flag and share a daily inspiration.
8:00 amBreakfastAll meals are served in our Dining Hall, buffet-style. We alternate between hot and cold breakfasts, and options include: pancakes & sausage, cereal, biscuits & gravy, oatmeal bars, french toast & bacon, and muffins.
8:45 amCamp BeautificationKeeping camp clean and beautiful is very important. Each morning cabin groups are assigned a camp beautification project (picking up litter, sweeping, and recycling, etc) which provides campers the chance to contribute to camp.
9:00 amMorning ActivitiesThree activities each lasting one hour are scheduled each morning for cabins to participate in together.

Note: Specialty campers spend all 3 hours of the morning in their specialty program area.
12:00 pmMail CallCamp comes together as a whole community in our amphitheater. Campers are delivered snail mail and eLetters.
12:15 pm LunchAll meals are served in our Dining Hall, buffet-style. Lunch options include taco bar, chicken patties, corn dogs, and hamburgers. Lunch also includes a salad bar and dessert.
1:00 pmAfternoon AnnouncementsProgram Directors perform songs or skits advertising the activities offered for the afternoon!
1:15 pmSiestaQuiet cabin time for a nap or quiet reflection.
2:15 pmAfternoon ActivitiesAll program areas are open for afternoon free time. Campers can select from several activities!

Note: Pathfinders will remain with their cabinmates and counselors for afternoon activities. Discovery groups each spend one night on a camping overnight in the Shurds.
3:30 pmPower UpCampers head to the Trading Post for an afternoon snack.
4:00 pmAfternoon Free-Choice ActivitiesAll program areas are open for afternoon free time. Campers can select from several activities!

Note: Pathfinders will remain with their cabinmates and counselors for afternoon activities.
5:30 pm Program Wrap UpProgram areas close, and campers return to their cabins to rejoin their group and prepare for dinner.
5:45 pmFlag LoweringCamp comes together as a whole community to lower the flag.
6:00 pmDinnerAll meals are served in our Dining Hall, buffet-style. Dinner options include pizza, pasta, chicken, meatballs, and pulled pork. Dinner also includes a salad bar and dessert.
7:00 pmEvening GamesCamp comes together as a whole community to play an all-camp game. Games include Capture the Flag, Counselor Hunt, Predator Prey, Lord of the Rings, and more.
8:00 pmTrading PostCampers head to the Trading Post for an evening snack and can purchase souvenirs.
8:45 pmCampfireCamp comes together as a whole community around a campfire to watch our talented staff put on a performance of skits and songs.
9:30 pmReflectionCampers return to their cabin groups for quiet reflection time, bedtime preparations, or special activities like the Sauna or Stargazing.
10:00 pmLights OutGoodnight, Camp Olson!