- Why Camp Olson?
- What ages go to Camp Olson?
- What is the deadline for registration?
- Where can I find the forms needed to complete my child’s registration?
- Who are the Staff at Camp Olson? How are they trained?
- Is my child ready for camp?
- What guidelines are there for a child to participate in camp?
- How do you deal with homesickness?
- What should my child bring to Camp?
- What should my child NOT bring to Camp?
- What time do I drop-off and pick-up my child?
- Are phone calls allowed? What is the best way to communicate?
- What is the food like?
- How do you deal with Food Allergies and Dietary Restrictions for my child?
- How do campers choose activities?
- How is Lost & Found handled?
- Does my child need spending money at Camp?
- Is there laundry available?
- What if my child gets sick or is injured?
- Can my child bring medications to Camp? How do you handle camper Medication?
- What do you do in case of inclement weather?
- Do most campers come with a buddy?
- Is Camp Olson accredited by any organization?
- How do I get more information?
Since 1954, Camp Olson has been Sharing the Spirit of the Northwoods with countless youth and leaders through quality camping programs. Below are just a few of the key facts that make Camp Olson the right choice for your child.
- Sharing Youth Development and Research—Enriching the Lives of Children
- Tips for the First Time Parent and Camper.
Why Camp Olson YMCA is the right camp for your child! (back to list)
- We are committed to the physical, emotional, and spiritual development of all our campers. We foster this development through intentional programming facilitated by caring, well-trained staff.
- We guarantee a minimum 1:4 Staff-to-Camper ratio at all times during program times, which ensures that your child receives engaged and responsive attention throughout his or her time at Camp. We provide two staff members per cabins with campers.
- Our Full-time Professional staff lives on-site year-round.
- When it comes to our search for staff, all potential candidates undergo an extensive application and screening process including reference checks, background check, and a search of the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender registry prior to hiring. It’s a policy that we take very seriously.
- All staff undergo an extensive training process and are certified by the Red Cross in First-Aid, CPR, and Lifeguarding
- Excellent Health Care facilities and staff. Two Registered Nurses live on-site and are available 24 hours a day for our campers and staff.
- Program variety for campers of all ages.
- Campers are provided the opportunity for choice and independence when choosing activities.
- Our food service provides healthy and tasty fuel for all the fun at Camp. More than 90% of our campers give our food the highest rating.
- We offer a wide range of activities including: Sailing, Canoeing, Horseback Riding, Canoeing, Kayaking, Archery, Riflery, Arts & Crafts, Nature Activities, Wilderness Camping, and so much more!
- Camp life is a balance between scheduled activity time in the mornings and free-choice independence in the afternoon allowing campers to try new things AND choose their own adventure.
- We believe in the therapeutic power of a direct experience with the great outdoors. At Camp Olson, we encourage free play and an atmosphere of discovery and creativity in all we do.
- We are committed to Leadership Development in our young adults. Our LDP programs challenge teens with intense curricula aimed specific outcomes.
- Camp Olson is more than 1250 acres of forests and fields including 5 lakes, three of which are private.
- Camp is fun! We strive as a goal to make camp a fun, active, life-learning experience for all of our campers.
As a result of the camping experience, your child will:
- Have an authentic outdoors / northwoods experience.
- Be educated about the wilderness.
- Feel part of a single camping community.
- Develop a mentored relationship with camp staff.
- Be safe and feel free to act naturally and redefine themselves.
- Want to return to Camp, build skills and develop leadership abilities.
What ages go to Camp Olson? (back to list)
Camp Olson runs 8 weeks of overnight youth camp for all youth ages 8-16 in a variety of programs from 1-4 weeks in length. We also offer a Voyageur Short Week camp June for youth ages 7-15. Most first-time overnight campers choose our Pathfinder Sessions.
Additionally, Camp Olson offers 2 weeks of Family Camp in August which is available for kids age 1-100! Family Camp is a great way to experience camp and to prepare your children for their first experience as an overnight camper while enjoying the Camp Olson experience with your entire family!
What is the deadline for registration? (back to list)
Camp Olson has rolling enrollment and we accept registrations up to 24 hours before the start of a session provided there is space and you are able to submit all of the proper forms before the start of the session. Many sessions do fill quickly so we recommend submitting your registration as early as January.
Where can I find the forms needed to complete my child’s registration? (back to list)
Who are the Staff at Camp Olson? How are they trained? (back to list)
Caring, compassionate, kind, friendly, bright, creative, and cool; these are just few of the words that describe the typical staff member at Camp Olson. Above the beautiful facility and exciting activities, it is our staff who create the camp experience for each and every child that attends Camp Olson.
The typical staff member at Camp Olson is between 17-25 years of age. 75% of our staff are former campers themselves and so the traditions and legacies of stories, games, songs, and camp spirit are strong. Staff include Counselors, Program facilitators, Food Service, Maintenance, and Management.
The Management at Camp Olson is committed to safety. When it comes to our search for staff, all potential candidates undergo an extensive application and screening process including reference checks, Background check, and a search of the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender registry prior to hiring. It’s a policy that we take very seriously. In addition, our full-time management staff live onsite and are available 24 hours a day to oversee all camp operations and monitor our camp community.
All staff must undergo a week-long training program which covers a range of issues from Camper Behavior and Small Group Dynamics to sensitive issues including Child Abuse and Bullying. In addition, all staff are Red Cross Certified in CPR, Lifeguarding, and First Aid.
Is my child ready for camp? (back to list)
Child psychologist, Chris Thurber states that, “most children are ready to spend time away from home by the time they’re seven. But, as with so much of parenting, recognizing your child’s individual needs and developmental readiness is key to the experience.” What is right for one child may be completely wrong for another, so it’s important to asses your child’s unique interests and eagerness to separate from you. Has your child ever spent any time away from you? Ever slept at a friend’s house or a grandparent’s? Does your child like to make new friends or slow to warm-up in new environments? Is your child able to follow instructions and communicate with adults? Do they enjoy participating in group activities? Camp is the ideal opportunity for your child to take an affirming step towards independence and greater confidence. At Camp Olson, we are sensitive to the needs of each and every individual and are eager to be a partner with parents in making camp a successful experience for all involved.
As wonderful as summer camp can be for many children, it is not for everyone. Many parents make the mistake of assuming that their child will adore camp once he or she has time to settle in. Let your child be the best judge of if and when he or she is ready to go. You can help judge their eagerness by looking at and talking about the activities available. Kids succeed at Camp when they enter with a positive and excited attitude about their week.
Like the first day of school, the first day of camp can be an anxious experience for kids. Thurber, a veteran camper in his own right, points out that over 95 percent of children feel some degree of homesickness while at camp. If your child is apprehensive before leaving for camp, spend some time talking about his or her particular fears. The more prepared children are for any new experiences, the better equipped they will be to deal with their emotions.
“Talking about it can inoculate your child against becoming homesick,” advises Hugh Leichtman, a clinical psychologist and camp director in Boston. Be candid in your conversation with your child. “What is it that is worrying you?” “Let’s talk about the things you can do if you do get homesick.” Many camps suggest that children bring a favorite stuffed animal or pillow with them to help them at night, often the most difficult time for homesickness. Phone calls are discouraged, as are lengthy letters from home telling children how much their parents are missing them. Campers are able to make the best of their summer experience when they know that their parents fully support their move towards independence. Remind them that their counselors are there to help them through any and all difficulties your child might have while at camp. Your child’s ability to voice his or her concerns to our counselors allows us to keep the experience positive.
Some familiar characters like Franklin or Arthur might also be helpful in introducing the subject of camp and to generate excitement about new activities. There are lots of books about camp, but this list will get you started:
“I Don’t Want to Go to Camp” by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Maryann Cocca-Leffler Boyds Mills Press, ages 3-6
“The Berenstain Bears Go to Camp” written and illustrated by Stan and Jan Berenstain Random House, ages 3-6
“Franklin Goes to Day Camp” by Paulette Bourgeois and Brenda Clark Scholastic, ages 2-4
“Arthur Goes to Camp” by Marc Brown Little, ages 3-6
“Princess Lulu Goes to Camp” written by Kathryn Cristaldi and illustrated by Heather Harms Malone Grosset & Dunlap, ages 5-8
Thurber recommends that children practice separating from their parents in small doses. Start out with a sleep over at a grandparent’s house to assess your child’s readiness. Try setting up a mini-camping experience with a friend or neighbor. Pitch a couple of tents in the backyard. The supervising parent can occupy one tent while the kids can be in the other. Your child can get used to being separated from home plus have a little taste of the outdoors all at the same time.
If your youngster is too young for overnight camping or simply not interested in sleeping over, consider Day camp or Family Camp. These programs allow children to become comfortable with Camp, the staff, and the routine of daily activities in an outdoor setting. Families can also spend time canoeing, hiking, and camping together to learn some of the basics of camp life. If your child enjoys those experiences, you can reintroduce the notion of overnight camp. Get out the marshmallows and get ready for some summer fun!
What guidelines are there for a child to participate in camp? (back to list)
Our camps welcome children and teenagers who are willing and able to display positive behavior as they participate in the entire camp program, each day. Campers are expected to genuinely respect their peers and all camp employees. Campers must be able to behave in a way that promotes kindness, the use of good manners, and be considerate towards other’s wants and needs (not just his/her own). It is not acceptable in our camp communities to make fun of others, bully, or use “put downs”. In team settings, campers are expected to practice sharing, listening, cooperating, and compromising. Campers must also be able to handle themselves appropriately if/when immediate counselor supervision is not realistically possible. The camp “rules” must be supported and followed at all times by every camper. For the protection of every child’s interest, we reserve the right to deny or cancel the enrollment of any child if/when it is determined the child cannot behave effectively in the camp community.
With regard to personal hygiene, campers are expected to be able to use the bathroom, shower, brush teeth, change clothes, and keep themselves clean on their own. We recognize that we get dirty here at Camp, but we always wash and sanitize our hands before meals and after group activities and make time to visit the bathroom before bed and first thing in the morning.
We intend to have environments that are free from discrimination and devoid of violence, intimidation, and/or harassment based on race, creed, color, national origin, religious beliefs, or disability. Language and attitudes that disrespect or debilitate campers or staff members are not tolerated. Possession and/or use of tobacco, alcohol, and/or illegal drugs is grounds for dismissal. We do not tolerate emotional or physical abuse or the threat of abuse. Any behavior which affects a child’s ability to participate, or seriously disrupts our program, may require dismissal. For the protection of every child’s interest, we reserve the right to immediately dismiss any camper, without refund. In all cases, parents will be notified of our decision and will be responsible for all travel expenses.
How do you deal with homesickness? (back to list)
We feel like homesickness presents a wonderful opportunity for your child to work through something difficult with the support of his counselor and the other staff here at camp. We strive for a partnership with our parents in encouraging our campers to discover their inner strength and independence through the experience. You can do much to prepare your child for going away to camp, especially if it is their first camp experience. Talking honestly with your child about what to expect can ease the transition from home to camp. Many expect camp to be fun all the time. While your child should expect to have fun, you can tell them that they will at times feel many different emotions: elation at discovering new friends, fear of confronting a new situation, disappointment when a game or project hasn’t gone well, and even sadness to leave friends at the end of a session.
Homesickness may occur, especially if your child is young or living away for the first time. Homesickness is neither a dislike of camp nor evidence of camper maladjustment. It is normal. Discussing this with your child and letting them know that this is a common feeling will make it easier to deal with should it occur. If it does, the most appropriate action is to let your child stay at camp, except in very unusual cases. Our camp staff members are trained to work with homesick campers, and within a day or two most have completely recovered. If you receive a letter that is less than positive at the beginning of camp, don’t worry too much, homesickness is usually over by the time the letter reaches home. In your letters to camp, it may be helpful to ask about experiences at camp rather than to dwell on happenings at home. Try to put your own feelings of separation into proper perspective, and then write your child an encouraging response!
Express your confidence in your child’s ability to cope and that the staff are there to help. It is usually a good idea to avoid making references about how much you will miss your child and it helps if parents avoid talking about what they will be doing while campers are away. If you receive a letter that is cause for concern, don’t hesitate to notify us by phone. Since gaining independence from family is a developmental task that all must face at some point or other, camp can be a positive step in the life of a camper.
Never hesitate to contact us with questions or concerns about your child. Our staff are happy to discuss your specific concerns and work with you to provide your child with the best experience possible. Homesickness and Camp
What should my child bring to Camp? (back to list)
What should my child NOT bring to Camp? (back to list)
Cell phones, stereos, personal electronic devices, or knives.
At Camp Olson we strongly feel that our ability to share the Spirit of the Northwoods is enhanced by an experience that is free of the distractions of electronic devices. It is a great exercise for a child to be without their cell phone for a week. It encourages personal interaction and immerses your child in the beautiful natural surroundings and people we have here at Camp Olson.
What time do I drop-off and pick-up my child? (back to list)
Week-Long Campers being dropped off at Camp Olson should be dropped off sometime between 2:00 -3:00 pm on the Sunday that begins their session. Campers being picked up must be picked up sometime between 7:00am and 10:00am the Saturday that ends their session. Arriving before 10:00am is essential! Due to the fact that our staff time off begins then, no supervision will be available, unless previous arrangements have been made.
Voyageur Short Week Campers should be dropped off sometime between 2:00 -3:00 pm on the Sunday that begins their session. The session ends Wednesday, campers must be picked up sometime between 6:00-7:00 pm.
Day Campers can be dropped off daily between 8:15-8:30 am and picked up between 4:30-4:45 pm.
Are phone calls allowed? What is the best way to communicate? (back to list)
Generally, Camp Olson discourages phone calls except for extreme circumstances. Through experience, we’ve learned that phone calls home do more harm then good, when it comes to providing a true camping experience.
The best way for a parent to communicate is by mail or email. A good idea is to pre-send a few encouraging letters or postcards to your child ahead of time. Label which days you’d like the letters delivered, and we’ll see to it that they receive them. Many parents also pre-address and post letters or postcards home to encourage their camper to write home.
You can send emails and view photos through your online CampInTouch account. There is a fee required to use the email service and to order photos, but all parents can login for free to view the daily photo uploads. All emails are printed daily and delivered. Photo or images you add to emails will only be printed in black & white.
What is the food like? (back to list)
Our Head Chef, Anita and her kitchen staff provide 3 square, tasty, and nutritious meals each day. Favorites include Taco Bar, BBQ chicken, and pizza! Cereal, fruit, and yogurt are always available in addition to breakfast. Lunch and Supper are always accompanied by a salad bar and fresh veggies.
How do you deal with Food Allergies and Dietary Restrictions for my child? (back to list)
At Camp Olson, we are well-versed in dealing with a range of food allergies and dietary restrictions. All campers who attend must disclose dietary issues on the mandatory health forms we provide to you. Our kitchen staff are very sensitive to these issues and continually strive to provide ample alternatives for Gluten-free, lactose intolerant, vegetarian, and religious-oriented diets. We have a great deal of experience in dealing with peanut/tree nut allergies and more.
How do campers choose activities? (back to list)
Everyone who attends Camp Olson is allowed a balance of structured and free-time. Mornings (between breakfast and lunch) are scheduled cabin time. Cabin groups are led by their counselors through 3 morning rotations allowing everyone to try all that Camp has to offer at least once. Afternoons from 2pm-5:30 are free time. After lunch, each program area performs a song or skit to advertise the activity being offered and to tell you whether you need to sign up or just show up to participate. Favorite afternoon activities include Regattas (sailboat races), Beach Olympics, Big O Rodeo, 3-D Archery Shoot, Tie-Dye making, Bog walks, fishing trips, and so much more.
How is Lost & Found handled? (back to list)
On the final evening and morning of each session, we display all Lost and Found Items for view and attempt to reconnect all items to their owners. All items that are not claimed are recorded and boxed up by session. If no name tag can be found, we hold the items until the Fall. Parents and campers can contact us to check our records for items that may have gone missing.
We encourage you to write your campers name on the tags of all clothing brought to camp.
Does my child need spending money at Camp? (back to list)
No. Money can be deposited into the Trading Post (our camp store) for the purchase of snacks and beverages as well as camp apparel like t-shirts, hats, water bottles, and bandanas. We accept payment by credit card or cash up to arrival day.
Is there laundry available? (back to list)
Only campers of 3 weeks or more are allowed laundry privileges while at Camp.
What if my child gets sick or is injured? (back to list)
Our Health Care staff are available 24 hours a day to deal with all Health related issues your camper may encounter while at Camp. In addition, our entire summer staff are certified by the Red Cross in CPR, First-Aid, and Life guarding.
Can my child bring medications to Camp? How do you handle camper Medication? (back to list)
Our trained and experienced Health Care Staff pass out all medications for our campers. Full information available here.
What do you do in case of inclement weather? (back to list)
Camp Olson Management are constantly monitoring local weather conditions. All offices as well as the Director’s house are equipped with weather radios allowing us to respond at all hours of the day. In the event of a severe thunderstorm warning, all campers and staff report to our Severe Weather Shelters contained beneath the Ranch House and the Health Lodge.
All parents will receive an email notification in the event that we do seek shelter, assuring you that all are well and accounted for.
Do most campers come with a buddy? (back to list)
About half our campers come to Camp with a friend, however, Camp is a great opportunity for a child to come and make new friends. Our counselors are trained to facilitate an atmosphere of inclusion and acceptance allowing all a clean slate in which they can truly be themselves. Any Camp Olson alumni would attest that some of their greatest and most lasting friendships where forged at Camp.
Is Camp Olson accredited by any organization? (back to list)
Camp Olson is an independent and not-for-profit YMCA. Camp Olson is accredited by the American Camping Association and has been in good standing for more than 25 years.
How do I get more information? (back to list)
We are happy to provide parent referrals, offer tours, and answer questions anytime. Contact us anytime to request more information.
Camp Olson YMCA
4160 Little Boy Rd NE
Longville, MN 56655
- Fax: 218-363-2490