YMCA Camp Kitaki

A Day at Kitaki

A Day at Kitaki

A day at Kitaki is a special thing, and guaranteed to be unlike your camper's day to day routine in many ways.  In others though it will be very familiar.  Waking and bed time routines include personal hygeine routines, community living chores, and reflections on the day to come and the day they experienced.  Meals are served family style with a menu that is accessible and familiar.  However within these confines there are things that are new and different.  Helping your camper to understand what his or her day will be like at Kitaki is a huge positive step in their personal growth and independant sucess.  We have tried to provide some information on the most frequently asked about aspects of our program here.  If you have more specific questions, don't hesitate to contact us!

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Daily Schedule
Daily Schedule

This is a typical daily schedule for kids at Camp Kitaki!

7:00 AM - Wake up and Polar Bears (Optional early morning swim!)

7:30 AM - Flag Raising

7:40 AM - Chapel - Focused on the 4 Core Values of the YMCA

8:00 AM - Breakfast

8:45 AM - Cabin Meetings - These meetings help cabin groups build community and learn social skills

9:00 AM - Noon:  Morning Activities

  • Summer Campers Participate in Clubs
  • Other Campers (Ranch, Juniors Etc.) participate in morning activities specific to their Age and Program

Noon - Lunch

1:00 PM - Rest Hour

2:00-5:00 - Afternoon Activities

  • Campers visit program areas with their counselor and cabin group.

5:00 PM - Juice Jam and Cabin Meeting

5:30 PM - Free Time - Campers can choose where they go as staff run open activities

6:15 PM - Flag Lowering

6:20 PM - Dinner

7:00 PM - Camp Store - Campers can purchase snacks at the store from their account while playing GaGa or hanging out by the pond.

8:00 PM - Evening Activities*

9:00 PM - Showers*

9:30 PM - Vespers (Cabin Reflection)*

10:00 PM - Lights Out!*

* The schedule at Camp Kitaki varies slightly based on a camper's age and the program they are signed up for. For our youngest campers the evening schedule is adjusted to get them to bed sooner.



All meals at camp are served Family Style with campers sitting with their cabin group and counselors. Campers are assigned to help set up and clean up after meals by serving as "Tablehoppers" for their cabin.  Special meals are served during the week including a cabin cookout, a picnic lunch, and a breakfast served at the cabin!

Meals also include announcements, and fun visits from the Camp Kitaki Sheriff, and the Newsguy to keep us up to date on what is going on in the world. Of course a zany song finishes each meal!


Camp Kitaki serves a menu that appeals to the majority of kids.  Meals include camp favorites like Pizza, Grilled Cheese, Spaghetti, Tacos and are ballanced with fruits and vegetables.  We recognize that kids can be picky, so there is always an option of sandwiches (sun butter and jelly or lunch meat) if the main course doesn't appeal to your camper.  In addition a vegetarian option is served at every meal. 

Special Diets, Restrictions and Allergies

If your camper has a special diet, restriction or allergy please make sure to note that on your camp forms, and should you have questions please contact us to discus how to best meet your camper's needs.  While it is common for us to have vegetarian staff and campers, some other restrictions might be more rare and require more advanced planning.  Parents frequently assist in planning the menu and sending additional items they know suit their camper's needs.  Our weekly menu is available upon request should you wish to plan!

Camp Kitaki's kitchen is peanut and treenut safe, we do not serve products with these ingredients.  However, despite our requests, occasionally campers or parents might bring items into camp that have these ingredients so it is important that we are made aware of any allergies your child may have.   

Program Director - Food Service and Housekeeping
vpike [at] ymcalincoln.org

Cabin Groups and Lodging

Campers are placed into cabin groups of other campers in the same program, usually around 10 kids.  These cabins are gender and age seperated, and we try to have the distance between the youngest and oldest camper in the same cabin be no more than a year and a half (usually it is around a year).  Our cabins are well maintained, spacious, with lots of natural light.  We even have air conditioning in all of our cabins to ensure kids get a great night's rest to be ready for all of the adventures in our days.  Our cabins feature twin sized bunk beds, and all have bathrooms and showerhouses nearby. 

Cabin Groups are grouped together with 3-7 other cabins into Units of kids of similar age and program. Units are led by a Unit Director who oversees the experience of each camper in their Unit. 

Cabin Staff

Each Cabin group has a Cabin Counselor that serves as their leader for the week, in addition each cabin may have another staff member or two and a member of our teen volunteer and leadership development program the Senior Kitaki Kids.  There is typically 2-3 staff, and 1-2 SKs in each cabin. 

Cabin Mates

The majority of our campers do not come to camp knowing someone ahead of time, however we know sometimes campers have a good friend they would like to share camp with.  Campers are able to request one friend as a cabin mate to be assigned to the same cabin.   In order to be placed as cabin mates, campers must be the same gender, and be close in age. 

Siblings and other Friends

It is our recomendation that siblings are not placed in the same cabin, even if they are close in age.  During the day at camp, campers have the chance to see siblings and friends from other cabins frequently.  All meals are served together in the dining hall, and there are times like Juice Jam, Free Time, Store Time, Polar Bears, and more when friends in different cabins can see one another. 

Visit the Crafts Den where every camper gets to display his or her creative side.
Campers get to experience an amazingly beautiful natural setting at Kitaki. We like to share a few of the more awesome natural wonders with them.

Fort Pawnee is camp's natural play area, designed on research principles from Nature Explore, and built to encourage free play in nature with natural materials.

Our challenge course gives us the opportunity to provide kids with safe, but thrilling, individual and team based challenges that help facilitate growth in self esteem, leadership and communication skills.
Camp Kitaki is the home to a unique outdoor music playground. This collection of instruments allow anyone to enjoy making music without any prior experience!
One of the best traditional summer fun spots, the pool is the best place to keep it cool!
The lake features many different activities and skills to learn, from boating or just chilling in the sand!
One of our most popular activities. Enjoy a walk through the woods on horseback, or learn more riding skills in our arenas with our Ranch Camp programs.
Learn a skill or keep growing year after year. New targets and different bows add to the challenge as you grow!

Polar Bears

The first activity of the day is an optional dip in the Camp Kitaki Pool. Those brave enough to go every day are rewarded with a certificate at the end of the week. Those who don't wish to go can sleep in a little more!

Flag Ceremonies

Campers participate in helping to raise and lower the flag every day at the all camp ceremony.  For every flag raising and flag lowering during the week a different cabin group is chosen to perform the duties of the color guard.  All of camp stands at attention while the color guard raises or lowers the flag, properly folding and caring for it as they do so. 


As the sun is just begining to peak through the trees, and the whole day's excitment is yet to come, chapel is a beautiful start to the day.  Campers visit Day Break Chapel every morning, just down the hill from the Dining Hall, prior to breakfast.  A typical chapel consists of singing songs, and watching skits and stories about the YMCA values of Honesty, Caring, Respect and Responsibility.  Camp Kitaki is a YMCA camp whose spirtual focus is on Christian values.  Campers and staff of all faiths are welcome and our chapels are non denominational and focused on the Y values and the Camp Creed.

Juice Jam

Every day during the afternoon we take a break to hang out in the shade around our nature pond, enjoy the cool breezes, nice tunes and relaxing conversation.  During Juice Jam campers can purchase a juice jam bottle, a reuseable take home bottle that is filled every day with their favorite flavor of gatoraid.


Held the first and the last night of camp, Campfire is a tradition our campers talk about all year long.  Songs, skits, stories, and more are enjoyed with friends gathered around a fire.  From the quiet walk through the woods, to the opening roar of the fire and the strums of "Pink Pajamas", to the quiet reflections, year award recognitions, closing memories, and notes of "Linger", Campfire is truely an experience. 

The Camp Kitaki Dance

This weekly event, held at the mecca, is a long held tradition of fun.  Dances often bring to mind nervous feelings for campers, but not at Kitaki.  Our silly and fun approach includes all sorts of non threatening and easy to do dances. 


Each day at Kitaki ends with a cabin reflection time known as Vespers.  Designed to help campers process through their experience of the day, their experience with each other, and to learn more about the Y Core Values of Honesty, Caring, Respect, and Responsibility, Vespers is also a good transition to quiet time and sleep.  Campers frequently gather in a circle around some candles with the lights dimmed.  The vespers program will frequently feature a story, music, and each camper sharing a reflection on their day or the stories shared. 

Comfort at Camp
Comfort at Camp

One of the most important parts of the camp experience is a child's comfort.  We know that before a child can really learn a new skill, make new friends, or grow in their self esteem, they have to be comfortable with where they are at, and who they are with.  We work deligently to try to make sure that happens from the moment a camper sets foot inside Kitaki. 

Learning to be comfortable and confidant in new situations is a huge stepping stone to independance and growth.

While homesickness is not super common at Kitaki, it does happen.  Which is why we train our staff on the best ways to help kids adjust and work through those emotions. 

How you can help

As parents setting your child up for success at camp is one of the best things you can do.  Ways to help ensure they are ready are:

  • Help your child have positive experiences away from you at grandparents homes or friends homes so they can get used to being away, and make sure camp is to strange either.  Come for a tour or family days prior to dropping your child off!
  • Don't dwell on how much you and the dog will miss them, focus on being excited about how much fun they will have at camp.
  • Write positive letters and notes for your camper to receive during camp, but avoid making the camper feel like they are missing out on things at home, or that you miss them so much you can't function.
  • Have your camper help you pack their luggage, knowing where the swim suit is in the bag (or even that they have one) is a huge comfort to a child in a new place.
  • If you and your camper have important routines (such as tucking them in at night), prepare them for the absence of that routine, by telling them a little more what to expect at camp.
  • Don't promise that your camper can call you at any time, or that you will come get them if they miss home.  Instead affirm that you know they will have a great time and that you look forward to hearing all about it at the end of the week.  Also let your camper know that if he or she needs anything to ask the staff.  We are there to help!

What we do if a child is homesick

It is very common for a child to feel uncertain the first night or two at camp.  If a camper is struggling we immediately look for any underlying cause at camp (IE didn't sleep well, issues with cabin mates, didn't eat enough, dehydated etc.), and focus on the positives that we can control:

  • Finding something they are excited about doing, and doing it.
  • Finding a new friend and making sure they are connected.
  • Ensuring the camper feels comfortable checking in and speaking with the staff in his or her cabin.

While this is going on we also will contact you as parents to discuss the situation and get your ideas and input (without the campers knowledge).  You are the expert on your kid and we want you involved in the process of helping them grow!