YMCA Camp Kitaki

Welcome to the YMCA Camp Kitaki family

Welcome to the YMCA Camp Kitaki family

As a parent you have a very important job.

The job of guiding your child to become the best possible person he or she can be. You worry about your son or daughter's safety, learning, confidence, self-esteem, grow skills and fostering a sense of independence. 

AS A CAMP, WE AT KITAKI HAVE THE EXACT SAME JOB.

Our job is to partner with parents to help them meet their goals of raising a confident, positive and independent child.  This page will share with you some of the ways we meet that goal.  Welcome to the Camp Kitaki family.


SAFETY

As a parent your #1 concern is the safety of your children.  As parents and youth workers ourselves we understand the importance of keeping campers safe.  The topics below are just a few of the ways we maintain a culture of safety within our staff and our camper populations. 

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Staff
Staff

Having a culture of safety starts with having a carefully selected staff.  Our full time onsite directors carefully screen, background check, interview, and reference check all applicants.  Summer staff at Kitaki spend 10 full days and nights engaged in professional training on how to work with kids, and teach camp programs and skills.  Each year over 65% of our staff return for another summer at Kitaki.  We have a ratio of 1 summer staff member to every 4 campers at camp.  In addition, 4 full time professional staff live onsite 24 hours a day during summer programs. Meet the full time staff here!

All staff members are certified in First Aid/CPR/AED.


Decision Matrix
Decision Matrix

All staff are trained on the "Decision Matrix", a tool for making decisions in the camp environment.  It requires them to ask 4 questions when making a decision. 

  1. Is it safe for all?
  2. Is it camper focused?
  3. Is it a good use of resources?
  4. Is it magical?

Insisting that safety comes first in all decisions helps build a culture where safety is always front of mind.


The Path
The Path

YMCA Camp Kitaki uses a standardized method for speaking with campers about safety and the rules of camp.  Using the image to the right campers are shown that while at camp we want everyone to be on the path.  On one side of the path there is a huge impassable wall which represents safety.  We have to be able to keep everyone safe at camp, and if a camper were to do something that threatened the safety of others or his or herself, that camper may not be able to remain at camp because he or she can't stay on the path.  On the other side of the path is a bramble of issues that we all may have trouble with from time to time; being honest, caring, respectful and responsible.  The path is where we want kids to be, and we ensure kids stay on the path by helping coach and redirect whenever they stray. 


Weather Emergencies
Weather Emergencies

Camp Kitaki staff monitor the weather 24 hours a day.  We have emergency alert radios in our office and in the 3 full-time directors' cabins at camp that notify of us impending weather.  We also monitor daily conditions, such as heat and humidity, making modifications to the program to ensure that kids will be safe and well hydrated.  In the event of a weather emergency, all staff and kids are brought to our shelters in the lower in-ground level of our cabins and dining hall where we sing songs, do skits and continue to have a blast despite the weather.  We will post updates on our Facebook page as conditions develop, but please note that phone calls are difficult to manage during these times. 


Advanced Trainings
Advanced Trainings

Staff members who lead activities that are more complicated in nature are provided with more training and certifications.  These activities include Lifeguarding (for all aquatic activities at our pool and lake), Challenge Course facilitators, and Wranglers.  All staff are supervised by returning summer staff leaders who have been through staff training multiple times, and additional advanced Supervisors Training.  The full time staff of Kitaki are on site 24 hours a day and also carry advanced certifications.


SELF-ESTEEM

When you bring a child into the world it is immediately apparent to you how wonderful, beautiful, capable, and unique he or she is.  Unfortunately, as a child grows, ensuring that he or she always believes those facts as strongly as you do can be a formidible task.  Fortunately, Camp Kitaki is designed to take children out of their usual every day, into a supportive environment, and challenge them in unique ways.  Read the topics below to see how we build self-esteem.

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Independence
Independence

A quirk of the job of being a parent is that you are actively working to prepare your child for when you aren't there.  How do you behave in school?  What do you do when you visit a friend's house?  How do you drive a car?  Parenting may be the only job were the goal is to do it so well, that you are no longer necessary (even though a parent will always be needed).  One of the ways you do this is by giving your child independence.  This may start small, with times away from you at the Grandparent's house, with the neighbor friend, and progress to bigger times when you trust them to spend the night somewhere else, or stay at home alone while you run errands.  Truly living independently is a difficult experience for a parent to provide, which is where Kitaki comes in.  What better place is there to practice independence than at a camp?  Here you will find a supportive environment where a child gets to practice all aspects of living such as making friends, doing chores, choosing entertainment, eating, preparing, reflecting, learning, growing, living. 


Skill Building
Skill Building

At Kitaki we utilize choice as a facilitator for skill building.  As campers age in our program they will be taken on a path from a goal of introducing a wide variety of activities to our youngest kids, to allowing campers to hone in on the activities and skills that interest them the most as they grow older.  While campers participate in the activities at camp, they are also given progression that allows them success at a developmentally challenging level.  This means that when campers first go to our high ropes Challenge Course at 7 or 8, they will stay close to the ground as they practice the skills necessary that will eventually allow them to climb as high as 55 feet in the air.  There is always a new skill to learn at Kitaki, and a new challenge that at first seems impossible.  However, with a progressive format where success builds on success, and with a supportive environment where all campers and staff encourage each other through the challenge, self esteem is built and maintained.  "I am not sure if I can do it", becomes "I did it", forever.


Challenging Activities
Challenging Activities

The activities at Kitaki are planned to provide just the right level of challenge and engagement, the perfect combination of exciting, new, and never done anything like it before that allows for success.  The activities that we have aren't easy to find just anywhere, ensuring that every camper will find something new, and each activity grows along with a camper to provide new challenges each and every year.  Imagine the boost of self-esteem that comes with climbing to the top of our Tango Tower climbing wall one year, and then coming back the next and doing it blindfolded!  Learn more about our activities here.


Young Adult Role Models
Young Adult Role Models

Our world isn't really designed for kids, yet kids crave to be a part of grown-up life and not always be relegated to a "kids table".  Kitaki is designed to give kids a seat at the table with adults who care, support, and listen to each camper's thoughts and ideas.  Camp Kitaki's summer staff is made up of college-age role models who have working with youth and being in the outdoors as strong passions. 


COMMUNITY

We all want our children to have a place to belong, and Kitaki provides that for so many kids each summer.  From the little things like giving a child a name tag so he or she can be called by name right away, to the bigger things like insisting that camp is a place where we don't "boo", Kitaki is designed to be a inclusive and welcoming community.  Learn more below!

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Names
Names

One of the first things that will happen when your child arrives at camp is he or she will be given a name tag.  Because we respect and want to get to know your camper, we want to be able to use his or her name right away.  In fact, you might notice our staff greet your camper first, before even reaching out to you.  In order for us to have an inclusive community we need to start building relationships with each and every camper right away, so forgive us as we focus on ensuring your camper feels good, prior to introducing ourselves to you.


Songs
Songs

It may seem a little strange to talk about songs as community building.  However, when you think about your own experiences with music, you can see the community that is built through singing together.  Singing at church, in a concert, or with friends on a road trip all brings people closer together.  We use songs as a way to build a unique and special culture, one that gives a child permission to be his or herself.  When kids see an adult role model sing the "Buzzard" song loudly and as off key as possible, they stop worrying about their own insecurities and start having fun. 


Values
Values

Camp Kitaki centers its programs, teachings, and development goals around impacting the development of the values of Honesty, Caring, Respect and Responsibility.  It is our belief that by hiring staff who embody these values, and by teaching them in everything we do, we can change the world.  When children learn the positive feeling and outcomes that go along with personally embracing a life filled with these values their path and confidence is altered forever.  Living in a small community that adheres to these values is a unique and empowering experience.  It limits bullying behavior and shows that everyone has value.


Participation and Inclusion
Participation and Inclusion

We are not a camp where the older kids are "too cool for school".  We are a camp where everyone participates actively in the community that we create.  Kids of all ages learn and grow from one another, and everyone who is able to safely live at camp without negatively impacting the  experience for others is welcome to be part of our programs. 

Rules for acceptance and participation are the same for everyone regardless of age, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, relicious affiliation, ability or national origin.  We believe that all kids deserve a camp experience, and will make every reasonable effort to meet the individual needs of all our campers.  If your child has a disability, behavior disorder, or special need, please contact us to discuss if Camp Kitaki is the right fit for your child.


Top 5 Parent Questions

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What will you do if my child get's homesick?
What will you do if my child get's homesick?

Simply put:  Call you.  We help children face their fears of independence every day and are experts in how to talk to children about missing home, why they are uncomfortable at camp, and what we can do about it.  However YOU are the expert on your child.  If campers talk to us about wanting to go home, we chat with them, look for any issues in the camp environment, and get them focused on the positives of camp and what they want to do next.  Then we call you and discuss what was said, and what you feel is the best way to move forward in supporting your child.  We find that kids often experience some discomfort in the first full day or two of camp, but that quickly goes away as the child warms up to new friends, the staff, and the activities we have at camp. 

For more information, the American Camp Association has put together a great article about homesickness.

How can I stay in touch with my camper?
How can I stay in touch with my camper?

One aspect that is central to the growth that kids experience at camp is independence.  A large part of establishing a feeling of independence comes from limiting the access to technology and communications.  This, coupled with the very busy schedule, means that campers don't have time to wait by a phone.  However, we do encourage campers to write letters, and parents are encouraged to stay in touch as well.  Learn more here.

Will my child make friends?
Will my child make friends?

The majority of our campers attend Kitaki without knowing anyone ahead of time, and everything we do at camp is designed to help campers make friends.  From our cabin structure, to cabin meetings, our staff are trained on how to lead games and activities, and process those games to help break down barriers and build up social skills in kids.  Your child will make friends at camp!

How are medications handled?
How are medications handled?

Medication is collected during check in and a written distribution plan is completed for our health specialists.  Medication is then distributed directly to the camper by our health staff.  Medication is typically distributed at meals and bed time, but other times are possible if needed.  Campers are able to keep fast acting emergency medication, such as an inhaler, on them or with the staff assigned to the camper's group if needed, however ALL medication must be checked in and approved for this purpose.  Camp Kitaki maintains a stock of over the counter medication so it is not necessary for you to send medication "just in case".

Where will my camper stay?
Where will my camper stay?

The cabins at Kitaki are modern, well maintained facilities and all are air conditioned.  A typical cabin group at camp houses 10 campers, 2-3 staff members and 1-2 Senior Kitaki Kids (high school volunteers involved in our leadership development program).  All of our cabins have showers and bathrooms within easy walking distance or within the cabins themselves.  The beds at camp are twin sized bunk beds and most campers pack a sleeping bag or a twin sized sheet and blanket set.