YMCA’s Camp Campbell Gard summer camps reopen for 95th year: What they offer

Patricia Dawson, public relations coordinator for Butler County Board of Developmental Disabilities, climbs on the Great Miami Valley YMCA's high ropes course now open at Camp Campbell Gard Wednesday, May 15, 2019 on Augspurger Road in St. Clair Township. The course stands nearly fifty feet tall with three levels of elements ranging in difficulty. There is also a climbing wall, zip line, giant swing and more. The course has a universal access system allowing participants with all abilities, including those in wheel chairs, the opportunity to experience it. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
Caption
Patricia Dawson, public relations coordinator for Butler County Board of Developmental Disabilities, climbs on the Great Miami Valley YMCA's high ropes course now open at Camp Campbell Gard Wednesday, May 15, 2019 on Augspurger Road in St. Clair Township. The course stands nearly fifty feet tall with three levels of elements ranging in difficulty. There is also a climbing wall, zip line, giant swing and more. The course has a universal access system allowing participants with all abilities, including those in wheel chairs, the opportunity to experience it. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

‘It’s just trying to get kids to enjoy time together.’

YMCA Camp Campbell Gard’s summer camps are open for the first time since the summer of 2019 to create lifetime memories for children, or as Y officials are putting it, “replacing Wi-Fi with wonder, in its 95th year.”

“We are fully open,” said Karen Staley, chief operating officer of the Great Miami Valley YMCA. “We’re trying to serve our campers as best as possible because there’s a lot of social and emotional relationships lost with a lot of our kids these days, so it’s really exciting to see them enjoying the outside and not having to mask up all the time, things like that.”

For the overnight camps, the kids check in on Sundays and parents pick them up on Friday evenings at dinner:

There are three kinds of camps, which are available to all, even if parents can’t afford the full costs.

  • Full overnight camp, for kids 5-17, for $625 per week;
  • Hybrid camps run from Monday through Friday, with the option of two overnights, cost $345 a week; and
  • Day camp, for $180 per week, for kids 5-12, which is located up the hill and called YMCA Camp Hughes. Other locations are in Fairfield at the Civitan Club and at the Atrium branch in Middletown.
  • Camps also are available for people up to age 22 who have developmental disabilities.

Ending the disruption caused last year by COVID-19, the first weekly camp began Sunday, and the last will end Aug. 13.

“It’s just trying to get kids to enjoy time together, team-building, leadership training,” Staley said. “We have a huge ropes course. The kids really love that.”

Other fun includes ziplines, archery, hikes in the woods, canoeing, crafts swimming, campfires and horseback riding.

“I can’t tell you how many adults we have around here that still talk about Camp Campbell Gard today, and that was from 30 years ago,” he said. “And they donate to send kids to camp because of their experience. We provide programming regardless of ability to pay, so we do raise money every year to sponsor kids who can’t afford the experience of camp as well.”

Children can go with their friends, because, “It’s even more fun with a friend,” she said.

One former camper is Jeff Archiable, communications strategist for the Hamilton Vision Commission, who as a West Chester youth attended camp each year from about age 10-13.

“Camp Campbell Gard was a great opportunity for me to learn some new skills and develop confidence,” Archiable said. “It was just a really great way to get away and to kind of become my own person.”

Parents also can sign up their kids for regional YMCA camps.

“There’s more need than ever,” Staley said. “We have more campers at our three locations today than we had in 2019, so it’s just a great summer for kids to get out and enjoy other kids.”

The return to camps also is good news for the 40-50 paid camp counselors who work per week, depending on numbers of campers.

More information about the camps, including a video, is at ccgymca.org or by calling the camp office at 513-867-0600. Guided tours are available for people who want to learn more about the camps, facilities or safety practices, which include a nurse on site at all times.

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