Online Parent's Guide to Camp Surf

Download Parents' Guide and Required Forms

Directions to Camp Surf

Click here for Google Map driving directions to Camp Surf in Imperial Beach, CA.

From the North

  1. Take I-5 South or CA-15 S to I-5 S.
  2. Take exit 5A for CA-75/Palm Ave.
  3. Turn Right on CA-75/Palm Ave for 1.6 miles.
  4. Turn left onto Palm Ave right after you pass 9th Street for 0.7 miles.
  5. Turn right at Silver Strand Boulevard. YMCA Camp Surf is at the end of the road on the left. 

From the East

  1. Take I-8 West to I-805 S toward Exit CA-15.
  2. Exit onto CA-15 S toward CA-94 W/M L King Jr Fwy for 3.1 miles.
  3. Exit onto I-5 S toward National City/Chula Vista for 8.1 miles.
  4. Take exit 5A for CA-75/Palm Ave.
  5. Turn Right on CA-75/Palm Ave for 1.6 miles.
  6. Turn left onto Palm Ave right after you pass 9th Street for 0.7 miles.
  7. Turn right at Silver Strand Boulevard and YMCA Camp Surf is at the end of the road on the left.

Arrival Time

Sunday Check-in: 3:00 PM to 4:30 PM.

Camp Surf is about a 45-minute drive from most points in San Diego.

Departure Time

Friday Check-out: 1:30 PM to 4:30 PM.

You will need to show photo ID and sign in upon arrival. We invite parents and families to join us for our Family BBQ and Surf Carnival on the final Friday afternoon. This is the perfect opportunity to take photos and share camp with your child(ren). Please leave pets at home since we cannot allow animals in camp or on the beach (& the parking lot gets hot.)

The schedule for departures are as follows:

  • 12:00PM - Camp Surf Staff begin checking Parent ID's - Plan on arriving around noon so you don't miss the start of the carnival!
  • 12:30 PM - Surf Carnival: Meet the staff! Campers rotate through surfing, body boarding, and beach games!
  • 1:00-2:00 PM - BBQ: Parents and siblings welcome! (No pets, please. Animals are not allowed and the parking lot gets really hot!)
  • 12:00 PM to 3:00 PM - Camp Store is open: Please check the Lost and Found and also around your child’s cabin.

Visiting Days

Between 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM on the final Friday of your child's camp session.

We do not permit visits during programs, which includes the Friday in the middle of all 2-week teen programs. Visiting parents can distract the entire groups from their day’s agenda. Therefore we encourage you to visit our online photo gallery, meet the staff, and enjoy the facility Sunday and Friday during check-in and departure.

Airport and Train Travel

Note: Traveling campers may have a cell phone and/or small electronic device. We will collect these when they get to camp and store them until they leave. There is a $75 fee for one-way or round-trip from the San Diego airport or Amtrak train station.

Times: Sundays: 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM arrival and Fridays: 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM departure. Please plan accordingly. Send itinerary at least one month in advance to Clay Jones [email protected] or call (619) 423-5850.

Flights: Pre-approval is required by camp's Transportation Coordinator IF your child is traveling as an "unaccompanied minor" (as defined by your airline) since the airlines have strict limitations camp may not be able to facilitate. Campers may not fly stand-by. Campers should go to baggage claim where Camp Surf staff, wearing staff shirts and carrying ID, will be waiting. You or your child can reach our airport shuttle crew at 619-316-7637 if a flight has been delayed. If you need to provide the airline with the name of the adult who will be meeting your child, contact the Camp Surf office at (619) 423-5850 on the Friday before they arrive.

Train: Campers younger than 16yrs cannot return home via the train due to requirements of Amtrak's ‘unaccompanied minor policy’. Campers age 8-12yrs are not able to travel unaccompanied via Amtrak. AMTRAK policies may change and we may not be able to accommodate all requirements so please call us with any questions. Camp Surf Staff are still allowed to PICK-UP campers ages 13-16+ who are arriving TO CAMP but Camp Surf Staff are unable to drop campers under age 16 off to return home. Campers 16+ are allowed to travel both ways (to and from camp) unaccompanied.  If you need to provide Amtrak with the name of the adult who will be meeting your child, contact the Camp Surf office at 619-423-5850 on the Friday before they arrive.

What to Bring to Check-in

Download Parents' Guide and Required Forms

Camp Admit Card is your authorization for custody. Please note any persons that are authorized to (or excluded from) picking up your child. Anyone picking up a camper must show photo ID and be listed on this card.

Health History Form complete with parent's signature is required. State Health Codes also require Immunization History to be completed and up to date. A physician’s authorization is required only IF a child has any severe health conditions, has recently stopped taking a behavioral medication or has recently been under a doctor’s care. Otherwise, a doctor’s physical is NOT required.

Medications including non-prescription, should not be packed in your child’s luggage. All medications are submitted to health care staff at check-in (State Law). Prescription drugs must be in the original container with physician’s instructions. If there is more than one kind of medication it is helpful to place these original containers into a ziplock bag labeled with campers name. Please provide complete, written directions on dosage and frequency. You will be ask to verify these instructions for the dispensing of your child’s medications.

Wetsuits Available for Overnight Campers

We have spring (short-arm and short-leg) wetsuits available for use during overnight camp.

Day camp and weekend camp participants can rent these wetsuits for a small fee. If you would prefer to buy a wetsuit, consider buying an inexpensive one at Costco or large retail store. Buy it large enough to fit for 2 summers. Unless your child will be at the beach beyond their stay at camp, this could be an expense you want to avoid!

Wetsuit Size Chart

Pre-Camp Health Screening

Check your child's health before bringing them to camp.

We are especially concerned about contagious conditions, including colds, flu, fever, head-lice, conjunctivitis (pink eye), or chicken pox. If your child exhibits any of these symptoms or has a fever, we require a doctor’s authorization prior to camp attendance. Our staff are trained to bring campers who exhibit any symptoms to the Health Center. We will contact you to come and pick up your child for appropriate treatment if needed.

Health Care

All staff are trained in First Aid and CPR. A doctor is on-call in nearby Imperial Beach and 911 ambulance service is readily available. Our nearest hospital is in Coronado.

We conduct a brief health screen with all campers on opening days. If your child is sick, do not send them to camp. We will try to reschedule the week in case of illness. During camp, sick campers may be housed in the Health Center for a brief period. Our practice is to call you if a camper is out of the program for more than an hour (sometimes they are just tired and need to rest!). We will also call you to report any accidents more severe than a simple scratch, splinter, or bruise. In case of an accident or more severe illness, it is our practice to contact parents immediately. If you cannot be reached, we have your written authorization for emergency treatment if neccessary. Please provide us with complete emergency contact information, especially if you are traveling or going on vacation.

Mail Call!

Kids love receiving letters from home while at camp. Please address them as follows:

Camper’s Name
Session ___, Cabin ____
YMCA Camp Surf
560 Silver Strand Blvd.
Imperial Beach, CA 91932

Do not send food items. Food attract ants and mice and is not allowed in cabins. Since we do not have storage, all food items received in the mail will be discarded.

We encourage campers to send a letter home during camp. Do not be alarmed if the letter is brief, since campers are busy at camp and “no news is good news”. Also, early letters may sound upsetting, but usually, by the time you receive the letter, the camper has adjusted and often forgotten what they wrote. You can also send your child an email. See On-Line Photo Gallery information.


We’ve found that keeping children busy, busy, busy is the best homesickness prevention around.

Sometimes children still experience varying degrees of anxiety. We will counsel a homesick camper and try to help them through their difficulty. Most of the time, we are successful. If your child is not adjusting well, we will phone you to report and discuss possible courses of action. Experience shows that only 1-2 campers out of 2,000 go home due to homesickness each summer.

Phone Calls Home

Our practice is to not allow campers to phone home during the week.

Experience has shown that these calls are extremely disruptive, and there would be nowhere near enough phone lines to handle the volume. One of the valued outcomes of camp is a youngster learning independence. Phoning home would detract from that important goal. In rare circumstances due to behavior or severe homesickness, our staff will initiate calls with your son or daughter, if needed.

Electronics at Camp

Camp provides children a chance to live without electronic devices.

As such, we do not permit cell phones (cell phone cannot be with campers for security and privacy reasons), CD /MP3 players, gameboys, or similar devices. If these items are brought to camp, they will be stored at the camp office and returned at the conclusion of the session. We are not responsible for the damage or loss of such items.


Please pack enough clothes for your camper’s entire 1 or 2 week session.

For campers staying more than two weeks, limited laundry facilities will be made available, the cost will be charged to their camp bank account (~$3).

Sun Screen

There is little to no shade at Camp Surf.

It is critical that your child understands the risks of overexposure to the sun. The best protection is regular (every 2-4 hours) applications of quality sun block. Please discuss these issues with your camper before s/he arrives. It is imperative to send waterproof sun block (SPF 30 or higher, be sure to check the expiration date) and a brimmed hat. We also require a “rash-guard” (lightweight nylon shirt) for water activities. Rash guards are available at the Camp Store for $20-30.

Make-up at Camp

There is “no make-up at camp”.

The outdoor lifestyle of camp life does not call for campers to use cosmetics and product. Your child looks beautiful as they are and there is no time or facility for applying make-up. Please help us by not allowing cosmetics to be packed.

Camp Store

Good news! The Camp Store will be open on Check-in and Check-out days. Please come prepared with a credit card as cash and checks will not be accepted.

Behavior at Camp

We focus on friendship, respect and character development.

Our staff will make every effort to provide positive, realistic expectations of your child. Campers that cannot live within the rules of camp or are adversely affecting the experience of other children will be dismissed without a refund. Parents are then responsible to come to camp and pick up their child.


Parents are responsible for any medical costs incurred as the result of injury or illness while at camp. Be sure to provide accurate information regarding your insurance carrier on the Health History Form. Camp Surf carries accident insurance with a $2,500 limit per incident.

On-Line Photo Gallery

You will receive a password on check-in day to view pictures from camp. You can also choose to send your child one-way emails. We try to get everyone into the photo gallery, but trips and scheduling make this challenging. This service is not meant to replace the fun of kids photographing their own camp memories. Learn more on the photo gallery info page.

View Frequently Asked Questions