Welcome to Day Camp at the YMCA of San Diego County

YMCA Day Camps give your camper an experience that will last a lifetime. Day campers are able to explore creativity, teamwork and leadership in a wide range of adventurous programs that lead to lifelong healthy living. Day camp builds self-confidence, self-esteem and develops values of good character, all while having a ton of fun and making new friends!

Parents are every Y’s partners in making day camp an outstanding developmental experience for their kids. In order for our campers to get the most out of day camp, we need your help. Knowing that no two campers are exactly alike, we ask that you help us get to know your camper. We encourage you to share with us your ideas, thoughts and any concerns that may help us create an environment that is best suited for your camper.

Today, Y day camp is more vital than ever. With an increased emphasis on camper safety, personal values and social skills, we want the very best for your child. At the Y, we are committed to the development and well-being of your campers.

For information on our Health and Safety protocols, click here.

Table of Contents

Accredited by the American Camp Association

All of our day camps have been accredited by the American Camp Association. We meet or exceed the highest standards in camping services including health, safety, personnel, transportation and facilities. For more information regarding ACA standards please visit acacamps.org.

Goals and Outcomes

It is our belief that each camper is a unique individual with his or her own rate of development. Our goal is to introduce the campers to as many positive experiences as possible. It is our hope that the experiences we provide will foster creativity and individuality in each camper, and encourage an awareness of themselves and others.

The YMCA of San Diego County has established the following goals for all campers:

  • To grow personally and gain a greater sense of his or her own worth.
  • To be inspired to live by the four YMCA character values: caring, honesty, respect and responsibility.
  • To experience improved personal relationships.
  • To learn to appreciate diversity.
  • To become better leaders.
  • To have fun!

About Our Staff

We model the YMCA character development values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility. We program friendship, achievement and belonging into every activity in camp. Most importantly, we are made up of people who love working with kids. We are creative people with good hearts who are silly enough to sing “The Y Song” at the top of our lungs!

We are First Aid/CPR certified and are required to attend three days of training prior to the first day of Summer Camp. Our Unit Leaders attend approximately 8-10 hours of additional training.


We operate on the following ratios, which are recommended by the American Camping Association.

  • Ages up to 5 years — Ratio of 1 staff to 6 children
  • Ages 6 to 8 years — Ratio of 1 staff to 8 children
  • Ages 9 to 14 years — Ratio of 1 staff to 10 children
  • Ages 15 to 18 years — Ratio of 1 staff to 12 teens

Y-Staff and Babysitting

YMCA of the USA policy states that our staff (while employed at the YMCA) are not permitted to babysit for or interact with campers outside of our programs. Please help us in upholding this policy.

Dropping Off and Picking Up

Authorization to Pick Up Camper

Only parents, guardians and/or caregivers over the age of 18 are authorized to sign a camper in and out of our camp programs. If you need to add a person to your authorized pick-up list, please make sure this is documented with our camp staff. All adults picking up a camper are required to present a government-issued photo ID.

and Sign-out Procedures

To ensure an efficient drop-off process, please make sure you follow all posted drop-off instructions. A signature from a parent, guardian or authorized adult is required in our daily sign-in sheet for your child to participate in camp activities.

Late Arrivals

For late arrivals, plan for a delay between arriving and your camper being checked in by a staff member and escorted to their camp.

Late Pick-Ups

Children not picked up at the end of the camp day will be supervised by our staff. A fee of $1 per minute will be charged when your camp ends. For example, if camp ends at 4:30 p.m., and if a child is picked up at 4:55 p.m., there will be a charge of $25. Every attempt will be made to contact parents or a listed authorized pick-up. If by 6:30 p.m. all contacts are not reachable, and the child has not been picked up, Child Protective Services will be contacted. A late fee will be assessed starting at 4:30 p.m. according to our clock.

Important Forms Required Prior to Camp

As part of our new safety procedures, all campers must complete a new waiver and medical form online PRIOR to attending camp at the Y. We have made this easy for you to update at home. Follow the following steps to update the forms:

  • Log into your My Y Account. If you're not sure what your account password is or you haven't logged in before, recover your password with the email you provided us (at ymcasd.org/recover).
  • Find the Legal & Medical tab.
  • Locate the camper in your family, click on update for the waiver, and fill out the requested information.
  • Please check the photo release box, which allows us to post camper photos in online galleries.
  • If your camper's medical form needs to be completed or revised, click on update for the medical form.
  • Fill out the medical form as completely as possible. If indicated during the process, download and fill out one of these supplementary forms:
  • That's it! Repeat for any other campers.

What to Prepare For


Campers are required to wear closed toe shoes and socks daily. Belongings are the responsibility of the camper. A backpack is helpful in keeping your camper’s belongings in a safe place. Please clearly mark your camper’s belongings with his/her name.

We encourage campers participating in aquatic activities to pack flip flops for ease and comfort during those times.

San Diego weather, though seasonally warm, can be chilly in the mornings and evenings. Please pack warmer clothing for your campers to wear during those times.

Most camp activities take place outside. We encourage you to send your child in old clothes so they can participate freely in activities, e.g., climbing, painting, etc.

Lunches and Snacks

Campers should eat a nutritious breakfast before being dropped off for camp and bring a healthy non-perishable lunch each day. Sorry, but we do not provide meals or snacks for campers. Please note, we do not have the capacity to heat or refrigerate lunch items.

Tips and Tricks for the Best Summer Ever

  • Have an open mind, be ready to participate and be friendly to staff and other campers!
  • Observe the Y’s four core values:
    • Caring
    • Honesty
    • Respect
    • Responsibility
  • Get in the spirit! There’s a fun and new camp theme every week, so embrace the spirit of camp and dress up EVERY FRIDAY!
  • Come to camp ready to shout, sing and have lots of fun EVERY DAY!
  • Due to the amount of physical activity and walking, closed-toe tennis shoes are recommended. Sandals are okay when swimming at branches with pools.

What to Bring to Camp

We will supply the atmosphere for a great camp experience and ask that you send your camper with the below items. Parents should apply sunscreen before campers arrive at camp in the morning, as staff will no longer be able to apply sunscreen to campers upon request. Additional sunscreen will be made available throughout the day, but campers will need to apply their own sunscreen

  • Two snacks and lunch
  • Sunscreen
  • Hat and sunglasses
  • Closed-toe shoes
  • Sweatshirt or light jacket
  • Swimsuit and towel (if swimming)
  • Water bottle

What Not to Bring to Camp

The following are not allowed at camp:

  • Personal toys
  • Cell phones
  • Animals
  • Weapons
  • Drugs
  • Alcohol
  • Electronic devices
  • Candy and soda (healthy eating is encouraged)
  • Items of monetary or personal value

Sun Protection

Parents should apply sunscreen before campers arrive at camp in the morning, as staff will no longer be able to apply sunscreen to campers upon request. Additional sunscreen will be made available throughout the day, but campers will need to apply their own sunscreen. If you do not want sunscreen applied to your camper, or would like a special type of sunscreen applied, please send a note to your child’s Camp Unit Leader each Monday and provide them with the special sunscreen.

Swimming At Branches With Pools

Please see your camper’s camp calendar for specific swim days. Campers who wish to swim must bring a swimsuit, towel, sunscreen and warm change of clothes. All campers are required to take a swim test before swimming in the YMCA pool on a daily basis. The swim test consists of jumping in deep water, returning to the surface, treading water for 60 seconds and swimming 25 yards (the length of the pool) on the surface with rudimentary side breathing. If a camper is unable to pass this test or if a camper chooses not to take the swim test and cannot stand comfortably in the water (water no higher than the armpits), s/he will wear a life jacket in the pool and will stay in the closely supervised shallow end of the pool. In order to keep your camper safe, all campers take the swim test every day.

Swimming in the Ocean (Camp Surf Only)

Camp Surf is located on the ocean! If weather permits, swimming, surfing and body boarding are a part of the everyday activities campers will enjoy. Camp Surf will provide all of the activity equipment needed to enjoy the ocean. The Y’s highly trained United States Lifesaving Association (USLA) Ocean lifeguard team monitors campers and staff. Campers must be able to pass a swim screen test before entering the ocean. This requires campers to run/swim out to their camp counselors waiting approximately 25 yards in the ocean and to go out as far as the counselor, dive flat under a wave/underwater, demonstrate a freestyle stroke and swim/wade/run back to the beach.

Please bring the following items:

  • Swimsuit
  • Towel
  • Change of clothes
  • Rash guard
  • Wetsuit (not required, but encouraged)

Bathroom Procedures

No camper is ever alone or one-on-one with a staff member. All campers will take trips to the bathroom with the entire camp and/or camp groups of at least three campers escorted by camp staff. Campers will only use bathrooms inspected for safety by camp staff.


All transportation will be provided in busses. All vehicles are inspected on a daily basis, and periodically checked by a licensed mechanic, as well as the California Highway Patrol. Our drivers have Class B driver’s licenses and/or School Bus Certificates. They have completed YMCA training and have passed written and driving tests administered by the Department of Motor Vehicles. We strive to adhere to our transportation schedules.

Bus Rules

  • Campers must remain seated while on the bus.
  • Campers are not allowed on the bus until accompanied by a camp leader.
  • Keep hands, arms and head inside the bus.
  • Nothing is to be dropped out of windows.
  • Noise level must be regulated so as not to interfere or disturb the driver.
  • No eating or drinking allowed on the bus.
  • Windows are opened and closed by Camp Leaders. No objects are to be tossed out the window.
  • All passengers on the bus are required to follow bus driver instructions.


Should your camper need to take medication during the program, we will administer it as directed. The following items are essential for us to dispense any medication:

  • The medication will need to be checked in with a day camp staff person. Please do not leave the medication with your camper, including over the counter medication, epi-pens, inhalers, creams, eye drops, etc.
  • Medication must be in its original container with labeled prescription instructions.
  • A completed Medication Release form must be signed and submitted: English | Spanish


If your Camper becomes ill while at camp, we will contact you to pick him/her up. If your camper is injured, we will take necessary steps to provide first aid. If we are unable to reach you in the event your camper needs medical care, he/she will be transported to the hospital by a YMCA vehicle or ambulance.

It is very important that you notify the YMCA of any changes in your work or emergency phone numbers.

Extreme Weather

Our camps are designed to operate outside for the majority of each day. In the event of extreme weather, we will do what is best to keep campers safe, by utilizing indoor and/or shaded areas of our facility. This may affect their regularly scheduled activities.

Information About Payments and Refunds

To learn how to register for a Day Camp, please refer to your home branch day camp page. Note: All branch day camp pages can be found on the association day camp page.

Member Pricing

To receive “Y Member Rate” for any program, membership must be active throughout the duration of the registered program session(s), otherwise “Participant Rate” will be applied.

Third Party Payments

Parents that receive funding by the county or other agency are required to sign attendance sheets in addition to the YMCA Day Camp sign-in/out book. All sheets must be signed by the last day of each week. Failure to complete required paperwork will result in a call to the appropriate third-party agency.

Refund/Voucher/Transfer Policies

The purpose of our Refund/Voucher/Transfer Policy is to allow the YMCA to maintain quality programs and proper class ratios while maintaining flexibility with our members and participants. All requests are subject to director approval and take 3-5 working days for approval.

  • Refund, voucher and transfer requests made:
    • Before the start date of the camp week: 100% voucher or refund minus any deposit or vendor fees.
    • On the Monday of the camp week: 75% voucher or refund minus any deposit or vendor fees.
    • After the Monday of the camp week no Y-voucher or refunds will be given for cancellations (medical/special circumstances at the branch’s discretion).
  • Camp deposits are non-refundable, but are transferrable if immediately applied as a deposit for another camp if space is available or applied to an already existing camp balance within the same summer.
  • Balances are due on the Monday before the next week of camp. Unpaid balances will result in a deletion from the program (and loss of deposit) to open space for other registrations. Campers may re-register and pay in full for the camp from which they were deleted.

Contacting Camp

If you need to contact a staff member or your camper, please contact the camp directly. To learn more about which number(s) to contact, please refer to your home branch day camp page.

Camp Rules

  • Honesty
    • Always tell the truth.
    • Admit to your mistakes.
    • Say “sorry”
  • Caring
    • Help others out
    • Keep your hands to yourself.
    • Share your smile with others.
  • Respect
    • Always use your good manners.
    • Keep a positive attitude.
    • Look at the person you are talking to.
  • Responsibility
    • Put things back where they belong.
    • Clean up after yourself.
    • Be accountable for your own actions.

Camper Behavior Expectations at the YMCA of San Diego County

At YMCA Camp we want every camper to have the best camp experience possible; full of fun, learning and growth.

To ensure that we maintain a safe environment and each camper is free to experience camp life to its fullest, we will not tolerate any behavior that takes that opportunity away from other campers. We will be addressing all incidents such as bullying and irresponsible behavior seriously, and will train the staff to recognize and deal effectively with such behavior.

Understanding that camp is for ALL campers, any behavior deemed by the camp to be outside of the camper behavior expectations and/or unmanageable may result in any or all of the following:

  • A telepone call home to the parent/ gurdian to discuss the behavior.
  • Meeting with the Camp Leader, Camp Director or Executive Director to discuss the behavior.
  • Use of behavior reports.
  • Being separated from the camp program.

As a camper, I will:

  • Show respect to other campers, and treat them as well as I would like to be treated and try to be a friend to all.
  • Have fun, but not at the expense of others.
  • Show respect to camp staff, and cooperate fully with their instructions.
  • Respect the rights of others, and treat others with courtesy and consideration.
  • Communicate in an appropriate manner, which means I must not use foul language or gestures, harsh words or tone of voice.
  • Conduct myself responsibly. I understand that unwelcome teasing or other unkind behaviors are not allowed.
  • Refrain from deliberately causing bodily harm to other campers or staff. I understand that pushing, kicking, hitting or fighting are not acceptable and will not be tolerated.
  • Respect the property of others and camp, which includes no stealing, property damage, graffiti, or vandalism.
  • Remain with the group and within the boundaries that have been set.
  • Remember that physical displays of affection or of a romantic nature are not allowed under any circumstances.
  • Be fully responsible for my actions and understand that irresponsible behavior will result in disciplinary action or dismissal from camp.
  • Take responsibility for my personal belongings.
  • Leave my electronics at home.
  • Know and follow the rules of camp.
  • Have lots of fun, learn, grow, and have a great time!

Positive Guidance Policy at the YMCA of San Diego County

  1. Guidance focuses on the expected, appropriate behavior, rather than on the negative, inappropriate behavior.
  2. Guidance is a process of teaching, learning, and positive reinforcement.
  3. Set developmentally appropriate guidelines for campers.
  4. Verbal abuse or name calling is not permitted. Guidance will not be associated with food, rest or toilet training.
  5. Corporal (physical) punishment will never be allowed.
  6. Procedure requires organized process of guidance. Limits are set to foster caring, honest, respectful, responsible, and self-sufficient campers. Positive guidance is integrated into the overall program plan of the camper care setting.
  7. Behavioral concerns of individual camper are not discussed with other parents.

Branch Day Camp Pages

To learn more about day camp policies or activities that are unique to your home branch, visit the Branch Day Camp page of your local YMCA.

Day Camp Categories

Traditional Day Camps

These ultra-spirited, fun-filled camps are full of BIG themes, BIG ideas and BIG FUN! Each week will have a different theme that will guide our activities and trips for the week. Set in the YMCA style of different crazy activities each and every day, your camper will be traveling on special adventures throughout San Diego: visiting theme parks, taking swim lessons, going to local parks and beaches, or simply having a great time at one of our extraordinary facilities. Go BIG, go traditional!

Find Traditional Day Camps

Specialty Day Camps

Our phenomenal specialty day camps combine the traditional fun of YMCA day camps with the more specialized skills and learning of our outside specialty camp providers or YMCA experts. Each specialty day camp has a wide range of subjects to campers to enjoy - from sports-related day camps concentrating on skills and techniques, to creative camps like ceramics that focus on expanding artistic skills and confidence.

Find Specialty Day Camps

Sports Day Camps

Recreational games and skill building with focus on sportsmanship and a different sport each day. Enjoy basketball, soccer, baseball, flag football, a trip to our pool and many other active games.

Find Sports Day Camps

Half-Day Camps

The YMCA offers a Half-Day Camp option for some of our special interest programs! When signing up for Half-Day Camps, campers will join the camp only for the time of the camp allotted to the specialized activity at a lower-cost! All half-day options will allow your camper to either be dropped off or picked up at regular camp times as noted above the camps description. However, parents will be responsible to pick up their camper at the designated time and location for morning programs, or drop off their camper at the designated location and time for afternoon programs.

Find Half-Day Camps

Leader in Training and Counselor in Training Camps

Our Leader in Training (LIT) and Counselor in Training (CIT) programs are an excellent opportunity for teens to learn hands-on job experience and responsibilities, while still operating under the supervision of our camp staff team. Additionally, all hours completed within LIT Placement can be recorded as community service hours!

Find LIT and CIT Day Camps

Teen Day Camps

Summer camps arent just for kids! The YMCA offers fun and challenging camp activities specifically tailored to preteens and teens. Teens will have fun as they learn, grow and thrive under the guidance of caring, well-trained staff members.

Find Teen Day Camps

Aquatics Day Camps

Does your camper love the water? Whether they are a fantastic swimmer or just learning, we offer fun-filled and exciting aquatic camps for every ability.

Find Aquatic Day Camps

Special Needs Day Camps

The YMCA is proud to offer low-ratio day camps for children with special needs, providing a day camp experience in a safe, fun and nurturing environment. All camp counselors for this program have additional experience working with special needs campers.

Find Special Needs Day Camps