Summer Camps at the YMCA

Photography provided by YMCA of Greater Cincinnati 


Kids at the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati's summer camps learn games, crafts and make friends!


Summer camp is about more than playing games, doing crafts and singing songs around a campfire – it’s about creating positive developmental experiences for children. The YMCA of Greater Cincinnati offers both day and resident (overnight) camps for children to enjoy.

Day camp at the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati keeps kids minds and bodies active all summer long. Camp offers children positive developmental experiences and encourages them to forge bonds with each other and with staff, building confidence through skill-building activities suited to their age. Children experience a sense of achievement through opportunities in the outdoors and are welcomed to a physically and emotionally safe and stimulating environment.

“At camp, children get to really pay attention to the world around them,” said President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati Sandy Walker. “Camp encourages children to explore creativity, teamwork, and leadership by participating in a variety of physically active programs in a safe and stimulating environment. They have the opportunity to enjoy an outdoor environment where they develop an appreciation of nature. Day camp builds an interest in community, with experiences in local and global cultures, where campers gain an appreciation for others different from themselves. YMCA of Greater Cincinnati day camps give children an opportunity to enjoy an experience that can last a lifetime.”

Each year, the Y welcomes over 2,000 day campers at 12 locations across Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. To combat summer learning loss, time is also set aside for reading; last summer, day campers read over 30,000 books. Y summer day camps begin the moment school is out for the summer and camp themes cover everything from Junkyard Inventions, to Superhero Week, to learning about Critters in the Creek. Visit the website to check out all the summer camp brochures or stop by your local YMCA location for more sign-up information.

The YMCA of Greater Cincinnati also offers residential (over-night) camp at YMCA Camp Ernst, located in Burlington, Kentucky, a short distance from downtown Cincinnati. At YMCA Camp Ernst, over 3,000 campers each year enjoy opportunities to participate in zip lining and ropes courses, archery, swimming, horseback riding, kayaking, mountain biking, creative arts, team games, and more. And, while youth leave with memories that will last a lifetime, camp also plays a key role in helping young people develop relationship building skills, learn about diversity and inclusion, become more independent, and improve leadership skills.

“I think overnight camp provides a fantastic experience for kids,” said YMCA Camp Ernst Executive Director Eli Cochran. “One of the benefits of residential camp is that it inspires independence. When a child comes to camp, even if they come with a buddy, they have to figure things out on their own. The camp counselors are there to help them, but not in the same way that their parents might be. So, they learn how to ask for help when they need help. On the flip side of independence, of course, is dependence, and that is just as important of a skill for kids to learn at camp because it helps them get along with others in a group and build trust by relying on other people.”

Cochran adds that friendships are much stronger when they are built at camp around shared activities. Youth share meals, activities and sleeping space 24-hours a day, seven days a week ... leading to establishing some really deep relationships.

Camp Ernst offers week-long overnight sessions for boys and girls, ages 6 to 15. For parents who are interested in finding out more about overnight camp this summer, Camp Ernst is hosting an open house on

April 26 and May 31 from 1-4 p.m. “It is a great time for families to stop in, meet some of the counselors, taste camp food, make s’mores and ride a horse,” said Cochran. “Everyone is welcome to come and explore what a week of camp is like.”

In addition to day and residential camps, the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati also offers specialty camps. Specialty camps focus on particular programming such as music, arts, sport specialties and enrichment. At Camp Ernst children can participate in horse specialty camps.


For more information about YMCA of Greater Cincinnati summer camps visit or call 513.362.9622. For more information about YMCA Camp Ernst, located at 7615 Camp Ernst Road, Burlington, KY, call 859.586.6181 or visit