Friday, March 6, 2020

Safety at YMCA Camp Potawotami

Safety is our number one priority when taking care of the 120 campers that are onsite each week with us. 

Staff and campers must abide by Rule of 3. Camper are never to be left unsupervised, and atleast one staff member must be with a group of campers at all times. The Rule of 3 indicates that if a camper needs to go anywhere on Camp, they must have atleast themselves and two adults or themselves, another camper, and an adult. Campers are informed of the Rule of 3 during the All Camp Welcome on Sunday.

Two counselors are assigned per cabin. Occasionally there is a 17-year old counselor-in-training (CIT) that joins their group to assist. CITs are not staff members and cannot be the adult in the Rule of 3. Ratio numbers for staff to campers is 1:5

Child Abuse Prevention Policy: A main focus of the YMCA is to provide a healthy atmosphere for the growth and development of children.  Any suspected or reported child abuse shall be treated in accordance with applicable laws and approved policies.  All YMCA employees must read and sign the Child Abuse Prevention Policy prior to employment annually.

Privacy at camp: All campers have the right to privacy. All changing of clothes is done in a bathroom stall or shower stall. Camp Potawotami has a one camper per bunk bed policy. No other camper is allowed in another’s bed for any reason. Disposable cameras are recommended. Photos are not permitted to be taken in the cabin or bathrooms. Cell Phones and smart watches are not permitted during the camper’s stay at Camp. This is for the privacy and protection of all campers.

Transportation: Campers are only permitted in the YMCA Mini Bus supervised by 2 staff members. The Camp Director’s vehicles are designated and approved for emergency transportation of campers only to the hospital accompanied by a Camp Nurse.

Employee information: All staff members, full-time and seasonal are background and national sex offender registry checked annually as well as drug tested prior to employment.
All staff are trained in following topics: child abuse prevention, emergency procedures, supervision, bullying prevention, active shooter emergency, American Red Cross First Aid, CPR, AED, totaling a training time of 12 hours. Summer Staff receive a minimum of 80 total hours of training before campers arrive.

Employee Policies: Employees of YMCA Camp Potawotami are not permitted to be “friends” with or “follow” campers under 18 on any social media platforms. Relationships built between campers and counselors is a special bond, however The YMCA does not sanction, encourage or endorse the use of YMCA employees or volunteers for non-YMCA child care activities.  Such activities are outside of the scope of an employee or volunteer’s duties with the YMCA.  Employees and volunteers shall not engage in any after-hours or post-childcare. This is a part of our Child Abuse Prevention policy.

If you have any questions about our employees or your child’s safety at camp, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

STEAM Camp Summer 2020

What’s new at YMCA Camp Potawotami for Summer 2020? STEAM CAMP! STEAM Camp will provide campers with activities to experiment and be involved with focusing on science, technology, engineering, art, and math. Campers will learn problem solving, inquiry skills, design and critical thinking, as well as use creativity and collaboration.

For STEAM Camp, YMCA Camp Potawotami is partnering with the Kendallville Public Library Youth Services Department. Library staff will be leading 2 hours of excellent STEAM programming each morning for campers to test theories and learn through hands-on experimentation. After STEAM programming, campers will be able to choose a skills class like archery, climbing, boating, arts and crafts, or sports to participate in throughout the week. Afternoons will be spent at the waterfront and spending time with their cabin mates. Evening programs include campfires, a cook-out, and all camp games.

Last summer, YMCA Camp Potawotami was a location for one of the Kendallville Public Library Youth Services Department’s pop-up Libraries. Each Sunday, campers pick out a book from the pop-up library and check-out the book for the week while they attend Camp. Campers leave their checked-out book in a designated bin in the cabin at the end of the week. We are happy to announce that YMCA Camp Potawotami will continue to be a pop-up library location again for Summer 2020!

STEAM Camp is offered Session 4: June 28- July 3, 2020. Sign up to be a STEAM camper today!

Tuesday, March 12, 2019


When people picture Summer Camp, they picture sunny days, happy children, exploring nature, green grass, and evenings around a campfire. Summer time is the busiest time at YMCA Camp Potawotami, full of 9 weeks and serving over 900 children to build new skills, create friendships, and make lasting memories. 

As summer comes to an end, school begins and many students visit Camp Potawotami for an outdoor education experience with their teachers. Leaves start to turn to reds, yellows, and oranges, and students from the surrounding counties keep Camp busy each day until the end of October with educational experiences such as lake study, owl study, pioneer living, and tree study as well as classroom bonding experiences like teambuilding, low ropes and cheering each other on at the climbing tower.

Buildings are shut down and winterized and the Directors of Camp prep for the next year’s outdoor education and summer seasons. Staff are hired, conferences are attended, programs are updated, and campers are registered from November to March. Camp looks like an entirely different place as a winter wonderland. Snow allows us to see what animals call home in our surrounding forests by leaving tracks: Deer, squirrels, possum, birds to name a few.

April starts out our Spring outdoor education season with more students and retreat groups. The snow melts and flowers and plants appear! It warms up, flowers bloom on trees, and we get Camp ready for the new year with volunteer work-project days. Staff are trained and summer is just around the corner!

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Outdoor Education at Camp Potawotami

It seems that parents often ask their child how school was, or what they did on a field trip, only to get a few simple words in return, “It was fine.  We did stuff outside.”  Yet you know that so much more went on during their day!  Maybe you are that parent wanting just a little bit more, a new school interested in finding out what we have to offer, or a returning school that wants to introduce new students to camp this year.  Whoever you may be, come join us on an adventure through our outdoor education program. We are so excited to have you join us!

Here at YMCA Camp Potowatami, we feel that Outdoor Education is vital in helping create well-rounded students, as we partner with schools in the surrounding areas. We strive to teach science-based classes that incorporate the Indiana State Standards, while implementing key strategies of teamwork, responsibility, dedication and patience.   Here a just a few examples of the outdoor education classes we have to offer...
During an archery lesson, students learn the basics of how to string/shoot a bow and arrow.  Through conversation, they also learn how to encourage one another, patiently wait their turn, and the idea of never giving up.  Stringing that first arrow can often be tricky, but the end result of that first bullseye is so rewarding!  While archery is largely an individualized sport, classmates often cheer one another on, creating a team atmosphere. 
 Our rock-climbing class is another excellent example of what appears to be an individual activity, easily turned into something that requires teamwork.  While only two students are allowed to climb at a time, every child is given the opportunity to watch, encourage and learn from each other. Different parts of the wall can be quite challenging, but with moral support and thoughtful planning, each student can succeed. 
If you haven’t noticed, we are a HUGE proponent of creating a team –oriented atmosphere!  This skill will benefit students for the rest of their educational career and beyond. Camp is home to several other team building activities where students will have to work together to complete the task at hand. While the students work through the different activities, they are counseled by an instructor.  That instructor explains how to really hone in on their individual skills, to build an invaluable team.  Some students are born leaders, others might have that ability to become a leader with some encouragement, while others can execute a plan that is given to them.  It takes all types of individuals, with varying talents, to create a functioning team.
Many schools also opt to participate in our science-based classes.  Our Owl Study discusses different types of owls, the habitats they live in, how they physically function and of course, owl pellets.  During the study, students have the opportunity to dissect an owl pellet so that they can learn more about what owl’s eat.  While seemingly “gross,” this is a fantastic, hands-on learning experience.
The wetlands hike opens students up to a world of limitless possibilities.  At the beginning of the class, students learn why we need the wetlands, what they are made up of and how we can protect them.  Then the hike ensues, where students are able to identify varying species of plant and animal life.  Out lake study offers similar concepts, with an emphasis on the lakes surrounding us. A crowd favorite is discovering the different micro and macroinvertebrates that dwell within the lake at camp!

While these are just a few things your child or students might encounter, we have so much more.  Please feel free to take a look at our website and see what’s right for you and your school!  Our Outdoor Education Director, Sean Diamond ( is always available to answer your questions and help you get started on the beautiful adventure of outdoor education at YMCA Camp Potawotami.  What are you waiting for?!  Come check us out today!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019


Each week at Camp offers a different experience for teens at YMCA Camp Potawotami. Each of our programs has a different focus, but each play a vital role into transforming these teens into young adults through teamwork, leadership, character development, volunteer opportunities, and bonding with their peers in nature. Whether they wish to be future leaders in their community or a future leader at Camp and be a counselor one day, each teen can choose a program that interests them and fits their Camp journey.

Teen Adventure Program (14-16)
Our Teen Adventure Camp (Voyagers) is packed with action, opportunities to make new friends and a new adventure each day. Voyagers will travel to Van Buren State Park in Michigan for an overnight camping trip lead by professional YMCA staff. This trip allows the teens to put their camp acquired skills to good use as they plan meals, inspect and pack their gear and participate in outdoor activities while on the trip. It's sure to be one of the best summer experiences ever.

IMPACT (14-16)
IMPACT: Inspiring others Makes Positive Active Change Together. IMPACT is a teen program designed for teens wanting to make a positive impact in the community. Each day at Camp, IMPACT campers will travel to counties surrounding Camp Potawotami to give back and make a difference in the community. Teens will learn about the organizations' mission and programs well as complete a project at each one. Teens will also participate in typical summer camp activities such as cabin activities, water free time, one night of camping and cooking out, and evening programs.

Teen Wrangler (14-16)
The Teen Wranglers program is for teens 14-16 and builds off of our Ranch Camp program, ages 12-14. Teen Wranglers can build on their ground and riding skills and work with the horses as well as assist the Ranch Supervisor with lessons for younger campers. This program is offered Session 4: June 30-July 5.

Teen Leadership Program (Entering Junior Year)
This two-week Teen Leadership Camp (Clippers) program is designed for teens transitioning from camper to counselor. Through this program your teen learns how to become a counselor and camp leader while mentoring younger campers and being a positive role model. Clippers will go on an out-of-camp trip as well as participate in camp service projects and develop new skills, all while enjoying the excitement of summer camp. During their second week at camp, Clippers will be placed in a cabin to shadow a counselor and have hands on experience as a leader. *All Clippers go home on Friday at regular camp check-out time and return on Sunday.

Counselor-in-Training Program (Entering Senior Year)
The CIT program is designed for teens who desire to be counselors at YMCA Camp Potawotami. This up to three-week volunteer program is a hands-on introduction to life as a counselor and allows participants to go through training and then assist counselors in programming for campers. CIT applicants must apply a letter of interest to the Summer Camp Program Director.

Monday, December 3, 2018

3 Benefits of Summer Camp

“Camp Potawotami allows my child to learn valuable skills and develop relationships with people who have diverse backgrounds and it builds my son’s self-confidence. He loved the experience.” –Parent of a Youth Camper

Summer Camp keeps campers growing, exploring and learning all summer.  When a session of camp ends parents want their children to say it was the best week ever and parents want to see how camp has impacted their children. To help make that happen Camp Potawotami focuses on the ABCs of camp, Accomplishment, Belonging, and Character. The staff strives to offer programs that are fun and meaningful experiences with an opportunity to try new things, spend time in the outdoors, connect with other people, and make lifelong memories. There are three top reasons why children and teens should attend summer camp:

 3.Accomplishment: Campers gain a sense of accomplishment by trying activities and developing new skills. For many campers, being away from home for a week is an important accomplishment in itself. We hope these real world accomplishments will raise the self-confidence and self- esteem of each camper.
 2.Belonging: Making new friends and being a good friend helps campers learn about a sense of belonging. Living in a cabin with other children and counselors gives each camper a lesson in friendship building and teamwork. Each person has responsibilities and is a valued part of the YMCA Camp Potawotami community.
 1.Character: We discuss character traits and values in many ways during the week and place an emphasis on learning, growing and doing your best. Our core values are Caring, Honesty, Respect and Responsibility. Our unique Wampum Bead program also encourages campers to choose a character trait to work on during camp and the entire year.
 Wampum Bead Characteristics: 
RED (FRIENDSHIP): To build on strong friendships by learning and growing as a person.

GREEN (ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP): To be a steward to the environment by being responsible and conscious about minimizing my waste and caring for the natural environment.

BLUE (HONESTY/INTEGRITY): To be trustworthy and honest with every person I meet.

CREAM (INITIATIVE): To take initiative and do what needs to be done without being asked, because that is what I expect from others.

PURPLE (CHALLENGE): To challenge my life head-on by trying my best at everything I set out to do, because that is the best I can do.

LIGHT BROWN (KINDNESS): To be good hearted and always offer others in need a helping hand by letting them feel my happiness.

YELLOW (SPIRITUALITY): To look into myself and search for what I truly believe, and to stand by my beliefs.

DARK BROWN (HUMILITY): To admit my faults and look to others for help in improving them, so that I can become a better person.

LIGHT GREEN (Patience): To accept trouble, or delay without getting angry or upset.

Monday, August 20, 2018

IMPACT: Inspiring others Makes Positive Active Change Together

IMPACT: Inspiring others Makes Positive Active Change Together

For the Summer of 2018 we launched a new teen program for campers 14-16 years old. In addition to our Teen Adventure (Voyager) program which is also for 14-16 year olds, the IMPACT program is designed for teens wanting to make a positive impact at Camp and in our community. Each morning IMPACT campers traveled to counties surrounding Camp Potawotami to give back and make a difference in the community. They learned about the organizations’ mission and programs well as completed a project at each one. In addition to volunteering, IMPACT campers participated in traditional summer camp activities such as cabin activities, water free time, one night of cooking their dinner out and evening programs like campfire, all-camp games, and our Wampum ceremony. The purpose of this program is to develop skills in our teens, giving the opportunities to learn about what local organizations do, and open their eyes about how their few hours of hard work and giving back and positively influence the people living in the surrounding counties. We are hoping this program grows in the future and more young leaders will strengthen the bonds between YMCA Camp Potawotami and the surrounding organizations in our community.

On Monday, IMPACT campers traveled to the Cole YMCA to work with 150 young day campers and lead camp programming for them. Our teens were able to collaborate with the YMCA staff at their facility to lead activities including lake study, arts and crafts, camp songs, an obstacle course, and some popular camp games. Our teens were able to collaborate with the YMCA staff at their facility. 

Tuesday, they traveled to Black Pine Animal Sanctuary where they were able to learn about the the animals they serve as well as clean up the trails to make them safer for visiting guests.

Wednesday, IMPACT campers went to the Gene Stratton-Porter Society in Rome City, Indiana. There they were able to tend to the acre garden that is on site, as well a tour the historic house and learn about Gene and how she used the grounds while she was a writer.

Thursday, they gave back to Camp Potawotami by coating our colorful adirondack chairs with a fresh coat of paint. The teens were able to give back to a place they have loved attending for so many years and see their younger peers enjoy the result of their hard work.

Friday, the teens traveled to the Kendallville Humane Society to interact with the cats and dogs that were in their care. IMPACT campers helped tidy living quarters, take dogs for walks, and play with the cats who are all up for adoption. Thank you, IMPACT campers, for all of the hard work that you did for Camp and for our community during the Summer of 2018!

Safety at YMCA Camp Potawotami

Safety is our number one priority when taking care of the 120 campers that are onsite each week with us.   Staff and campers must abid...