Parent Info

Here at YMCA Camp Benson boys and girls have been given the opportunity to create a very special community focused on friendship, acceptance, self-discovery and independence since 1928.

Overnight summer camp gives children the chance to step away from the familiar parts of their daily routine and venture outside their comfort zones. They make new friends, lifelong memories and learn new skills in a safe, well-supervised, and “unplugged” environment. Whether you’re looking for a week-long overnight camp, an overnight summer camp for younger campers or a teen leadership program, YMCA Camp Benson has a program that’s right for you.

“YMCA Camp Benson provides a positive alternative reality to his digital and virtual tech world.  It provides a necessary connection to the natural world and personal, meaningful face-to-face social relationships.  Also he just gets to have FUN!” – Camper Parent

SUMMER CAMP PROGRAMS

EXPLORER CAMP

Entering 1st - 3rd Grade

EXPLORER Camp is a 4-day, 3-night camping experience designed to introduce our youngest campers to the overnight camping experience. Explorer campers travel together and sample camp activities in shorter, age-appropriate activity periods. Our Explorer Camp counselors are dedicated to creating a supportive environment where our youngest campers can become more independent and build new friendships.

 

Dates & Pricing

Mini/Explorer Week 1: June 10 – June 13 THEME: Out of this World

Mini/Explorer Week 2: July 8 – July 11 THEME: Wild West

 

Member: $425

Non Member: $475

ADVENTURE CAMP

Entering 3rd - 8th Grade

Adventure Camp is a week-long overnight camp for boys and girls focused on achievement, belonging and independence. During this week of camp campers will overcome challenges, develop self reliance, become more confident and make lifelong friends. Here, campers learn to cooperate, empathize and communicate with others in the outdoors.

 

Dates & Pricing

Adventure Camp 1: June 14 – 20 THEME: Under the Big Top

Adventure Camp 2: June 21 – 27 THEME: Superhero

Adventure Camp 3: June 28 – July 4 THEME: Jurassic Camp

Adventure Camp 4: July 19 – 25 Tropical Paradise

Adventure Camp 5: July 26 – August 1 THEME: Myths & Legends

 

Member: $625

Non Member: $675

MEGA CAMP

Entering 3rd - 8th Grade

MEGA Camp is a 14 day overnight camp that allows our campers to more fully immerse themselves in the YMCA Camp Benson experience. Campers get the chance to try more activities, participate in the special weekend stay over and get to know their counselors and fellow MEGA campers much better. MEGA campers will leave with a greater sense of independence, belonging and accomplishment.

 

Dates & Pricing

Mega Camp: June 21 – July 4 THEME: Superhero/Jurassic Camp

Member: $995

Non Member: $1145

MINI CAMP

Entering 1st - 8th Grade

MINI Camp is a condensed version of our most popular session, Adventure Camp. During this action packed 4-day camp our campers will participate in a wide range of traditional camp activities focused on skill building. This is camp session is perfect for both returning and first-time campers. Fun and memory making are maximized in MINI Camp.
 
 

Dates & Pricing

Mini/Explorer Week 1: June 10 – June 13 THEME: Out of this World

Mini/Explorer Week 2: July 8 – July 11 THEME: Wild West

Member: $425

Non Member: $475

TEEN CAMP

Entering 7th - 12th Grade

Teen Week is a week of camp just for teenagers. This week of camp is specifically designed to meet the needs and interests of teens. TEEN Week is all about forging friendships and helping teenagers discover who they really are while giving them more freedom to choose what they actually want to do at camp.
 
 

Dates & Pricing

Teen Week 1: July 12 – 18 THEME: Survivor

Teen Week 2: August 2 – 8 THEME: Olympics

Member: $625

Non Member: $675

KEEPING CAMP AFFORDABLE

Every child deserves an overnight summer camp experience. Just one summer at camp can positively influence a child’s life forever. As a non-profit dedicated to youth development, YMCA Camp Benson wants the overnight summer camp experience to be available to everyone. Below are some ways that can help make camp fit any budget.

ADDITIONAL FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE OPTIONS

Camp Scholarships

We understand that some families may still need some additional assistance to help get their children to summer camp. If your need is greater please do not hesitate to apply to our Camp Scholarship program which provides scholarship off of Member and Non Member prices. This confidential Camp Scholarship allows numerous children, who would otherwise not be able to attend, to experience all that YMCA Camp Benson has to offer. Applications for Camp Scholarships will be made available on our website beginning March 2, 2020, with submission being accepted after that.

Please click here to begin the scholarship application.

Please feel free to contact Gwyn “Mama G” Bemis if you have any questions.

[email protected]

Annual Candy Bar Fundraiser

YMCA Camp Benson has partnered with the Great American Candy Company to help get
children to summer camp. This is not a mandatory fundraiser. Here are some important
things to know about the popular Candy Bar Fundraiser.

 

Boxes of candy bars can be picked up from the front desk of the Sterling-Rock Falls Family YMCA starting on Monday, February 3, 2020. Your camper or campers must be registered with the $50 deposit paid in order to check out a box of candy bars. Register online by clicking on the button in the top right corner of the page. Each box contains 60 chocolate candy bars: 18 caramel bars, 12 crisp bars, 18 almond bars, 6 milk chocolate, and 6 dark chocolate bars.
 
Families are not allowed to have more than 4 boxes of candy bars checked out a time. Once a box is completely paid off you will be able to check another one out. Candy bars are to be sold for $1.00 a piece. This is a fundraiser, so $0.50 from each sale goes to the Great American Candy company to pay for the candy bar and the other $0.50 goes towards camper fees.
 
When you check out a box of candy bars, a charge of $30/box will be applied to your camper account. This represents the actual cost of a box of candy bars and will be paid off when you bring back the money raised from selling a box candy bars. This helps us keep track of how many boxes of candy bars a family has in their possession. The other $30 will go towards the cost of camp.

Discounts

YMCA Members receive a $50 discount off camp fees for being a valued member
  • Sterling-Rock Falls Family YMCA members and our Partner YMCA members receive $50 off of camp fees.

One-Time Sibling Discount
  • $25 off of camp fees per child after 1st child registered.
 
Refer-A-Friend Discount
  • $25 off of camp fees.

Early Bird Discount
  • $25 off of camp fees.
 
Multiple Session Discount
  • $50 off for each additional resident camp session.


Only the YMCA Member discount can be combined with other discounts.

PREPARING & PACKING

THINGS TO DO BEFORE YOUR CAMPER ARRIVES

Please review this list before your arrival to make sure everything is completed before your campers stay. All items can be completed by logging into your Camp-In-Touch Account. Getting ready for a session for overnight summer camp takes some time and preparation.

  • Completion the Camper Profile and Health History Form two weeks before your camper’s session.

  • Camp balance is paid in full two weeks before the start of your camper’s overnight summer camp session.

  • Read through the YCB Parent/Guardian Handbook.

PACKING FOR SUCCESS

To help you decide what to pack for your camper, we have provided a basic packing list below. Remember to pack light. It will also be a big help to label all of your child’s clothing and equipment with his or her first initial and last name.

CHECK-IN & CHECK-OUT PROCEDURES

CHECK IN

When*:  Sundays from 3:00-4:00 PM for Adventure/Mega campers.

Where: The Merrill Benson Pavilion (located right next to the parking lot)

Notes: Please bring all campers medications with you to the Pavilion, so that you can check them in with the Camp Nurse.

CHECK OUT

When:  Saturdays at 9:00 AM for all campers.

Where: The Merrill Benson Pavilion (located right next to the parking lot)

Notes: Do not forget to pick up your campers medication from the Camp Nurse. Make sure to stop into the Camp Store and check your balance.

*Campers attending Mini Week 1 or 2 will Check-In on Wednesday from 5:00-6:00 PM. For all other campers, please see above:

WHAT TO DO DURING & AFTER CAMP

Staying in Touch with Your Camper

We want all of our parents and guardians to feel connected with their camper while they are at YMCA Camp Benson. The Communications Dashboard in your Camp-In-Touch account allows you to do just that. Through the Communications Dashboard you are able to:
send one-way emails to your camper,
view camper photos
catch up on the day’s happenings by reading our biweekly blog.
We will also be putting pictures up on our Facebook page almost daily. The one-way emails are printed daily and delivered to the cabins every afternoon. You welcome to mail care packages and letters as to camp as well for your camper. These are typically delivered after dinner.

Please mail your letters and packages to:
16355 Scenic Palisades Rd.
Mount Carroll, IL 61053
Boy listening through tin can phone

Visitors Policy

We understand you may wish to visit your camper during their time at camp (especially if it is their first time), but we have strict no visitor policy during the week. Visits can be disruptive not only to your camper’s schedule, but also to the schedule of other campers on camp. Check-In and Check-Out day are specifically designed to give you the opportunity to tour camp, meet your camper’s counselor and the rest of the staff. There are no other visiting days during the week. If there are extenuating circumstances regarding this issue, please notify Gwyn “Mama G” Bemis, the Camp Director. She can be reached at [email protected] or at 815-244-8722
Boy listening through tin can phone

Lost and Found

We highly recommend that you label all of your camper’s items that they bring to camp. On Check-Out day check the benches on the porch for any unclaimed lost and found items. If you do leave something at camp please contact us immediately and we will do our best to locate it and get it back to you. Note that YMCA Camp Benson is not responsible for any lost or stolen items.
Boy listening through tin can phone

Post-Camp Survey

We truly value your feedback and we are constantly making changes based off of it. Once your camper’s overnight summer camp session has come to a close we will send you an online survey where you will have the chance to tell us what we do well, what we can do better and a little bit about our camper’s experience.

DINING INFORMATION

YMCA Camp Benson Dinning Information

At YMCA Camp Benson it is our goal to serve healthy, balanced and kid-friendly meals. Each meal is served family style, where we focus on the sense of community and fellowship. Campers are responsible for helping set the tables and cleaning up after themselves.

YMCA Camp Benson’s Dining Hall is a peanut free facility offering vegetarian and gluten free meals for campers with dietary restrictions. We have fresh fruits and other snacks available throughout the day for our campers and staff. Please remember to complete the necessary camper medical form which will list all dietary restrictions for camp to be aware of prior to your camper’s arrival.

YMCA Camp Benson Menu

Ice water is served at every meal.  Milk is served at breakfast and dinner.  Juice is served at breakfast and lunch. Peanut Butter & Jelly note: we serve Sunbutter (which doesn’t contain peanuts).  The salad bar includes: lettuce blend, spinach, tomatoes, baby carrots, cucumbers, cheese, croutons, dressing and cottage cheese.
 
For further information or clarification about the menu please contact our Camp Director, Gwyn Bemis at [email protected].

YMCA CAMP BENSON CAMP STORE

At YMCA Camp Benson it is our goal to serve healthy, balanced and kid-friendly meals. Each meal is served family style, where we focus on the sense of community and fellowship. Campers are responsible for helping set the tables and cleaning up after themselves.

YMCA Camp Benson’s Dining Hall is a peanut free facility offering vegetarian and gluten free meals for campers with dietary restrictions. We have fresh fruits and other snacks available throughout the day for our campers and staff. Please remember to complete the necessary camper medical form which will list all dietary restrictions for camp to be aware of prior to your camper’s arrival.

CAMP STORE FAQ

At YMCA Camp Benson it is our goal to serve healthy, balanced and kid-friendly meals. Each meal is served family style, where we focus on the sense of community and fellowship. Campers are responsible for helping set the tables and cleaning up after themselves.

YMCA Camp Benson’s Dining Hall is a peanut free facility offering vegetarian and gluten free meals for campers with dietary restrictions. We have fresh fruits and other snacks available throughout the day for our campers and staff. Please remember to complete the necessary camper medical form which will list all dietary restrictions for camp to be aware of prior to your camper’s arrival.

DAILY SCHEDULE

SOMETHING NEW EVERYDAY

Morning Reflection

This daily occurrence at camp has been traditionally called Chapel. After cabin clean-up all of camp gathers at the Chapel to listen to story or a poem told by one of our staff members. This story, poem or skit highlights one of our six core values: caring, honesty, respect, responsibility, dedication, and inclusiveness. We challenge our campers to really think about that core value and to think about how they can model that core value in their lives. This is one of the most serious and meaningful activities at camp.

Camper Choice Activity Time (CCAT)

As part of a camper’s experience, they will have the opportunity to choose activities during the morning hours. CCATs are progressive areas that throughout the week will build on the previous day’s skills to build skills in specialty areas. Choices are made on Sunday evenings afterthey get to view each program areas “commercial” performed by staff.

Free Choice Activity Time (FCAT)

During FCATs 1& 2 campers have the opportunity to do multiple activities at their leisure with their cabin mates and friends. Activities vary daily and can be anything from ropes, water activities, arts or unique activities planned by our staff. Campers are able to go from activity to activity as long as they are in a truddie, which is a group of three. The Camp Store is also open during FCATS 1 & 2 so campers can grab a snack or some camp merchandise. New in 2020, campers will have the chance to sign up for pool time during both FCATs Monday-Thursday.

Quest

QUEST is an opportunity for individual cabins to grow closer together as a cabin group. Cabins use this time to focus on the Core Values and get to know each other better. Examples of QUEST activities include doing the low ropes course, going on a trust hike, writing a skit for the Staff & Camper Show on Wednesdays and much more.

7:45 AM Rise and Shine

8:00 AM Morning Club

8:20 AM Flag Raising

8:30 AM Breakfast

9:15 AM Cabin Clean-Up

9:45 AM Morning Reflection

10:00 AM CCAT

12:15 PM Flagpole

12:30 PM Lunch

1:30 PM Siesta (aka Rest Hour)

2:30 PM FCAT 1 & Camp Store

4:00 PM FCAT 2 & Camp Store

5:30 PM Flag Lowering

5:45 PM Dinner

6:30 PM QUEST

7:00 PM Evening Program

8:15 PM Slow Songs and Daily Reflection

8:30 PM Showers and Prepare for Bed

10:15 PM Lights Out

* The schedule at Camp Benson varies slightly based on a camper’s age and the program he or she is registered for. For our youngest campers, the evening schedule is modified to get them to bed sooner.

Evening Program

Each evening has a special time for campers to come together as a camp and participate in different activities until the sun goes down! We are on a rotating schedule so each week the activities change allowing a variety of sorts for all campers. Some common Evening Programs are an all camp game in the A-Field, Staff and Camper Show, and Closing Campfire.

CABIN PICTURES

SOMETHING NEW EVERYDAY

 
 

YMCA Camp Benson is proud to offer modern and comfortable overnight summer camp facilities. All of our Camper Cabins were built in 2011 and 2012. These cabins were designed to provide a high-quality overnight summer camp experience while maintaining a rustic camp feel. Each cabin houses between 8-11 campers, 1 Teen Leader (aka SDP), and 2 staff members. Mattress sizes in the cabin are standard twin mattresses. Camper Cabins are all equipped with air-conditioning.

CABIN MAP

Camp-Map
SAFETY & ACCREDITATION

PROVIDING A SAFE, FUN AND HEALTHY CAMP EXPERIENCE

The physical and emotional safety of our campers is our number one priority at YMCA Camp Benson. Our camper’s safety and well-being is at the forefront of our minds at all time at camp, from hiring staff to designing new programs to planning Staff Training. As an American Camp Association (ACA) Accredited Camp we proudly meet all of the standards set forth by ACA Concerning staff screening, supervision ratios and topics to be covered during Staff Training. To view these standards, click here.

Our summer camp staff are hired based on their strong character and high ideals. Summer camp staff are carefully selected to ensure that we have a diverse group of skilled and responsible staff who care about children. Before campers arrive, all of our summer camp staff are trained in safety, counseling techniques, conflict resolution, child development, bullying prevention and camp policies and procedures. Our staff understand that his or her job is not just to lead activities, but also to help campers develop life skills while always looking out for their well-being.

Our summer camp staff undergo extensive background and reference checks before being hired. All staff are Red Cross First Aid and CPR certified.

Our one-to-five staff-to-camper ratio makes sure all campers have the best camp experience possible.

Here is an example of how we keep our campers and staff safe. One of the first things that we do during a session of camp is gather all of the campers and staff together for an orientation on camp rules and expectations. During this orientation we discuss importance of safety at camp and explain how our camp rules and expectations are in place to keep us all safe. All campers are taught that they should never wonder around camp alone and that they must always travel in a TRUDDIE (aka a group of three). Here we also talk about how it is each camper’s responsibility to look out for the emotional and physical safety of one another.

YMCA Camp Benson is also proud to partner with Praesidium to ensure that camp is safe environment for all children. To learn more about the partnership between YMCAs in the state of Illinois and Praesidium click here.

HEALTH & MEDICAL NEEDS

YMCA Camp Benson has a well-equipped Wellness Center that is staffed by our Camp Nurse 24 hours a day. We also have a Registered Nurse on-site daily who directs and oversees all the actions of our Camp Nurse. Our Camp Nurse takes care of all camper medical needs, including medication management. All camper medication must be checked in with our medical staff during Check-In. The camper Health History Form must be completed two weeks prior to the start of your camper’s session.

AMERICAN CAMP ASSOCIATION ACCREDITATION

YMCA Camp Benson is proud to be an American Camp Association
(ACA) accredited camp. The ACA nationally recognizes overnight
summer camps that meet the highest standards, focusing on health, safety, and program quality. The accreditation process has over 300 safety and quality standards to which we must adhere.

We do not have to be an ACA Accredited Camp, but we have chosen to be because the safety and well-being of our campers is our top priority. To learn more about the American Camp Association and the value of Accreditation click here.