HOME | CONTACT US | ABOUT THE Y | CAREERS

Frequently Asked Questions for campers and parents

Getting Ready for Camp

  1. What level of swimming ability is required? answer
  2. How important is a wetsuit? answer
  3. How do you hire your counselors? answer
  4. How do you select/train your ocean lifeguards? answer
  5. What’s the weather like in Imperial Beach? answer
  6. Who do I inform about my child’s food allergies? answer
  7. Can we visit camp prior to signing up? answer

During Camp

  1. How many adults are there to how many children? answer
  2. What happens if my child gets sick at camp? answer
  3. How do you handle medication at camp? answer
  4. If I have two children at camp, will they see each other, or participate in activities together? answer
  5. What happens if my child gets homesick? answer
  6. How much surfing time will my child get each day? answer
  7. How are purchases from the camp store monitored? answer
  8. When are the "Care Packages" delivered? answer
  9. What happens if my child does not like the food? answer
  10. #Can campers bring a cell phone or electronics to camp? answer
  11. How can I contact my child at camp? answer
  12. What about bullies and teasing? answer
  13. My child doesn’t know much English, do the counselors speak Spanish? answer

Registration, Check-in & Check-out Days

  1. When does registration for Summer Camp begin? answer
  2. How do cabin-mate requests work? answer
  3. What is a "hold-over" and what do they do? answer
  4. Are there visiting days? answer
  5. How do I sign my child up for the Wait-List? answer
  6. If my child is on the wait list, what are the chances of him/her getting in? answer
  7. What forms do I need at Check-in? answer
  8. What is the Pick-up Day schedule? answer

What level of swimming ability is required?

Your child should be able to hold their breath underwater, swim basic strokes, able to tread water and float, and be comfortable in the ocean. Campers are closely supervised when they are in the water. We have USLA certified Ocean Lifeguards in the towers and counselors in the water at all times. On the first day of camp your child will participate in a swim screen – it is not a test. This is so our counselors can see how comfortable individual campers are in the water and can increase their skill at the appropriate level. All campers spend a lot of time in the water and the more comfortable they are, the more fun they will have. Back to top

How important is a wetsuit?

A wetsuit is recommended since it will make water time more comfortable for most children, but it is not required. San Diego ocean temperatures can be a “refreshing” 60 - 70 degrees in the summer. You know your child best, for some campers a bathing suit and rash guard are enough to be comfortable.


We have wetsuits available for overnight campers to use during camp! We have spring (short arm short leg) suits available for our campers. Size chart

If you prefer to purchase a wetsuit:

Consider buying an inexpensive wetsuit 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! Back to top

How do you hire your counselors?

The YMCA of San Diego County conducts background checks on all staff. Counselors are interviewed and we check a minimum of 3 references. We look for demonstrated experience as a role model, the ability to hold a high level of responsibility, a focus on safety and skills, and the enthusiasm for dedicating their summer to creating a safe and memorable experience for young people. Our international counselors go through an application and screening process with an agency in their home country in addition to ours. Back to top

How do you select/train your ocean lifeguards?

We hire staff with previous lifeguard and aquatic experience to go through ocean lifeguard training. Our ocean lifeguards are trained and certified through USLA (The United States Lifesaving Association), the same certification that the San Diego City & County lifeguard services use. Back to top

What is the weather like in Imperial Beach?

It might be Southern California, but beach weather can be drastically different from even a few miles inland. Click here for local forecast. During the summer it is typically cool in the mornings and evenings – please pack long pants and a sweater. The clouds typically burn off and it gets warm during the day, but consistent breezes keep camp comfortable. All campers are required to wear hats and sunscreen for sun protection. Back to top

Who do I inform about my child's food allergies?

First, make sure you have listed all health concerns on our Health History form. At Check-In, you can personally discuss your campers food allergies with camp health care personnel. They will make sure the information is communicated to the kitchen and counselors. Find more information on FOOD ALLERGIES and special diets. Back to top

Can we visit camp prior to signing up?

Yes. For safety reasons, however, we are very conscientious of who is visiting. We operate year round programs and very often have campers on site. For this reason we ask that you call to set up an appointment for a guided tour. During the summer season, good visit-times are opening Sunday's or the Friday afternoon BBQ. Back to top

How many adults are there to how many children?

We follow American Camp Association guidelines in maintaining a 2-10 ratio of staff to campers on camp at all times. In addition, we make sure there is no time when campers are left unsupervised. Back to top

What happens if my child gets sick at camp?

We have trained health care personnel on camp at all times. We will contact you if your child visits the Health Center and misses program because s/he is not feeling well. This is a good space for short-term care. Often, rest and fluids are all they need to feel better and be back in camp activities quickly. However if there is a fever or other symptoms of illness, "there's no place like home" to get better. We will call you to make arrangements for you to come and pick up your child. Back to top

What if my child takes medication?

We will administer medication during camp following physician instructions and also your guidance at check-in. Please see guidelines in the Parent Guide for how to pack over-the-counter and prescription medicine. Back to top

If I have two children in camp, will they see each other, or participate in activities together?

We group our campers into three Villages and assign cabin groups by grade. But there are opportunities for campers of different ages to interact as part of our regular program if they choose to do so. They will see each other at all-camp events including campfires and the Wednesday night dance. The early morning "Surf Club" is open to all campers, and lunch is an open buffet where campers can choose who to sit with. We also have several choice periods where they can be together if they are interested in the same thing. We find that most of our campers do quite well away from their siblings and enjoy asserting some independence in a safe and caring environment, but the choice is theirs. Back to top

What happens if my child gets homesick?

Homesickness can be a challenge for some campers. We have several steps to work with it. In most cases we will simply encourage the camper to stay busy and think positively. Most times this works quite well. The camper starts to enjoy them self and make new friends. In some cases it may take a bit more help. At those times our practice is to call parents and talk to them about what steps we're taking and what might work best with their camper. We want to make overcoming homesickness a success story for your child and may ask your help in doing so. Before Camp: It is helpful if camp is not the first experience your child has sleeping away from home. Be excited, positive and encouraging when you discuss camp. Suggesting that they can call home or come home early is counter-productive. A pre-camp visit can make everyone feel more comfortable and build excitement for the new experience. Back to top

How much surfing time will my child get each day?

Campers are in the water every day for for both surfing and body boarding. There are also choice periods in Watermen and teens for additional surf time, and an evening surf each week. Camper of all ages can join the optional early morning "Surf Club" on Tuesday - Friday mornings. Back to top

How are purchases from the camp store monitored?

Money is deposited into a store account at check-in, we recommend ~$20 per week. Campers visit the store and may purchase a drink and/or snack each day. They can also visit the store to purchase souvenirs such as a t-shirt, stuffed animal or drink bottle. If you would like to purchase a Camp Care Package for your child, you can download and fax or mail the Care Package form or turn it in at check-in. Back to top

When are the Care Packages delivered?

We deliver these optional Care Packages on Monday . The exact time may vary from cabin to cabin depending on activities. Care packages are a great way to show your camper you’re thinking of them while they are away at camp. Back to top

What happens if my child does not like the food?

We think our camp food is some of the best around. We encourage each camper to try what is being served but we don’t force them to eat. If campers don’t like what is being served we provide options. At each meal there is a well stocked salad bar and fresh fruit. At breakfast, a buffet with hot and cold cereal is available in addition to the hot entrée. Our staff is trained to watch what campers are eating and if a child has gone for a few meals without eating a healthy amount, they will encourage them to eat and report the matter to the healthcare staff. A protein substitute is available at all meals for vegetarians. Back to top

Can campers bring a cell phone or electronics to camp?

No, we do not permit cell phones at camp. YMCA Camp is a safe place to let your children have a bit of freedom and independence. We want them to make new friends and face challenges, not to spend precious camp time calling or texting their friends back home. Parents can choose to e-mail messages for their campers via an optional online service. Experience has shown that a call to Mom & Dad can often make an adjustment problem worse, not better. Lastly, the technology of cameras on cell phones also creates the potential problem of taking pictures in sensitive areas. Camper bathrooms and changing areas are not appropriate places for cameras. If your child needs to have cell phone with them because of travel or other reasons, simply have them submit it to camp staff upon arrival. We will return it to them when they leave. Back to top

How can I contact my child at camp?

Upon arrival at camp each family is given an access code to the online photo gallery. This lets you view photos taken by our camp photographer each day and uploaded that evening. You can also send emails to your child(ren). We deliver mail and emails to campers each day after lunch. Packages containing food items or items not appropriate for camp will be confiscated and held in the office. Can campers call home? There is no phone or email access for campers to contact home. We encourage you to send a self-addressed, stamped envelope and give it to your child so they can write while they are away. Back to top

What about bullies and teasing?

Whenever you have groups of children together, teasing and bullying may occur. We do everything we can to prevent this from happening. Our staff are trained on how to spot this behavior and put a stop to it. We have no tolerance for this type of action and a camper could be sent home for repeated actions. Back to top

My child doesn’t know much English, do the counselors speak Spanish?

Although we have some bilingual staff, they are scheduled in program areas by skills and may not necessarily be working with your child. As long as your child understands some basic English, we can utilize our staff and also other Spanish speaking campers to help translate. We do our best to make sure everyone understands what is expected and what the cabin group is doing. Back to top

When does registration for Summer Camp begin?

Now! We start registration as soon as our first session of the summer is over for the following year. Just call our main camp office at 760-765-0642. Tell them you would like to sign up for summer camp! Back to top

How do cabin mate requests work?

On the registration form, there is a space to request a friend to be in the same cabin. Please make sure the request is mutual, the campers are in the same program, and not more than 1 year apart in age.We will honor mutual requests, however our ability to accommodate multiple requests is dependent on overall registration. Back to top

What is a “holdover” and what do they do?

When campers are signed up for 2 or more sessions in a row, we give families the option of having their campers “hold over” from one session to the next. During this time they participate in activities, but at a more relaxed pace than a typical camp day (the campers are usually a little tired!). We ask that you pack extra clothing for multiple weeks, since we have limited laundry facilities. When the next session begins, they join right in and are well rested to begin another week of camp.

Note: Beach Comber and SOUL programs are designed in 2-week cycles. The Surf Carnival and BBQ dinner occur on the final day of their 2-week program. Back to top

Is there a visiting day?

Parent time to visit is at the end of the week for the Surf Carnival and BBQ. Obviously if there is an emergency please call so we can help you with any necessary arrangements. Camp is a great time for children of all ages to increase independence and their sense of autonomy. Visits from home often lead to homesickness and can upset their camp experience. Back to top


How do I sign my child up for a Wait-List?

If a session if full, simply indicate "Wait-List" on the camp registration page, then fax or submit online. You will not send any money, as we will not make any charges until there is an opening for your child. If a spot becomes available, we will contact you to find out if you are still interested. You may wait-list for as many sessions as you like. Back to top

If my child is on the Wait-List, what are the chances of him/her getting in?

Wait list availability is difficult to predict. We receive transfers and cancellations, right up to the day camp starts. Once we receive a cancellation, we contact all available phone numbers, leaving messages to contact us within a certain amount of time. If the first person is unavailable, we move on to the next family on the list. We often will call four or five names before we fill the spot. Back to top

What forms do I need at Check-in?

Please bring the following forms to check-in: Admission Form, Health History Form, Store money, and Medications in their original container … on the first day of camp. Store care package forms can be mailed or faxed ahead of time. Back to top

What is the Pick-up Day schedule?

Check out each Friday is from 12-3pm. Our surf carnival begins at 12:30pm and families are invited to attend. (For 2-week Beachcombers or SOUL Surfer programs this is at the end of the two week session.) Once you have parked your car you will go through a quick ID check and then make your way to the beach. After watching your camper in various ocean and land activities please join us for our 1:30pm family BBQ. Back to top