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Whether you’re a camp veteran or this is your first time, we can help answer any questions you may have. Contact us at ce@myycamp.org if your question isn’t answered below!

Parent Handbook


In addition to the Administrative Staff, there are more than 150 summer staff members each week. Bryan McIntyre, Eli and Cam Cochran, Megan Gierhart, Cole Perry, and two nurses are all adults who live at camp during the summer.

More than 80-percent of our staff were campers at Camp Ernst. The summer staff is recruited: from past campers and staff, staff contacts, from area and national colleges and high schools, and international counselor programs. Prospective staff must complete an application, provide references and be interviewed. Applicants 18 and older must pass a criminal record check.

There is one week of staff training prior to the camp season with continual in-service training throughout the summer and year-round.

Check out our camp menu and food guide here!

There are 10-12 campers per cabin with both a Head Cabin Counselor and an Assistant Cabin Counselor. The cabin counselors participate with campers in the various activities during the day, eat with them and sleep in the same cabin.

Our discipline plan is designed to help children develop self-control and assume responsibility for their actions and impact. We are guided by our core values of honesty, caring, responsibility, and respect. Clear, age-appropriate rules and limits are established at camp. As in any group activity, inappropriate behavior by one or two children can challenge the experience for the entire group. Staff will deal with typical, day-to-day behavior issues using acceptable techniques and approaches, such as: redirecting campers, rewarding positive behavior, encouraging campers to use “I” statements and talk about their feelings, role modeling on how to speak and interact with campers in a positive manner, and implementing time out when appropriate.


During each camp day, campers rotate to activity stations together with their friends in their cabin group and their camp counselors. Activities include fishing, archery, sports, crafts, games, pool, ropes course, and lake.

In the event of inclement weather, we make use of our indoor facilities and have alternative activities. Storm shelters are used when necessary. When it is exceptionally hot campers are encouraged to drink water and swim. Other activities may be toned down as necessary.

Campers ages 9 and older can purchase a trail ride option, and there are occasionally opportunities during choice activities to ride in the ring if they choose and weather permits.

We adhere to the YMCA standard which calls for 1 guard for every 25 swimmers.

There is a Spirit, Mind, and Body ceremony relating to the YMCA triangle and “letting your light shine” on opening night, a values-based chapel service once or twice a week, and cabin/unit devotions focusing on personal growth, friendship, and values. We celebrate Christmas in July during the session containing July 25 and sing a simple “Grace” of thanks before each meal.

Health & Safety

Activities are designed with safety features. Staff are trained in risk management. We are accredited by the American Camp Association, the standard of the industry, for safety practices.

No! Each camper must provide a YMCA Camp Ernst Health Form including health history (which does NOT require a doctor’s signature.) A general health screening will be conducted during Sunday orientation after check-in. Click here to see a list of medications stocked in the health center.

Yes. There is a licensed nurse on duty at all times. The nurse or health care assistant will handle all medications (prescription & non-prescription), minor illnesses and injuries. Parents will be notified at the discretion of the nurse: Basically, if there is a significant health problem, a continuing fever of 101+, or if camper needs treatment beyond our health center. In the event of an emergency, St. Elizabeth Hospital in Florence is only 10 minutes away.

The meals are planned and prepared by cooks. Food allergies and the likes and dislikes of campers are considered and we provide an alternative table with salads, vegetables & fruits.

There are “No Trespassing” signs at each entrance of Camp Ernst. The staff is trained to approach strangers (including parents-since there is no way of knowing at that time) and direct them to the office. If necessary, the police are called.


We encourage both campers and parents to write. Mail is distributed after lunch or supper. Please remember to put the camper’s name, cabin number, and week number on letters and packages. Our address is: 7615 Camp Ernst Rd, Burlington, KY 41005

Campers do not have access to telephones. A staff member will initiate a call when appropriate. If a camper needs to be reached in an emergency, the camp office will make the necessary arrangements. Cell phones are not permitted.

Counselors are trained to watch for warning signs and to keep the camper engaged in the camp program and cabin group. Counselors will acknowledge that everyone gets a little homesick sometimes and remind the camper about their new friends and what activity they get to do next. They will also ask if there is something or someone keeping them from having a good time. In some cases, the parents will be notified and can assist in developing a strategy to help the camper.

No. Such items can be easily lost or damaged. Camp is a time to be unplugged and connect with each other face to face!

Yes. The equipment will be stored in a safe location, can only be used during specified times, and only used under the supervision of a Camp Ernst staff member for the protection of all individuals.

If an item is lost, the camper should notify one of his or her counselors. We actively try to keep campers connected to their belongings. We have a lost & found fashion show on Saturday morning. Lost and Found items are kept in Welcome Center for two (2) weeks and then donated to charity. Labeling clothes with a camper’s name is recommended. Please call the office or use our lost and found reporting form (on our home page) to report item lost if you notice something your camper did not return home with after camp.

If your camper has a friend or group of campers he or she would like to bunk with, please make the request during registration or by giving us a call at the office. We can accommodate most cabinmate requests if the campers are within 18 months of age of each other. For any pair or group, please pick one camper’s name as “cabinmate” to use on all registrations (so even that camper will have his or her own name as “cabinmate.”). We can honor cabinmate requests for groups of up to 4 campers. We can accommodate a larger group only if you are able to fill a cabin of 12. Any requests between 5-11 campers will be asked to be split into two groups. Cabin assignments are emailed out approximately one week prior to your camper’s stay. If there are any issues with assignments, give us a call so we can work with your request.

2020 YMCA Camp Ernst Cancellation policy April 7, 2020

Due to the financial strain the COVID-19 crisis has placed on our camp families, our normal cancellation policy and payment schedule has been waived this year.

2020 Summer camp policy:

If Camp cancels the session (due to recommendations by the CDC and local health authorities):

a.  Camp families can choose to donate all or a portion of their camp fees to Camp Ernst. Donations help with the ongoing horse/property care as well as preparation work for summer which has already occurred (suggested donation: $100 per camper), OR

b.  Camp families can choose to roll their 2020 payments over to summer 2021, OR

c.  Camp families feeling the financial strain are eligible for a full refund, OR

d.  Some combination of donation/rollover/refund.

If a family wishes to cancel the session:

a.  Full refunds will be offered up to two weeks before the camp session is scheduled to begin. Please make the request in writing by emailing ce@myycamp.org. Families are asked to consider donating a portion of their fees to Camp Ernst to help with the ongoing horse/property care as well as preparation work for summer which has already occurred.

We are grateful for all of our camp families and their trust and loyalty over many years. If you have to cancel and request a refund due to your family’s circumstances, we understand and hope you will consider joining us again in the future!

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