Summer CampSummer Camp

Overnight Camp

Helping people grow in spirit, mind, body, and friendship since 1928. YMCA Camp Ernst is the most popular summer camp in the Greater Cincinnati area. Steeped in tradition and built on the YMCA values of honesty, caring, responsibility and respect, Camp Ernst hosts campers who enjoy top-notch counselors and make friends, doing a wide variety of activities including our ropes course, 100 ft waterslide, ropes course, archery, horseback riding, and much more!

Week-long Camp (ages 6-15)

Weeklong Sessions

Week Long Sessions

Campers ages 6 to 15 enjoy week long overnight sessions from Sunday until Saturday during June, July, and August. Campers stay in cabins with top notch counselors and enjoy all the fun activities Camp Ernst has to offer, including the lake, ropes course and traditional camp activities.


Lakeview Campers

(Typically grades 1-4)
The Lakeview program is specifically for our 6 to 9-year-old campers. Lakeview campers will live in the Lakeview Lodge, which has all amenities under one roof. While Lakeview campers participate in the typical camp activities with their cabin and counselors, they will also engage in special traditions, which add a wacky twist to each day. These include Monday Night Madness, Word of the Day, and Wheel of Wonder.


Valley Campers

(Typically grades 5-7)
The valley is divided into two separate camper units; Red and Yellow. Campers live in traditional cabins and have meals served from the historic dining hall. Campers will have fun and build friendships while participating in all the typical camp activities, such as the ropes course, lakefront, and traditional activities like Archery and slingshots. Campers and Staff take pride in the valley, with traditions like cookouts, themed evening programs, and vespers make each evening full of fun.


The Leaders In Training (LITS)

(Typically grades 8, 9, & 10)
The L.I.T (Leaders In Training) program is designed for our oldest campers. Leaders will live in the Loft and Longhouse, cabins designed to foster community. In addition to traditional camp activities, campers will also participate in leadership rotations that focus on team-building, communication, and role-modeling. LITs enjoy traditions like LIT Cookout, Dodgeball, and a favorite…the LIT After Party.

Sample Schedule

Times vary based on age group and unit.

8:15amWake Up and Breakfast
MorningActivities like the Ropes Course or Lakefront
AfternoonActivities like the pool, archery, nature
EveningBig Game like capture the flag or scavenger hunt
10:00Lights Out

Crew (age 15)

The Camp Ernst Crew Program is a leadership experience for those entering the 10th grade. The program, housed in the Yurt Village, is designed to help participants gain leadership skills through trainings and experiential service-learning. Crew participants form a tight-knit group as they work together to complete a variety of tasks and activities every day. Crew members will leave the Crew program with a desire to serve others as well as having grown in Spirit, Mind, Body, and Friendship.

Crew Paint Wars

Crew Information Packet

We highly recommend anyone interested in our crew program take time to read the crew information packet. This packet includes important information about the crew program, session dates and rates, registration process, and frequently asked questions.

Crew 101

Teen Riding

Wrangler Crew

The Wrangler Crew program is a leadership experience for those interested in our Ranch program. Participants will spend time learning how to teach and lead barn programs and will get a chance to put into action what they have learned. Riding lessons and group training, along with trail riding, barn chores like cleaning stalls, grooming horses, and feeding the goats will also be included. Wrangler crew members will be at the barn during much of the day and with other crew members in the evening.

Shorter Sessions (ages 5-10)

Half Week Archery

Introduction To Overnight Camp

Campers ages five to nine can try this exciting 24-hour long Intro to Overnight camp on select dates during the summer. This program is a great introduction to see if a week-long Camp Ernst experience is right for them. Campers will stay in a cabin with counselors, eat yummy camp meals, and experience a small sampling of awesome Camp Ernst activities. Times may vary.

9:00amCheck-in and games
10:00amZipline / Airwalk
1:30pmPool / Horses / Activities
8:00pmEvening Big Camp Game
9:30pmGet Ready for bed
9:00amClosing Ceremony and Check Out
Half Week2

Traditional Half Week Camp

Campers ages six to ten who are looking for more than a one night stay but not quite ready for a full week of summer camp can try out this three night Half Week camp during select dates during the summer. Campers will stay in a cabin with counselors, eat yummy camp meals, and experience a sampling of awesome Camp Ernst activities. Times may vary.

3:00 - 4:00pmCheck-in
6:00pmActivities like nature, horse rides, etc
7:00pmEvening Program (Campfire, Scavenger Hunt, Adventure game)
9:00pmGet ready for bed followed by lights out
DAY 2-3
All-day Activity rotations such as ropes course, lake, archery, swimming, games
EveningSimilar to Day 1
7:45amBreakfast and pack up/clean up
9:00amPick up and sign up for next summer

Overnight Camp Activities

Ropes Course

The “Double Disco,” our new high discovery ropes course challenges campers to grow in personal confidence and team building.

The Ropes Course is inspected by a state-licensed professional and all campers and staff utilize helmets, harnesses, professional climbing ropes, and carabiners.

Clay Ball In The Creek

Traditional Activities

At Camp Ernst, days are filled with activities at the Ropes Course, Ranch, and the Lakefront, but that’s not all! Campers will also enjoy:

  • Archery
  • Nature
  • Crafts
  • Slingshots
  • Sports
  • Ga-Ga
  • Swimming
  • Hiking
Camp Glossary Video
Corcl Fun


Camp Ernst lake is a 26-acre, spring-fed, lake with hours of fun docked and waiting for you! The lake includes canoes, kayaks, aqua cycles, 100-foot waterslide, the rockit, corcls and more!

Public Trail Rides

Western Ranch

Our Rockin’ E Ranch with The Stables at YMCA Camp Ernst, funded by the Jacob G. Schmidlapp Foundation, includes two riding arenas, a 30+ horse herd, and miles of trails! Every summer we offer a variety of programs for campers of all riding levels. Whether it’s a trail ride or a full week program, you are sure to find a program that will fit your needs.

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Dining Hall

Our kitchen team, led by Food Service Director Javier Villanueva, works hard to make delicious kid-friendly meals each day.

Our 2023 menu will be posted in Spring 2023. For reference, you can view the 2022 menu here.

If your camper has dietary needs, please complete the form using the link below.

We are able to accommodate different dietary needs, including peanut/tree nut allergies, gluten allergies, dairy intolerance, and vegetarian and vegan diets. While YMCA Camp Ernst staff works closely with families regarding excellent accommodation of food allergies, please note that ours is not a peanut-free or gluten facility and, thus, the possibility of exposure does still exist.

If your camper has special dietary needs, please submit this form at least two weeks before your camper’s week.

Dietary Needs Form
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