Review the parent handbook, drop-off/pick-up times, financial assistance and more.


Policies & General Info


We are located about 45 minutes west of Denver, just past Bailey, Colorado, off of U.S. Highway 285.

It is our belief that the camp experience is an important part of childhood, and we provide that experience for all children no matter their family’s financial situation. YMCA Camp Santa Maria provides financial assistance to families that complete our financial assistance application process and qualify. Visit the Financial Assistance page on our YMCA website for more information.

While the property on which we operate does have a religious history and the Y itself was founded on Christian principles, YMCA Camp Santa Maria does not have a religious affiliation or run any religious programming. We welcome campers of all backgrounds to attend, but will not teach on any specific religion.

A $150 deposit is required for all programs.

If a cancellation is needed before May 1, a full refund or credit can be issued to the customer. The YMCA will retain the $150 deposit. 

If a cancellation is needed after May 1, no refund may be issued but a 100% credit can be applied to the customer’s account, valid for one calendar year. The YMCA will retain the $150 deposit.

Camp Santa Maria is a strictly nut-free facility, meaning no peanut or tree nut products are served or permitted on site. Please do not send your camper or camper mail with anything containing nuts.

Staffing & Training


Our staff members go through a rigorous hiring process. All candidates must provide three written references and are subject to a state and federal criminal background check, including fingerprinting. We hire staff members based on their experience working with youth, knowledge and skills in specific camp activity areas, and their ability to create positive relationships with campers and fellow staff members. First and foremost, staff are chosen for their commitment to being a role model for kids and contributing to the camp community.

Our outdoor camp staff, known as Guides, participate in a rigorous training process prior to the beginning of camp. Each Guide has First Aid and CPR, and at least one staff member in each cohort will possess a Wilderness First Aid certificate at the minimum. Depending on the type of program, various Guides and Program Specialists will possess certificates and/or verifiable documented training specific to their areas of expertise that meet Colorado state licensing and American Camping Association standards.

All staff receive their First Aid/AED/CPR certification, standard precautions, bloodborne pathogens, mandated reporter, diversity equity and inclusion training, emotional first aid, and more. Outdoor and program staff might receive their waterfront and lifeguard certification, medicine administration delegation, wilderness first aid, belay certification, leave no trace certification, and others.

Camper Communication & Behavior


Our staff members are trained to help campers cope with a wide range of feelings, including homesickness. A good portion of staff training focuses on child development, behavioral guidance and overcoming homesickness. All staff are certified in emotional and mental health first aid.

Once at camp, fun programs and meeting new friends keep campers busy. Our staff members strive to provide a nurturing environment, where campers can overcome their feelings of homesickness, become more independent and feel proud of their accomplishments. We strive to create a community that serves as your camper’s home away from home.

When you get a large number of people together in one place for any period of time, issues between individuals can arise. At YMCA Camp Santa Maria, we practice behavioral guidance to address these types of issues. On the first day of a session, all campers learn about the guidelines and rules of camp. Staff take time to let campers know the boundaries of acceptable behavior. Then, each cabin creates its own Community Contract with guidance from staff, allowing them to develop their own rules for how they treat each other during the session.

If issues arise in a cabin or between members of different cabins, the first intervention happens with cabin staff. In staff training, we teach various methods to guide each person involved in the incident to a mutually agreeable solution. If the cabin staff need assistance, any issue can move through the management team all the way up to the Assistant Camp Director or Executive Director. It is our goal to keep kids at camp. There are certain behaviors, however, that we cannot tolerate and are grounds for dismissal. Those include physically attacking another person; physical, emotional, or psychological bullying; sexual contact; or continued refusal to follow camp policies, including running away. All campers and staff are held to these standards.

If a camper gets into a situation that requires staff intervention, YMCA Camp Santa Maria will use the following steps to address the issue:

  • Staff and the camper(s) involved will sit down and talk about the incident. Any other people involved in the event will also participate. If necessary, it can be escalated up through the management team up to the assistant camp director or executive director.
  • The parents of the camper(s) involved will be called and informed of the situation.
  • The camper(s) and staff will create a behavioral contract that will state the issue being addressed and actions that each person involved will follow. Parents will be called and filled in on the particulars of the contract.
  • If the camper’s behavior necessitates dismissal from the session or the camper refuses to change his or her behavior, parents will be called and asked to pick up their child as soon as possible, regardless of the time of the incident. In some cases, a camper may be removed from camp and allowed to come back the same summer. If a camper is removed from camp and does not come back, a discussion between the camp and the parents may need to take place before the camper is allowed to return to camp. Refunds may not be issued for instances of poor camper behavior. 

At YMCA Camp Santa Maria, we take the issue of bullying very seriously, and people who choose to bully at camp will be asked to leave. Whether the bullying is physical, psychological, emotional or even electronic, it is grounds for a camper to be removed at the complete discretion of the Executive Director. We train our staff in the various forms of bullying prevention and even the different ways campers may bully. If you have any questions about bullying or what constitutes bullying at camp, please contact us. Refunds will not be issued for campers asked to leave CSM.

Parents play an important role in a camper’s experience. Sending your child to camp prepared is important to his or her success. It is also important for parents to discuss with their child what to expect while they are at camp. Campers are always excited to receive mail, and parents are encouraged to correspond with their camper. At Camp Santa Maria, we also encourage camp families to have open communication with our staff so we may serve campers in the best way possible.

YMCA Camp Santa Maria has at least one full-time medical personnel who lives onsite and provides medical care to campers at all times. We are also connected with a pediatrician and clinic in the town of Conifer, and we are serviced by local emergency medical services. It is important that parents discuss special medical needs with the camp director prior to coming to camp.

In general, we do not allow campers to call home. We enforce this policy because we have found that calling home most often has a negative effect on the camper and prolongs homesickness. If a camper is very upset, you will hear from us ASAP and we will discuss any future actions together. A staff member will contact you in the case that your camper is ill or experiencing ongoing homesickness. Please note that campers are not permitted to have cell phones at camp, so please leave them at home. If a staff member finds your campers with an electronic device, it will be confiscated for the duration of their stay at camp. Your camper will survive, and likely thrive, without their phone at camp.

Camp Life


Traditional campers will call one of ten rustic same-gender cabins home for the duration of their session. These cabins have wooden bunk beds nestled in an accessible, slightly forested area of camp. Cabins are heated and have screened windows for ventilation. Campers are welcome to decorate their cabin while they are there and will help maintain the cleanliness of their living space. Cabins do not have a bathroom inside; the bathhouse is less than two minutes from each cabin. Campers will be able to store all their belongings there, except for food which remains in the Dining Hall to avoid attracting any insects or wildlife. Two counselors will be in each cabin.

Outdoor Adventure or Expedition campers will reside in Tent Town; a sleeping unit with four yurts and four large platform tents. Each of these sleeping arrangements have bunk beds and will have staff residing in them. Tent Town is about a fifteen minute walk from main camp, or a five to ten minute bike ride. Each camper residing in Tent Town will have their own bike (provided by camp) for the week to help with the travel to and from main camp. When these campers are out in the backcountry, camp provides sleeping pads and sleeping bags (though you’re welcome to bring your own) for sleeping out under the stars. The amount of time spent out in the backcountry varies based on your campers chosen camp.

More information on this coming soon. 

Your camper will eat three balanced meals a day family-style, with dietary options available. Snacks will be provided throughout the day. At breakfast, optional items will be provided buffet-style such as fruit, cereals, and yogurt. At lunch and dinner, a fully equipped salad and sandwich bar will also be available with items such as fresh vegetables, cheeses, and sandwich meats and meat alternatives. If your campers has dietary needs (i.e., vegan, no pork, allergies, gluten free, etc.) you MUST communicate this to the camp well in advance, (preferably during registration). If you are concerned that you have not had the opportunity to communicate this, please email [email protected] to notify staff and give the kitchen adequate time to prepare. This will allow us time to prepare alternative meals for your child that are just as fabulous as the rest of the food. 

Outdoor campers will pack in their food into the backcountry, and a sample menu is listed below:

Dinner: Taco night at Basecamp 
Breakfast: French toast and breakfast sausage at Basecamp 
Lunch: Burgers at Basecamp 
Dinner: Backpacker’s Pantry Chicken Lasagna
Breakfast: Oatmeal with coconut flakes, dried blueberries 
Lunch: Bagels and “lox” with tuna 
Dinner: Backpacker’s Pantry Beef & Mashed Potatoes

Breakfast: Cheesy camp egg scramble 
Lunch: Not your ordinary hummus bowl 
Dinner: Backcountry Burritos
Breakfast: Protein pancakes with chocolate chips and berries 
Lunch: Pasta bar at Basecamp
Dinner: Nacho Night at Basecamp 
Breakfast: Egg and bacon scramble, fresh fruit, donut holes at Basecamp 
Lunch: Pizza at Basecamp

Please note that we have options available for campers with dietary needs, including Backpacker’s Pantry meals. Find out more about Backpacker’s Pantry here.

All campers have at least two showers scheduled throughout their session in the bathhouse, separated by gender.

We kindly ask that you do not send snacks to your campers while they are at camp; food cannot be kept in cabins due to wildlife concerns.

There is a range of wildlife that may be encountered around the 1000+ acres of Camp Santa Maria. They range from small critters such as ticks and ants, to small creatures like marmots and rabbits, to "furry friends" such as black bears, bobcats, mountain lions, and deer. Larger creatures do not tend to roam into basecamp, and our staff are trained to mitigate wildlife hazards.



If your camper has broken in climbing shoes that fit well and they like, they are welcome to bring them. However, Camp Santa Maria supplies climbing shoes in an array of sizes, in addition to top-of-the-line helmets and harnesses.

Camp Santa Maria offers mountain biking as indicated in many programs. Though we supply mountain bikes, campers may bring their own so long as they are in good condition, are properly maintained, and are fit to your camper's height.

We supply a variety of overnighting packs varying from 40-70 liters, depending on your camper's height. They are adjustable and will be fit by trained staff to your camper's specifications.

Camp Santa Maria follows the US CPSC standards of helmet requirements for specific activities. For mountain biking, helmets are ASTM F1952 and for rock climbing and wet exits in kayaks, they are either EN 12492 or Snell N-94. These are all supplied and individually fit to camper’s needs.