Frequently Asked Questions

Summer 2023 Information

The American Youth Foundation is so excited to welcome more participants to Miniwanca and Merrowvista in summer 2023!  We are committed to sharing  positive, life-shaping experiences in the outdoors and inspiring youth to aspire nobly, adventure daringly, and serve humbly.

Please carefully review the information and FAQ below to learn more about next summer’s program offerings, rates, registration process, and vaccination requirements.

Miniwanca 2023 Programs

Merrowvista 2023 Programs

NLC 2023

2023 Registration Process

Back to top

What is the registration process for 2023?

Summer 2023 registration will return to a first come, first served model (pending medical review), and waitlists will be created when programs fill.

There is a $300 fee due upon registration. The AYF is committed to making summer camp accessible to all youth through financial aid and scholarship. Learn more here. 

Why has the cost of camp increased from previous years?

Our costs for the summer ahead have risen dramatically this season, and as a result, the rates have increased more than in recent years. This is not a decision taken lightly, as it is part of our mission to be able to welcome a wide range of campers to our programs.

Some factors include:

  • Higher costs for summer staff, including an increase to seasonal wages
  • Higher costs for food, fuel, and program supplies
  • Higher costs for transportation, van rentals
  • A return to full camp programs, including off-site trips, with many associated costs
  • The move from 2021 tuitions, which were held at an artificially low cost as they were offset by a federal PPP loan

With all these increased costs, the 2023 rates ultimately do not cover the actual cost of the campers’ experience. As a nonprofit foundation, the AYF offsets the true cost of every camper’s experience by about one-third. This year we are passing along a higher tuition, and we’re committed to offering more scholarship assistance as well. We welcome you to apply for additional discount through the financial aid process.

Will financial aid be available this year?

Yes. The AYF is committed to making the camp experience possible for as many youth we can. As a nonprofit foundation, the AYF funds a portion of all campers’ experience. In addition, you are invited to apply for financial aid to make camp more affordable.

What is the payment schedule for 2023?

A $300 fee is due upon registration. Families must pay 50% of tuition by Feb. 1, 2023, and the remaining balance is due by April 1, 2023.

If registering after April 1, 2023, full tuition is due at the time of registration.

For more information, please contact Client Relations Manager Jessica Cheney at Miniwanca or Jamie O’Hagin at Merrowvista.

What is the AYF’s cancelation policy for 2023?

A $300 fee is due upon registration. If cancellation is necessary prior to April 1, 2023, any tuition paid above the registration fee will be refunded (minus at $35 processing fee). After April 1, there is no tuition refund.

If a camper must withdraw prior to the beginning of camp due to illness or injury, all payments except the registration fee will be returned upon receipt of a written report from a physician. For withdrawals during the camp season due to illness or injury, a refund will be prorated.

No refund will be granted in case of dismissal or voluntary withdrawal from camp, and the family will be responsible for transportation costs incurred. There is a minimum $35 processing fee for each refund.

The program my camper wants to enroll in is full. What can I do?

If your chosen camp program is full, we encourage you to register for our waitlist. We will contact you if a spot opens up in early 2023.

2023 Program Questions

Back to top

Is an AYF summer program at Miniwanca or Merrowvista right for my child?

Our goal is to empower as many participants as possible, help them to pursue their goals and to realize their full potential within our program objectives, staffing model and resources.

Registering your camper does not automatically enroll them in an AYF program. Once your registration form has been received, we will review it for appropriate program placement. We may contact you with questions to ensure that AYF will be a positive, fun experience for your child and that we can accommodate their physical, mental, emotional, and social health needs. During this call, families can ask any questions they may have while we learn about your child and how to set them up for success.

Click here to learn more about our general admission guidelines and medical review process.

What safety measures does AYF take?

Miniwanca and Merrowvista are fully accredited by the American Camp Association and meet or exceed state health requirements and industry safety standards in both our in-camp and adventure trip programs. American Red Cross standards guide our waterfront activities. We have a team of committed, onsite health professionals, staffing multiple fully equipped health centers and hospitals a short distance away from both sites. Learn more about Health & Wellness at camp.

Miniwanca and Merrowvista campers are supervised throughout the day and maintain a 1:6 staff to camper ratio so that we can provide a fun, safe summer for our campers.

Will my child feel included at camp?

Miniwanca and Merrowvista enthusiastically welcome campers with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and identities. We value each person’s right to fully experience camp free from prejudice and harassment. All staff are trained to supervise children and to prevent and address incidents of conflict or bullying based on any aspect of a person’s identity, including, but not limited to: race, ethnicity, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, and religious affiliation.

What qualifications do staff members have?

Staff members strive to be excellent role models by aspiring nobly, adventuring daringly, and serving humbly. Our senior staff members are caring professionals who work with children year-round in camp, school programs and conferences.

Our cabin leaders have completed at least one year of college or post-high school work experience, are certified in first aid and CPR, and go through two weeks of extensive training at camp prior to the arrival of campers.

Most Four Trails adventure trip leaders are experienced staff members, participate in a rigorous training, and are certified in high-level first aid as Wilderness First Responders. All staff have background checks run against multiple local and national databases.

Will the AYF provide bus transportation or pickups from the airport?

The AYF can offer transportation to and from airports, as well as bus transportation to and from and from St. Louis and Cleveland for Miniwanca and NLC participants for an additional fee. Please indicate your interest via your enrollment form.

How do families communicate with their campers?

Campers love to hear from their families while at camp! They are encouraged to write letters during the session, and families are also welcome to send letters or packages to their camper, or send emails through our one-way email provider, which our office staff print and distribute every day.

If families have an urgent message, question, or concern about their campers, our directors are always willing to speak with parents on the phone.

What kind of food do Miniwanca and Merrowvista serve?

Following our Food Program guiding principles, we aim to serve a variety of healthy options, including a balance of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables incorporated into a child-friendly menu.

Can my camper stay at camp between sessions if they are registered for both Session A and B?

Miniwanca will offer programming during the transition weekend between Session A and B this year. The cost for the weekend program is $500 per camper.

Merrowvista will not offer lodging or programming for campers during the transition weekend. Families will need to pick up their camper on the last day of Session A and drop them off again on Opening Day of Session B.

Will the AYF require COVID-19 vaccinations for campers in 2023?

Participants are not required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend AYF 2023 programs. However, the AYF continues to strongly encourage and recommend that families pursue COVID-19 vaccination for campers, in accordance with current recommendations from the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Families must share their participants’ COVID-19 vaccination status during the registration process.

For unvaccinated or partially vaccinated participants: If a participant who is not up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations is exposed to COVID-19 while at camp, that person may be required to leave the AYF program. If this occurs, the parents/guardian is responsible for immediately removing their participant from program until the AYF determines it is safe for them to return. Siblings or other participants who share a household with the camper may be required to leave as well. The AYF will follow CDC COVID-19 isolation and quarantine guidance to advise these decisions.

The AYF reserves the right to change to its COVID-19 vaccination requirements as the pandemic evolves or with changes to school and camp licensing requirements regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. If families choose to unenroll a participant due to changes in our COVID-19 vaccination requirements, the AYF will provide a full refund.

What other COVID-19 precautions will the AYF take in 2023?

We are committed to partnering with our families to ensure their children arrive at camp healthy. As guidelines from the CDC and State Departments of Health continue to evolve, the AYF staff will continue to collaborate with the American Camp Association and outside experts to prepare for a safe 2023 camp season.

The AYF is considering requiring campers to test for COVID-19 before arrival and upon arrival, as well as masking indoors upon arrival. More information will be available in spring 2023.

The AYF reserves the right to change to its COVID-19 vaccination requirements as the pandemic evolves or with changes to school and camp licensing requirements regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. If families choose to unenroll a participant due to changes in our COVID-19 vaccination policy, the AYF will provide a full refund.

What will the AYF do if someone tests postivie for COVID-19 at camp?

If staff or campers exhibit symptoms, they will receive an antigen test and will be isolated from others pending the test result.

If someone tests positive for COVID-19 during program, they will be required to go home and may not be eligible to return to camp. While awaiting pickup, the positive individual will be isolated from other campers and will be supervised by staff.