Is the AYF right for my camper?

Understanding the AYF Medical Review Process

Our goal is to serve and 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.

Application Process
Submitting an application form online does not automatically enroll your child in an AYF program. Once your application has been received, we will review it for appropriate program placement. Please note that we may contact you with questions to clarify whether our programs are appropriate for your child, given 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. We depend on parents sharing complete and detailed information about their camper throughout this process.

Essential Functions
To enhance the safety and wellbeing of all participants, our general admission guidelines include that campers must be able to meet the essential functions for community life:

  • Care for self, including the ability to shower, toilet, dress, and feed themselves independently and with minimal supervision
  • Walk around the rugged camp terrain safely and unassisted without extreme fatigue or delay. This includes pre-existing injuries.
  • Verbally communicate their needs with our staff
  • Maintain positive and appropriate interactions and conversations with peers that support the emotional safety of our community
  • Participate in group activities supervised at a 1:6 staff to camper ratio level
  • Maintain energy through camp days, which are usually longer than school days
  • Share living and sleeping space with 8-12 peers and be in close and consistent contact with others 24/7 except for some designated personal time
  • Engage in sleep rituals that are limited to those not affecting cabin mates
  • Complete projects and chores that help keep cabin/activity/camp areas clean
  • Avoid disruptive behaviors or conduct that interferes with daily program

If you are not certain AYF camp is the best place for their child and your child may need more support, please contact your camp or program director.

Is the AYF a Match for Your Camper?

Medical Review Process
The medical review process helps confirm that participants are physically, medically, and psychologically able to participate safely in a variety of American Youth Foundation programs. AYF programs do not have the structure or mental health expertise needed to provide appropriate or effective programming for all participants.

An AYF program may not be a match for those who have a recent diagnosis or increase of symptoms due to a medical, emotional, behavioral, or psychiatric condition.

The AYF strives to be as inclusive as possible while balancing the safety and wellbeing of our campers and staff. We have learned over the years that our program and staffing model does not allow us to meet the needs of youth who…

  • have diabetes
  • have an aide in school
  • have a complex or more severe medical condition that requires intensive supports
  • have had a significant medical diagnosis within the past 12 months

On a case-by-case basis, the AYF works with our Medical Advisory Team to decide the limits of our expertise and resources before we accept applications. When we recognize the limits of our staff’s capabilities, we reduce the emotional turmoil and stress that occurs when we need to send a camper home. For referral to camps that accommodate a variety of specific needs, please contact the American Camp Association.

Our counselors receive training in several approaches to relationship management, decision-making, and conflict resolution. That said, our camps are not equipped to provide full support in mental health counseling or clinical issues. If your camper has been receiving those supports at home or has experienced trauma in the past 12 months (abuse, school shooting, death of someone close to them, etc.), please reach out to the appropriate camp Director to discuss your child’s needs and determine if we can support them this summer. (Miniwanca, Merrowvista)

For behavioral and mental health medications, there can be no changes to the medication type or dosage beginning six weeks prior to camp. 

Medications are administered after meals and at bedtime based on the daily in-camp or on-trail schedule. If your camper requires medications outside of these times, please contact Lead Health Officer Carrie Smith at [email protected], to discuss if we can support your camper this summer.

Dismissals: We reserve the right to send home, without tuition reduction or refund, any participant who does not comply with AYF expectations and standards. We depend on receiving accurate information concerning prospective participants during the registration and Medical Review process. If information provided is inaccurate or incomplete, or a participant arrives with undisclosed physical or mental health conditions or history, we reserve the right to send home that participant, without tuition reduction or medical refund.