Summer Camp FAQs

CYO Summer Camp Frequently Asked Questions


What is Catholic Charities CYO Camp?

The foundation of our program is to provide children the opportunity to become part of a dynamic, supportive community and to experience the joys and challenges inherent in being a contributing member of a small group of their peers. CYO Camp is an extension of Catholic Charities of San Francisco and is situated among 216 acres of coastal redwood trees. This awe-inspiring place enables campers to experience a positive, meaningful and challenging summer adventure. Located sixty miles north of San Francisco near the historic town of Occidental, CYO Camp has been providing summer camp to youth of the Bay area for seventy years. CYO Camp embraces the values and traditions that have made it an exciting, educational, and memorable place for tens of thousands of youth since 1946. Programs are designed to give campers the opportunity to develop self-confidence while making new friends and taking on new challenges as they progress from year to year. CYO Camp is a Catholic community where children of all religious backgrounds feel comfortable participating in youth-centered programming – including our value based themes of community, stewardship, and friendship. These programs build upon the incredible legacy that has made CYO Camp unforgettable for campers and staff alike.

Is CYO Camp accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA)?

Yes. The American Camp Association ensures that high standards are being met in the areas of facilities and food service, health and wellness, operational management, and that clear goals, objectives, and integrity are kept in all areas of programming. The American Camp Association can also be a valuable resource tool for parents/guardians as they prepare their children for summer camp.

What camping activities are offered at CYO Camp?

During the summer resident camping season, CYO offers programs for youth ages 8-17 years old with the following activities. Swimming, Canoeing, Hiking, Nature appreciation and environmental stewardship, Gardening , Team Building, Art, Archery, Campfire programs, Tie Dye, Sports, Basketball, Volleyball, Dance, Ga-Ga Ball, Kick Ball, Frisbee Golf, Soccer, Theatre, Outdoor Liturgies, field trips to either the Russian River area or the Sonoma Coast, and much more! A unique and exciting aspect of CYO Summer Camp is electives. During this time campers have the opportunity to select activities of their choice offered by counselors and activity specialists.

What do I need to fill out and where can I find it, in order to enroll my child in CYO Summer Camp?

Step 1 – Enroll your child on-line at
Step 2 – You will be sent a confirmation through email once your enrollment has been processed. All required forms for your camper can be completed using the parent dashboard. Parents are encouraged to sign up for autopay (monthly payments) or may make payments at the leisure using the parent dashboard.
Step 3 – Remaining balances are due to CYO Camp by June 15, 2018.

What is the mailing address of CYO Camp?

Campers love getting letters and staff love seeing the faces of campers receiving notes from loved ones. Keep in mind that it takes 2-3 mail days for your letter to arrive. Mail early (maybe even BEFORE your child leaves for camp) in order to ensure your child receives their letter while here. CYO Camp can also receive UPS or Fed Ex packages for your camper. Please make sure packages do not include anything containing nuts as CYO Camp is a nut-free facility. Camper and Cabin Care Packages are available for purchase through the parent dashboard during enrollment or at any time prior to the camper’s session.

Address USPS camper mail in the following manner:
CYO Summer Camp Attn: [insert your camper’s name] Insert your camper’s Session # or Dates of Session
PO Box 188 Occidental, CA 95465

For UPS and Fed Ex, please use our physical address: 2136 Bohemian Hwy, Occidental, CA. 95465
Your child can send notes home as well. Include stamped and pre-addressed envelopes in your child’s luggage.

May I Email a letter to my child?

We kindly ask that parents not send email for their child to CYO Summer Camp. Our staff is dedicated to providing the best experiences for campers and as a result office staff is limited. CYO Summer Camp strongly encourages every family to send physical letters or postcards to their camper.

What will my child need to bring to CYO Camp?

While at camp, your child will engage in a number of activities that will require plenty of clothes. While swimming, hiking and playing outside, kids can go through clean clothes quickly. Also, the average temperature can range from 50 degrees at night to over 90 degrees during the day, so please pack accordingly. Limit your child to two or three pieces of luggage—ideally one duffel bag and one backpack as well as a sleeping bag/pillow—that your child can easily carry and handle. Please don’t send your child’s belongings packed in a trash bag, large trunk or hard suitcase. These are difficult to pack in the luggage compartments of our buses and difficult for your camper to carry. We recommend that the camper’s name is clearly marked on any item you want returned if lost, particularly on the outside of their luggage. A full packing list is available on the parent dashboard.

What NOT to bring to camp?

The following items are not needed at camp for one reason or another, and therefore prohibited: Weapons (of any type), Marking pens, Fireworks (or similar products), Pets, Alcohol, Money, Cologne, Perfume, Ipad/Tablets/E-readers, Drugs/Controlled substances, Cell phones, Toys (small stuffed friends are OK), Personal sports equipment, any type of video game, MP3 players/Radios/CD players, Matches or Lighters, Tobacco (or similar products)

What about damaged and/or lost articles, how will I get back something my child might leave at camp?

There is no need for your child to bring anything to camp that will be sorely missed should it never return. If your child can’t live without it, don’t send it to camp. Also, DO NOT send your child’s ‘best clothes’, towels, or personal belongings. Although CYO Camp cannot be responsible for any articles not returned with your child, staff will make every reasonable effort to make sure everything that came with your child leaves with your child. Should we find something (clearly marked) left behind, we will make every effort to return it to you. If you live a distance from CYO Camp and would rather not drive to retrieve them, you can arrange to pick up your items at a bus stop for a future session. Again, the best approach is to not send anything you really need back and to stress to your camper to be responsible for his or her belongings.

What about the medication my child takes? What should I do with it?

CYO Camp has an experienced registered nurse who supervises three health officers, administers medication, performs basic first aid, and monitors the wellness of our camp community. All medication should be turned in to the camp staff prior to departing for camp. Please DO NOT pack medication in your child’s luggage. Health officers will administer medication as prescribed by the doctor’s instructions directly marked on the medication. Prescription Drugs: All prescription medication must be in its original container. If dosage of medication has been altered or changed from what is noted on prescription, CYO Camp will require a change of prescription from the child’s physician. Please read the two Health office notes on our website.

What are the living accommodations at CYO Camp like?

CYO Camp has 24 newly remodeled cabins, grouped together in three villages for your camper to enjoy. Our cabins are all well-insulated, built with wood floors and clean, safe bunk beds. One of these cabins will be your camper’s home for the week. Showers and restroom facilities are located in a central spot for each cabin village. Three meals and a snack are served every full day at camp in our spacious dining hall. Please visit our photo gallery for photos of our cabins and dining hall in action.

What about fees?

Please refer to our brochure for currents fees. A $200 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your child’s space. Balance must be paid in full by June 15, 2018 to guarantee your child’s full enrollment. Take advantage of our online self-managed registration to make payments at your convenience.

Is Financial Assistance available?

Financial assistance is available for qualifying CYO campers and CITs. Qualifying campers may receive a maximum award of $350. It is our goal at CYO Camp to give all children the opportunity to attend summer camp. While we strive to grant assistance to as many applicants as possible, there is a limited amount of funds available each year. We cannot guarantee you will receive assistance, even if you qualify. CYO Summer Camp financial assistance is available through the generosity of The Guardsmen, CYO Camp Alumni, Caritas Creek, and individual contributors. To apply for financial assistance, please download the financial assistance form and return it by fax, email, or mail to: CYO Camp PO BOX 188 Occidental, CA 95465 Once we receive your application, we will determine if you qualify and if funds are still available. You will be notified within seven (7) business days. Additional financial assistance is available for families who do not qualify under the income eligibility guidelines on the financial assistance form. To inquire about alternate financial assistance, please contact us at 707-874-0240. Please keep in mind that you will not reserve a spot in a session without paying at least the session deposit. For campers and CITs who plan to attend even if they don’t receive aid, you must pay the session deposit to reserve your spot. Financial Aid applicants who do not receive a campership are the only participants who are eligible for a refund of their deposit.

Can I get a refund?

All deposits are non-refundable and non-transferable. In cases of homesickness, dismissal or voluntary withdrawal, there is no refund of fees. All cancellations or changes to registration must be submitted in writing, postmarked no later than 30 days prior to start of session in order to be processed and/or to receive a refund, minus deposit. If a camper does not show up for a registered session without proper notice, there will be no refund issued. Financial Aid applicants who pay the deposit but do not receive Financial Aid are the only participants eligible for a refund. Special circumstances will be handled on a case-by-case basis by CYO Camp.

Who are the Staff and what qualifications do they have?

CYO Camp searches far and wide to recruit talented, enthusiastic young adults to serve our campers. CYO Camp summer staff travel from across the United States to be part of our summer programming for youth. They serve a unique role as mentors, peer leaders and role models who engage campers in a manner that balances fun, friendship, responsibility, respect, and trust. Our eclectic bunch includes talented artists, dancers, sports fanatics, nature lovers and water sports enthusiasts. Our counselors’ positive attitudes and unshakable patience ensures a summer campers will never forget. The Leadership Staff at CYO is chosen through an extensive search process, but in fact our core leadership consists of many of our seasoned Environmental Education program instructors and returning staff. All leadership and counselors are college-age students, graduates and education professionals from throughout the country. All CYO staff have current First Aid and CPR certifications and our activity leaders and lifeguards all hold current certifications from the American Red Cross.

What is the camp’s policy on camper discipline?

Our camper discipline policy takes into account concern for both you and CYO Camp personnel. Our staff members are strictly forbidden to: use physical force for any reason restrain or physically control your child for any reason other than one that poses immediate danger to the camper or someone else use inappropriate or abusive language with your child punish your child When problems arise, they are dealt with in what is known as a Common Discipline Approach. This means that all children will be treated fairly and consistently within the framework of the camp philosophy. Using the common discipline approach, children find security in the knowledge that if problems arise they will be dealt with swiftly and caringly, so that others in the group are minimally affected or involved. NOTE: Certain extreme misbehaviors warrant an immediate dismissal from camp, such as alcohol or drug consumption/possession, sexual behavior, theft, or possession of a weapon.

Where do I drop off/pick up my child and what time?

CYO Camp will make all transportation arrangements to and from camp from bus pick up locations in Daly City, San Mateo, San Rafael, and Richmond. Of course all parents are welcome to drive their child to camp.

How can I make sure CYO Camp knows everything they should about my camper?

The best way is to thoroughly complete all CYO Summer Camp forms. Optional forms include “Parent Letter to Counselor” and “Camper Letter to Counselor”  which provide additional helpful tips from parents/guardians and allows the camper to tell us their likes and expectations. Our program revolves around every individual camper and the more we know, the better we can be at making your child’s camping experience the most positive it can be.

Who do I call if we have an emergency and need to contact my child?

During normal business hours, call our main office at 707-874-0240 or 707-874-0200. After hours please call our Camp Health Office at 707-874-0190.

Should I be concerned about homesickness?

It is completely normal for campers to miss home. CYO Camp sees “homesickness” not as a sickness, but a challenge campers often overcome with distractions and support. Camp staff recognizes the symptoms and are trained to help avoid the causes. Usually in a very short period of time, campers adjust, make friends, and camp starts to take a life of its own. If a camper struggles to participate in the fun at camp for a prolonged period of time parents will be contacted to help support in the situation.

Where is the nearest hospital?

Should your child sustain an injury or illness that is beyond our physician approved health plan, we will transport them to Sonoma West Medical Center in Sebastopol (7 miles from camp) and notify you immediately.

Is my child going to be safe at Camp?

We appreciate the trust you place in us when sending your child to CYO Camp and take that responsibility very seriously. Therefore, every possible effort is made to ensure the safety of your child. CYO Camp meets and/or exceeds the standards of the industry in all facets of programming and facility. All the facilities at CYO Camp are equipped with smoke and CO2 detectors. Our swimming pool, the commercial kitchen facility, and the camp as a whole are regularly inspected by the Sonoma County Environmental Health Department and Sonoma County Fire Department. We have an extensive communication system and plan for all staff, who communicate through radios and telephone extensions. We also have detailed plans to deal with any situation that may arise, including emergency supplies for a full camp for 4 days.

May I come and visit CYO Camp while my child is at camp?

It is best for everyone if you refrain from visiting during your camper’s stay. Over the years, we have found that parents who visit their children during the camp session serve more to disrupt the campers’ experience than to contribute to it. The resulting effect is that your child will want to go home with you. If you would like to take a tour of camp prior to summer please contact us to schedule an appointment.

Can my child call home?

We do not allow campers to call home during their stay at camp because we feel it only encourages homesickness. Please prepare your child for this. Campers enjoy getting mail when they are at camp. This is a great way to connect with your child and remind them how proud you are of them for attending camp and challenging themselves.

How do I give feedback?

We value and encourage your feedback and opinion about how you think we’re doing. Although, we will always take your calls during business hours, it would be most effective for us if you could send us your thoughts via email or in a letter. In this manner, we can share what you have to say with our staff. We take all suggestions and concerns very seriously, and use feedback to make adjustment to our programs from year to year. You can send us letters at: Catholic Charities CYO Camp, PO Box 188, Occidental, CA 95465 or email us at