Camp Tycony set for 70th Summer Camp

Written on 05/19/2024
Patrick Munsey

Register now for canoeing, hiking, and … Gaga Ball?

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Gaga Ball. Human Foosball. Friendship bracelets and Halo Ball. If none of this sounds familiar, how about hiking, archery, canoeing, and cooking over a fire?

The Kokomo Family YMCA is preparing for its 70th year of summer camp at the venerable and historic Camp Tycony. As many as 200 kids from ages 5-14 will have the chance to spend the season among the trees and wildlife at the 52-acre camp, and registration is taking place now.

The camp experience, however, has changed with the times. In addition to most of the activities campers enjoyed for decades, there are new offerings that are tailored to today’s campers. And it all begins on Tue., May 28.

According to Matt Sandoe, YMCA Community Engagement Director, kids ages 5-14 will experience canoeing, hiking, archery, crafts, nature education, cooking, and more.

“The counselors have plans laid out for them every day,” said Sandoe. “They rotate between activities at different times throughout the morning, and then everybody breaks for lunch. There are few more activities after lunch, and then we wrap up camp.”

Summer “pre-camp” starts at 7:30 a.m. each morning as campers arrive, and the activities really take off at 9 a.m., starting with chapel. The campers will have things to do and experience all day long until close of camp at 6 p.m.

“Most of the kids go home tired,” said Sandoe.

A.J. Edwards, YMCA Community Development Program Director, explained that each of the nine camp weeks have a theme. There is “H2 Oh Yeah” week, filled with kiddie pools, water balloons, and Super Soakers. How about “Nickelodeon” week, featuring a messy, gooey, slimy Slopstacle Course?

“It's nine weeks, nine sessions, with a different theme each week,” said Edwards. “The kids can come to all nine sessions, or they can come to one session or more. Everybody's really flexible. And it’s just $150 a week for YMCA members and $200 for non-members, and that’s a pretty good deal.”

For those who may have trouble affording the weekly fee, Camp Tycony accepts Indiana Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) vouchers. The Kokomo Family YMCA tries to make its programs accessible to everyone regardless of their financial situation.

There are actually two camps taking place at Camp Tycony at the same time. In addition to the standard Summer Camp, the YMCA is offering a special STEM Camp, thanks to the generous sponsorship of NIPSCO.

The STEM Camp is available to children ages 7-12 and runs four sessions in June. Each child may attend one session for $50.

“They do all the basic camp activities, but they also have additional science activities and STEM activities,” said Edwards. “They do a lot more learning in that camp, but it’s fun. They make balloon-powered cars. They make solar ovens from pizza boxes. It’s for the kids that are really into science. And that's basically fully funded by NIPSCO. We're really grateful to them for that.”

Applications for STEM Camp must be filled out online at

What about those weird activities mentioned at the start of the article?

For those who aren't in the know, Gaga Ball is played inside a 25-foot-wide octagon. A kickball is smacked by hand along the ground -- it can't be airborne -- and everyone tries to avoid being struck by it. It's like a low-key dodgeball.

Human Foosball is literally what it sounds like. Players hold onto long, stationary poles and shuffle along them to play a life-size version of the soccer-like game.

And Halo Ball? Think basketball played on Opposite Day with a hoop suspended in midair by giant rubber bands. The player with the ball can't move. Everyone else has to maneuver to receive a pass or block a shot.

It's a far cry from the days of tag, hide-and-seek, and tetherball. But wait. The camp has tetherball, too.

“And we’re making friendship bracelets, which we expect to be popular this year just because of Taylor Swift wearing them,” said Edwards.

Other highlights planned for this year’s camp include air rifle instruction, cooking pizzas and fruits pies over a campfire, and visits from the Lifeline helicopter and the Howard County Sheriff’s Department and Kokomo Police Department SWAT teams.

Putting on a Summer Camp is rather cost-intensive, and while the Kokomo Family YMCA can handle the load, it always welcomes participation and donations from the community. For instance, the kids will need snacks throughout the day to keep their energy up.

While the YMCA used to operate a camp store for the kids to purchase snacks, it has decided to simply provide snacks so that all campers have the ability to enjoy them. And local businesses and organizations can help make that happen.

“It takes $1,200 a week to provide snacks for all the kids,” said Sandoe. “We're always looking for businesses that want to partner with us on that. We provide things like granola snacks and yogurt and applesauce. It’s not going to be unhealthy snacks like candy bars.”

Snacks for five of the nine weeks already have been sponsored by local businesses. To help cover the cost of one or more of the remaining four weeks, reach out to the YMCA by calling 765-457-4447 or email .

To register your child for YMCA Summer Camp, visit