camper life

Who comes to Camp Al-Gon-Quian?

During our regular summer camping season, our campers are boys and girls ages 8 through 16. Many of our campers are from the Ann Arbor area, but we also have many campers each summer from around the country and around the world. About 50 percent of our campers are members of the Ann Arbor YMCA.

What are the cabins like?

Our rustic cabins sleep between 8-10 campers and 2-3 counselors in built-in bunk beds. Each camper will have built-in shelving or space under his or her bunk for storage. The boys live on the south end of camp, while the girls live on the north end.

What are the bathrooms like?

There are modern bathroom facilities on both the boys and girls sides of camp. Each bathhouse has hot water showers with private changing areas and plenty of toilets and sinks.

Where will I eat? What will I eat?

Campers and counselors share meals together family-style in our dining hall overlooking Burt Lake. Our kitchen staff members work hard to make sure our food is kid-friendly and nutritious. Sandwiches are always an option and there is always a vegetarian choice and protein substitute for our campers and staff members who do not eat meat.

Breakfast: Cereal, oatmeal, juice, fresh fruit, rice and milk are served at every breakfast. Hot dish options on a rotating basis include French toast sticks, homemade pancakes and oatmeal scones, scrambled eggs, homemade banana bread, biscuits and hash browns.

Lunch: A salad bar, fresh fruit and our sandwich table are offered at every lunch. Some common main courses include: grilled cheese with tomato soup and salad; Cincinnati Chili with pasta; turkey submarine sandwiches; "dino" nuggets and tater tots; or BBQ beef sandwiches.

Dinner: Just like lunch, we always offer our salad bar, fresh fruit and sandwich table. Some common main courses for dinner are: spaghetti and garlic bread; vegetarian and meat lasagna; fiesta night (tacos); tofu or chicken stirfry; turkey with au gratin potatoes and veggies; and hamburgers and hotdogs.

Sessions I and II are peanut-free. If your child has a food allergy, please inform the camp office at least 1 month before his or her arrival.

What are the activity hours?

At Camp Al-Gon-Quian, campers have four activity hours during the day, with two in the morning and two in the afternoon. On the first Sunday after their arrival, campers attend a sign-up session where they get to choose the activities they would like to do and register with the counselors who lead the particular area. Campers in two-week sessions sign up for a new set of activities their second week. Some of our activities include:

Swimming      Canoeing      Sailing      Landsports      Nature (FUNK)      Newspaper      Library

Woodshop      Arts and Crafts      Archery      Riflery      Cards and Games      Drama      Dance   

Who are the counselors?

Our counselors are usually college-aged students from around the country and sometimes around the world. Many of our counselors were once campers at AGQ themselves, and all of them have gone through a rigorous application and interview process. Our counselors are selected for their maturity, abilities with children, decision-making skills, and their ability to be role models of our four pillars: Respect, Responsibility, Honesty and Caring. Many of our staff members have worked at AGQ for many years.

At camp, the counselor-to-camper ratio is 1:5. Last year, 87 percent of our staff members were Al-Gon-Quian campers themselves and 85 percent were returning staff members!

How are the counselors trained and certified?

Our counselors are trained in American Red Cross CPR and First Aid, and all of our waterfront staff members are American Red Cross-certified lifeguards. Our barn director is certified through the Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA) and other staff members have appropriate trainings and/or experience in the area in which they work (archery, climbing wall, woodshop, etc.).

Before the summer season begins, all of our counselors attend one to two weeks of training at camp with their fellow staff members. This training includes topics like safety, camp and counseling procedures and supervision. All staff members also go through an extensive reference, criminal, driving and background checks before they are hired.

What is the overnight camp-out?

Each cabin group at AGQ gets the opportunity to spend a night under the stars, sleeping at one of the campsites on our 150-acre campus. Campers learn skills such as fire-building, the principles of "Leave No Trace," and gain a greater appreciation for nature. Campers spend the entire night with their counselors, from evening flag until the next morning. They cook dinner together over the fire and play games and have great conversations until it is time for bed. The camp-out is one of the best bonding times for our cabin groups and an experience that always brings many adventures.

What is the Leaders-In-Training (LIT) program?

The LIT program is a camper program for our campers entering the 10th or 11th grades. This two-week program allows campers to build their leadership skills and build friendships within their peer group. LITs have the opportunity to work with younger campers with counselor supervision, plan an all-camp dance, participate in leadership workshops and go on a special out-of-camp trip with their LIT leaders. In the morning, LITs sign up for regular camp activities with the rest of the campers, but spend the afternoon and devotion time with their LIT group.

The LIT program is values-based, giving campers role models and helping them to develop the pillars of Respect, Responsibility, Honesty and Caring in their lives. It is offered during Sessions 2, 3 and 4, and campers may only sign up for one session of the LIT program.

What is the Counselors-In-Training (CIT) program?

Camp Al-Gon-Quian’s volunteer CIT program is for students entering the 11th and 12th grades who are interested in working with younger children. The program prepares them to work with youth in a resident camp setting. Participants spend two to three weeks in training, programming and service, while learning to work together and gain a basic understanding of summer camp operations.

Topics and discussions will include youth development, activities and games, leadership skills and much more. This program gives participants the opportunity to place the needs of others ahead of their own, share what they have learned and be a role model for younger campers. CITs will assist staff with cabins, activity areas, evening activities and in the kitchen. This practical leadership experience is a great step for anyone interested in working with children in the future.  The hiring process for CITs is competitive, and candidates prepare an application with references and are interviewed before being accepted into the program. Applications can be found here and are due February 15.

What is the swim test?

Each camper who comes to Al-Gon-Quian takes a short swim test. Each camper is asked to swim 10-15 yards of freestyle (front crawl), backstroke and breaststroke. Campers who pass the swim test receive a blue bracelet, meaning they have demonstrated proficiency and may swim without a lifejacket.

Campers who do not pass the swim test receive a green bracelet and are automatically enrolled in swim lessons, and spend one hour each day practicing their strokes with our swim staff. These swimmers must wear a lifejacket if they are in the water (except during lessons). Usually campers end up passing the test after 1-2 weeks of swim lessons. At Camp Al-Gon-Quian, we believe swimming is a valuable life skill and are experienced teaching campers from our youngest through our teens, and we highly encourage all campers needing improvement to take swim lessons. A camper who refuses to take the swim test or refuses to take swim lessons after failing the test will not be given a bracelet and may not participate in any water activities at camp.