Summer 2020 Update



A Letter from our Executive Director


Dear Camp Watia Community,

YMCA Camp Watia began with a vision of an overnight camp for all children, no matter their life circumstances. Since 2016, when the first campers played Capture the Flag, laughed with their friends, and flew down the giant water slide, our camp community has lived up to that vision, and more.

It is with a heavy heart that I write to let you know we have made the difficult decision to cancel all in-person overnight camp sessions for 2020.

All of us had high hopes for this summer, as we planned to celebrate our fifth year. However, no one could have predicted the shocking changes brought on by the global coronavirus pandemic. It breaks my heart that we won’t be together around the campfire this year.

Camp leadership did not make this decision without careful deliberation and soul-searching. We consulted health experts and considered every possible option for running camp in a way that would maintain government-mandated health and safety requirements while also giving children the best possible overnight camp experience. In the end, we were forced to conclude that it would not be possible to maintain adequate social distancing, exceptional program quality, and proper staffing levels.

We know this is very disappointing news, but our highest priority is the well-being of our campers, families, and community. Our staff team is hard at work developing new ways to engage with and provide alternative programming for our campers and families. We are committed to bringing camp to you in the best way we can under the circumstances.

As we shared before, we are able to offer your family three financial options for the camp fees you have paid: donation, rollover to 2021, or refund. You may combine these options to best suit your needs.

We will send a follow up email on Monday (5/18) with more details and instructions on how to submit your family’s choices. We ask that you wait to submit your choices until then.

I’m truly sorry we are not able to serve our campers this summer. This is an extraordinarily challenging time, but we are Watia. I know we will all emerge stronger than before, and we will be together around the campfire again someday soon.

Until then, the camp office remains open if you have any questions. You can reach us at 828-209-9600 or by email at [email protected].

Stay well,


Ryan Hove
Executive Director, YMCA Camp Watia


Summer 2020 and COVID-19 FAQs

Did Camp Watia consider alternatives to canceling the entire summer?

We did. We looked at a variety of options, including starting camp later in the summer with full or shortened sessions; offering childcare for local families during the summer; limiting capacity to certain age groups; reducing the size of cabin groups; changing schedules to limit cross-interactions; changing or eliminating large group gatherings such as capture the flag and campfires; and setting up the dining hall in different ways.

We also explored different options for cleaning and sanitizing various areas. Ultimately, with the lack of sufficient COVID-19 testing nationwide, a shortage of adequate cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment, various government guidelines and recommendations, and uncertain and unknowable risk caused by this virus, we determined it would not be feasible to open camp this summer.


If guidelines/recommendations clear up during the summer, will you reconsider this decision?

Unfortunately, we will not be able to change course mid-summer, due to the amount of preparation that goes into getting facilities ready and staff fully trained. Additionally, it would not be fair to expect our seasonal summer staff to put everything on hold while waiting to see if anything changed.


My child was set to be a CIT (Counselor in Training) this summer. Can they return as a CIT next summer? Can they still apply to be on staff next summer?

The CIT program is designed for campers who are age 17 or a rising 12th grader during their time at camp.  If your child meets those guidelines next summer, they may apply for the 2021 sessions. We are assessing our ability to run a virtual CIT program this summer. More information will available soon.


What about fees I’ve already paid?

We recognize that this global pandemic is affecting people in different ways financially. As such, we have several different options for families who have already paid some or all of their fees.

  1. Donation: Making a gift of all or part of the funds you have already paid to camp is a generous way to ensure that YMCA Camp Watia remains strong and ready to reopen as soon as we can. We aim to be here for children and families forever, and your gift will help preserve our mission. Donate all your fees or donate a portion and receive a refund or 2021 credit for the remainder.
  2. Roll over registration: You can roll over your camper's registration to 2021. A minimum of $100 per session is required. Any additional funds will be applied to your balance due. You can register for overnight camp, adventure trips, or teen leadership programs. Program information can be found at
  3. Refund: We know that many families are also facing their own hardships. We can process a full or partial refund for the amount paid. (Refunds will be processed using the same method as your original payment.)


What is the process to indicate my preference? Should I call or email camp?

Due to the number of camper families and our desire to streamline the process as much as possible, we have set up a form for you to indicate your preference. Please login to your account at and navigate to Forms & Documents>Camper Change Form.  We are asking all families to complete this form by Sunday, May 24 at 5 p.m.

Any campers without a submitted form after the deadline will be automatically rolled over to an equivalent 2021 camp session. 

Please note that due to the large number of camper families and the complexities of the process, it will take some time for us to issue refunds, receipts, and credits. If you have not seen the appropriate changes to your accounts by June 10, please feel free to call the camp office to inquire.


I received financial assistance this year. What do I need to do?

If you and your camper were awarded financial assistance and were enrolled in a session of camp this summer, you need to follow the instructions above. If your application was in process or you were awarded financial assistance and had not yet enrolled, please contact our business office at 828 251 5910 or [email protected] to reapply for the 2021 summer.


One of my children is aging out of the program. If I apply my funds paid to 2021 can I use those funds for a different child in my household?

Yes. The credited funds will go toward the household balance, not an individual camper’s balance.


Is my contribution to YMCA Camp Watia tax deductible?

Yes. As a branch of the YMCA of Western North Carolina we are an IRS designated 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. If you choose to convert any of your camp fees to a donation, that amount will be tax deductible to the full extent of the law.