International Campers

Why Choose Phantom Lake?
Phantom Lake YMCA Camp has been providing the quintessential American summer camp experience to thousands of campers since 1896. Located on the shores of Phantom Lake, our ideal location, amazing staff, and enduring traditions have kept campers coming back year after year.  We also have a long tradition of accepting international campers and staff. Campers from more then 20 countries have taken part in our programs.

At Phantom Lake, international campers have the chance to experience an important part of American culture. Summer camps have been a popular American tradition since the middle of the 19th century.  Every summer 11 million children and adults in the U.S. take part in this tradition.  Phantom Lake is the oldest summer camp in Wisconsin and the second oldest YMCA camp in North America. We have survived this long by providing the best camp experience around.

Here at Phantom Lake, safety is also very important to us. We are accredited by the ACA (American Camping Association). The ACA regularly inspects us to make sure we are meeting safety and quality standards. We also have an extremely well trained staff. All of our staff members receive basic medical training and we have a certified Nurse who lives on camp during the summer months.  Our lifeguarding and waterfront team are certified every summer by the American Red Cross in order to ensure waterfront safety.

International Parent Reviews:

“I was looking for a safe camp, and found it with Phantom Lake YMCA!”
“My kids had so much fun, and their English improved!”

What Happens at Summer camp?
At Phantom Lake, your child can expect to participate in a multitude of activities. Typical summer camp activities include: boating (canoeing/kayaking/funyaking), swimming, outdoor skills (fire building, wilderness safety, etc.), arts and crafts (including painting, sculpture and many others), sports (including football, basketball, and tennis), target sports (archery and riflery) as well as climbing and zip-line.  At Phantom Lake, we also offer theater, music, dance, and many other activities. Your child will be able to sign up for two activities of their choosing when they arrive at camp. Most of the specialties are also open for everyone during free-time in the afternoon.  Additionally, parents can choose to sign up their campers for add-on specialties including soccer, golf, skateboarding, fishing, and sailing for an additional fee.

When they arrive at camp, your child will be assigned to a cabin of 6-12 campers of a similar age and the same gender. The cabin will be lead by a trained staff member and 1-3 of our trainees. This group of campers will live and eat together the whole week. They will be the “camp family” of your child.

Your child will also have the chance to participate in many other camp activities. We have a different evening program every day. This can be anything from an all-camp dance to huge game of capture the flag in the Kettles (our camp woods).

Why we make it easy:
Because Phantom Lake has such a long tradition of international campers, we know how to make things easy for you.

  1. We will pick up your child(ren) from  O’Hare International Airport in Chicago or Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee and bring them to the airport for their return flight. This service costs a small additional fee.
  2. On Saturdays we offer a place for your child to stay over the weekend, if they are staying for more than one week. This is called the Holdovers program. During Holdovers, your child will have the chance to experience authentic American culture. Every Saturday the Holdovers travel via the East Troy Electric Railroad  to the town of East Troy, Wisconsin. There they get to experience the railroad museum as well as visit an old fashioned ice-cream parlor.
  3. We have someone ready to answer the phone from 7AM to 12AM (7:00-00:00) USCT every day [1]. We know that it can be hard to have your child so far away from home. Because of this, we have multiple ways for you to keep in touch with your camper.


Commonly Asked Questions:

  1. Does my child have to speak English to go to camp?
    The answer is no. We have accepted, and are happy to accept non-English speakers. A basic understanding of English is, however, recommended.
  2. How do I register?
    This year at camp, registration can be completed almost entirely on-line. International parents should contact us after registration so that we can make a specific plan for their child.
  3. How much does it cost to send my child to camp?
    All airfare must be paid by the camper’s family. Please have a look at our Rates and Dates page for resident camp session costs:  See Rates and Dates 
  4. What will my child need to bring along with them?
    Please have a look at our packing list:  See Packing List
  5. Does my child need to buy American health insurance?
    No, but visitors insurance is recommended.

[1] Berlin (14:00-7:00), London (13:00-6:00), Tokyo (21:00-14:00)