FAQs about the Y and outdoor education at Mineral Lake

Please read through our frequently asked questions about the project. If your question isn’t addressed please use the contact us form.

What is the Y proposing to build on the Mineral Lake property?

The Y is proposing to create a new overnight camp and environmental education center on approximately 2,100 acres of forest land adjacent to Mineral Lake in rural Lewis County.

We expect the camp to include a dining lodge, cabins, staff housing, an environmental learning classroom, and program areas such as arts and crafts, swimming and canoeing, and archery. A majority of the acres of forest land will remain in its natural state. 

Why is the Y looking at the Mineral Lake property as the site of its next camp?

The Y’s two existing camps (Camp Orkila on Orcas Island and Camp Colman on the Key Peninsula) are full with waitlists. We want to get kids off of waitlists and into outdoor programs. As a large rural tract of land featuring a beautiful lake, the Mineral Lake site is the perfect location for the Y’s next location to serve youth and families. 

How big will the camp be?

At full build-out, the camp property is expected to occupy less than 150 acres, or less than 7% of the site. The majority of the site will remain undeveloped, and we plan to practice sustainable forestry on that undeveloped portion.

When will the camp open?

The camp will open in phases, and we expect full build-out of the camp to take 5-10 years. We may begin with small groups of campers hiking and tent camping on site but more permanent structures such as a central lodge for dining and bathrooms will not be built until county approvals are obtained and camp infrastructure like a wastewater system is developed. Cabins for campers can be constructed over time.

How many campers would attend a typical camp session?

At full build-out, our largest camp sessions could include up to 400 campers and 100 staff. Other events and activities will be smaller.

Where will campers come from?

As at our other Y camps, campers, both youth and families, are expected to come from all over Washington state. This camp will be open to all. Membership in the Y is not required to participate in camp programs.

Will local youth and families be able to attend camp?

We welcome conversations with local families to understand how this camp can serve local youth. Some options include holding spots in summer camp for local youth, partnering with local schools to provide environmental education experiences, and offering summer day camps for local youth. We are also interested in partnering with local organizations to provide events for the local community at large. YMCA camp attendance is not limited to members of the Y. All are welcome.

Will the camp operate year-round?

Once permanent camp facilities are constructed, there will be family camp events and environmental education programs scheduled throughout the year, but the predominant use of the camp will remain in the summer months.

How much will it cost to attend camp there?

It’s too early to tell what the camp’s rates will be. However, the YMCA is committed to making camp experiences available to everyone, regardless of their financial circumstance. In 2019, 1 in 5 youth received financial aid for summer camp at Camp Orkila and Camp Colman, and 1 in 3 youth received financial assistance for our teen outdoor leadership programs. We are planning to raise funds that will allow a similar level of scholarships at our new camp. We will work with local families to ensure that youth can attend camp at whatever price works for each family.

What is an environmental learning center?

In the non-summer months, the overnight camp facilities will be primarily used to provide environmental education to school groups in keeping with the state mandate of outdoor education for all. This will not require additional buildings – we will use the same facilities that we use in summer, including the environmental learning classroom. We will develop programs using the site’s natural features to educate youth about topics such as responsible forest management and freshwater ecosystems. The Y places a high value on helping young people develop a deep love and respect for the outdoors.

What kinds of activities are planned at the camp?

As at Camp Colman and Camp Orkila, Mineral Lake will offer traditional camp activities, such as arts and crafts, swimming, canoeing, archery, evening campfires, climbing and hiking.

Are other activities planned for the property?

The Y will be working with the Nisqually Tribe to provide tribal members with access to the land for cultural and traditional uses and to develop joint programming for Native and Non-Native youth.

Will you allow motorized vehicles, such as ATVs and dirt bikes, on the property or motorized watercraft on the lake itself?

No, and we do not allow their use on our other YMCA camp properties, either. Beyond designated parking areas, the only vehicles allowed onto the undeveloped property will be as needed for maintenance. Y campers will not use motorized boats on the lake, but there may be one motorized boat available for staff to operate as needed for safety and maintenance.

Will the property be accessible by local residents?

In addition to ensuring that local youth and families have the opportunity to participate in programs offered at the Y camp on Mineral Lake, we are open to exploring what additional access and activities on the remainder of the property would benefit the local community while balancing the Y’s need to provide a safe and secure environment for youth campers.

How many people will the camp employ?

When fully built, we will have up to 100 staff working on site during summer in positions such as food service, facility maintenance, and camper supervision. A smaller workforce of 5-25 staff will be onsite for the remaining months of the year as needed for programming, facility upkeep, and security. Additionally, we will seek local contractors to develop the site over the next 10 years and provide ongoing services as needed.

Will the property be removed from the Lewis County tax rolls if it is owned by a non-profit like the Y?

The YMCA currently does not intend to apply for a property tax exemption based on its non-profit status at this time. As a result, we will be paying property taxes on the land we acquire. Additionally, because we will continue to maintain the site as a working forest, we also will continue to pay timber taxes on revenue from timber sales.

How will fire protection and other services be provided to ensure the safety of campers and staff?

Every Y camp has a detailed emergency response plan. Before operating with campers, we will develop a plan for this site that includes evacuation procedures, shelter-in-place procedures, procedures for inclement weather and fire, and more. We not only train our staff extensively on these procedures, but we also will work with local officials to ensure that these plans work in coordination with and add to the services available in the county.

What kind of safety personnel will you have on site?

All staff are required to have CPR and First Aid certifications. All staff working at the waterfront are required to have additional lifeguard certifications. These trainings (CPR, First Aid, and Lifeguard Certification) will be offered on site and can be made available to other members of the community if there is interest. In addition, camps must have a more qualified medical professional on site, such as a registered nurse or doctor. When we offer backpacking experiences, we will also have staff who have participated in Wilderness First Responder training. We encourage staff to pursue EMT and fire-fighting certifications and to participate in local volunteer fire fighting.

What is the approval process for the camp proposal?

Lewis County planning officials and the county commissioners are currently reviewing the Y’s plan to create a new outdoor camp for youth and families at Mineral Lake. In March, Lewis County issued a Mitigated Determination of Non-Significance (MDNS) regarding the YMCA’s plan. The MDNS means the county has concluded that, with appropriate mitigation steps, the camp can be created without a significant environmental impact on the lake or its surrounding environment. Issuance of the MDNS is one of the first steps in a detailed review process that our plans will undergo.

What are the opportunities for public input on your proposal?

In addition to the voluntary meetings the Y has already held, Lewis County will be holding official public hearings on the project as part of the review process on our proposal. The county is responsible for scheduling these meetings and informing the public when they will be held, which we understand to be in the latter half of 2022.