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First Time Campers

Camp Ondessonk First Time Campers

What to expect from Camp Ondessonk

Camp Ondessonk is the Premier Adventure Destination of the Midwest. Our camper fees are extremely competitive and unlike many other summer camps, Ondessonk does not charge additional fees for horseback riding or senior camper electives.  On this page is an overview of what first-time campers can expect at Camp Ondessonk.  All campers should read and expect to follow the Rules For Campers while at camp.


Who can come to camp?

Camp Ondessonk is a Catholic youth camp open to all campers regardless of race, nationality, gender, disability or religion.  All campers and staff are expected to demonstrate respect for each other regardless of differences while at camp.  Camp Ondessonk makes every effort to accommodate all campers that wish to attend regardless of physical or emotional needs, dietary requirements, or other circumstances. Camp is, however, rustic, rugged, communal, and gender-binary by nature. Our goal is for all campers to have a safe, positive, and adventurous week with us at Camp. In order to provide the best experience possible, please contact us prior to enrolling your child if you feel that any accommodation may be needed during their stay. We will work with you to determine if appropriate accommodations can be made within our current program, scope, and budget.

Many campers with attention and behavior challenges are able to thrive at camp, however it is recommended that parents reach out to us prior to registration to allow us to put the camper in the best situation possible for them.  At this time we do not have the resources to provide supervision for campers who need one-on-one attention or are unable to function well in a group setting.  All campers must be able to follow directions and exhibit safe and appropriate coping mechanisms when conflict arises.  If you would like to speak with someone about whether Camp Ondessonk is right for your child, contact camp or complete the Optional Camper Resource Request.  Someone will be in touch with you to discuss your camper’s needs.

Daily Schedule

7:45 AM – Breakfast

8:45 AM – Activities 1,2

12:00 PM – Lunch

12:45 PM – Siesta (Rest Hour)

1:35 PM – Activities 3,4

4:45 PM – Shower Time, Prayer Service, and Flag Ceremony

6:35 PM – Dinner

8:00 PM – Evening Activity

10:00 PM – Taps and Lights Out

(Activities include: Horseback Riding, Archery, Canoeing, Woodsmanship, Riflery, Hiking, and Crafts)

Who’s in charge and taking care of my kids?

All individuals working at Ondessonk choose the job because of a strong desire to serve others. The full-time staff consists of devoted individuals with extensive experience in fields related to youth development and outdoor leadership. The summer leadership staff is comprised of proven, sound decision makers who have completed college or are actively working towards that goal. The camper staff ratio is approximately 1:6. Staff training emphasizes child development, child protection, teaching skills, and responsible leadership. First aid and CPR training is provided. Depending on the position, staff members are certified by the Certified Horsemanship Association, National Rifle Association, American Red Cross, or other appropriate certifying bodies.

Dan King, Executive Director

Email: dan.king@ondessonk.com
Phone: 618.695.2489 x102
Hometown: Edwardsville, Illinois
Education: B.S. in Geography with an emphasis in Environmental Planning from Southern Illinois University – Carbondale

Dan’s history with Camp Ondessonk began in 1981, his first year as a camper. For the next several summers, he attended at least one session per summer. At the time, families lined up hours early at the beginning of each session to register campers for the most popular cabin units. Dan’s parents were always willing to oblige their two sons’ passion for Camp Ondessonk… The family car was often one of the first in line. Dan was an Ondessonk Counselor in Training in 1986. He spent the summers of 1987-1994 on the summer staff, which included co-leading the first ever Camp Ondessonk Horse Adventure trip. Following college, Dan gained program planning and administrative experience at several other camps as a wrangler, outdoor educator, Program Director, and Summer Camp Director. He returned to Ondessonk in 2006 and became Executive Director in 2008. Loved by campers and staff alike, Dan inspires with a smile and has a talent for bringing meaning to the Camp experience with his unique humor and devoted love of Ondessonk. Dan lives on site with his wife Suzy. Their children are Katie, Charlie, Brian, and Colleen, some of which are already experienced Ondessonk campers!

Parent Testimonials

Kenny Toohill – That sending my kids to Camp O was one of the best things I’ve ever done for them. That Camp O was one of the most positive influences in their life. That my children have developed strong lifelong friendships at Camp O. That Camp O has enriched my children’s spiritual lives.

Jennifer Drainer-Schauster – Camp Ondessonk give your child a place to grow in responsibility and independence in a safe and structured environment. It provides them with positive role models and allows them to try out new skills and broaden their horizons. As a successful, college educated, thirty-something mother of two I know that Camp Ondessonk played an important part in getting me where I am today. I will certainly send my children there when they are old enough.

Valerie Oestry – That my child loves Camp O so much she wants to live there, and that she has learned things she will never learn at school or at home, but only at Camp O – all positive, life-changing things! (Plus it is a week of no-worries parenting for me!) Seriously though, I am letting go of her a little bit for that week, but in a positive way where I know, she is growing so much!! It is worth every dollar!!!

Norbert Garvey – All 4 of my well adjusted, college educated children attended Camp Ondessonk, I feel they were motivated to succeed, in part, by the outdoor education received while at Camp Ondessonk.

Early Bird Pricing

Summer Camp Early Bird online enrollment begins October 1, 2021.

The Early Bird Super Session discount pricing may not be used with Tuition Assistance Programs or combined with Multi-Child or Multi-Session discounts. Early Bird Super Session discount pricing is only valid from Oct 1, 2021 – Feb. 1, 2022.  Not all camping sessions are included in the Early Bird Super Session discount program. Discounts MUST be paid in full by February 1st.  All balances NOT paid in full will automatically be changed to the Rate C amount on February 2nd. After sign up, participants within the Early Bird Super Session discount program will be required to pay the full upgrade cost if a different camping session or camping program is chosen which is not included in the Early Bird Super Session Discount pricing dates. 

Session 1: 6/5-6/11, COED Traditional Camp $519.00 (Savings $150)

Session 1: 6/5-6/11, Mini Camp Explorers $519.00 (Savings $150)

Session 3: 6/19-6/25, Camper vs. Wild  $539.00 (Savings $160)

Session 3: 6/19-6/25, Advanced Horse Camp $619.00 (Savings $140)

Session 4: 6/26-7/2, COED Traditional Camp $519.00 (Savings $150)

Session 4: 6/26-7/2, Mini Camp Explorers  $519.00 (Savings $150)

Session 4: 6/26-7/2, Shawnee Backpack & Zip Line Adv  $539.00 (Savings $160)

Session 5: 7/3-7/9, Girl’s Camp $519.00 (Savings $150)

Session 6: 7/10-7/16 COED Traditional Camp $519.00 (Savings $150)

Session 6: 7/10-7/16, Mini Camp Explorers $519.00 (Savings $150)

Session 6: 7/10-7/13, Mini Camp $304.00 (Savings $75)

Session 6: 7/10-7/16, Horse Adventure $619 (Savings $140)

Session 7: 7/17-7/23, Mini Camp Explorers $519.00 (Savings $150)

Session 7: 7/17-7/20, Mini Camp $304.00 (Savings $75)

Session 7: 7/17-7/23, Mammoth Adventure $599.00 (Savings $160)

Session 8:  7/24-7/30, Climbing Adventure $539.00 (Savings $160)

Session 9:  7/31-8/6, Advanced Mountain Bike $659.00 (Savings $160)

Pricing Structure

Camp Ondessonk is a self-sufficient organization that relies entirely on camper fees, grants, and contributions to operate.  Unlike many other camps, prices are all-inclusive; all kids have access to all activities included in their program with no additional fees for special crafts, horseback riding, or other programming.

What do the 3 prices mean?

Camp Ondessonk serves a wide variety of families with varying abilities to pay and thus has adopted a 3-level pricing structure for all camp sessions.  Please review the description and decide which of the 3 prices your family is able to pay for your child’s camp experience.  Rate A is the first and highest rate listed.  It is based on the actual cost of participation, which includes expenses for staff, maintenance, food, programs, supplies, and wear/tear depreciation.  Rate B is the second rate, which is partially subsidized.  It does not fully reflect the true cost of participation.  Rate C is the 3rd and lowest rate listed.  It is our standard subsidized fee.  It does not reflect the true cost of participation.  Which rate you pay is completely up to you.  The 3 rates are a voluntary honor system and in no way influences the experience that your child receives.

Is there a discount for multiple children or multiple sessions?

Yes!  Families pay the regular advertised price for the first session purchased.  Additional sessions purchased will result in a $45 discount for each additional session.  This applies to individual children enrolling in more than one camp session as well as sessions for multiple children within immediate families.

Ondessonk Tuition Payments

Log-in-to-Pay: You will be able to make your installment payments easily and securely using our new online registration system.  Log in and make a payment according to your schedule and budget.  All balances are due four weeks before campers arrival. 

2022 Online Registration Form

For more information about Scholarships & Tuition Assistance email scholarship@ondessonk.com or call 877.659.2267 Ext. 109.

How to apply for a Camp Ondessonk Scholarship

Camp Ondessonk Certifications

ACA: American Camp Association

Camp Ondessonk strives to meet the highest health and standards. We are proud to be accredited by the American Camp Association. This accreditation means that Ondessonk thoroughly reviews operational practices, seeks the wisdom of other camp professionals, and continually makes improvements to comply with more than 300 written standards. Only one-fourth of the camps in the US have earned this mark of distinction. An on-site health center is run by a registered nurse.

CHA: Certified Horsemanship Association

CHA has developed a highly lauded certification process for arena instructors, trail guides, instructors of riders with disabilities and seasonal equestrian staff. Instructors are evaluated in five areas: safety, horsemanship knowledge and ability, teaching technique, group control, and responsibility and professionalism. CHA’s certification process has been continually monitored and refined for more than 40 years, in order to meet the needs of a changing horse industry.

The purpose of CHA clinics is to evaluate the existing knowledge and skill level of the clinic participants and to grant certification at the level that each participant is able to demonstrate his/her proficiency throughout the clinic, not to teach participants how to become an instructor or trail guide. However, everyone is certain to learn a lot at the clinic through all the knowledge shared by both participants and clinic staff.

WFR: Wilderness First Responder

Camp Ondessonk’s Executive Director, Camping Services Director and Programming Director have all been Wilderness First Responder certified. The General Principles of Wilderness and Rescue Medicine with an emphasis on the prevention and identification of medical emergencies, appropriate technology, and risk management.

  • Patient assessment and emergency care including CPR, basic Life support, and the emergency treatment of anaphylaxis and asthma.
  • Environmental Medicine including altitude illness, hypothermia and heat illness, frostbite and cold injury; lightning, submersion, and environmental toxins.
  • Backcountry Medicine including the assessment and treatment of common medical problems.
  • Musculoskeletal Problems including unstable and stable injuries, overuse syndromes, and dislocations.
  • Wound Management including open fractures, lacerations, burns, and blisters.
  • Practical Skills including splinting, bandaging, litter packaging and medical kit preparation.
  • WMA Wilderness Protocols including wound cleaning and exploration, spine injury assessment, dislocation reduction, CPR in the remote setting, and Anaphylaxis and Asthma.

Camp Ondessonk Child Abuse Prevention

Camp Ondessonk is committed to collaborative efforts that can reduce the abuse of children. As an ACA-accredited camp, we work with licensing boards, regulatory bodies, and developers of camp standards to continue to seek ways to promote safety.  Camp Ondessonk is a strong advocate for child safety.   The following standard operating procedures are in place for the prevention of child abuse.

  • Diocese of Belleville Child Protection Policies requires that all of Camp Ondessonk’s year-round staff members, summer staff members, and summer volunteers undergo an initial background screening process that includes reference checks and a criminal background search.  Ondessonk’s initial screening process is reinforced with annual criminal background checks of all employees and volunteers.
  • All Camp Ondessonk year-round staff members, summer staff members, and summer volunteers must complete an Initial Child Protection Training class prior to working with children.  Annual refresher courses are required for individuals wishing to continue their employment or volunteer service.
  • Camp Ondessonk policy forbids staff members and volunteers from being alone with individual children or minors.  This policy is widely known at Camp Ondessonk as the “rule of three”.  Additional programmatic and scheduling checks and balances are utilized to further minimize the possibility that a single staff member or volunteer is ever placed in the role of a sole supervisor of children.  For example, two or more staff members are always assigned to perform unit supervision duties during the times when campers are allowed to return to their cabins.
  • It should also be noted that Camp Ondessonk established its own child protection policies and procedures prior to the formal establishment of Diocese of Belleville Child Protection Policies.  The original child protection training template was largely shaped by efforts, starting in the late 1980s, to become an American Camp Association accredited organization.
  • Camp Ondessonk achieved American Camp Association accreditation in 1996.  In maintaining this distinction, Ondessonk must demonstrate written and practical compliance to over 250 standards, many of which are industry best-practices for the prevention of child abuse.
  • Like all of the ministries and organizations currently operating throughout the diocese, Camp Ondessonk works closely with the Diocese of Belleville Office of Child Protection to maintain documented compliance of its child protection efforts.
  • Camp Ondessonk and Diocese of Belleville policy dictates that suspected child abuse cases be reported to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services Child Abuse Hotline.  In the event a child abuse complaint is made against an Ondessonk employee or volunteer, the Johnson County Sherriff’s Department would also be notified.  It is not our duty to substantiate allegations of abuse.  Our duty is to report.

Important Resources!

2022 Bunk 1 Parent Letter

2022 Bus Transportation Registration

2022 Camp Ondessonk Summer Camp Brochure (Coming soon!)

2022 Camp Ondessonk Summer Camp Print-and-Mail Registration Form (Coming soon!)

2022 Parent & Camper Handbook

2022 Parent Saturday Sleepover

2022 Themes (Coming soon!)

Camp Ondessonk Facility Map

Camp Ondessonk OPTIONAL Early Swim Assessment

Camper Rules

Optional Camper Resource Request Form 

Packing Lists


Camp Ondessonk
3760 Ondessonk Road
Ozark, IL 62972
Phone: 618.695.2489
Toll Free: 877.659.2267
Fax: 618.695.3593

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