Frequently Asked Questions

Thank you for your interest in Damascus

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I be sure that my child will be safe on retreat or at camp at Damascus?


There is no more pressing question that parents could ask than for the assurance of their child’s safety at camp.  We hold every child’s physical, emotional, and spiritual safety as our highest priority.  As a result, we are committed to partnering with families in providing the same degree of care that you show at home in your children’s time away.  In order to do this effectively, we have adopted policies around providing a safe environment to which we hold every staff member personally responsible.

Organizational policies and procedures have been crafted through careful consultation with four key organizations:
1. The policies and procedures, particularly safe environment policies of our local diocese.
2. The best practices advised by the American Camping Association.
3. The policies and procedures of the Association of Challenge Course Technology (ACCT).
4. The Redwoods Group, our insurer and partner in risk assessment and safety implementation and training.

Implementation of all policies and procedures is made possible by thorough individual staff oversight and management, a strict adherence to proper training, certification and licensing, and the intentional establishment of an organizational culture of safety and accountability.  Damascus maintains a two-deep strategy with all interactions with minors and maintains head counselor positions who specifically monitor camper/counselor interactions. In addition to enforcing safe environment policies based on those of the Catholic Diocese of Columbus Ohio, all missionaries and staff receive additional training beyond what would be offered in any typical parish or school environment.  They are trained in the observance and implementation of Damascus policies from the day of their application through their interview weekend, 10 days of dedicated staff training prior to camp, and through ongoing pastoral and activity leadership supervision.

As an organization with programs that emphasize high adventure activities, we have a policy of zero tolerance when it comes to risk in our facilities, equipment, and operation. Every one of our adventure activities undergoes annual third party inspection or recertification and all of our staff are trained by a certification body approved by the ACCT, or American Red Cross in the case of lifeguards. Their training and certification is kept current and tested regularly.

Additionally, Damascus holds an organizational liability policy to specially address not only accidents and injuries, but also sexual abuse by both staff members and other campers.

A full copy of our policy manual, notably, policy 100.63, on risk management is available here.  All of our safe environment training is recorded and available upon request.

Thank you for the trust that you place in us.

I'm confused- is Damascus the same as Catholic Youth Summer Camp?

Damascus is the organization that runs Catholic Youth Summer Camp, and now does much more! CYSC was founded in 2001, and after outgrowing local sites acquired a campus in Centerburg, OH that opened in 2016. At that time that Damascus was established as a missionary organization based at the campus. Now Damascus is active in multiple states and operates regional camps in Wisconsin and Michigan (CYSC Northwoods and CYSC Great Lakes) in addition to CYSC Main Campus and the other retreats and missional activities that take place at the Ohio campus.

How can I update my credit card or payment information for my donation?

If your donation is in support of a missionary, please email

If your donation is in support of another aspect of our mission, please contact

Thank you!

Who runs the Damascus retreats?

Every retreat at Damascus is led by members of our Damascus missionary formation program.  Each of these young adults has been interviewed and trained, received all appropriate certifications through Protecting God’s Children and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, and has received industry appropriate certification in leadership of all high adventure activities and events.

How do I become a missionary at Damascus?

Visit the missionary page for more information about our missionary program!

Does Damascus accommodate vegetarian or special dietary needs?

Damascus is a nut-free kitchen, and we are able accommodate dairy-free, gluten-free, and vegetarian diets if this information is submitted with your registration prior to the retreat. For other needs (e.g. egg, soy) please email to inquire about the menu and potential needs for supplementary food.

What do I pack for a retreat at Damascus?
  • Sleeping bag or bed linens and blankets (linens are NOT provided)
  • Pillow
  • Seasonal clothing
  • 1 lightweight rain jacket or poncho
  • 2 pairs of shoes, including closed-toed shoes for activities
  • Personal hygiene items and bath towel
  • Money for the gift shop and vending machines (optional)
  • Bible and journal (optional)

Click below to download a more detailed packing list for school/parish retreats.
Download Packing List

For information specific to your retreat, please visit the FAQ section for each retreat:

Winter Camp

Men’s and Women’s Retreats

School/Parish Retreats

Empower Conference