Recently I was quoted in an article about Frost Valley YMCA in Hudson Valley Magazine's 2011 Summer Programs issue. Here you go!
Frost Valley YMCA
Summer sleep-away camp holds a special place in the hearts and imaginations of many Americans. Even those who never attended have surely gotten the gist from movies like The Parent Trap, Camp Nowhere, or Little Darlings. In between arts and crafts and toasting marshmallows, there’s a lot of growing up that happens at summer camp, while the hijinks and heartbreaks of bunk wars and first crushes make for one-of-a-kind memories. Deep in the heart of the Catskills, Frost Valley YMCA has been providing these experiences to kids from the tristate area and abroad for more than 100 years.
As a YMCA camp, Frost Valley is based on shared principles of caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility, in addition to abiding by its own credo of community, diversity, inclusiveness, and stewardship. According to Director of Camping Services Dan Weir, besides hosting children from various socioeconomic, cultural, and educational backgrounds, the camp accepts those with developmental and learning disabilities, and with high-maintenance medical conditions. “We accept all kids,” he says, “and that creates a really nice environment.”
Roughly 2,300 kids passed through a Frost Valley summer program last year. Sessions offered include a girls-only equestrian camp, a residential farm camp, and a teen adventure program. The sleep-away camp — which entails separate programs for grades two through seven and grades eight through 10 — runs in four two-week sessions. “It can take several days to get adjusted, so two weeks allows three to five days to settle in and then the rest of the time just flies by,” says Weir. Despite the large number of campers, Frost Valley provides an intimate experience by separating kids into “villages” — communities of cabins which each house eight to 10 children and two counselors. “The cabin counselors do everything with the kids,” says Weir. “They are the mother, father, caretaker, best friend. This structure gives camp a family feel, and also makes sure the campers are being supervised adequately.”
Frost Valley offers a wide variety of activities, including animal-interaction lessons, trail building, kayaking, swimming, hiking, and other sports. “We have something for every type of child,” says Weir, noting that there are also special music or theater endeavors. “The power of the residential camp experience is that you get to be what you want to be. You may feel pigeonholed at home, but you can start from scratch at camp.”
More than 70 percent of both staff and campers return to Frost Valley year after year, a statistic Weir happily touts. “There are amazing social skills that happen here. Kids make really strong, lifelong friendships,” Weir says. And he surely knows what he’s talking about. After all, he says, “I met my wife here.”