Citing $100 Million Loss During Pandemic, YMCA To Sell Upstate NY Sleepaway Camp Site


A beloved upstate camp operated by the YMCA of Higher New York for greater than a century will probably be offered off because the non-profit struggles with staggering income losses in the course of the pandemic.

The non-profit stated in a press release Friday it’s misplaced $100 million in the course of the pandemic as programming income has declined dramatically, necessitating the sale of its camp facility—which incorporates Camp Talcott and the Greenkill Retreat Heart—within the city of Huguenot in Orange County. The YMCA of Higher New York is asking $5 million for the parcel, and is “evaluating all provides” together with a rumored $4.6 million provide from a non-public camp operator.

“We actually want circumstances had been completely different, however sadly, the pandemic has had a devastating impression on the Y. We’ve needed to make a number of troublesome and painful choices over the previous yr,” together with layoffs of hundreds of staffers, stated YMCA spokesperson Erik Opsal in an e-mail Friday.

The YMCA Camp Talcott has hosted about 1,400 youngsters every summer season for sleepaway camp, in addition to a day camp operation—one board member, John Block, estimated at the least 100,000 New York Metropolis youngsters have participated within the camp over its 102-year historical past.

Block and a gaggle of board members, camp alumni and volunteers are actually frantically making an attempt to fundraise the tens of millions needed to purchase the camp, although a GoFundMe had raised lower than $20,000 by Friday afternoon.

“They’ve given us—the ragtag group of board members and alumni—till at present, to match the provide, and clearly that is an unrealistic timeframe for us,” Block stated. “In any occasion, we’re on the lookout for angels to companion with, to maintain camp alive and to maintain the camp mission alive.”

Whereas there are lots of sleepover camps within the tri-state space, the YMCA camp is uniquely accessible, with most campers receiving scholarships to attend, stated board member Emily Van Ingen.

“We from the early days have actually made a aware effort to draw and convey younger folks from New York Metropolis who wouldn’t in any other case essentially have an out of doors expertise, stated Van Ingen, who grew up attending the camp as a camper and counselor, and now sends her personal youngster to the camp.

“Previous to COVID once we had been working, about 80% of our campers obtained some sort of scholarship, which is clearly a big quantity. For prosperous households there are many camp choices—you can go on a web site and see all types of lovely services and have a lot of selection,” Van Ingen stated. “However while you’re a teen—notably a teen of coloration from New York Metropolis with restricted means —you do not have the identical alternatives and the identical selections, and our camp offered that for younger folks.”

A smiling young camper, Cate Jennings, wearing a tie-dye tshirt at the YMCA sleepaway camp in Orange County.


Emily Van Ingen’s daughter Cate Jennings has carried on the household custom of attending YMCA camp in Orange County.

Emily Van Ingen handout

“It is simply all the time been this place that has welcomed a various group of younger folks from all types of financial backgrounds and all elements of town,” Van Ingen added.

One other board member stated the camp was an equalizer for younger youngsters to mingle throughout socioeconomic traces, and supplied them alternatives to have interaction with societal points.

“If you’re taken with environmental points, then getting youngsters in contact with nature makes a variety of sense. For those who’re taken with social points, then getting youngsters from completely different backgrounds collectively in a spot the place you’ve got taken away all the form of superficial conflicts—all people’s sporting the identical camp t shirt, and consuming the identical meals and sleeping in the identical place and doing the identical issues—I believe it is an unimaginable form of social experiment,” stated board member Josh Heitler, and identified the camp serves youngsters from the very communities which have suffered essentially the most losses from the pandemic. “Given what’s occurred during the last yr with COVID, and the way it’s simply sadly devastated sure communities, it appears now greater than ever, that it could be vital,” Heitler stated. “The aim of this camp wants is required greater than ever.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo lately introduced that the state’s camps can start operation in June this yr.

The camp’s legacy is huge and beloved, the YMCA consultant acknowledged. “We all know how a lot our sleepaway camp has meant to generations of campers and employees. Our camps have offered priceless and irreplaceable reminiscences, friendships, and experiences to numerous kids who wouldn’t in any other case have had entry to such a chance,” Opsal stated, and added that the YMCA is exploring methods to make use of its endowment to ship New York Metropolis campers to different neighboring and companion Y camps outdoors the Orange County facility.