YMCA Camp Ockanickon
Camp Matollionequay
& Lake Stockwell

Posts made in August, 2015

End of Another Summer

Posted by on Aug 26, 2015

Last week marked the end of our overnight camps for the summer, while this is the last week for Lake Stockwell Day Camp. Over the course of the summer, thousands of campers came to our camps and we can say it was an eventful summer! In late June, we were hit by that massive storm and the camps came together wherein nearly one hundred staff members and volunteers came to help with the massive cleanup. We had old staff, returning staff, first year staff, and volunteers arrived to all help get camp ready for the next day. The overnight camps did not miss a beat by having a slumber party that night in their dining halls.  The boy’s overnight camp, Ockanickon, and the girl’s overnight camp, Matollionequay each had a great summer! During Session 2, they held their 1st Annual Ancient Olympic Games where the four teams: Athena, Artemis, Poseidon and Apollo, competed to win. A few days later, the overnight camps celebrated July 4th by having their own festival and their own private fireworks show. Session 3 brought about the 2nd Annual Matolly vs Ocky special event. Then, in Session 4, Ocky and Matolly had their annual legendary Color Wars special event. After an intense competition there could only be one victor and… It was a great summer for the overnight camps, and it was also an eventful summer for the day camp. This year, Lake Stockwell celebrated their 25th anniversary since its opening in 1990. On top of that, they had one of their biggest summers ever by having nearly 500 campers in one session! They also continued to have their competition weeks throughout the summer. In Session 3, Gryffindor triumphed over Slytherin, Hufflepuff, and Ravenclaw during Harry Potter week. In Session 5, England pulled ahead over U.S.A., Spain, and Ireland in Olympic Week. Lastly in Session 8, Stockwell had its own Color Wars which lasted an entire week. Between the four teams, Team Red beat the three other teams: Blue, Yellow, and Green. Throughout the summer, we worked to instill our four core values of honesty, caring, respect and responsibility. We hope our campers and counselors take all the lessons they learned and use them the rest of their lives! We also wanted to take the chance to thank all of counselors for working at camp this summer. Each year, our staff arrive to maintain the culture that camp creates through their hard work, dedication, and enthusiasm. We would also like to thank the campers, the camp families and all of our donors for making this summer possible. Without the continuous support of our staff and the community, YMCA Camp Ockanickon, Inc. would not have the chance to instill the four core values and create lifelong memories and friends among our campers and counselors. We hope to see you throughout the year at our various events,...

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A Camp for All

Posted by on Aug 19, 2015

Today, more than ever, our kids and families rely on community organizations like the Y. At the Y, we are a culture of caring, empathy, respect, and empowerment. We welcome everyone, including campers with intellectual and developmental disabilities, visual impairments, and children infected or affected by disease. We’re committed to providing children a place where healthy meals, attentive role models, and quality activities promote learning and growth. Differing abilities, disease, and loss can all place economic and social strains on children and their families. Children from families living with these circumstances often deal with stress, reduced time with caregivers, stigma, and discrimination. Here at YMCA Camp Ockanickon, each August, we put mission into action as we provide a variety of special populations programs to children in need, all of which are completely free to the campers and their families. YMCA Camp Ockanickon is a place where children struggling with personal circumstance can have a safe space and enjoy the thrills of camp. Since 1991, YMCA Camp Ockanickon has operated specialty camps for youth. With the founding of Camp Bright Feathers, a week-long camp experience for children infected or affected by HIV/AIDS, we solidified our commitment to improving our community. This year alone, over 95 Camp Bright Feathers campers immerse themselves in a place surrounded by value-driven adults, remain secure in sustenance, and are free to learn, grow, and thrive. In partnership with the Little Rock Foundation, Camp Little Rock was founded in 2001 to provide a week of camp to children who are blind or visually impaired. With a mission to give children a true sense of independence and discovery, the story of Camp Little Rock began with Rocco Fiorentino, a remarkable person with amazing musical talent. When Rocco wanted to go to summer camp as a child, he was turned down by many as too great a liability risk. That’s when his parents, already dedicated to the formation of their foundation to aid children with visual impairments, partnered with YMCA Camp Ockanickon to found Camp Little Rock. Now, each summer, 25 children, supported by over 30 volunteers, experience activities that strengthen character and build tenacity. Activities such as horseback riding, dancing, swimming, boating, fishing, and more, all create memories that will last a lifetime. In 2005, YMCA Camp Ockanickon partnered with the Moorestown Visiting Nurses Association to create Camp Firefly, a bereavement camp for children who have lost a parent, sibling, or other special someone through death. Camp Firefly provides a special place to share feelings, to make new friends, and to find relief from grief. Throughout the camp weekend, activities designed to help ease grief are combined with traditional fun camp experiences such as swimming, canoeing, cookouts, and crafts. Recently, in 2013, the Y joined forces with Camp Kesem, whose main mission is to provide kids whose parents have or have had cancer with a summer camp...

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Alumni Tales Vol. I

Posted by on Aug 12, 2015

Alumni Tales is blog segment where alumni write in to us to tell us stories about their time at camp, be it a favorite memory, or about how camp changed during their time here, and how camp changed them! This first volume is written by a Lake Stockwell’s alumni Chris Gallagher! My first year at Lake Stockwell Day Camp was way back in 1993. Back then there were only six tribes: Teepee, Hawkeye, Tonkowas, Conchise, Powhatan, and Top Totem. My first summer on staff at camp was back in 2004. Camp had grown over the years and all of original tribe names had been retired, except for Powhatan. At that point there were eight tribes: Shawnee, Huron, Cherokee, Iroquois, Seneca, Powhatan, Algonquin, and Explorers. There were also probably only forty staff members working at Stockwell. That summer the dams broke and we were without the lakes for a few summers. At the time, the number of groups had to be decreased based on enrollment and there were less staff members, but when the lakes came back, the enrollment increased, and by my last summer in 2010, there were probably fifty-sixty staff members working at camp and we were back up to eight tribes. Camp changed in many more ways than just its size during my seven summers working there and even more over the seventeen years of being a camper and counselor. When the dams broke, we didn’t have lakes or boating. Because of this we added activities like photography, disc golf, ceramics, and air riflery. When I left, the lakes were back and we still had ceramics and air riflery. During that time without the lakes, we swam in a pool in the parking lot while we played volleyball on the other side of that very same parking lot. Another change was that the Explorers program was started when I was a CIT and I’m pretty sure there were like eight kids in the first group. Now I hear there are three Explorers groups and over seventy campers in the program. During my time at camp, there are countless things I learned as a camper and as a staff member, but I will just mention a few things. I learned how to swim at camp and I will always remember that Fish video we watched in the Counselor in Training (CIT) Program. That video taught me to choose my attitude and that the attitude we choose can really affect our work and how we treat others. I learned how impressionable children are and the importance of being a professional role model. To be a professional role model you need to lead by example and hold yourself to the highest standard. The campers look up to you and will mimic your actions. Lastly, I forget who it was who said it but it is still true to this day, but whoever...

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The Rangers

Posted by on Aug 5, 2015

The Ranger Program is a unique leadership adventure program that both overnight camps host. This program does not start off with the campers’ arrival to camp, it starts with weeks of training before the summer even begins. All of the ranger leaders arrive at camp two weeks before the campers and undergo a series of trainings and certifications. They receive such trainings as wilderness first aid, back country skills, boating, CPR, AED, and lifeguarding. They even learn bivouac skills which includes learning how to build a fire and a shelter quickly. The Rocks and Rafts leaders also receive an additional week of training in order to become challenge course certified!  After the campers arrive and meet their counselors, they jump into their training. They learn about the various tools they will be using like how to use their stove, how to seal a dry bag, and how to set up their tent. They also receive paddling training and participate in teambuilding activities. Lastly, they go on a mock hike and the day before they leave for their adventure, they prep all of the meals they will be taking with them. Here are the two different Ranger programs that campers embark on:   Boots and Boats This trip is not co-ed and the different groups start out on separate ends of the trip. The girls are bussed to Kittatinny Access on the Appalachian Trail where they hike to Sunrise Mountain, the second highest point in New Jersey. Meanwhile, the boys are bussed to the access point in Matamoras, Pennsylvania, wherein they ride down the class two rapids to Kittatinny Access. It is about midway through the trip that the groups meet and change places. Now the boys are hiking up Sunrise Mountain while the girls are white water rafting! After both groups are done, they are bussed back to camp. An important aspect of this trip is that everyone works hard to push themselves to accomplishing a goal. Rocks and Rafts This trip is co-ed and the group is bussed to Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania where they make their way through class two white water rapids for a few days. From there, they are bussed to Tohickon Valley where they set up camp in Ralph Stover State Park. While there, they rock climb in High Rocks Park and after a few days, they are bussed back to camp. The aim of this trip is to create a sense of wonder and to push campers outside of their comfort zones. Once the groups get back to camp, there is the Ranger Barbeque where the groups meet up, eat and share stories. Later on, there is the Eagle Feather Ceremony where everyone receives a feather for something they did on the trip. From there, the different groups have different awards. The Rocks and Rafts trip chooses one camper who receives The Tomahawk, which is...

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