YMCA Camp Ockanickon
Camp Matollionequay
& Lake Stockwell

Posts made in September, 2016

This is why I love camp – and why you should, too!

Posted by on Sep 29, 2016

This is why I love camp – and why you should, too!

Hello! I’m Lynne Stanwood-Leadbeater; I am on the Board of Directors and I chair the Financial Development Committee at YMCA Camp Ockanickon, Inc. It is a privilege to be a volunteer for Camp Ockanickon, because I feel strongly about the importance of giving back to an organization that gave so much to me and four generations of my family. In 1937, the inaugural year of our girl’s camp, Camp Matollionequay, my grandmother, Lillie Brown, was a counselor here. Since then, my father and later my mother, my uncles, my brother and I, all my cousins, and all of our children have attended camp and benefitted from many of the programs here. My camp family does not end with just my relatives. Most of my parents’ and my friendships that still exist today began here at Ockanickon. I even met my husband here! So, why did our family keep returning year after year for almost 80 years? Well, camp is fun. And we learned stuff! We learned how to swim, paddle a canoe, build a fire, make a lanyard. And while we were doing all those fun things, we were also strengthening our characters, gaining independence, overcoming shyness, learning to live with others, meeting people from all walks of life, and building lifelong friendships. In the summer of 1955, my father was 15 years old and was a Relief Counselor (what we might now call an Assistant Counselor) here at Camp Ockanickon. He was called home because his father passed away unexpectedly. After a few days, when the funeral was over, he chose to return to camp to help him grieve his loss. He recalled to me that it was the right thing to do, that his Village Chief, Dave Mitchell, and all his camp friends, helped him through his difficult time.  When I was a painfully shy 7-year-old, my folks sent me to Matollionequay to help teach me how to not be so afraid of everything. And when my sister-in-law asked my advice on how to give her daughter confidence in a house full of brothers, the first thing I said was “send her to camp.” My niece just completed her fourth summer at Matollionequay and is as confident as can be (and a green feather camper too!). This camp was and still is our prescription for normalcy, safety, acceptance, and confidence, and the experiences we had here enhanced our lives in a profound way. So why is my YMCA Camp Ockanickon story relevant? Because there are so many children, teens, and families right here in our community and beyond who would love to have these same experiences, who NEED them and DESERVE them, but cannot because they can’t afford to do so. Therefore, it is our goal to raise $293,000 this year to ensure that everyone, regardless of means, can experience the magic of camp through scholarships, financial...

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Our CEO visits Medford Sunrise Rotary

Posted by on Sep 20, 2016

Our CEO, Mark Dibble, was recently the featured speaker at the Sept. 7 breakfast meeting of the Medford Sunrise Rotary. Mark talked about how our 110-year-old organization has evolved over the years into so much more than a summer camp. In addition to the summer camp programs – Ockanickon, the boys overnight camp, Matollionequay, the girls overnight camp and Lake Stockwell, the co-ed day camp – Mark explained how camp also runs School’s Out, a before- and after-school care program provided on-site at several local school, and the Outdoor Center, which provides environmental education, school trips, retreats, teambuilding, hiking, swimming, boating, archery and a host of other year-round activities. Ockanickon, he explained, also holds family-focused programs and community events throughout the year, including various family camp weekends, Breakfast with Santa, Coach Bingo and memberships for year-round hiking, biking, swimming and boating. And he boasted that our 800-acre property features an observatory for night-sky gazing and a state-of-the-art ropes course and climbing wall, among other amenities. Mark talked about the specialty camps run annually by YMCA Camp Ockanickon, Inc., including Camp Bright Feathers (for children infected or affected by HIV/AIDS), Camp Little Rock (for children who are blind or visually impaired), Camp Kesem (for children whose parents have or have had cancer) and Camp Firefly (a bereavement camp for children who have lost a loved one). He also talked about the recently developed “Strategic Roadmap,” which will help camp better serve the community at large, addressing issues such as youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. “The aim is to promote community by strengthening families and improving the health and well-being of children and teens,” he said.   Mark said that some of the issues that Ockanickon is committed to addressing through its strategic plan are summer learning loss, the childhood obesity epidemic, drug awareness and prevention, and serving diverse populations. “Besides providing a safe place for kids, we’re trying to serve the community in any way we can,” he told the Rotarians. Our chief executive officer, who started with the camp in the spring of 2015, said that Ockanickon recently implemented the YMCA organization’s HEPA (Healthy Eating and Physical Activity) standards, by cutting out sugary drinks and fried foods, providing healthier snack options, limiting screen time and promoting physical activities at both the summer camps and the School’s Out programs run by camp. “It’s all about moderation,” he said. He talked about how Ockanickon is also planning to expand programs aimed at the teenage population, offering relevant activities and events in an effort to give young people worthwhile things to do. “Families just have trouble being families these days, so we’re expanding our programs to help teens.” “These are exciting times at camp,” he added. “We’re on the tipping point of doing a lot of good things for the community.” The camp, he said, is also committed to serving...

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