Shop at Amazon and support our camp!

Posted by on Nov 7, 2016

It’s holiday shopping time! If you buy your gifts through Amazon, use this link and you’ll help your favorite camp at the same time! https://smile.amazon.com/ch/21-0635054. Our Scholarship Fund helps send deserving kids to camp, regardless of their family’s ability to pay. It’s a good deal for everyone!

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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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Learn to Dance at Camp!

Posted by on Aug 31, 2016

Learn to Dance at Camp!

The talented Rancocas Valley Dance Team will host a free dance clinic on Sept. 10 from 1 to 4 p.m. Kids in grades K-8 are invited to spend the afternoon learning some basic moves. Parents are then invited to come from 4-4:30 p.m. to watch their children perform what they learned. A great opportunity to have some fun! Register by emailing info@ycamp.org. (Please provide the number and age of participants in the email.)

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Lessons Learned From Camp

Posted by on Aug 1, 2016

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Matt Geurtsen and I am the trips coordinator (among other things!) here at camp. However, I will only be holding that title for a little bit longer as I will be attending George Mason University in the Fall to fill my brain with economics and data analytics. It was a difficult decision for me to make as I have absolutely loved the last six years that I have spent at camp. As I reflect back on my time here, I wanted to share what I consider to be the six most important lessons that I have learned. You will never find a better group of friends Over the last few years I have been blessed with amazing coworkers. There is something about being in a camp setting that just makes people bond on a completely different level compared to other friendships. Maybe it has something to do with going through a crazy experience together or perhaps it’s that you are always with each other and as such are always there for each other. Regardless, camp has taught me how to truly value a friendship and the caliber of character I need from my friends. As I move on, my future friends will have a high bar set for them from all of my friends here at camp. Being able to hold your friendships to the standard of our values goes a long way. “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Camp gives you a place where everyone wants to go far together. Choose your attitude and your work ethic At camp, we say this all the time. Most of the things that happen to us on a daily basis are out of our control. It’s a cold hard fact. However, we are always in control of our attitudes and our work ethic. No one gets to dictate how you will handle difficult news but you. No one gets to tell you how much effort you will put into your day to day life. Only you can decide that for yourself. Once we begin to actively choose a positive mental attitude in the face of adversity and then pair that with an unbeatable work ethic, we become better people. EVERYONE has an invisible backpack There is a term we use at camp a lot called the invisible backpack. It refers to the fact that most of us walk around in our day to day lives carrying this invisible baggage. Most of the time, we will never know what someone else is going through unless we take the time to help make their backpack a little lighter. This is the key difference between empathy and sympathy. We can all be sympathetic towards someone going through a rough time. However, true help...

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Happy to be the Volunteer in Chief!

Posted by on Jul 13, 2016

by David Herron Volunteer-in-chief (and board president) YMCA Camp Ockanickon, Inc.   Every time I meet someone from the YMCA and they learn that I am a volunteer, they say, “Thank you for volunteering.” And every time I hear that, it strikes me as an odd thing to say. The truth of the matter is that I think I should be thanking them for the opportunity to be a YMCA volunteer.   Being a volunteer at Camp Ockanickon means to me that I can have a positive impact on the lives of the boys and girls that attend camp and our outdoor programs. As a Board member, we may not have direct contact with the kids at camp, but we are always aware that our decisions directly or indirectly affect our campers. We are responsible for ensuring that the camp stays financially strong so we can continue to provide all of the wonderful programs that kids enjoy throughout the summer.   Every summer, there are boys and girls coming to camp for the first time. When they arrive, they may be a bit shy and unsure of what to expect. But soon, they will be meeting other boys and girls, making new friends. Some of these friendships can last a lifetime.    Some kids will be reluctant to go swimming or to go diving in a lake. They are used to neighborhood pools where the water is clear and they can see all the way to the bottom. At Camp Ockanickon, Camp Matollionequay and Lake Stockwell Day Camp, swim instructors work with the campers to teach them water safety and to help them get over any fears they may have about swimming in a lake. You can see the child’s sense of pride when he/she has overcome their fear and takes their first plunge into the lake.   There are many activities that the campers will enjoy, some will experience these for the first time. Archery and the ropes course are a couple that come to mind. These boys and girls are learning that there are exciting new adventures for them. All of which can be experienced without a computer! Camp is a great way to disconnect from the internet and reconnect with nature and the environment.   The first-timer comes to camp feeling a bit shy and perhaps a bit awkward. But that same child will leave with new friends, a greater sense of self-confidence, pride in their accomplishments and a realization that a great life exists beyond the internet.   I know all this because I was that kid. And now I am that volunteer. Although I don’t get to directly impact a child’s life, I know, as a volunteer I am having a positive impact. And so I say, “thank you” for the opportunity to volunteer for a great place like YMCA Camp Ockanickon....

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