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 experience that gives them a chance to be kids. Kesem, which means magic and the ability to change a life, sparks the passion that unites this mission. Camp Kesem allows college students to channel their passion for making a difference while developing critical leadership skills for long term impact. This one-week of camp is completely student run, with the assistance of trained YMCA staff, they work year-round to ensure funding and volunteers that create an unforgettable experience for campers.
Our specialty camps foster development, independence, and joy in all of the children that attend. Children learn about, and come to appreciate, the similarities and differences in one another – and friendships flourish.
Here at YMCA Camp Ockanickon, we are committed to being a camp for all, a place that relieves burden, and a cause that improves our community because every child deserves the camp experience.
Outdoor Center Director
YMCA Camp Ockanickon, Inc.
- Together we can do more! All of these programs are fully or partially funded through YMCA Camp Ockanickon’s Annual Campaign. Please help us ensure that everyone, regardless of means, can experience the magic of camp! Donate Here.