by Susan Miller, Director of Marketing/Communications

Whenever I walk through camp talking to kids or visiting camper families, I am struck by the stories about camp’s amazing impact. “I wish everyone knew about the benefits of spending time with your kids here,” said a dad named Ed on a recent Saturday afternoon. When I caught up with him, he was playing a low-key game of basketball with his son, Jake, at Father/Child Weekend. They had already done archery and some challenge course activities. It was a weekend of no cellphones, no TV, no chores, no distractions – just beautiful time spent together, playing, exploring, taking on challenges and then spending quiet time at a camp fire under a blanket of stars before retiring to a rustic cabin for well-earned sleep. Another dad was there with his 2 daughters, taking a break before the next round of activities. “They’re exhausted, but they’re so happy,” he told me with a smile.

This past summer, one of our campers was a scholarship recipient from an organization in Atlantic City. We partner with SCOPE though the New York Avenue School in Atlantic City and each year select several recipients to attend sleepaway camp at no cost. Kamyrah attended Camp Matollionequay for a session this summer, and was awarded the Green Feather (the highest honor) because of her positive attitude. Even though a sleepaway camp experience in the woods was well out of her comfort zone, Kamyrah made friends, tried every activity and showed unwavering respect to her counselors and fellow campers. She wrote this letter to the camp director at the end of her stay: “Thank you for the free scholarship to Camp Matollionequay. I really had an awesome time here at camp. Also, I am so grateful. You guys made this summer even better. THANKS!” It’s so rewarding to know that lives are being touched here at YMCA Camp Ockanickon, Inc.

Other scholarship recipients, selected for us by LUCY Outreach in Camden, came close to not making it to camp this summer. Because of extremely difficult family challenges, the children selected were not there at the appointed time to leave for camp. When they were eventually tracked down by the LUCY staff, they had no clean clothing, luggage or toiletries. After a hurried trip to Target, the kids were outfitted with what they needed. Here’s how a LUCY representative tells the rest of the story: “They got to camp by 9 or 10 pm with a very helpful crew waiting to welcome them. The goodbye pictures and relationships they built made it all worthwhile. Ockanickon is changing lives.” So many good people working hard to make a difference in the lives of deserving children. 

Check out this story about how a Y camp experience changed the life of a boy from the Bronx. He’s now a police officer and he credits his camp experience with his success.

Stay tuned to this blog for more stories about the impact of camp. There are as many stories as there are days of the year – even more!