YMCA Camp Ockanickon recently welcomed Carol Yard as the organization’s new Outdoor Center Director. She comes to the Medford camp from Asheville, NC, where she worked as the Program Director for YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly. “I’ve been working and learning and growing in the outdoor education field for most of the last 20 years or so,” said Carol, who will be residing on the camp property. “I got involved with the YMCA through working at the Seattle Y’s BOLD & GOLD (Boys and Girls Outdoor Leadership Development) wilderness trips program.”
In her previous position, Carol oversaw programming, on and off-site, including the challenge course, environmental education, BOLD & GOLD, arts and crafts, and other outdoor activities such as mountain biking and archery. She holds a master’s degree in Experiential Education/Camping and Outdoor Leadership from Wheaton College, and a bachelor’s degree in Biology from Grove City College.
“At Ockanickon, I’ll be working with guest groups and ensuring that their time here is the best possible experience it can be, and I’ll be overseeing our BOLD & GOLD program,” she said. “I’m looking forward to getting to know the Ockanickon staff who work together to make experiences amazing. One of the joys in previous jobs has been to mentor staff and see them really grow and learn from taking on leadership of groups and reflecting on those experiences. I expect there will be opportunities for that here as well. I’m also looking forward to getting to know the groups who come and learning about their visions and what drives them.”
Carol said she was particularly excited to see that Ockanickon has stables and offers horseback riding at summer camp and during certain family camp weekends. “It takes me back to my days as a camper, to work just down the road from the stables and to see the horses and ponies strolling the trails with happy campers on their backs.”
Her passion for the outdoors isn’t limited to her job. “When I’m not working, my perfect getaway is to take my kayak out to the ocean bays. Getting on the water just gives me a sense of calm and perspective that I can’t achieve in other ways. I’m also excited to explore our own backyard and get on the lakes right here on camp.”
She’s also well-traveled. “I’ve been really fortunate to have lived, worked, and traveled in many different parts of the world,” Carol said. “I have one more state (Alaska) and one more continent (Antarctica) to get to on my bucket list.
Now that’s she settling in at camp, she’s in the market for a rescue dog. “I’ve been scouring the pet adoption websites every day looking for my new furry canine companion,” she said. “I love dogs – all sizes, all breeds. Mine will most likely be on the larger side.”
Greg Keresztury, camp’s Director of Operations, said that Carol brings a diversity of experience to the 112-year-old organization. “We are excited about her background and potential to help us continue to innovate moving forward,” he said. “Carol’s been involved with BOLD & GOLD, a national YMCA teen outdoor leadership program, since its early years, she has managed challenge courses, and worked at other YMCAs that provide impactful programs. We’re excited for her to bring her knowledge and skillset to Ockanickon, and for her to continue to help us move forward as we seek to grow and increase our impact within the Tristate region.”
Carol Yard, YMCA Camp Ockanickon’s new well-traveled Outdoor Center Director, pictured during a recent trip to Patagonia.