Life is stressful. Fortunately, there is serenity at camp!

By | 2018-04-17T16:56:26+00:00 April 17th, 2018|

by Susan Miller, Director of Marketing/Communications Let's face it, most of us spend a lot of time on overload! The evening news can be maddening, our electronic devices can be distracting and our daily to-do list is typically longer than the hours we have to accomplish it. Add to that family, work, social and financial tensions - and day-to-day life can feel like a pressure cooker. Heck, even a job at camp can be daunting and demanding. When life's stressors start to pile up, I try to take a step back, take a deep breath and find a way to [...]

My bus route quest …. finding a way to bring kids to camp!

By | 2018-04-10T12:43:15+00:00 April 10th, 2018|

by Cate Wobbe, Assistant Director, Lake Stockwell Day Camp When Greg Keresztury, our Director of Operations, told me that I needed to add two new bus routes for Lake Stockwell Day Camp this year, it seemed a daunting task, to say the least.  The goal of adding the routes made sense, as we wanted to provide easier access to camp for families throughout Burlington and Camden counties.  However, I had no idea where to begin. What towns needed more stops? What if I can’t get buses to camp on time? What locations would make a good bus stops? Where the [...]

All hands on deck for camp clean-up!

By | 2018-03-30T11:47:28+00:00 March 30th, 2018|

by Susan Miller, Director of Marketing/Communications The recent nasty Nor'easters certainly put a hurtin' on our 800 acres of pine forest here at camp. We had more downed trees than we could count; many of them blocking trails or leaning precariously on structures. Our trusty maintenance staff was  doing its best to get ahead of the mess, but help was certainly needed. So on Thursday, March 29, nearly all full-time camp staffers - and a bunch of kind-hearted volunteers and seasonal workers - spent most of the day clearing debris, raking leaves and sweeping and dusting from a pretty messy [...]

Douglass Lodge gets a Facelift!

By | 2018-03-27T13:43:39+00:00 March 27th, 2018|

by Greg Keresztury, Director of Operations If you are familiar with Douglass Lodge, you know that it is one of the most scenic places on camp. The lodge is tucked away in the center of Ockanickon, sitting along a narrow section of the lake.  The central “common room” in the lodge has a back wall of long windows, so folks inside the lodge can enjoy the peaceful, serene view the lake provides. During the summer, Douglass Lodge serves as the infirmary for Camp Ockanickon, our sleepaway camp for boys. During the non-summer months, Douglass Lodge is one of our most [...]

Horseback riding at summer camp? Yes – we offer it!

By | 2018-03-21T15:26:23+00:00 March 21st, 2018|

By Susan Miller, Director of Marketing/Communications When I was a young girl, my friends and I used to love to go horseback riding as often as possible during the summer months. Throughout Camden County, where I grew up, there were places you could go for an afternoon - or even an hour or two - for lessons and trail riding. We didn't have a lot of formal training, but we loved every minute spent with those beautiful animals. So I was delighted when I came to camp and realized that we offer horseback riding as an option for our summer [...]

In honor of Women’s History Month … we celebrate our own Gab Ostroski!

By | 2018-03-20T14:02:14+00:00 March 20th, 2018|

by Susan Miller, Director of Marketing and Communications Recently, Gab Ostroski, Director of Camp Matollionequay (our girls overnight camp) was recognized as one of "40 under 40" by the SNJ Business People in South Jersey. The event was celebrated at Lucien's Manor in Berlin on Feb. 27, 2018. Eighteen summers ago, Gab came to camp from Australia to work as a counselor at Matolly; she's served as director for the past 14 years. She runs a beautiful program, empowering girls and creating leaders of her staff and campers. Her motto is: "Be brave, lead with love and know that you [...]

Are we doing enough to help those who need it most?

By | 2018-03-19T11:27:19+00:00 March 19th, 2018|

By Mark Dibble, CEO, YMCA Camp Ockanickon I was recently struck by the tragedy of a twelve-year-old taking his life as a result of bullying.  It got me thinking about my childhood. When I was a child I faced several issues that are relatively commonplace today, but were not thirty years ago. I had severe food allergies. My parents struggled to find ways to feed me. Milk gave me an anaphylactic reaction. They tried soy milk but it turned out soy (and legumes in general) made me sicker than cow’s milk. They tried goat’s milk, same result. Eventually they settled [...]

Camp can be a haven for kids in a tough world

By | 2018-02-27T09:21:20+00:00 February 27th, 2018|

We check the news feeds on our devices, we're barraged with social media updates, we're tuned in to the 24/7 news cycle in our homes. So many stories are shocking, heartbreaking and frightening. Let's face it: It's a challenge for parents to raise safe, confident and resilient children these days. A summer camp experience can go a long way in helping children find their way in a troubled world. Read on:  

It’s my time to give back – which is why I love camp!

By | 2018-02-19T16:30:28+00:00 February 19th, 2018|

By Suzette Belz My name is Suzette Belz and I am the VP of Development and Major Gifts at YMCA Camp Ockanickon, Inc. I would like to believe that I am that “Fairy” that is able to find pot of gold everywhere. I am also a wife, a proud mother of two beautiful and strong-minded girls, Isabella (10) and Sofia (4). I am a daughter, a sister, a niece, a friend, a coworker, and a human being. I believe in empathy, fairness, respect and inclusion.   I come from a loving family that instilled strong values in me. My mother [...]

A sliver of hope in a scary world

By | 2018-02-19T09:42:08+00:00 February 19th, 2018|

By MaryAnn Birchler, Director, School’s Out, YMCA Camp Ockanickon On Wednesday night, February 14th, I was able to spend the evening with my husband and three children. Valentine’s Day in my home is filled with red roses, chalky candy hearts with ‘U R Kool’ written on them and innocent Valentine’s spilling out my kids’ backpacks. We made heart-shaped pizzas for dinner and had way too much chocolate for dessert - as it should be. But, my mind was elsewhere. My heart was heavy.  It felt desperate, helpless and afraid. My husband, Brent, walked into the kitchen to give me updates [...]

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