At Frost Valley YMCA, come as you are isn’t a catchphrase. It’s a vibe.
“We want children to know this is a safe place for them to be exactly who they are and who they want to be,” says Erin Johnson, the camp’s head of marketing. “Here they aren’t bound by the restraints they might have at school. There is no persona they need to live up to because they are free to be their true self—whatever that means for them.”
FROST VALLEY’S CORE VALUES
Frost Valley YMCA was founded in 1885 as The Boys’ Camping Society and after several iterations held its first camp in 1958 on the former estate of Julius Forstmann. That 2,200-acre swatch of land, some two hours north of New Jersey in the Catskill Mountains, has since expanded to 5,500 acres. Camp is a traditional, overnight experience including waterfront activities, daily flag raising and a twist on “Capture the Flag” called USB. It’s all driven by eight core values:
Caring, Community, Diversity, Honesty, Inclusiveness, Respect, Responsibility and Stewardship.
“Frost Valley infuses its core values into nearly every aspect of a camper’s day from seeing the names on our camp road signs—for example, Diversity Drive—to discussing them at mealtimes as well as during and after camp activities that have been intentionally developed to foster an appreciation for each of our core values. Our values-driven programming is probably one of the things we are most well known for.” Camp takes place over four two-week sessions. Food is included, and transportation can be added for a fee. The camp follows all state and federal safety guidelines related to COVID.
“Sending your camper to camp can be a big step,” Johnson says. “Our number one priority is keeping our campers safe and healthy and we are able to do that through the safety measures that are put in place.”
LISTEN, RELATE, DISTRACT, HELP
Homesickness can be common for children at sleepaway camp, but Frost Valley has long used the LRD method, which stands for “listening, relating or distracting.”
“Some campers may just need an adult to ask them how they are feeling or what they are thinking about. Others respond to counselors who can relate their own feelings about being away from home. Still others do best by being distracted with a fun game, silly song or other activity. We take each camper’s experience and personality into account when helping to manage feelings of homesickness.”
2000 Frost Valley Rd., Claryville, NY