HUGUENOT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A beloved sleepaway camp is permanently shutting down, the latest casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The YMCA Camp of Greater New York served thousands of kids over the course of a century, and now many are fighting to save it, CBS2’s Christina Fan reported Monday.
For 102 years, the Orange County YMCA campground has offered generations of children a change of scenery, a breath of fresh air.
Emily Van Ingen spent most of her childhood summers there. So has her 13-year-old daughter.
That’s why news of its closure is so upsetting.
“I could barely think of worse news than this for my family in general, because we’ve spent so much time there. We’ve given so much. We’ve gotten so much from this camp,” former camper Cate Jennings said.
The pandemic decimated the YMCA of Greater New York’s finances, resulting in a deficit of $100 million. That forced the nonprofit to list its property in Huguenot.
In 2019, 1,200 kids attended with over a third receiving financial assistance, kids who wouldn’t have had any other place to go.
“It doesn’t matter where you live. It doesn’t where you come from. It doesn’t matter how much money you make. It’s all very equalizing. There’s very few situations in life where young people have that kind of experience,” Van Ingen said.
Van Ingen, who is now a YMCA board member, is hoping to find a solution. She not only launched a GoFundMe, but also started a petition drive to try and buy more time to raise the $5 million the Y is selling its campgrounds for.
“What we need is an angel, or a couple of angels, that can help us raise the funds to purchase the camp,” Van Ingen said.
“I had taken my best friend with me and that was her first year. She was very excited to go back this year. When I told her the news, she was very devastated. It’s just such an amazing place,” former camper Jamya Cauthen said.
A spokesperson for the Y told Fan the organization is currently evaluating all offers, and is still committed to providing financial support to send city kids to neighboring and partner Y camps.
Board members tell us the Y has received an offer of $4.6 million for the property and is giving petitioners until the end of Monday to match the offer. Families are hoping for an extension of that deadline.
CBS2’s Christina Fan contributed to this report