Family camps are an affordable getaway option that features camp-style fun in the Great Outdoors. Typically, families stay in simple lodgings (often cabins, though sometimes lodges or inns) and all-inclusive pricing includes activities and meals. You can also expect many activities programmed for kids in different age groups and for the whole family.
In addition to summer camps for children, many YMCAs around the country also offer family camps. Typically this is offered for select weeks only. There may be other weeks dedicated to family reunions or other gatherings.
Frost Valley YMCA Camp
The Frost Valley YMCA camp was established in 1901 as on of the first summer camps in the US. It moved to its present location in the 1950s, and offers many programs year-round on what has grown to be 6,000 acres. Offerings include summer camps for kids, day camps, teen adventure camps, horseback riding, family weekends, and more.
This camp is located in Claryville, in a fairly remote area of New York State's Catskill Mountains. Driving time is 2-1/2 hours northwest of New York City and two hours southwest of Albany. (See map of Catskill Mountains.)
Family Weekends are offered any Friday-to-Sunday weekend between September and June—in other words, not during summer camp season. These are all-inclusive getaways, including lots of activities, with meals and lodging.
Summer Family Camp
A weeklong family camp is offered during one week in August. This all-inclusive vacation also includes lodging, meals and activities, which include archery, arts and crafts, high ropes, hiking, orienteering (using maps and compasses to navigate in the wild), survival skills, zip lining, fishing, canoeing, and more.
Frost Valley YMCA offers a wide range of lodgings, and families can choose the option that suits their needs. Choices include platform tents, cabins, several types of lodges, inn-style Forstmann Castle, and the turn-of-the-century Straus Center country estate. Larger families can have a lodge to themselves with bedrooms that sleep ten people, plus a common room.
Meals are served in the Thomas Lodge Dining Hall, which is a lovely Adirondack-style building complete with heavy wood beams and a big stone fireplace.
Sample Winter Weekend Activities
There are winter family camps offered in late December and over President's Weekend in February. Winter activities include night snow tubing, cross-country skiing, snowshoe soccer, ice fishing, broomball, low ropes course; indoor archery, indoor climbing, stargazing, tour of the Raptor Center; yoga, karaoke, bingo, board games; rocket building, and arts and crafts.
Sample Spring Weekend Activities
Spring activities include hayrides, pond exploration, stargazing, karaoke, board games, archery, kickball, outdoor survival skills, maple sugaring, hiking, canoeing, low ropes, yoga, and arts and crafts.
Additional facilities include a Raptor Center (rehab for injured hawks and owls); maple sugaring (learn how to tap the tree, boil the sap); greenhouse (take organic gardening classes).
This brief profile is meant to introduce this destination to family vacationers; please note that the writer has not visited in person.
- Edited by Suzanne Rowan Kelleher