New York

Century-Old Summer Camp for NYC Kids to Close Amid YMCA's $100M Financial Hole

The Greater New York YMCA said that because of pandemic losses to the tune of $100 million, the camp in Huguenot will be shuttering — leaving the nearly 1,400 campers needing to find a new place to spend their summer

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It's been around for more than 100 years, but now an Orange County sleepaway camp that has created memories for generations of New York City children is closing down.

The NYC YMCA said that because of pandemic losses to the tune of $100 million, the camp in Huguenot will be shuttering — a heartbreaker for campers like 13-year-old Cate Jennings, who has been a YMCA camper for the past seven summers.

"For a lot of city kids, it's a place to be outdoors, to be somewhere rather than a city building," Jennings said. " And even for me, I like the experience to be out in nature, out in the open."

Now Jennings, along with nearly 1,400 other campers, may only have their memories of the beloved camp. The YMCA said that "This painful decision was not made lightly. Unfortunately, the pandemic has had a devastating impact on our revenue."

Jennings' mom, Emily Van Ingen, began attending the Huguenot camp when she was just 10 years old. She's now a YMCA board member, and hopes to find some other solution.

"I understand the financial side, I think it's short-sighted. I think it could be managed differently," Van Ingen said. "I think there's a scenario where we can support the YMCA of Great New York's financial situation and still preserve the history and legacy of YMCA camping in New York."

Another board member, and former camper, agreed.

"I worked my way from camper to camp director, and the reason why was the Y and the staff there who supported my ability to grow into the adult I am today," said Monica Bermiss.

Board members told NBC New York sale of the camp property could generate $5 million. In the meantime, the YMCA of Greater New York said it is "exploring how to use (its) endowment to send children to other neighboring and partner Y camps."

Jennings said if a solution doesn't present itself, she'll try to find another camp. Her mom hasn't given up hope yet, though.

"We would love and angel," Van Ingen said. "But we're also asking the association for more time."

The YMCA said if there are any offers, it will try and evaluate them in an effort to continue their work of empowering youth and strengthening community.

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