News

Covid 19 & Summer 2020

To Our Camp Family,

I hope this message finds you and your families healthy and making the best out of what has been a very challenging time in the lives of so many. Over the past two months, we have closely monitored the development of COVID-19 and the impact that it has on our ability to operate programs at YMCA Camp Chingachgook.

During this time, we have sought out resources to guide our decision making from YMCA of the USA, the NYS Alliance of YMCA’s, the American Camp Association, industry leaders, medical personnel, NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo, the NYS Department of Health, and our faithful and loyal staff and volunteers. We are thankful for the input of all parties involved. We are now in the informed position to make the heartbreaking but responsible decision to suspend operations of all summer programs for 2020.

As part of the Chingachgook community, and the proud father of two campers myself, I am reminded that Camp is so much more than a place. Chingachgook is a community of people that cares deeply for each other and this strong bond will remain long after summer 2020 has come and gone. The fires of friendship will continue to burn here on the shores of Lake George and in your homes, and we are grateful for that today and every day as we move forward to get through this together.

Please know that arriving on this decision required a thoughtful and lengthy process. While we are deeply saddened to not greet you here at camp this summer, we will be taking time to process this decision, to continue to monitor the current climate of healthcare, and to ensure that when we reopen, we will do so in the safest and most responsible fashion. We owe that to you and your children.

Here at Chingachgook, the most important skill that we impart on our campers is resiliency.

We know that you and your child, along with our staff here at Camp will be able to draw on that resilience in these uncertain times. I am proud to be a part of Chingachgook and thank you for your continued support of our work to improve the lives of those in our community. We know that we are better together, and together we will overcome this and get back to the business of changing lives for the next 107 years and beyond. In the pages to follow, we have provided information on payments and resources on how to share this news with your child. If I can be of assistance in any way, please reach out.

Over the next several weeks, our hope is that we will be able to call each of our Camp families to check in on your campers and discuss the future. In the meantime, be sure to stay tuned to our Facebook and Instagram pages as we will work to share messages of hope and togetherness over the next several weeks. Please know that we are thinking of you, and I ask that you keep the entire Chingachgook family in your thoughts as well.

Thank you for your continued support of  YMCA Camp Chingachgook.

John Lefner
Executive Director


Support Camp to Ensure our Future:

We know that our Camp family runs deep, and many are already reaching out asking how they can help. If you are able, please consider donating to help us see Camp through these challenging times. You can donate online here.

Refunds for Registered Families:

Many parents have reached out with questions and suggestions regarding payments that have already been made. We’re offering three choices:

  1. Donations: Making a gift of some or all of the funds you have already paid is a generous way to ensure that YMCA Camp Chingachgook remains strong and ready to re-open when it is safe to do so. YMCA Camp Chingachgook aims to be here for children and families well into the future, and your gift preserves our mission to serve all. Thank you to everyone who is able to make this vital.
  2. Hold as Credit: We can hold your payment and credit the amount toward another program in the future. This will help ensure your campers spot for summer 2021. If you choose to put this credit toward a summer camp 2021 program, our refund deadline for cancellations will be March 31, 2021. This option also significantly assists YMCA Camp Chingachgook’s financial stability, and we are incredibly grateful.
  3. Full or Partial Refunds: We know that many families are also facing their own hardships. We can process a full refund in the amount paid or you may choose to take a partial refund and make a donation with the remainder. Refunds will be mailed as checks in about 6-8 weeks.

Our camp staff will be contacting you in the coming weeks to process your preferred method. For urgent questions, please contact our registrar’s office at: chingachgook@cdymca.org or call 518-656-9462 x6602. Thank you for your patience as we expect hundreds of emails and calls over the coming days.


Re-Opening YMCA Camp Chingachgook:

Although much is subject to change, our current plan is to reopen after the summer camp season for upcoming school trips, group retreats, special events, and family weekends. If you are registered for a fall program, we are still holding your spot and hope to see you then. Registered guests will be informed immediately if any changes are made.


Our Mission & COVID-19:

Our mission to serve all will remain strong through this crisis. The Capital District YMCA is committed to helping those in need. We are invested in tackling food insecurity, checking in on our seniors and other vulnerable members, providing virtual fitness programs, offering childcare services to essential workers, and more. To learn more about our efforts, please visit www.cdymca.org


Talking to Your Child about Camp Being Cancelled:

First, remember that you know your child best. Try to digest the news yourself before talking to your camper. This is why we are contacting our 2020 families first, and waiting to publicize it to alumni and the media, so you have time to discuss as a family. We also hope you can watch this video as a family so we can help best deliver this difficult news to your campers. Below are some tips that can help guide you in talking with your camper:


1. Acknowledge their feelings.

Expect a range of emotions, including disappointment, anger, sadness, or even grief. Most of us, including our children, have experienced a lot of canceled plans, and adding yet another disappointment to the list may feel overwhelming. Acknowledge that it is frustrating to suffer yet another loss. This article on a coping activity may help your camper work through their emotions.


2. Ask: What would help?

When your camper is ready, think about what can be done to cope. What are some things that your child can do to share their favorite parts of camp with your family? Maybe they can teach you a game from Camp or a Camp song. Is there a Camp meal you can make at home? Not every child will feel better by doing Camp activities at home, so let them be the guide. Can you help them set up a video call with Camp friends and past bunkmates? Remember, it may take time for your child to process their feelings to get to a place where they can think about pro-actively moving forward.


3. Check-in Again.

Over the next few days, gently ask how they’re doing and see if they need more support. Try to remember to ask again as we get closer to the days when Camp would have started. The Child Mind Institute has also compiled some incredible resources to help your child through this pandemic, and have specific articles on handling disappointment and addressing children’s specific concerns during this time.  


4. Engage with your child about Camp. Encourage them to share with you why they love Camp, and consider ways to make connections with that. If they love hiking and swimming in fresh water, is it possible for your family to connect with nature together?  Can you send some snail mail to Camp friends to recreate the feeling of getting mail or a care package delivered to their bunks? For returning campers, perhaps there are favorite songs, cheers, or activities that remind them of Camp. Let them take the lead and teach you at home what they know from their time here.

More Than A Place

Camp Chingachgook is so much more than a place.

Chingachgook is a community of people who care about and for each other. By sharing your generosity with Chingachgook, you help us to ensure that when we reopen we are stronger than ever. Your gift will assist us in securing a strong foundation of financial support to improve our facility, return staff members to their leadership roles, provide financial assistance to those in need, and develop programs and services that our campers, students, Y-Knot sailors, program participants, staff, volunteers, and donors like you can be proud of. On behalf of those we serve, thank you for your support.

Earth Service Awards

YMCA Earth Service Awards

NOTICE : The 2020 Earth Service Awards have been postponed until further notice. 

2019 recipient Sena McLaughlin

If you have questions, please contact, Tricia Biles
Director of Outdoor Education and Group Services
(518) 656-9462 ext. 6604.

Teen Service Camp

Teen Service Camp

Teen Service Camp has been cancelled for 2020 – Consider joining our volunteer work weekend or April 25 and 26 or check back in for Teen Service Camp April 2021

Calling all teens! Spend April break doing something meaningful and fun!

Ages: 13 – 16
Cost: $225/ teen

Winter Camp

2020 Winter Camp


Wondering What to do with the kids for winter break? Send them to WINTER Camp!
Winter Camp is 5 days of frosty fun for children ages 7-14. Campers spend their days making friends and enjoying activities that include, tubing, crafts, snowshoeing, games, gaga ball, stories, campfires, music, and more! Days include a balance of active play, both indoors and out, and relaxation in our cozy heated cabins and lodges.

Sign up today – spaces fill fast.

Dates and Rates:

February 17-21, 2020

$590 per child includes meals, lodging, and all activities.

YMCA member rate: $580 per child

$30 discount for Campers who are registered for Summer camp 2020.

Check in begins on Monday 2/17 at 9:00am and goes to 10:00am

Pick up is on Friday 2/21 between 3:00 – 5:00pm. If you need to make arrangements for a different time you can contact our main office.

For more information call 518-656-9462

Register online:

New to Camp Click Here
Returning Campers Click Here

A Decade of Chingachgook Magic

A Decade of Chingachgook Magic

A Reflection by Jiné Andreozzi, Director of Operations

The new year brings us a time of reflection and goal setting for the year ahead. Here at Camp, we take the time to plan for a new year with new programs and exciting changes – but 2020 also brings the start of a new decade. For 107 years, Chingachgook has been strengthening communities by providing high quality experiences in the outdoors that allow children and adults alike to learn, grow, connect with others and make lasting memories. This January provided me the time to look back at all the ways Chingachgook has grown in the last 10 years and how our campers, staff, students, volunteers, families,  and myself have grown alongside Camp.

A few major items have changed in both my life and at Camp in the past decade and I thought it would be a great way to start 2020 by thinking back and celebrating those accomplishments. In 2010 as we started the decade, I was working on our waterfront team in the summer, teaching swimming and sailing and perfecting my boat docking skills, while spending the rest of the year working towards completing my degree at Ithaca College. What I didn’t know than was when I returned to the waterfront team after graduating IC in 2011, that I would be launching a career path that has moved me from Lake George, to California to Boston and now back to Lake George, working full time at the place I first fell in love with camping! I am pretty sure I had the greatest “office” of my life when I was on the waterfront team from 2010-2012. I loved spending everyday on the docks and even loved the small cabin we used as the home base for one of the busiest program areas at Camp. The biggest facilities project we’ve tackled in the last 10 years happened in 2013 and has drastically changed the landscape at our waterfront for the better! While the old waterfront headquarters holds a special place in my heart, it’s rustic charm was no longer functional for the amount of skill classes and other activities happening at the waterfront.

This decade also marked Chingachgook’s centennial year! It is incredible to think of all the lives that have been impacted over 100 years because of the magic of Chingachgook. At the start of our centennial summer (2013), we celebrated the completion of the Sidford Family Sailing Pavilion, which has increased access for our Y-Knot Sailing participants and bettered all of our waterfront programming for summer camp, adventure trips, school groups and weekend programs! Our centennial celebration lasted all summer long – with on Camp firework displays every session and one of our biggest Alumni Reunions to date. The summer of 2014 welcomed a unique session schedule, with camp offering 7 sessions due to the NYS school calendar. 2014 was also the only summer in this decade that I did not work the full season at Camp, but I did make sure to take a week of vacation from my job in Boston in order to lead a sailing Adventure Trip with Craig Poole as my co-leader! Craig and I are now both working full time at Camp and it is just another example of things coming full-circle here at Chingachgook.

In the late spring of 2015, I enthusiastically moved back to the shores of Lake George full-time after accepting the Summer Camp Director position. It has been my pleasure to help lead our summer camp programs over the last 5 summers. In addition to seeing more and more campers join over the past 5 years, we have also completed some pretty exciting projects! In 2017 we completed renovations on the Old Infirmary, now known as Cedar Lodge, which remains the oldest building on Camp. We added skill classes such as Makerspace, Garage Band & the Newsroom and saw the popularity of our 46er Adventure Trip skyrocket. We removed the old Headquarters building, which was falling into disrepair, and began planning for a new Headquarters/Health Lodge building – which we are excited to say we will be breaking ground on in 2020! And at the close of this decade, we started the Alumni Hall of Fame this past Fall in order to celebrate our history and commemorate those who have gotten us here! When I started at Chingachgook as a camper 16 years ago I would’ve never guessed that this place, and its people, would define not only career but also my character as a person, but I am so grateful it did and I feel so lucky to be a #ChingachgookKid.

Strategic Planning Sessions

Does Your Company Have 2020 Vision?

Enrich your office team in 2020 with a Strategic Planning Session

Bring your staff to YMCA Camp Chingachgook for a strategic planning retreat. Take a step away from the office and start your new year off with intention and direction.

Strategic planning sessions at Chingachgook help you get out of your day to day routine and come together to build a stronger, more creative, and better connected team.

Camp Chingachgook offers many benefits for professional staff retreats:
·         Beautiful Adirondack setting
·         Fireside conference rooms are ideal for small groups and breakout sessions
·         Large retreat halls are available for formal conference space
·         Wi-fi, screens & projectors, easels, and flexible seating are set up for you
·         Food Service option available for catered warm & hearty meals
·         Facilitators are available for energizers, icebreakers, and social activities
·         Affordable rates

Book your staff meeting today & energize your team for 2020!

Contact us at 518-656-9462 or by emailing pbiles@cdymca.org

Online “Pop Up” Holiday Store

Here in Lake George, we welcomed December with several inches of snow but even with fresh snow on the ground, we are looking forward to the warm, sunny days that summer camp brings!

We know that many like to give the gift of Camp to the campers in your life. Weather you are gifting a 2020 Chingachgook summer experience (which registration is open for!) and want to have something in hand for your camper to unwrap, or if you just want to give your campers some new apparel to show off their Camp spirit – we’ve got you covered!

For the first time, we have created a temporary online store for you to do your holiday shopping! PLUS – you can check off the gifts on your list while giving back to others as the proceeds from these apparel items will go directly to our Annual Campaign, which provides scholarships for campers in need. 

Make sure to order ASAP if you need items in time for Christmas! The store will only be open until December 14th and depending on when you order, items will arrive between December 23 – January 1st. Click here and start your shopping today!

We hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday season and hope to see you at Chingachgook in the new year!

Chingachgook Challenge

Calling all runners – save the date! This year’s Chingachgook Challenge will be held on Sunday, September 8, 2019. Click here for more info or visit www.AREEP.com.

A Gap Year Internship

“I can guarantee you will become a better version of yourself and you will have a blast doing so.”       Noah Rifkin 2018 Gap Year Intern

Noah Rifkin spent six months of his gap-year at YMCA Camp Chingachgook. Here’s a snapshot of his experience in his own words:

For the past six months, I’ve spent my time at Camp Chingachgook, pronounced (CHIN-JA-GOOK) in Lake George, New York. I’ve had an amazing time, and I’ve grown and learned so much. I want to talk a little bit about that process.

I graduated high school in June of 2017, but I knew long before then that I didn’t want to go directly to college. School had worn me out, and I wanted to feel excited to learn. I thought the best way to do that was to take some time off of school before coming back. I had a job at a restaurant in Seattle where I grew up, nothing glamorous but I did enjoy working there. My plan at the time was to continue working there and find an apartment or a place to stay and support myself. I wanted to gain experience in the working world. After a while I found that this wasn’t working, because sustaining myself in Seattle ultimately proved to be much more difficult than I thought. Fortunately, I found an amazing gap year program and I left for two months to live in Australia and New Zealand as a part of an internship program. I came home for the holidays, but quickly left again, this time for Costa Rica as part of a program called Outward Bound, an outdoor leadership and skills training program. This pushed me to my absolute limit, both physically and mentally, and after three months I came home so much stronger and more self reliant than I ever had been previously. I spent just under a week at home before I left once again, this time to come to a place that I’d never heard of at the time, Camp Chingachgook in Lake George, New York.

I was hired as an Outdoor Educator Intern in the spring of 2018. I didn’t really know what to expect when I got here, but I was excited to meet the staff and start working almost immediately. When I heard the word intern, I expected the stereotype of getting coffee and making file copies and stuff like that, but through the phone interview with the head of Outdoor Education, Tricia Biles, I found that my job would consist of a variety of outdoor activities such as canoeing, belaying on the tower and high ropes course, leading team building and ecology based games, and most importantly, working with kids. Basically the way the season works is the staff lives on camp and school groups of different ages come to us to run their choice of activities almost every day. It’s been a fun opportunity to build friendships, grow as a leader and facilitator, and become more responsible for myself.

Right away, I fell in love the camp. First off, it’s an amazing location. Lake George is absolutely stunning, surrounded by mountains and hills and lots of green. It’s a great spot. I also loved how much the camp had to offer, such as a basketball court in my front yard, a tennis court, hiking trails to use, and canoes and kayaks available at any time. Chingachgook seemed like a great fit because it was the perfect opportunity for me to use my physical skill set as well. While I was in Costa Rica, I was trained in a variety of different skills, such as Wilderness First Aid, Whitewater Raft and Rescue, Lifeguarding, SCUBA, and Recreational Rappel. I knew at camp I would get the chance to use several of these skills in everyday life, and looking back I have, using WFA, lifeguarding, rappel, and rafting skills in different activities.

I was eased into the work, as I joined the staff a few weeks into the season and had missed some of the training. I did a lot of shadowing for other groups. After a month or so, I felt ready for more. I went to Trish and asked for more responsibilities. I wanted my own group. That was a big step in my development as a leader. In the past I would always shy away from responsibility, always finding the path of least resistance. What’s the smallest amount of work possible? But with this job, with this opportunity, it was different. It made me excited to take on a bigger role. Excited to take on more responsibilities. I welcomed that challenge. Once I was given my own group every day, I started to build my relationships with the kids. I’ve worked with kids my whole life, and I think one of my biggest strengths is walking the fine line of being their friend some of the time, but also a role model as well as an authority figure when the situation calls for it.

Over the course of my time at camp I’ve learned many skills. I’ve learned how to lead a ropes course or an aquatic learning lab, I’ve learned to be effective in team building and survival classes, and I’ve learned how to manage myself and my time effectively. This job has taught me to be a leader in my community every day. I would recommend the gap year internship program to anybody who was in the same situation as me at that time. It’s a great way to develop personal skills that last a lifetime while developing strong bonds with your co-workers. I can guarantee you will become a better version of yourself and you will have a blast doing so. If anyone reading this has any questions, I would be happy to answer all of them. My email is nrifkin22@gmail.com. Thank you for taking the time to read about my experience.

For more information on Gap year opportunities at YMCA Camp Chingachgook please contact Tricia Biles:

518-656-9462 x 6644   pbiles@cdymca.org