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.