Frost Valley YMCA has been its own summer camp since 1901, having spun off of the first YMCA summer camp, YMCA Camp Dudley (1885).
In our 113 year history we’ve started many traditions as well as carried many over from our roots.
There are several traditions that we’ve continued throughout the years and a few more that have found their way back. For example before every meal we do a grace that dates back to our original camp, this grace has turned into an optional part of our meal and still exists as one of our oldest camp traditions. Another is flag raising, this tradition predates summer camp as being something of an old military tradition that was adopted and adapted to summer camp. I’m sure that our flag raising is very different from it’s military roots, as we have Values of the Day, birthday/lost teeth songs & dances and traditional camp songs. We also have brought back a few traditions that we’re lost to time and found again due in large part to our amazing Alumni.
Our patches originally started as a W patch signifying both Wawayanda as well as indicating the amount of seasons the camper attended camp (i.e. 1 to 9 then a star to indicate anything above and beyond). Originally felt they were a treasure that are still looked back upon fondly by former campers, this tradition was lost to us in the 70’s. We reintroduced patches (in their original felt form albeit a little smaller) about 6 seasons ago and now have patches for all of our camps (Camp Henry Hird, East Valley Ranch, Mustang Village, Adventure Trips, Adventure Village, Farm Camp and Tokyo Village which will be ready this season). We are very proud of them and we wast no opportunity to feature them on many of our staff materials (see attached picture)
We also have brought back counsel rings to Lenape and Hemlock villages. What are counsel rings? They are “secret areas” that the village uses to establish goals, values and what each villages expectations/deliverables will be for that session. As well as a place to visit at the end of a 2 week session to talk about accomplishments, be it individual or village wide, and celebrate their graduation to the next village. These counsel rings were something we lost track of many years ago and have made a successful resurgence over the past few seasons.
Whether it’s grace, patches, flag raising or counsel rings we still provide an amazing experience that I am proud to say is both unique to our location as well as respectful to our roots. Our history makes us strong but it’s really the people who care for Frost Valley that gives it value. Our summer camp alumni have been a big part of why we are able to take a look back and remember these sometimes forgotten traditions, our year round staff make sure that camp continues to be a success during all seasons and our summer staff gives the summer season the spirit that makes this place magical.
Kam Kobeissi, Director of Camp Henry Hird