Overnight camp? Yes Please

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Every year parents run around and ask what do we do with our children this summer? For me, the answer is simple. the YMCA Camp Bernie.

When other parents hear me say that they ask really? an 8 years old? Yes of course, actually its her 2nd summer there and is madly in love with it.

SO why Camp Bernie?

I want to give my daughter the experience that I had going to Camp Bernie for 6 years. I did get my 5 year paddle #182.

Grace and Unit Leader Kelly

The Counselors that the camp bring on are caring, patient and kind  and many of them grew up wth Camp Bernie. Last year and the first session of the 2016 season they helped G work through some issues she was having related to our relocation back home to Glen Rock. The last session all the core values and the 7 C’s clicked and she became a truly model camper that helped others that were new to the experience. She even helped convince one or 2 one week kids to stay for the final week. Talking to her unit leader Kelly, she said she was in awe of the change and how all clicked. One thing about Kelly is she is amazing in communication with the goals, issues and solutions she found worked with G.  All counselors are very strong in this way. They honestly want your child to have the best experience ever.

It is a truly traditional outdoor overnight camp with teaching the YMCA Core values. Caring, Honesty, Respect, and Responsibility.

Grace and Julia

You gain best friends for life and memories that you can never replace or want to.

The kids swim, do overnights in tents, dances, all camp day (also traditionally known as theme days), canoe / kayak, high ropes, and much more. Each activity is instilled with the core values. In addition, throughout the camp experience they also focus on helping campers to build the 7 C’s:  competence, confidence, connection, character, contribution, coping, and control in order to better deal with stressful situations.

They end the season with an amazing ceremony called Candleboat. Friends, family, former campers and Alumni all gather that night to celebrate the campers achievements and experiences that summer. They start out with each section singing their groups cheer! Iroquois, Shawnee, Pioneer, Nation and the CIT”s. After thy present the core value awards for : Caring, Honesty, Respect, Responsibility, and all over core value.

Julie Jester, Program Director



Unit Leader Kelly getting her 10 year paddle (aka double paddle)

The awarding of the Paddle, is one of the longest standing traditions are presented next. the categories include: 5 year Camper, 10 year Camper, 3 year international camper, 6 year international camper, 15 year plaque, and the same levels for the staff. They bring all the current paddle holders in the camp and alumni to the front to announce who they are,number of years, and paddle number. I was the oldest camper paddle, and the woman next to me was one of my counselors in the 70’s. IT was an honor!!

the pond with all the campers’ candles lit up

After presenting the new paddle holders, we then went to the pond where candles were lit, and lanterns were lit through out the pond with canoes pulling more. as the current campers were singing.

It was a truly moving evening that reminded myself how special Camp Bernie is.

Some campers including Grace.









The land Camp Bernie is on was purchased  by the Ridgewood YMCA in 1956. It was named after Bernard Forester due to his endless work for the people of his community and their children. In 1957 the Dining hall ,as we know it today, is the old barn for Idalu Acres that was used as a summer gathering place for the Goldstein family.

Since then the different cabins and areas, such as the Nation, were upgraded and built to increase the camping experience by the YMCA.

If you want your kids to  truly experience a traditional and phenomenal camping experience, please look into Camp Bernie. They also have amazing events for any type of group plus fall / spring events for campers.

To find out more  go to their website and visit them on Facebook.

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