Family Camps are an excellent -- and affordable-- type of getaway in the great outdoors. Typically, families stay in simple lodgings (though some family camps have lodges or even inns); meals are served in a dining hall; and many activities are laid on for kids in different age groups, or for the whole family.
Frost Valley YMCA Camp: Background
The Frost Valley YMCA camp was established in 1901 as on of the first summer camps in the US. It moved to its present location in the fifties, and offers many programs year-round on what has grown to be 6000 acres: summer camps for kids, day camps, teen adventure camps, Elderhostel, horseback riding, Family Weekends, and more.
Location is in New York state's popular Catskill Mountains; driving time is 2-1/2 hours from Manhattan, 2 hours from Albany.
Family Weekends are offered "any weekend between August and June" -- i.e., not during summer camp season-- and are all inclusive: healthy meals by the Dining Service; lots of activities, indoors and out; warm and comfortable lodging options.
Frost Valley has a wide range of lodgings, and families can choose the option that suits their needs. Choices include platform tents, cabins, several types of lodges, inn-style Forstmann Castle, and the turn-of-the-century Straus Center country estate. Larger families could have a lodge to themselves with rooms to sleep ten, plus a common room.
Meals, meanwhile, take place in the Thomas Lodge Dining Hall, Adirondack-style and complete with wood beams and a big stone fireplace.
Sample Winter Weekend Activities: night snow tubing, cross-country skiing, snow shoe soccer, ice-fishing, broomball ("hockey" type game on Reflection Pond), low ropes course; indoor archery, indoor climbing; night-time Observatory; tour of the Raptor Center; yoga; karaoke, bingo, snack and board games; rocket building, paper-making, candles, soap-making. Some crafts entail an extra fee; gear may be available for outdoors activities.
Sample Spring Weekend Activities: hayrides, pond exploration, "map and compass"; Night Awareness; karaoke, snack and board games; archery, kickball, outdoor survival skills, Maple Sugar Shack hike, cable bridge hike, boating and canoeing, 65-foot climbing tower, low ropes; tie-dye, wind chimes, candles; yoga.
Activities vary by season; see sample activities for Fall, Winter, and Spring at the Frost Valley YMCA site.
Horseriding is a special focus: pony rides, lessons, trail rides on miles of trails.
Cross-country skiing: another focus activity, with miles of trails.
Educational Facilities: include a Raptor Center (injured hawks and owls); Maple Sugaring (learn how to tap the tree, boil the sap); greenhouse (organic gardening classes).
This brief profile is meant to introduce this destination to family vacationers; please note that the writer has not visited in person.
*Always check web sites for updates!