Former campers rally to save YMCA summer camps closing due to pandemic

HUGUENOT, New York (WABC) -- The race is on to save three summer camps north of New York City after the YMCA decided to sell the property due to the pandemic.

The camp, 90 minutes north of NYC, serves inner-city kids who otherwise would not be able to go to camp.

Fundraising had been way down and COVID was apparently the last straw. The YMCA of Great New York made the announcement last week that it would permanently close the camps and sell the property:

"This painful decision was not made lightly. Unfortunately, the pandemic has had a devastating impact on our revenue, resulting in losses of $100 million, and we can no longer financially support our sleepaway camp. We are committed to continuing our support of the YMCA camp movement and are exploring how to use our endowment to send children to other neighboring and partner Y camps. We know how much our camp has meant to our Y families, dedicated staff, donors, and volunteers, and we thank them for their support."

Now, the only hope to save the camps is if the property is purchased for $5 million by March 19 - and former campers are sharing why the camp experienced mattered so much to them.

Emily VanIngen went to the camp for five years, worked there for 10 and even got married there.

"We need an angel, we need someone who believes in the power of young people and the power of camp," VanIngen said.

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Around 1,400 kids go every summer to the three camps on the one property in Huguenot, New York, and 80% receive financial assistance. This is their only chance to go to camp.

"We really wanted to make sure that we preserve the legacy of camp, that we continue to serve the brown and Black youth that are coming from New York City," former camper Cortney Williams-Loyd said.

Williams-Loyd is now a vice principal in Woodside, Queens.

"I don't think I would be who I am without it," she said.

The $5 million deadline to buy it is March 19. That price will save the inflatable banana boat, campfires to roast marshmallows, trail rides, archery and the experience of falling asleep to the sounds of crickets and frogs.

"In South Jamaica, Queens, where I grew up, I wasn't seeing chipmunks until I went up to Huguenot, New York," Williams-Lloyd said.

For those fighting, this is about saving the best part of their childhood for other kids to experience. Click here to help.

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