Sustaining the Special Energy of Summer Camp
From camper to counselor to advocate, Monica knows YMCA camping from the inside out.
"After fifth grade I went away to Y summer camp for two weeks and my parents almost didn't hear from me at all," says Monica Bermiss, Assistant Principal at John Jay Middle School in Cross River, New York. "Finally my mother called because she was worried, and I asked her if I could extend for two more weeks.
"I attended camp for three years in a row, then became a CIT (Counselor in Training), and over the course of 15 summers became a village director, waterfront director, program director, and eventually the camp director.
"Now I'm a board member of my own childhood summer camp—the Y sleepaway camp in Huguenot, New York, which is a separate branch of the YMCA of Greater New York. 2018 is the camp's 100th year.
"In a school setting like where I normally work, there isn't much time available for the kinds of conversations that allow kids to work out their conflicts and differences among themselves with adult support.
"Camp kids have a noticeable increase in their stamina and determination. Things they wouldn't have dreamed of doing before become fun pursuits after they experience camp. Y campers are extremely active and eat meals in conversation together—with counselor encouragement every step of the way. There's no technology at the table—they speak directly with each other, creating deep relationships.
"When people think 'camp,' they think 'hiking' or 'sports' or 'swimming.' But when I think 'Y camp,' I think 'values.' Y summer camps offer an environment where people get to know themselves and each other, and learn while having good times together. New York City is a diverse place, and so is Y camp. It's not about what you have or where you live—it's about who you are and how you treat people.
"There's a special energy at the Y that's hard to put into words. There's something about the Y, and the human beings of the Y, that together make that energy. It's a certain feeling, a spirit that you experience and then give to others.
"I feel that I'm a different person, a better person, because of the Y. After sharing the Y camp experience together, campers and staff, we all share a comfort level that we enjoy nowhere else. I have lifelong friends from my camp experience, my best friends. I have traveled the world visiting them. I'm welcomed into their homes like family. I feel so lucky!
"When I finally wrote a will, I could not leave out the Y. Nobody asked me to do it—it was a natural decision for me because the Y was there for me for so much of my life. Many of my positive experiences and life-learning came from my Y community. The goal of my financial support is to help create continuity for my camp and to share my special relationship with the Y with others. I hope my support, when I'm gone, will help continue that special energy I feel."
You can sustain the special energy of Y summer camp for thousands of New York City children.
Please consider putting YMCA camps into your will and estate plan. Even a modest endowment can benefit generations to come.
Make the future of New York City part of your legacy — forever.
It's easy — to make your branch or any YMCA program part of your estate plan, please contact Patti Davis at (212) 630-9625 or firstname.lastname@example.org.