Camp Nyack Hopes to Extend Summer Joy to Neighboring Children

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Donating to The Nyack Center will make camp a reality for disadvantaged youth. Due to a change in government funding this year, the sadness is that nearly 40 needy youngsters from areas, such as South Nyack and Valley Cottage, will be unable to attend summer camp. Private donations and small business sponsorships will make a memorable difference.

Rockland County has nearly the highest median household income in New York State, yet the number of children living below the poverty level continues to climb (17% or 13,962 children in 2009). In large part, that’s why Camp Nyack exists. Disadvantaged youngsters, entering kindergarten up to sixth grade, can attend a weekday, six-week summer program from 8:30am-3:00pm that is subsidized by local government.

Fees to parents are on a sliding scale based on income. Parents pay between $50-$90 per week for this no-frills, yet reliable and nurturing care. Enrichment activities include reading, science, art, dance and gym recreation. Camp tuition covers daily busing as well as swimming at Rockland Lake State Park (Valley Cottage, NY) and weekly field trips.

According to one single mother of five campers, “I work all day. With Camp Nyack, I know my kids are safe. Other area camps are not affordable to me as a mom, who lives in low income housing.”

Camp Nyack has been in existence for many years, and has been outsourced by the Village of Nyack (NY) to The Nyack Center, a local not-for-profit, since 2008. This year, however, the parameters for inclusion are limited to Nyack residents only, a change that is to save Village taxpayers some $40,000 in 2012. The sadness is that nearly 40 needy youngsters from neighboring areas, such as South Nyack and Valley Cottage, will not be able to attend.

“Many of us have been hit by tough economics,” says Kim Cross, The Nyack Center’s executive director, “but families with little have even less. No money for transportation, no money to pay babysitters or for other more expensive summer camp programs. Nearly 90% of our camper families are at or below the federal income guidelines for poverty, which is $17,600/year for a family of three.”

The Nyack Center has been able to extend 230 scholarships in the years they have operated Camp Nyack. This year all that has changed. Donations and small business sponsorships are needed desperately.

One family served by Nyack Center’s programs is a family of four children and a single father, who works full-time. The children lost their mother to cancer three years ago, and have separation issues. They need to stay together. According to Kim Cross, “Camp Nyack was the only affordable option for their father this year. Unfortunately, they live in Valley Cottage and are ineligible to receive scholarships from Village of Nyack funding.”

What Camp Nyack needs now are private donations to pour in before the July 4th holiday. It costs about $1,600 for a child to attend all six weeks of summer camp. “We’re hopeful that people will recognize that our compassion and vision extend far beyond the confines of geographic lines on a map. We have a calling to serve other communities, especially those that border the Village,” says Kim Cross.

About 23 years ago, the Village of Nyack, the mayor and concerned civic leaders saw a need to provide the most vulnerable youth in Nyack with a safe place to enjoy supervised activities, access to technology, homework assistance and caring mentors. The Nyack Center became that place, and it continues to be an alternative to drinking, fighting, drugs and juvenile crime. Kim Cross continues, “Given that the Village of Nyack is considered everyone’s downtown locally, we attract youngsters and needy families outside Village confines. And we consider that a ‘good thing’. Our openness to the greater community’s needs is what we hope to keep going with Camp Nyack. Private donations can give children the blessing of a summer filled with wholesome memories.”

Donations to sponsor youngsters for Camp Nyack are tax deductible, and can be made out to “The Nyack Center”, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit. There is also a “Donate Now” section on the Center’s website,, where you can also watch a video about the organization and see pictures from prior Camp Nyack summers.

Nyack Center was founded in 1990 by a group of concerned citizens and is housed in a renovated historic church in the heart of Nyack, NY. The mission of the Nyack Center is to create connections across social, cultural and economic boundaries and to improve the life of all that live in the Nyack community. Nyack Center serves the Nyacks and the larger community of Rockland County, over 2000 people each year, by providing programs, facilities, and opportunities for service. We offer programs that nurture children, teens and families, and provide space for others with similar goals. Nyack Center is more than a community building; we are a place for building community.

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