We’re blessed to have a beautiful property and great programs, but the most important thing at any summer camp is the culture.

Read on to find some thoughts from Ben Esposito, our camp director, to get a sense of what the Alvernia philosophy is all about.

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7 Reasons Why Camp Alvernia is Awesome

We work hard to make Camp Alvernia one of the best youth development organizations in the country. If you support and believe in us, please share this with all of your friends on Facebook and/or by email. Feel free to add what Alvernia means to you! Thanks!

1. This is our 128th consecutive year as a summer camp. We are one of the oldest camps in the country, and still going strong.

2. We select, train, and develop over 180 staff members to serve as role models for over 800 boys and girls aged 4-14. That’s 180+ jobs for local college students and adults. We teach and expect nothing less than maturity, professionalism, and integrity.

3. We combat “nature deficit disorder” and childhood obesity with an active camp program in a rustic setting. We have intentionally kept from overdeveloping our property so that our children can experience the joys of trees, birds, chipmunks, bugs, mud, sand, salt water, crabs, and more.

4. We provide face-to-face social development to the first generation of children to grow up in a world of all digital interactions. We don’t permit campers to bring in cell phones or other technologies, and we require that the staff follow suit. This allows campers and staff alike to focus on participation and relationship, rather than disengaging and being passively entertained.

5. We provide financial assistance valued at $500,000 every summer so that parents in serious financial difficulty can recover from illnesses, deal with complicated divorce proceedings, work multiple jobs, etc. and know that their children are safe, happy, and growing. The economic and social impact of this program on our precious community cannot be measured.

6. We have developed a wonderful job training program for staff with special needs. These young adults have had opportunities here they would never be given elsewhere, plus training and support from our job coaches.

7. Camp Alvernia is a respected leader in the summer camp industry. Our camp director Ben Esposito has won local and national leadership awards. He serves on the board of our accrediting organization, the American Camp Association’s New York and New Jersey section. He serves as president of the New York State Camp Director’s Association (NYSCDA), the only organization in the state that advocates for summer camps in Albany. Ben also regularly speaks at the largest camp conference in the country, the Tristate Camp Conference in Atlantic City, has served for multiple years as co-chair of one of five professional development tracks at the conference.

Thanks for your continued support everyone!

Bundles Of Beginnings

At Camp Alvernia we encourage all campers to try things out, even if they’re new, because we know the value of beginning. We’re all beginners at some point, and we let our campers know that it’s ok if they try something new and they’re not that great at it. You’ve got to be bad sometimes before you can be good!

All of us have dreams, great big glorious thoughts of who we’ll become and what we’ll accomplish. Our young ones dream of being like Daddy or Mommy, of being a fireman or a musician. As adults we dream of beautiful relationships, success and recognition at work, and the satisfaction of knowing our lives make a difference in the lives of others. We set off down the path with strong resolve and high hopes, and somehow many of us get distracted and lost along the way.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said that the great majority of men (and women) are bundles of beginnings. At Camp Alvernia, we challenge ourselves as a staff to be more than just beginners. We want to be finishers. What sets successful people apart is that they don’t just begin to lose weight or stop swearing or patch up a broken relationship — they persevere until it’s done. And there’s nothing like the feeling of putting your heart into something that’s worth doing, and coming out on the other side successful.

So here’s to starting strong AND finishing well. And here’s to all of the wonderful people who make up the Camp Alvernia family. God bless.

The Value of Play

G.K. Chesterton said that the true object of human life is play, and nowhere is that more evident than right here at Camp Alvernia. I always tell people I have the greatest job anyone could have, and it’s true. I get to spend my days helping children grow, helping staff learn, and encouraging parents and families. And I am constantly reminded of Chesterton’s wisdom as I make my way around our beautiful 15 acres every summer. It is easy for us adults to get caught up in the serious stuff of life — paying bills, visiting relatives, dealing with personal situations, etc. — and forget to enjoy ourselves. But it’s hard to stay serious when a group of Cayuga boys comes around the corner with huge gap-toothed smiles and loud hellos.

There are so many things in life that compete for our attention, and kids help to remind us of what’s really important. A mad footrace around the main building is pure enthusiasm and adrenaline, the thrill of competition, and the joy of hearing your friends scream your name in encouragement. Going out in a canoe or sailboat for the first time is facing a challenge, feeling the butterflies in your stomach and the fear of failure, and finding fulfillment in learning to do something you weren’t able to do yesterday. Playing hard isn’t all enjoyment either; sometimes the sweat and heat calls for a refreshing dip in the pool, which soothes tired muscles and cools hot skin. And what better way to pause in the middle of all the activity than to sit under a tree and listen to a quiet story read by someone who cares, a story which teaches something special and important about fairness or love.

As part of my Camp Alvernia family, I want to encourage you to get down on your hands and knees so to speak and get dirty with your kids. Stay connected with their lives, their interests, their friends. Not only do they need you, you need them.

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