Camp Echo Lake New York is situated in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains about 3-1/2 hours north of New York City. Founded in 1946 by the Medine family, Camp Echo Lake has been home to 475 children, ages 7-16, during their summer vacations. A summer long program, for 51 days, Echo Lake camp has the goal of teaching children to work cooperatively, learn self-reliance and build self-esteem. It has a 90% return rate of summer campers who come from the Northeastern United States and all over the world. Camp Echo Lake employs 220 full-time counselors and staff each summer who also come from all over the world. Camp staff must have completed one year of college and many are college and graduate students, teachers, childcare workers, and athletic professionals. Echo Lake camp requires their staff to be role models and an inspiration to the children they are in charge of for the summer.

Camp Echo Lake seeks to instill a sense of being “comfortable in one’s skin” and so emphasis on physical appearance is downplayed. No makeup or hair styling accessories are allowed. Dress clothes are not needed as campers are involved in physical activities throughout the day. A camping wardrobe only needs to include clothing items that allow for comfort. Another important part of the Camp Echo Lake experience is the awarding of “fuzzies”. “Fuzzies” are small little puffs of soft yarn which are awarded to campers and staff who exhibit kindness, cooperation and helpfulness to others. Each night, at dinner, campers and staff are awarded a “fuzzy” if their fellow campers have nominated them to receive one. Once a camper or staff member have received a “fuzzy” they can pass their “fuzzy” on to another camper or staff member they feel is showing the character traits that demonstrate cooperation and kindness. This is the Echo Lake Camp version of reinforcement of good behavior. Campers look forward to receiving their own “fuzzy” and work hard to achieve the honor.

Camp Echo Lake strives to help each camper achieve their best. This includes not only physical activity and cooperative events but also their food choices. The menu at Echo Lake camp is nutritious and delicious. Fresh fruit is served with every meal and a vegetarian menu as well as salad bar are available for lunch and dinner. Their goal is to teach the children the value in eating a well-balanced meal versus junk food. Nutritious food is fuel for the brain and for the body.

Camp Echo Lake also has several programs available to help alleviate parent’s and children’s apprehensions about attending a full summer camping experience. They have an open house in the spring to answer any questions parents might have concerning the camp. They also host a spring picnic for all new campers so they can meet other new campers before the summer program. Echo Lake Camp also has a Big Brother/Big Sister program for new campers. When considering a full summer camping program, it is beneficial to have the opportunity to meet the staff and get questions answered before making the commitment.

When browsing Camp Echo Lake reviews I noted the following common themes. The first was the expense of the camp. For the summer of 2014 the cost, per camper, is $10,925. This includes food, lodging, activities, and bus transportation to and from camp to the local airport or bus station for June 28 through August 17. Many parents believe the cost is worth it for the wonderful experience their children have while others feel the cost is too exorbitant. Secondly, I read several reviews from campers and parents complaining about the quality of the counselors calling them “mean”, “rude” and in one instance “evil”. While they felt the camp experience itself was wonderful, they did feel Camp Echo Lake could do a better job in screening camp counselors. Lastly, in spite of cost and counselors the overwhelming majority of reviews recommended the camp as an affirming place for children to spend their summer. Many campers were returnees with an average of 3 years at the camp.

Camp Echo Lake NY is a well-respected camp with over 47 years in providing a safe and educational summer experience for children. If parents are considering sending their child or children to a full summer program, Camp Echo Lake might be the place they’re looking for. Whenever considering a summer camp experience for your child make sure to completely research the program, staff and facility with the American Camp Association which monitors the accreditation and performance of summer camps. You can read their accreditation standards in the “American Camp Association’s Accreditation Standards for Camp Programs”.

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