MAC (Mainstreaming At Camp)

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campers

What is the MAC program?

MAC is a recreational summer camp program where the focus is having fun in a supportive and inclusive residential camp setting. MAC is run in partnership with Frost Valley YMCA, one of the nation’s largest residential summer camps.

Frost Valley YMCA and YAI are leaders in their fields and are able to bring together neuro-typical and developmentally disabled children and young adults in a way it does not happen anywhere else.

Campers in the MAC program are included in the larger camp population, while still maintaining a camaraderie and pride in their villages. Within the MAC villages, there is a ratio of 3:1 (camper:staff) maintained at all times. This allows for additional support with ADLs (activities of daily living), navigating social interactions, and flexibility for each individual’s specific needs. Most importantly, we see campers in the MAC program self-defining as a part of the larger camp community, developing pride in their experience.

What is meant by Mainstreaming?

Our campers are a part of Frost Valley YMCA summer camp where all children are placed in villages. MAC villages participate in all activities with the typically developed campers including but not limited to meals, waterfront, choice periods and the large “All Camp” activities.

Who is MAC a good fit for?

The most important thing is that the camper wants to be at camp. This means they enjoy social settings, as most of the camp activities and scheduling is dependent on this.

Most campers in the MAC program:

  • Are 8 – 18 years old
  • Are able to be successful in at 3:1 (camper: staff) ratio
  • Are able to use the bathroom independently
  • Are able to communicate when they need help
  • Desire to be a part of a group of peers
  • Desire to try new things and follow a schedule of new & exciting activities with others

Great! How do I apply?

Our application process is rolling. Fill out our interest form to find out more.

How will my child be ready to go to camp this summer?

We are gathering information and advice all along our intake process. We get in touch with schools/extracurricular activities to speak to the child outside of the family unit. We know that for most MAC campers, knowing what to expect helps them feel less anxious about something new. We share detailed descriptions of a typical day at camp. After registration our campers and their parents/guardians will have a chance to meet each other and our staff in the spring at our Orientation day in Manhattan. Additionally there are three open houses at Frost Valley YMCA which we encourage our families to participate in. This provides the opportunity to see the physical layout of camp.

What kind of contact can I expect to have while my child is at camp?

It is important to us that you know your child is safe and happy at camp. That is why our leadership team works hard to keep communication open during the summer sessions, within the first 48 hours of camp our on-site leadership team call with a report of how the transition to camp is going with each camper. In addition, we will call you if we have any concerns about your child’s success at camp. We also participate in a password protected photo sharing website so that families can log in to see the activities and happenings of camp.

What happens if my child wants to go home?

Everyone adjusts differently and symptoms of missing home present differently in all of us, this is why we gather a lot of information. If anything seems out of the ordinary we will call to get family input. Campers that overcome challenging beginnings tend to enjoy camp even more and have discovered and used coping skills they may have never known about without the experience.

How do you handle bullying at camp?

Bullying in MAC, and at Frost Valley YMCA as a whole, is not acceptable. We work very hard to create a safe nurturing environment for —campers and staff included—and any attempt to disturb that is taken seriously. There are steps taken to support everyone, but if anyone is unable to commit to contributing to a positive experience it may lead to them being removed from the environment.

Where will my child sleep?

All of our campers age 8-18 live in lodge style housing with private bathrooms, hot water and showers. Campers have plenty of space for clothes and other personal items. Each lodge is broken into rooms of 4 totaling 16 campers and 4 live in staff. STEP participants age 18-24 live in dormitory-style housing, 2 or 3 to a room with supervision in separate rooms.

Is laundry done at camp?

Laundry is done twice during the stay at camp, typically on the first and second Wednesday of the session. You will only need to pack enough clothes for about 7 to 10 days. Our older campers (sometimes) and STEP members do their own laundry in order to work towards independence goals.

What will my child eat?

Three hot, wholesome meals are served daily. The dining hall offers a vast array of options from the typical kid fare to organic, gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan options. Care is taken to meet the dietary needs of all of our campers. Fresh fruit is available all day long. Chartwells Educational Dining Service creates the menus, ensuring that each meal is nutritionally balanced. Candy and soda are not served or sold in the Camp Store

Do the camps administer medication?

Yes. There is an infirmary with a registered nurse who is responsible for administering each child’s medication. Counselors are aware of when each child’s medication is to be given. The camp nurse is the only staff member to pass out medication.

How will my child get to and from camp?

Coach buses will be departing and returning at the designated bus location. The buses are fully staffed with the camp counselors who work hard to ensure everyone is feeling comfortable. Camp truly begins at the bus stop.

Staff

What makes MAC special? Our counselors.

The people who make the MAC experience so special are almost all people who fell in love with the Frost Valley YMCA as children. These former campers return year after year to help others enjoy the same magical experience.

Alice Dannenberg

Alice Dannenberg stands in front of a wall and poses with a smile

Senior Supervisor

Alice joined the YAI community in June 2016. Originally from Atlanta, Alice spent a lot of time exploring the mountains in North Georgia. Her love of bonfires and mac n’ cheese stems from her years working at a summer camp in Georgia. Prior to joining the YAI team, Alice managed programs at Best Buddies New York, an organization promoting social inclusion for those with and without disabilities. She also oversees YAI Leisure Trax, a vacation program for adults. In her free time, Alice enjoys exploring New York on her bike and watching baseball. Alice is excited about the many adventures ahead at camp!

Kat Leonard

Kat Leonard wears a red top and stands in a wide green space with mountains in far distance.

Supervisor

Kat started with YAI in 2016, she has worked at Frost Valley in various MAC counselor positions since 2011. Summer camp holds a special place in her heart and she enjoys sharing her love of camp with others. Kat graduated from the University of Delaware with a B.A. in Psychology and minors in Disabilities Studies and Cognitive Science. While at the University of Delaware Kat worked as a Life Skills Coach at the school’s Center for Disabilities Studies where she learned the importance of recreation in living a fulfilling life. Kat is currently pursuing her MSW at Columbia School of Social Work. She is happy to be able to pursue her degree while doing work she loves!

Tim Allan

Headshot of Tim Allan, mountains are in the distance behind him

On-site MAC Director

Tim started working with the MAC program at Frost Valley in 2013 and has held various leadership positions within the program. Growing up in the Lower East Side of New York City and attending Frost Valley YMCA in the Catskills every summer since he was seven has shown him the importance of outdoor recreation. Tim graduated from SUNY New Paltz with a B.A in Sociology with a Concentration in Human Services and a Minor in Disaster Psychology. During this time, he worked with an art therapist at a residential home, taught snowboarding lessons to people with disabilities at the Adaptive Sports Foundation, and travelled supporting YAI Leisure Trax, a vacation program for adults. Tim loves basketball, bicycling, and everything the outdoors has to offer! He is proud to support a summer camp that enriches the quality of life for campers, families and staff!

Village Chiefs / Senior Staff

5 people sitting on a climbing/balance beam and smile for photo

Our senior staff oversee the overall functioning of our four villages. They provide on-going support to our counselors, initiate schedules and programming, and help maintain the continuity with Frost Valley YMCA’s understanding of how to best support our campers and their stay at camp. They also work directly with campers!

To apply for a summer position in MAC staff:

Visit the Frost Valley application page.

Our specially trained counselors provide additional support whenever necessary and are selected on the basis of their sensitivity, kindness and commitment to providing campers with a positive and joyful experience. All staff members have access to YAI’s acclaimed training and support programs.