About Unirondack

In short, Unirondack is a non-profit summer camp nestled away in a beautiful corner of the Adirondacks. To many, however, it is so much more. Our goal is to tirelessly work to give summer campers, families, weekend groups, volunteers, and staff a place that is a politically righteous, emotionally intentional, and humbly aware of our own shortcomings. Unirondack is a place where we encourage all people to be their true selves and let the inner self come alive. We do this through direct conversation and community norms that raise up and empower traditionally underrepresented voices. Our camp leadership believes in holding ones self accountable for mistakes and being able to do that in a place that still makes room for those who make mistakes to grow and learn and that includes ourselves. We are queer-friendly, body positive, unapologetically feminist, fueled by compassion and hopeful for a better world that starts at Unirondack and carries far beyond the walls of our buildings and benches of our campfire circle. If self-exploration and learning sound like values that you’d like to see paired inseparably with laughing until your knees give out and crying through tears of joy, come see what we’re all about. We know we aren’t perfect, but we hold that truth as a reminder to always strive to work harder to go good camp.

Mission Statement

Our mission is to provide an environment that inspires people to explore responsible roles in the web of life through physical, mental, and spiritual challenges.

Our programs respect different traditions and the search for truth. The primary purpose of Unirondack is education, emphasizing the learning that results from experience. Programs are intentionally designed to challenge campers to examine their beliefs, to encourage campers to value the unique contributions of each individual, and to promote the development of a caring and inclusive community.

We are an alcohol, drug and smoke free community. Unirondack is open to all people regardless of religion, race, color, creed, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or any other personal identity or identity expression therein.

LGBTQ

At Unirondack we have a fierce passion for upending the current social structures of gendered-hierarchy, heteronormism, cisnormism, and binary gender structures. While not perfect, we aim to make Unirondack welcoming and safe for people across all genders, gender identities, gender expressions, sexualities, sexual orientations, and the many intersectional factors that influence all of these factors. We like to say that Unirondack welcomes all who may be in the alphabet soup as a light-hearted reference to the many different letters we try to use to represent our many identities. The leadership of Unirondack is predominantly queer and we enjoy the many ways that it influences how we view the role we have as a camp.

Unirondack Board of Directors 2017-2018

President

Michael Bikales [email protected]

Vice President

Joy Horvath [email protected]

Treasurer

Mark Evans [email protected]

Secretary

Jonathan Gottfried [email protected]

Member-at-Large

Vee Abbitt [email protected]

Member-at-Large & Membership Committee Chair

Renee Panetta [email protected]

Member-at-Large

Emma Simpson [email protected]

Member-at-Large & Buildings & Grounds Committee Chair

Dan Robertson [email protected]

Co-Youth Representative

Sequoia Lowe

Co-Youth Representative

Lydia Hursh

Physical Grounds

Unirondack is located on a 9-acre plot of land on a small peninsula on Beaver Lake in the Western Adirondack Park in Upstate New York on land previously occupied by the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, specifically the Mohawk and Oneida Nations.

The camp is comprised of nine cabins in five buildings, a large presentation/theater space, a small recording studio, a field for large group activities or sports, a gaga pit, a swingset and small basketball court, a large Adirondack-style lodge, a large heated dormitory-style building, a dining hall which can seat 120 people, and has a lakeside artshop. We have a boathouse which has 14 canoes, 10 kayaks, and 2 sunfish sailboats as well as a small beachfront with a dock and swimming area.

Unirondack as a grounds is fairly rough to move about in. We have ramps and some wheelchair accessible buildings at camp and with the right accommodations and planning can meet most folks needs however prior arrangements are recommended. We are working to increase the accessibility of camp to folks with mobility needs but to a large extent we admit that it will be some time before we can ever call ourselves accessible to those with mobility needs.

During the summer the average temperature is about 68 degrees in summer with 3.5 inches of rain per month in July and August. We are a remote camp, located 30 miles from the nearest town of Lowville. This provides us a breathtaking night sky as well as a feeling of true oneness with nature that we feel is essential to our camp experience.

Unirondack: A Special Place

Founded in 1951 by the New York State Convention of Universalists, Unirondack is a Unitarian Universalist Camp and Conference Center located in the forever wild forests of the Western Adirondack Mountains.

The main buildings of camp sit atop a hill overlooking beautiful Beaver Lake. Our performing arts center, boathouse and art shop, campfire circle, cookout area, athletic field and swimming beach sit directly at the water’s edge.

Unirondack is a community that is shaped and re-shaped each summer by its staff members, campers, and volunteers. We offer some things in common with other summer camps: a beautiful lakeside setting, a wide range of daily activities, family-style meals, and the chance to spend time away in the woods. But what truly makes us unique is the energy, caring and creativity of the people who call Unirondack home.

Our enrollment is small relative to other children’s camps, with approximately 15 counselors and 60 campers in each of our youth sessions, allowing counselors to provide personal attention to campers, creating a close-knit community. The exceptional young adults chosen to comprise our counseling staff receive professional training in leadership, program planning and implementation, conflict resolution, child development, safety and first aid, and methods of fostering an inclusive community.

Inventiveness runs rampant. Where else can you build a city in the sand, construct a cardboard/duct tape canoe, participate in a hilarious game show, paint your counselor, take on the persona of your favorite Harry Potter character, play shoe golf, learn circus arts, perform in a play, and still have time each day to swim, kayak, sing, and read poetry around a campfire?

Though we take pride in the creativity and abundance of our activities, Unirondack is more than its activities. It is a place where many people feel completely at home for the first time in their lives. At Unirondack we live the values that are inherent in Unitarian Universalist principles—acceptance, compassion, and decision-making through the democratic process.

Each camper matters. We take time to figure out what our campers need and want. Campers and staff members share their thoughts and feelings about camp and our community during our daily “Camp Council.” Counselors spend their days getting to know campers through shared activities, long talks during cabin time, organized discussion groups, bursts of spontaneous fun, and that careful learning about another person that takes time and patience. Like that great teacher one remembers forever, our campers hold dear the relationships they form with their counselors, and the friendships they make with each other are meaningful ones that continue through the years.

At Unirondack we cherish the uniqueness of each camper. We welcome the nerdy, the creative, the free-spirited, the independent, the flamboyant, the hesitant, the shy, and the self-assured. We are a place of personal safety—a place to flourish. We are a place where silliness is acceptable behavior and fun is joined with learning. We are a place where campers get to do things they just don’t get to do during their “normal” everyday lives. We are a place of self-reflection and discovery.

Parents often report that their children have somehow changed over the summer, become more confident, developed new skills, and learned things about themselves and others. They are surprised by the tears on departure day from their child—often the same child who was doubtful camp was for him or her.

Children, teens, adults and families who have spent a weekend, a week or a summer at Unirondack yearn to return again and again, for Unirondack is a special place — a community that allows us to be ourselves while being part of something greater.