Youth Summer Camp

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Unirondack is excited at the possibility of finding ways to make our program happen for  next year. We anticipate many additional challenges and creative solutions, but we are nevertheless committed to tackling the work of creating a Unirondack that is safe and enjoyable for our campers within the context of COVID-19 precautions. We are still waiting to hear from the New York State Dept. of Health with their regulations for summer camps, and while we wait we are already establishing norms and expectations for how our program will work. In the meantime, feel free to read the Q&A below, or email us with specific questions. We may not have all the answers yet, but we’re already hard at work to make camp happen in line with the regulations to come. We hope to see you soon!

FAQs (Last Updated June 1, 2021)

Will camp be open in 2021?

Yes! With Governor Cuomo’s announcement on February 17, Unirondack is fully expecting on and planning to be open and operational for youth camps this summer. Our plan is to find a way to operate safely in 2021 working with NYS professionals and CDC guidelines. We are waiving our refund policy for 2021 to encourage parents and families to register and we will offer 100% cancellation refunds to all families this season.

How much will campers be masked?

Campers who are outside at a greater distance than 6 feet will not be required to wear a mask. While sleeping and eating at a distance of six feet or greater, campers will not be required to wear masks. When inside and interacting with campers outside of their stable group, all campers will be required to wear a mask. Campers who are vaccinated and with other vaccinated campers in their stable group will not be required to wear a mask.

Who is on staff for medical? What is their experience with youth gatherings relative to COVID?

Unirondack has a nurse or EMT on camp 24 hours a day. While we haven’t yet hired our EMT or Nurse for 2021 but we are seeking candidates with hospital experience who have been trained in COVID-19 recognition and containment procedures.

How will you be handling contact tracing for campers/staff on camp?

Right now the plan is to keep camp in three separate stable groups with limited overlap between the two. Because we know where all campers are at all times it should help us maintain the two pods with strong accuracy. We also know which campers are in which programs throughout the day. Should a positive case arise, we make no promise in being able to perfectly contact trace our campers whereabouts, but we should be able to use state guidelines of proximity risk (15 or more minutes within 6 feet of someone) to make a short list of campers and staff who may need to quarantine or be tested.

What happens if someone tests positive or shows symptoms of COVID-19?

The real answer to this question is expected to be strictly by guidance of the CDC and New York State Dept. of Health regulations as they already give direct and clear guidelines for handling exposures to other similar outbreaks such as Measles. But in anticipation of what these regulations will bring we are maintaining several spaces on camp to remain clean and empty for spaces to quarantine in the case of an outbreak. The affected camper or staff and the staff they have been assigned to will be quarantined until testing can be made. Camper’s parents will be notified and arrangements will be made for the camper to be picked up from camp. Staff will be sent home, but allowed to return 7 days after their last day with symptoms.

How long until I know about it? What is the procedure for telling parents?

We will contact parents of the child by phone immediately. Within 2 hours of a positive test, all camper’s parents should be notified by email and we will have a designated staff member to begin calling parents by phone.

Will staff be tested for next year?

All staff who are not fully vaccinated by the time they arrive will be required to submit a negative COVID test within 72 hours of arrival and agree to strict quarantine measures leading up to camp.

Will staff be vaccinated?

Right now we are expecting that our entire staff will be fully vaccinated by the time campers arrive. Additionally, any volunteers and visitors to camp this summer will be required to be fully vaccinated in accordance with local and state guidelines.

What PPE will be available?

Masks and gloves will be available throughout camp as well as sanitizing spray for each group use and program area.

Temperature checks?

Temperature checks of staff and campers will be performed at breakfast and dinner each day. Any elevated temperature will result in a quarantine and test before being allowed to return to camp activities.

What is the max capacity for camp?

Camp will in all likelihood be limited to 54 campers. That is the number that we are currently planning on hosting although with new information that may change and is largely dictated by safe sleeping space availability.

What will meal times be like?

We hope you like cookout! With the purchase of two outdoor seating tents we expect to serve all of our meals in 2021 in our outdoor dining facility on lower camp and in two outdoor open air tents with campers and staff at least six feet apart at all times. Vaccinated staff and campers who are within the same stable group will be permitted to eat within six feet of each other.

How often will my campers be in indoor spaces?

While this is dependent on the weather, we will be utilizing our outdoor spaces as much as possible. We encourage parents to pack extra layers for comfort and bug spray as well!

What will sleeping spaces look like?

Unvaccinated campers will be spread out by six feet or more in cabins that have been modified to achieve a minimum of 3 cycles of air per hour. Vaccinated campers will be permitted to sleep within six feet of one another.

What will differences in check-in and check-out procedures look like?

All parents, staff, and campers will be required to wear masks at all times. Temperatures of all people entering camp will be taken while still in the car, and we will wrap your cookies in individualized wax paper. Don’t worry, we’re not giving up check-in cookies, even in a pandemic.

What about the dance?

Unfortunately, the dance right now is in question for 2021. We have invested some research in “silent disco” setups that would allow our campers to all wear headphones and enjoy the dance outside, but we don’t currently have a definitive plan for how the dance might look in 2021. Your ideas are welcome!


For ages 9-12

JUNE 27 – JULY 3, 2021 FEE: $825

(includes $25 Camp Store credit)

Barton is our youngest full week session. It’s a great introduction for camp and our staff make the most of measures to address homesickness and make sure campers at this age are well taken care of. We begin learning what it means to build a camp community together and begin lessons for future years. We know that this age can be tough for kids to be away from their parents and encourage parents of Barton campers to reach out with any needs you may have!

NOTE: Sessions will initially be limited to 60% capacity. Please plan accordingly!

Register Here!

Channing 1 & 2

For ages 12-14

JULY 4-10 & 11–17, 2021 FEE: $825

(includes $25 Camp Store credit)

Channing is a special week, combining the energies and perspectives of campers of both elementary school and middle school ages. By breaking through the presumed age barrier between elementary and middle school, campers will develop new understanding and respect for each other. Through the facilitation of our professionally trained staff of caring young adults, campers work closely with each other to develop a close-knit community capable of making decisi

NOTE: Sessions will initially be limited to 60% capacity. Please plan accordingly!

Register Here!

Parker 1 & 2

For ages 14-16

JULY 18–24 & JULY 25–31, 2021 FEE: $825

(includes $25 Camp Store credit)

Parker gives both junior and senior high school age campers the chance to explore the common threads that run through young adulthood. Our trained staff of caring young adults work with campers to develop a close-knit community capable of making decisions together about their camp experience. All aspects of both our Channing and Ballou sessions are incorporated. A carefully cultivated atmosphere of trust and caring produces the safety that allows campers to explore themselves and try new things. Like our Ballou sessions, Parker 1 & 2 focuses on discussions of issues that are important to teens, outdoor activities, and creative expression in many forms.

NOTE: Sessions will initially be limited to 60% capacity. Please plan accordingly!

Register Here!

Ballou 1 & 2

For ages 16-18

AUG 1 – 7 & AUG 8 – 14, 2021 FEE: $825

(includes $25 Camp Store credit)

Ballou campers quickly develop a close-knit community. Campers have a substantial voice in creating their camp experience, and through skilled facilitation, they learn to accept and value the unique contribution of each individual. A carefully cultivated atmosphere of trust and caring produces the safety that allows campers to explore themselves and try new things. This session focuses on discussions of issues that are important to teens, outdoor activities, and creative expression in many forms. Our extraordinary, professionally trained staff helps campers develop the tools they need to make good decisions independently. We provide an excellent staff-to-camper ratio that allows significant individual attention for each camper.

NOTE: Sessions will initially be limited to 60% capacity. Please plan accordingly!

Register Here!

We’re offering four trip camps this year to encourage small-group engagement with Unirondack leaders. Each trip is different with paddling, climbing,and backpacking offered throughout the summer. Additional trips may be added as things fill so check back often!

Fox Trip
For ages 12 – 14
JUNE 27 – JULY 3, 2021 FEE: $800

Fox Trip is a hiking trip for campers ages 12 – 14 taking on a middle-sized section of the Adirondack High Peaks most prized views… The infamous Great Range! Campers will tackle Wright Peak, Algonquin, Marcy, and navigate the beautiful passageway of Wallface Pass.

Loon Trip
For ages 13-15
JULY 11–17, 2021 FEE: $800

Loon Trip is, of course, a trip on water! Taking on the beautiful waterways and camping opportunities of Cranberry Lake, Loon trip is a tour of one of the Adirondack’s most pristine backcountry lakes.

Moose Trip
For ages 14-16
JULY 25–31, 2021 FEE: $800

The all-in-one. Moose trip is a dash of hiking, a drop of paddling, and a pinch of rock climbing all rolled into one week! Starting with high peaks hiking before meeting up with our climbing guides to enjoy rock climbing on Wright Peak, the tail end of the trip is a paddling experience on Cranberry Lake before heading back to Unirondack for some well-earned cookies and sharing of stories.

Beaver Trip
For ages 15-18
AUG 8 – 14, 2021 FEE: $800

Beaver Trip is a classic challenge of the Adirondacks and merely the first leg of a 740-mile trip that carries on to Maine, the 90-miler has been paddled for centuries. Starting Monday only 30 miles from camp, this continuous route from Old Forge, takes the Moose River through the Fulton Chain Lakes, to Raquette Lake and the Raquette River to Forked Lake, Long Lake and finally via the Stony Creek Ponds to Upper, Middle, and Lower Saranac lake and ends at Lake Flower.


Trip Camp Packing List:


  • Water bottle
  • Day pack, 40 liters or larger
  • Hiking Boots
  • 3 pairs of socks (wool preferred)
  • Clothes appropriate for active days
  • Sunscreen (small container)
  • Bug Spray (small container)
  • Change of clothes for arrival back at camp


  • Water shoes or Durable Sandals
  • Personal rock climbing gear
  • Small Towel
  • Swimsuit

Camp Philosophy

Following the philosophy and values of Unitarian Universalism, Unirondack strives to be a place that is open and welcoming to all individuals regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, economic standing, sexual orientation, gender presentation, physical ability, and religion. Of course, we are not perfect. But goals are what we strive for, not what we have already achieved. Daily conversations as a staff and with our camp community regarding policies, decisions, and activities we offer try to keep these beliefs at the center of our decision making process as much as possible. We put our campers and their experience at the center of this decision making process as much as possible. While we are not evangelical in our promotion of the seven principles of Unitarian Universalism, they do provide helpful clarification in a conversation about camp’s goals. They are as follows:

  • Belief in the inherent worth and dignity of every person.
  • Support of justice, equity and compassion in human relations.
  • Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations.
  • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning.
  • The right of conscience and use of the democratic process in camp and in society at large.
  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.
  • Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

Unirondack is constantly searching for ways to be more effective at being responsible citizens of our global world. Our food is as locally sourced as we can afford, our staff are trained to listen to camper’s troubles with an open mind, our programs work to upend the constant pressure that our patriarchal world put on our young people, and we challenge heteronormative and cisnormative social structures daily. We push our campers to question their own beliefs and the beliefs that we have in our camp and invite a peaceful and productive dialogue about them.

Finally, we cannot overstate the importance of silliness and fun in the creation of an educational setting. We do believe that camp is a place where opinions can grow and develop and dreams can be realized but it is within an environment that is safe, creative, and wildly rampant with imaginative fun. We believe that immersing humor and levity in all areas of camp and always aim to assume best intentions in our neighbors in the camp community.


Our staff is recruited through word of mouth within our community as well as job postings in national camp publications. We staff a kitchen, a maintenance staff, support staff, and a large program staff. All staff, regardless of their position at camp are interviewed about their educational philosophy and are expected to be active in the larger camp community with campers. Our program staff is comprised of 20+ counselors and program specialists which gives us a counselor to camper ratio of 1:4 and a staff to camper ratio of 1:2. Our counselors are 18 years old or older and our leadership staff are at least 21 years old.

Before camp begins our staff attends a rigorous 7-10 day orientation depending on their position in the camp. During staff week we cover all state-mandated health and safety policies and procedures, emergency protocols, program planning, event management, sanitation and cleanliness, camp traditions, activity facilitation, and obviously our social and philosophical goals.


Unirondack food is not your typical camp food. To think that conscious food creation is not an essential part to building an intentional community runs counter to any successful camp world we know. Unirondack creates as many dishes as possible from whole ingredients and thinks about the nutritional diversity of dishes each day and week. Meals like spaghetti and macaroni and cheese are camp classics but we also pride ourselves in more diverse dishes such as peanut soup, Thai-style stir fry with pad Thai, spanakopita, sushi, and jerk chicken and tofu.

We are exceptionally adept at accommodating vegetarian and vegan diets that are not just removing meat but providing tasty replacements using tempeh, tofu, seitan, and vegetables and are always happy to accommodate our dairy-free and gluten-free campers. We are seasoned in meeting the needs of those with allergies of all kinds and are happy to work with your camper directly to create a food plan that meets their needs including those of campers struggling with eating disorders.

Additionally, we know that ingredients matter. All of our meats are locally sourced, we do not use high fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated oils in any dish, and we use as much pesticide-free and organic ingredients as possible.

Camp and Cabin Life:

Our cabins are rustic wooden cabins with bunk beds and range in size from 6 beds to 16 beds. All our summer cabins have toilet facilities and campers utilize a central showerhouse. In contrast to many summer camps, Unirondack allows parents to sign their campers up for a gender-inclusive housing option for all summer sessions. Cabins are staffed with 2 or 3 counselors per cabin who sleep in staff bunks in each cabin.

During camp activities we require a minimum of 1:10 staff to camper supervision which changes to 1:8 during swimming and boating activities with a minimum of two staff members. Our meals are communal and family-style with all staff and campers joining to break bread together for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Each day campers pick their afternoon activities and we offer a diverse program offering each day to provide a balance between active programs, intellectual programs, and pure fun and silliness. In general, we try to offer campers as much flexibility over their camp experience as possible.

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 once occupied by the Haudenosauneega 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.

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.

Camper Packing List

Ready to go?? Before you do, check our camper packing list and let’s make sure you’re all set to arrive! Pro Tip: Mark all items with your name so we can identify them!

Essential Items

  • Bedding: A warm blanket with sheets or a sleeping bag
  • Clothes: A variety of clothes for movement activities, water, warmth, and chilly nights
  • Sneakers or sturdy shoes appropriate for walking or running on camp grounds
  • Underwear, socks and sleep wear
  • Rainwear (poncho or rain jacket)
  • Swimsuit, towel and water shoes or sandals
  • Sun hat and/or sunglasses
  • Toiletries (soap, shampoo, toothbrush and toothpaste, hairbrush and comb)
  • Sunscreen and insect repellent
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Water Bottle

Optional Items

  • Musical instruments (for music workshops and campfire sharing)
  • Journal, stationery, envelopes, stamps or a book to read
  • Readings, poetry, music for campfire
  • Fun, funky, or dress-up clothes for banquet and dance
  • Camera (labeled clearly with your name)
  • White T-shirt or other white clothing items for Tye-Dying

What Not To Bring

  • Pocketknives or Blades of any kind
  • Fireworks
  • Cigarettes, Alcohol, Illegal Drugs,
  • Firestarters
  • Laser pointers
  • Cell Phones/Electronics

A Note About Lost Items:

It is important to label all of your items and to keep track of your belongings while at camp. We are unable to return clothing that is left at camp. Clothing that is left at camp is washed and donated to our local thrift store. In the rare event that we can locate a valuable item like a lost camera, you must pay the shipping costs to have the item mailed back to you. Please expect a delay of 3-6 weeks for shipping. Mailing items out from camp is difficult to do and is not a priority for our staff. We strongly recommend that you clearly label items of value or those that may easily go missing.

Camper Safety

Any summer camp will tell you that at the top of their list of priorities is camper safety. At Unirondack we operate under the standards and requirements of the New York State Department of Health and our rigorous Health & Safety Plan. Below, for your viewing, are the NYS DOH standards as well as our Health & Safety Plan.

Born in the summer of 2014, perhaps the first summer camp in the country, Unirondack began a trial of having a few cabins in our oldest sessions of youth campers designated as gender-inclusive. In 2018, we boldly expanded this option to camper sessions of all age groups.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why offer gender-inclusive cabins?

This is a long answer with many parallel philosophies. In short, to separate children by two genders reinforces a a gender binary that we simply don’t believe in. To do so would guarantee that every summer we host campers who feel like they are in the “wrong cabin.” Additionally, it creates a heteronormative assumption of our campers when we separate youth by gender as an antiquated safeguard against romantic attraction. The idea that we are preventing romantic feelings or sexual behavior by separating campers by boys and girls simply isn’t true. In the end we believe in the maturity of our campers to behave appropriately regardless of the gender identity of their cabin mates and our track record of hundreds of campers who have participated in gender-inclusive cabins without issue is a testament to that.

How do campers sign up for gender-inclusive cabins?

Gender-inclusive cabins are the default option. If you’d like to select a single-gender cabin, you may do so in the registration process.

Does a camper have to identify as trans, non-binary, gender-fluid, etc…

Nope! Gender-inclusive cabins are just what they sound like. They are open to campers of any gender.

What about staffing?

Gender-inclusive cabins are staffed by two staff of different genders.

What if my camper feels uncomfortable once the week begins?

The answer is the same as it would be for any camper, if a camper isn’t comfortable with their cabin space we will make all efforts to switch them to a cabin they would be more comfortable with. We’ve never run into a scenario in which we were unable to make this happen.

Where do campers change their clothes, shower, etc…

Same as other cabins, campers have access to private spaces to change their clothes and showers are in a separate showerhouse building. Campers are also allowed to change their clothes within appropriate boundaries in the cabins.

How many cabins are gender-inclusive?

This number changes depending on what parents indicate on their registration. We generally have 1 to 3 gender-inclusive cabins out of the 8 or 9 cabins we have on camp. For the younger sessions it is usually around 5% of our camper population, for the oldest sessions, it’s around 35%.

Arrival and Departure Time
Arrival is between 2PM and 4PM on Sunday.

Departure is between 10AM and Noon Saturday.

Please do not arrive early. We don’t mean to be rude but we have so much to do on the morning of camper arrival day and we need every bit of time to get set up. We will have a staff member at the end of camp road to greet you and they will let you know when we are ready for campers and parents to arrive. Please understand our need to get things ready for your arrival!