Serving Orange County for over 100 years!
Braeside Camp exists in a beautiful and peaceful setting (an oasis in the heart of Middletown NY) Our campus is complete with tall trees, rolling hills and a creek that wraps around the perimeter, all creating the perfect backdrop to the endless fun and frivolity that takes place here in the summer.
The program has been in existence since approximately 1897 and began as a place for children to come and recover and convalesce from tuberculosis here in the great outdoors. After tragically losing it’s founders to the disease, the camp turned over to a not for profit in the mid 1930’s. At that time it became dedicated to providing an authentic, enriching and educational overnight camp experience for kids in the Orange County NY area. While the camp serves many children, it is dedicated especially to those that could not otherwise afford such an experience, and has existed as such ever since. Through the generous support of local donors and agency’s like the OC Youth Bureau and The Dyson Foundation, most of the campers are able to come on some type of scholarship.
It is our belief that the unique experience of being away for a sustained period of time in such a positive setting allows for profound developmental growth through many of the experiential opportunities that occur. There is a tremendous amount of pressure put on schools to have children perform to today’s stringent academic standards. Because of this there is very little time left for children to gain all of those valuable social and emotional lessons once afforded to them in the school setting. Considering there is even the slightest truth to the adage that most of life’s lessons are learned during Kindergarten, losing that opportunity to all of the pressures and expectations necessary to keep up with academic proficiency is a very serious public problem, and will impact society as a whole.
Braeside prides itself on creating a culture of caring and nurturance where kids can feel safe and comfortable with one another. We promote the philosophy of unconditional positive regard and direct our staff each day to catch children who reflect the Braeside Bees (Bee Respectful, Bee Responsible, Bee Kind) These kids are called upon and praised each day during meal times. We recently integrated the Olweus Bully Prevention Model that teaches the value of diversity and each session we offer an exciting and creative bully prevention workshop, setting the tone of care and compassion for our incoming campers.
Our 4 core programs are swim instruction, nature/environmental education, Arts and Crafts and cooperative games and sports. We also offer a 5th specialty class the children choose from that often includes creative writing, dance, drama, multimedia, exercise, nutrition, cooking, yoga. Last year we instituted our first gardening program with four raised bed gardens as a way to provide valuable education lessons in nutrition to our children who have a very limited dietary and nutritional skillset. With a collaboration with Cornell Cooperative there were master gardeners in each day giving classes and assisting in the integration of fresh grown foods to our camp menu.
In an attempt to fully professionalize our staffing we have established relationships with Mt St. Marys, OCCC and Orange-Ulster BOCES to recruit the very best caregivers for all of the children that arrive at our gates. Counselors are chosen based mainly on experience working with children and having aspirations to pursue careers in Education and Human Services.
The camp is truly a collaborative agency serving the community in a variety of ways. Braeside hires 6-8 staff members each year through the Summer Youth Employment Program giving low-income teens an exciting, first-time vocational experience. Braeside also works with Big Brothers Big Sisters, Newburgh Schools Homeless Laison, Middletown Homeless Shelter, Astor, OC Youth Bureau and School personnel throughout Orange County to recruit children in need who have encountered a variety of challenges over the course of the year and would benefit from the experience of being away at summer camp.
Braeside also has longstanding volunteer service commitments from our local Middletown, Chester and Minisink Kiwanis groups, Goshen and Middletown Rotary, The O.C. Jr League, along with a variety of other service-minded people who all pitch in to update and beautify our facilities and make it happen each year. Braeside is committed to leveling the playing field for Orange County children one camper at a time.