Rye YMCA Blog


Happy 70th Anniversary, Rye Y Summer Camp!

Playing kickball in the 1970s

In 1948, the first Polaroid camera went on sale. The World Health Organization was established. NASCAR held its first race for modified stock cars at Daytona Beach. And the Rye Y started a summer day camp that has given generations of children the opportunity to make friends, learn new skills and grow in confidence, all in a safe, fun environment.

Seventy years ago, there was no Brookside or Pa Cope Pool. (Pa Cope himself was very much alive and leading the Rye Y.) The first campers enjoyed swimming at Playland and kickball, softball and badminton outside the original old house, in a field where the parking lot now lies.

By the 1990s, the Y’s facility had grown, but still posed a challenge for camp staff, who took over the building during the summer months. During that time, Penny Cozza, the Y’s Membership Engagement Associate, led a group of three and four-year-old campers. She recalls the logistics of moving young children from one floor to another and one activity to another throughout the building before the major expansion of the early 2000s.

“We would meet downstairs for drop-off and greeting time. We proceeded to the pool for swim lessons and then moved outside for craft classes and snacks. If music was scheduled, we went to the upstairs lobby, where Ellen Watermelon entertained the children. Rainy days took us upstairs to the third floor for movie time and songs

Today, the Rye Y summer camp serves approximately 1,500 children a year, offering seven different camp programs for ages 3-16 at the Rye Y and Osborn Elementary School. Through our Y Cares Financial Assistance program, we make sure that every child who wants to attend camp is able to, regardless of their family’s ability to pay. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, the Rye Y awarded over $240,000 in financial assistance to 200 campers last year alone.

The world has changed a lot since 1948, and so has the Rye Y’s summer camp. However, our core values remain the same. As one Y Cares family told us “The Y camp’s emphasis on respect, caring, honesty, and responsibility challenges [our children] daily to grow into caring, honest and responsible people.”

We want to hear your Rye Y summer camp story!  If you’ve ever been a camper or a counselor at the Y’s day camp, send your reminiscences to Lisa Tidball at lisa@ryeymca.org.

1963 Day Campers