OSWEGO, NY – No April Fools – it looks as if Spring has finally taken hold in Oswego County.
Camp Hollis, located at 40 Health Camp Road on the Lake Ontario shoreline in the town of Oswego, has been owned and operated by Oswego County since July 1946.
The camp serves hundreds of children each summer. It runs in the summer, but also has a bunch of special events that are scheduled at various times throughout the year.
“We’re accepting applications (from potential campers). Right now what we’re doing is looking to fill our staff positions as well. We’re moving right along,” said camp director Brandon Morey, Coordinator of Recreation and Youth Development for the Youth Bureau.
He started going to camp when he was 8 years old. And, he “hasn’t missed a summer yet.”
An open house will be held in May to help people get acquainted with the camp and what it has to offer.
The goal is to serve as many youngsters as possible at the camp, Morey explained.
You can find weekly updates about Camp Hollis on its Facebook page.
“We’re recreation based, outdoor nature based,” Morey said.
For some county families, generations have attended Camp Hollis during the summer.
“It’s something you’ll talk about to your friends in 10 or 15 years down the road. You’ll talk about the summer you spent at Camp Hollis, all the fun things you did,” Morey said.
Considering what a lot of camping vacations go for these days, the cost of a week at Camp Hollis is a real good bargain, Morey noted.
“We’re really trying to keep the camp accessible to all kids,” he said. “For a full week, Sunday through Friday, it’s a real good deal.”
“We are booked, we are completely booked for other events at the camp,” added Jennifer Losurdo, Youth Bureau staff member. “Every weekend for families, sports teams and things like that.”
“We’re working now on trying to become a recreational destination,” Morey said. “We’re working on making the camp more appealing as well as making it more accessible to people. We’ve applied for a couple grants to improve the playground out there and some of the other facilities. We’re looking for some people to help out; to take ownership, take some pride in (Camp Hollis). We have family groups who have family reunions out there. And we’re hoping to add some other events.”
Over the years, Camp Hollis has been the summer home to thousands of young campers. It has been Oswego County’s children’s residential camp since it opened in July of 1946.
In 2003, when the county was experiencing budget problems, Camp Hollis implemented a fee for the campers and the ‘Friends of Camp Hollis’ group held fundraisers to help offset the cost.
It was the first time in its history that Camp Hollis ever charged families a fee for the week’s camping experience, according to former camp director Jim Farfaglia.
Families who may need financial assistance may contact the Youth Bureau for options beyond the sliding scale.
Scholarships are made available from the Friends of Camp Hollis.
Anyone wishing to support camper scholarships may send a check made out to “Friends of Camp Hollis” to Friends of Camp Hollis, P.O. Box 291, Oswego, NY 13126.
At Camp Hollis, the 50 boys and 50 girls are broken into smaller groups and assigned to separate cabins for the week. Campers take part in a variety of activities during their week at Camp Hollis. There are a variety of arts and crafts and recreational activities like archery and, of course, swimming.
Campers who take a (supervised) jump in the pool’s chilly waters in the early morning can earn membership in the Polar Bear Club, and the cabin mates who keep their lodgings the cleanest can earn special ice cream rewards.
Sessions are broken down into three different age groups from June 29 to Aug. 15.
The mini-camp will be held June 26 to 27 to introduce 8-year-olds to an overnight summer camp experience.
Applications are being accepted for Counselor-in-Training positions at Camp Hollis. Youth aged 15 or 16 years old may apply to be accepted into this training program. Camp Hollis will accept up to four 15-year-old participants and up to four 16-year-old participants.
In 1945, New York State formed the NYS Youth Commission. The goal was to promote positive youth development to prevent juvenile delinquency.
One of the commission’s goals was to provide state aid for projects that benefit youth. The very first program that they funded was Camp Hollis.
For more information about Camp Hollis, call Morey at the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau at 349-3451 or the camp (seasonal) at 349-3241.