- Deer Valley YMCA Family Camp
Deer Valley YMCA Camp is located in Fort Hill, Pennsylvania, in the United States and currently sits on 742 acres of mountainous lands. Deer Valley operates 10 months out of the year and offers the camping experience to different groups and organizations from all around the country.
The land that Deer Valley currently occupies belonged to Howard G. Peck dating back to the early 1800s. In the year of 1931 Curtis Howard "Doc" Springer came from Florida to open a health resort. He purchased and constructed his resort on the Peck property. “Haven of Rest” was a free resort, running solely on donations. Springer was forced to close the resort in 1937 when the cost of construction resulted in money problems. The land was reverted back to Howard Peck. Soon after, Captain Colon B. Harris rented the land and the winter resort “Ski Trains” was born. This resort became well known throughout the late 1930s among the neighboring states. But in the year 1938 Harris left to take a job in Washington DC, and due to the poor health of Howard Peck, resulted in the sale of the Deer Valley property to The Independent Order of Odd Fellows (O.I.O.F.). The O.I.O.F had plans to open a vacation spot for families but due to disagreements forfeited the land back to Howard Peck. During this time a group of six men purchased the land. They named the new company “Deer Valley Inc” and went about constructing a large 125-acre lake on the property. Deer Valley Inc. tried to sell the property to the Boy Scouts but was unsuccessful. The Director of Camping Services for the Pittsburgh YMCA was then introduced to the property by his son, Alexander. On December 30, 1952 the YMCA of Pittsburgh, who still currently owns the land, purchased the property.
In 1957 Deer Valley YMCA Family Camp opened for the first season of family camp. This first summer the camp served 838 campers, during an eight-week season. In 1972 the camp underwent construction to winterize the facilities to become a year round experience and now operates 10 months out of the year.
Since 1993 the camp has been running at full capacity and has a 93% return rate of campers. The campers range in age with family members of all ages. It is common for the families who camp at Deer Valley to have deep roots there and some have as much as four generations of family camping tradition.
The Camp is currently directed year round by Todd Brinkman and assistant directed by Dave Riether whose families also live at Deer Valley year round. The summer staff is generally college-aged adults and the majority of these young adults were campers themselves at Deer Valley growing up. The camp also employs staff from other countries through their international program.
The camp currently has around 40 cabins, two shower houses, a program lodge, waterfront, campfire circle, dining hall, a horse barn, zip line, an archery and pellets range, a multipurpose hall, and many sports fields and facilities. Families camp for seven-day sessions in the summer. Deer Valley was most recently featured on the news program The Today Show in the summer of 2010.
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