Sleepaway Camps


HI4Y’s Camp Vacamas is the founding program and purpose of the organization. Started in 1924 as a summer sleepaway camp for girls from New York City’s Lower East Side, it has evolved into a unique experience offering young people from all walks of life the opportunity to navigate the great outdoors, meet new people, experience different activities, and explore their independence. Campers live, play, and learn together, improving their self-esteem and social skills in a healthy, natural environment.

Every summer hundreds of young people from the tri-state area come to one of our Vacamas camps for a summer to remember and meet friends they will never forget. Our 12- and 19-day trips provide exciting and challenging age-specific adventures for campers ages 6-17,  having completed 1st through 11th grades.

Here’s why parents choose HI4Y Camp Vacamas camps each year:

HI4Y uses the camp experience to inspire young people from diverse backgrounds to be fully engaged in school and life so they have opportunity and choice to pursue their dreams. While we are not academic teachers, we are educators in critical social, self-concept, and self-learning areas that help kids navigate and perform better in school settings and the real world.
Our guiding principle is that a young person’s road to development and success can most effectively result through the practice of setting and pursuing goals, living responsibly in the world, reflecting on their achievements and disappointments, and taking progressive action towards their dreams.  Simply stated, Camp Vacamas prepares kids for school and life!

In the summer of 2018 we evaluated our impact by issuing pre- and post-surveys to campers and staff.  What we found was enlightening and uplifting as 100% of our campers made gains in at least 1 area of social or emotional growth in their time at camp. We were 1 of only 11 youth organizations to be awarded the 2018 Hi-Impact award by Algorythm. In 2019, we are strengthening our programs even more with new activities, schedules, staff, and facilities. Our aim is to ensure that all campers have the time of their lives and return to their parents more motivated and prepared to be responsible young people.

Our number one priority is the safety of your child. We maintain a high staff-to-camper ratio, and our experienced staff members are background-checked, fully trained and carefully supervised. Camp Vacamas  is accredited by the American Camp Association, as well as local and state Health Departments. We have an onsite medical team, and there is a hospital just minutes away. All waterfront activities are conducted by certified American Red Cross Swim Instructors, Lifeguards, and a Waterfront Director.

Summer at Camp Vacamas is filled with opportunities to learn, participate, test, reflect, and make choices from many opportunities. Our programs are based on the age and ability of campers and take fun, outdoor, traditional sleepaway camping to a new level of learning and growth. Our supportive environment encourages campers to challenge themselves and develop self-confidence, independence, responsibility, and leadership.

As  a non-profit organization, HI4Y’s  aim is to make sure that summer camp is affordable for all children. Each child’s fee is set individually, taking into account family income and size and using a sliding fee scale. Our fees are a great deal less  than other summer programs, and sibling discounts are available. At  Camp Vacamas, fees range from $900 to $2,000 per session for a full compliment of comprehensive services and activities. Financial aid and scholarships are offered based on eligibility. Transportation to camp is provided from NYC, Nassau and Suffolk counties, and selected locations in New Jersey at no additional cost.

Qualified Staff
Our staff members – who come from across the United States and around the world – are chosen for their experience with children, maturity, and varied skill sets. All staff members are background-checked, fully trained, and carefully supervised. Most counselors and all supervisory staff are over 21 years of age. All counselors take part in a week-long orientation to prepare for the most important job of looking after each child’s physical and emotional safety. Each counselor has responsibility for up to eight children. In addition to the regular program staff, HI4Y utilizes trained professionals in specialty areas, including Boating, Arts and Crafts, Ropes Courses, Nature Studies, Creative Writing, and Woodshop.

American Red Cross Swim Lessons
At HI4Y camps, we put a great deal of emphasis on attaining this important life skill. All campers have two swimming opportunities daily: an American Red Cross swim lesson conducted by certified instructors (30 minutes for younger kids and 60 minutes for teens) and a recreational swim period of the same length.

Nutritious Meals and Snacks
The menu at Camp Vacamas is child-friendly, healthy, and plentiful. Campers eat three full meals each day in our dining hall with their bunk group and counselor. Meals are served family-style and vegetarian and vegan alternatives are available. We offer a salad bar at each meal so that children can limit their carbohydrates and fat consumption, or have a balanced diet. Our salad bars are rich in fresh vegetables and fruits as well as non-meat proteins such as beans and dairy products. We do not serve pork or shellfish. We can accommodate some dietary restrictions (please call for more information). A fruit snack and cold beverages are offered in the afternoon and it is a long tradition at Camp Vacamas to have milk and cookies before bed each night.

Sleepaway Camp Dates

Session 1: Sunday, June 30th - Thursday, July 11th (12 days)

Session 2: Sunday, July 14th - Thursday, August 1st (19 days)

Session 3: Sunday, August 4th - Thursday, August 22nd (19 days)