Two girls swimming
Apr 12, 2022

Back from a two-year hiatus, YMCA Camp Independence is making moves

Just an hour north of Chicago in Ingleside, Illinois, YMCA Camp Independence serves as a home away from home for youth and adults living with spina bifida. It’s a place where campers with diverse abilities can challenge themselves, enjoy outdoor activities of all sorts, and make lifelong friendships in an inclusive, empowering environment.

And we’re so excited that, after a two-year in-person hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, YMCA Camp Independence is able to operate fully and safely this summer!

YMCA Camp Independence is a transformative place for campers aged seven and up with spina bifida. With a 1:1 ratio of campers to staff, YMCA Camp Independence prioritizes safety and care as campers gain independence by learning adaptive ways to do everyday tasks like washing dishes or tidying their rooms. Like many Y programs, YMCA Camp Independence is about learning skills, developing character, and becoming a tight-knit community. . 

At camp, our dedicated staff teach self-reliance, a love of nature, and the development of attitudes and practices that build character—all amidst the fun of campfires, boating, archery, and even zip-lining through the trees at our picturesque campsite. YMCA Camp Independence is also unique in that it operates each week right alongside YMCA Camp Duncan. This is an excellent way for all campers to learn from their differences, gain an appreciation for each others’ adversities, and form meaningful relationships with those they might never meet outside of camp.

Thanks to an active Board, wonderful partnerships with the Illinois Spina Bifida Association, and many dedicated donors, we are able to offer significant financial assistance for Camp Independence. Dr. David McLone, one of the founders of YMCA Camp Independence and Board Chair for many years, wanted to make sure that a memorable camp experience was never part of the heavy costs of living with spina bifida. 

YMCA Camp Independence is so glad to have opened registration for summer 2022 this past February, and several sessions are already full! To learn more, visit