Camp Independence
May 22, 2023

Making Memories After a Two-Year Hiatus

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.

After a two-year in-person hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, YMCA Camp Independence was thrilled in 2022 to be able to return to in-person programming and operate safely for the summer!

YMCA Camp Independence is a transformative place for campers age 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 forming lifelong relationships.

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 local Advisory Board, chaired by Mr. Patrick Frangella, wonderful partnerships with the Illinois Spina Bifida Association, and many dedicated donors, the Y is 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 all people of all abilities can have a memorable camp experience.

YMCA Camp Independence was excited to have a fun and successful summer in 2022 and looks forward to many more camp seasons filled with empowerment, fun, and community-building.