Five girls in yellow Camp Bernie shirts in a wooded area.

Our Mission

The Ridgewood Y offers programs and community connections that positively impact lives through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, building spirit, mind and body for all.

The Ridgewood Y is a nonprofit charitable organization that serves youth, adults, and families founded on Christian principles and committed to strengthening our Northern New Jersey and Camp Bernie communities since 1902, as part of a worldwide YMCA.

Our Vision

As a leader and partner in our ever-changing community, the Ridgewood Y seeks to be a preeminent community hub, offering multifaceted programs which enhance individual and family well-being. By 2024, we seek to double our impact and serve 50,000 children, teens and adults, welcoming all throughout our communities.

A group of campers poking at a campfire with sticks.

Our History

YMCA Camp Bernie began as a working farm in 1872. In 1956, 248 acres were purchased by the Ridgewood YMCA. The property was then renamed YMCA Camp Bernie after Bernard Forester due to his endless work for the people of his community and their children.

The Dining Hall was originally a barn, with the basement area being utilized as the stables and carriage area. The back chapel section was originally the chicken coop, with the recreation hall as the hayloft. In 1957, the barn was made into YMCA Camp Bernie’s Dining Hall with a fully equipped kitchen.

The Main house located in the center of YMCA Camp Bernie was a colonial style farmhouse built in 1865 and first used as the Administrative Office in 1956. Today it is utilized as staff housing for employees.

The rustic area of YMCA Camp Bernie, now known as “The Nation,” was constructed in 1961. Originally it consisted of wooden platforms that were used to pitch tents. In 1964 the area’s bathhouse was constructed by the Ridgewood YMCA’s Men’s Club.

The Branch Director’s house was built in 1967 as a “Gold Medallion” house, meaning it was one of the first “all electric” homes built in the state.

Other buildings have been added since, Turrell Lodge - 1976, Lenape Lodge - 1977, Lower Pavilion - 1986, Administrative Office - 1999, Jaqua Lodge - 2002, Pool Bathrooms - 2017, Barbarito Family Pavilion - 2019.

Alumni

Whether you were a camper or counselor at YMCA Camp Bernie for summer camp, a student or teacher at camp for an Outdoor Education field trip, a Girl Scout or parent at camp for a camporee, or even a one-time participant in one of our year-round special event weekends, you’re part of our camp family!  

We’d love to keep you involved in camp, and the best opportunity is through our Alumni program.  For more information on how to get involved or reconnect with your camp friends, contact our Alumni Relations Representative, Kate at kklein@campbernieymca.org.  

Our Memorial Day Family Camp is an excellent opportunity to continue your relationship with camp and share the magical experience with your friends and family.  Find out more in our Upcoming Events section.

Four girls hugging and posing.