GLOW YMCA made a tough decision when it opted to sell the rustic Silver Lake Camp Hough more than a year ago, Chief Executive Officer Rob Walker says.
But it has all fallen into place with the purchase by Peter Zeliff Jr. and wife Susan, Walker said. The Zeliff couple plan to offer the nearly 11-acre site to veterans and their families, and have agreed to allow a weekday camp for children during the summer.
“We are so thrilled, absolutely thrilled, that our donors and supporters were so gracious to them. We're very proud that it's going to be used in a way that we hoped it would be used. And that's through the Warrior House, which is another not-for-profit that's going to invest in it,” Walker said Tuesday to The Batavian. “You know, it was a tough decision, but a necessary one for us as an organization. But with that there's a silver lining here and that it's going to stay, more importantly, a children's camp, and it's going to stay with an overnight opportunity for military families. And that's pretty powerful.”
Operational revenue losses, coupled with a COVID-19 pandemic shutdown, created a financial gap that YMCA officials had to address, he said. After conducting some studies, GLOW YMCA partnered with Greater Buffalo Niagara’s branch to provide another option for kids wanting a full resident camp experience, he said. That will be available at Camp Weona in Wyoming County.
“As a whole, the industry really struggled, especially, like I mentioned, after COVID. It's just been a slow kind of decline,” he said, explaining Camp Hough’s new role. “Importantly, too, in addition, because of (the Zeliffs’) perspective and joint respect and cooperation in this, making sure the asset is used in the best possible way, they are allowing us to run a YMCA summer day camp on the property.”
Even though YMCA is no longer the owner, the nonprofit, in partnership with the Village of Perry, will run day programs Monday through Friday at the Silver Lake campground as of June 27, he said.
The proceeds from the Camp Hough sale will be reinvested into the Batavia-based YMCA’s expansion and work at the Healthy Living campus, he said. Abatement has begun, evidenced by construction flags, with ongoing demolition at Cary Hall.
“They're in the final stages of asbestos removal. They're taking that stuff out,” Walker said. “They've been working at that for about a month. And that's expected to come down next month.”
The Batavian will provide more details about the YMCA project in the near future. Meanwhile, the Zeliffs plan to offer the Camp Hough property, with 480 feet of waterfront, to veterans and their families as a camping retreat. Mrs. Zeliff did not return a call made to her for additional comments as of Tuesday evening.
For more information about Warrior House, go to http://www.warriorhouseofwny.com or see the related article here.
2014 File Photo of Camp Hough.