YMCA Camp Bernie sits within the Schooley Mountains in the northernmost area of Hunterdon County, New Jersey; approximately 1.5 hours from New York City. The camp sits on 285 acres of hilly forests and beautiful streams feeding the Musconetcong River. YMCA Camp Bernie offers a wide range of programs, from Outdoor Education to Weekend Retreats and Conferences to Summer Camps. The surrounding areas include an additional 500 acres of protected county park property including trails and outdoor opportunities in our own backyard.
YMCA Camp Bernie started life in 1872 as a working farm owned by Peter Lance. In 1907 the Empire Steel and Iron Company bought it and then four years later in 1911 the property was sold to John F. Lance.
In 1925 the property was sold to Charles Momm who retained ownership until 1938 when the property was sold to Joaquin Lastra. Three years later in 1941, Louis Goldstein purchased the property as a vacation location for his family. The Goldstein family named the property Idalu Acres.
Idalu Acres was used as a summer gathering place for the Goldstein family, until 1956 when 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 Main house located in the center of YMCA Camp Bernie was a colonial style farmhouse built in 1865. In 1956 when YMCA Camp Bernie was first opened, it was used as the Administrative Office. Today it is utilized as staff housing for employees.
The Dining Hall at YMCA Camp Bernie was originally the old farm Barn until 1941. The basement area was utilized as the stables and carriage area. The Summer Camp Director's apartment and chapel areas were 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 summer Camp Director's apartment was added in 1985. Cabins one, two, three and four were originally built as the vacation homes for the Goldstein family between 1941 and 1945. Back then those cabins had picket fences and gardens. In 1958 under the direction of the Ridgewood YMCA, Cabins 5, 6, 7 and 8 were built to enhance YMCA Camp Bernie's facilities.
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 - previously the Branch Director lived in cabin 3. The new building is a "Gold Medallion" house, meaning it was one of the first "all electric" homes built in the state.
Turrell Lodge was constructed in 1976, closely followed by Lenape Lodge in 1977. The Pavilion area was constructed in 1986. It was built on top of the old swimming pool which was filled, when its larger replacement swimming pool was constructed. The new Administrative Office was completed in early 1999 and the Jacqu Lodge was completed in June 2002.
In 2015, an adjoining 5-acre property was purchased, which featured a second pond.