Greater Bergen County YMCA Honors Longtime Summer Camp Volunteer Who Quietly Get Things Done

By: News and blog | Thursday, May 2, 2019 | Volunteering

The Hall family, L-R: Rowan, Riley, Taylor, Delaney, Becky, Keith and Morgan

Greater Bergen County YMCA Camp Director Mary Sullivan said she couldn’t begin to calculate how many hours volunteer Keith Hall has spent over the past 20-plus years making sure the Y’s camps in New York’s Harriman State Park are in top shape when children arrive each June.

In early spring, Hall assesses winter damage at Camp Oratam, the day camp, and Camp Michikamau, the sleepaway camp, and then sets to making improvements.

The father of five has worked with others to rebuild cabins and replace docks. He’s cleared space for a challenge course and archery range at Camp Oratam, where he took down an old jungle gym and installed a new one in a single weekend.

“Keith treats camp as if it were his own camp, without asking anything in return,” Sullivan said. “Keith gives his time to the Y because he understands camp offers our youth an opportunity to build relationships, gain news skills, and have a sense of belonging.”

Hall was named Volunteer of the Year for the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges, an association made up by the Greater Bergen County YMCA and six other branches. He received the Daniel McCain Award for Youth Development on April 11 at the Metro Y’s annual awards dinner.

“I’m honored to receive this award, but there are so many people who do things at the camp all the time,” Hall said. “I don’t know why I get the distinction.”

Hall was introduced to the Greater Bergen County YMCA summer camps at Harriman State Park two decades ago when his wife, Becky, was hired as site director at Camp Oratam. Their five children attended the YMCA camps and later worked at them. His daughter, Delaney, a Camp Oratam swim instructor, was named the branch’s 2017 Youth of the Year.

Over summers, Hall regularly stops by before or after work —he’s director of materials management and purchasing at Bergen NewBridge Medical Center — to see what needs doing, Sullivan said. When he arrives, we hear, “Papa Hall is here!” she said.

 The Sloatsburg, N.Y. resident said he is happy to spend time volunteering at the camps. “I love being up there in the outdoors. I like doing the physical work and to see the progress we make.” Hall said.  

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