• Thu. Dec 8th, 2022

Brookledge Girls’ Camp Turned into a Nature Getaway

ByDebra J. Aguilar

Oct 19, 2022

GREENFIELD – Under a canopy of oak and pine, the platform where youngsters once sang campfire songs is now a fully furnished glamping tent. The camp locker room is now a cabin for rent on top of a hill.

And the 400-square-foot nurse’s office is now the home of owners Helen and Ryan Christopher, who have made it their mission to restore the former Girls Inc. summer camp into a serene wilderness getaway complete with cabins. and outdoor activities. Brookledge, the 60-acre campground property in Providence, officially opened last summer and continues to expand its site and cabin rentals.

“This place is 15 minutes from Saratoga, but it feels like you’re in the heart of the Adirondacks,” said Helen Christopher. “It’s so quiet and so beautiful on the property, with nothing around you except nature. There’s just something peaceful about it.

The couple were first introduced to the property a decade ago while attending a friend’s wedding there. Christopher, a teacher at Ballston Spa at the time, said she immediately fell in love with the destination from the moment she walked through the tunnel of trees that arched above the dirt driveway sinuous. When it hit the market in 2019, the couple missed the chance to buy it, and it was instead sold to a developer looking to build an RV fleet.

That sale fell through, however, and the couple were able to buy the property last year – moving from their less secluded home to the former nurse’s office. They are the first owners to live on the sequestered property and it has been a bit of an adjustment for their 11-year-old son to come to terms with the fact that his new home was once a thriving all-girls camp.

But after exploring the sprawling campground and encountering the array of wildlife, including a recent curious moose, he too fell in love with the wooded location. The family dogs, Marshall and Bernadette, were not convinced.

“It’s such a stress-free place and I guess that’s exactly what I was looking for in life,” said Christopher, who left his nearly two-decade long teaching career to run the campground. “I love the idea of ​​raising my family here and bringing other families to experience it for themselves.”

The site currently has two cabins, filled with vintage treasures from local antique dealers, available for rent. The first is the Crook Brook Cabin, named after the creek that runs through the property, which sleeps up to four adults and is equipped with old board games and a retro VCR and VHS tapes.

Climbing Rock Cottage, nestled atop rocks for stunning views of the waterway, offers guests a more private option secluded from other amenities. The cabin lacks plumbing or hot water, but outbuildings are being developed for both cabins, so guests won’t have to walk to the original bathhouse.

Activities include the corn hole, snowshoes and campfires, and the pond where campers learned to swim, known as the Ice Bucket, is open for canoeing, kayaking, fishing and swimming . The camp showers, the same ones the girls used decades ago, take any old camper back in time with concrete floors, cast iron sinks and screened-in screens.

The owners continue the restoration, in particular by reorganizing the main pavilion available for weddings or by figuring out what to do with the old dormitory which still bears the initials of the campers engraved on the wooden walls.

They focus on preserving the site’s history, which dates back to the 1800s when German families from New York built vacation getaways there. (The cabins no longer stand, but the remains of a stone fireplace still stand.) The couple also plan to hold events in the future, such as seasonal festivals, farmers markets and live music. For now, however, they are focused on creating a nostalgic and peaceful experience for renters, whether they are solo adventurers or families.

“I would like visitors to find relaxation here – just come here, disconnect from everything, enjoy nature and enjoy being a kid again,” Christopher said.