2 min

Jones Pond: gay camping in upstate New York

A rural retreat for men in the gentle hills of the Genesee Valley

Jones Pond is a 120-acre, men-only campground in upstate New York.  Credit: credit goes here

With 117 seasonal sites, 192 permanent seasonal spots, a slew of cabins and a season that stretches all the way from April to October, Jones Pond makes an ideal escape for a weekend, or longer. Set in the gentle hills of the Genesee Valley of Upstate New York, the men-only campground boasts 120 acres with hiking trails, a three-acre pond, huge in-ground swimming pool, a busy café and volleyball courts. There’s also a huge events barn, camp store and lounge with TV, library, fireplace and piano. Recognized as the “nicest park in New York State,” Jones Pond is known for having exceptionally well-maintained grounds and facilities.

As the campground’s 24th season kicks off, we tracked down the Canadian couple that owns and operates the pet-friendly park. Bryan Schaefer and Matthew McCormick bought Jones Pond in 2012. “We had been camping here for about 15 years,” Schaefer says, “and it had always been a place we loved going: 120 acres filled with the most amazing people we’ve ever spent time with. We were both working in downtown Toronto and were tired of the 12-hour days and the rat race. We needed to find something we loved to do. As fate would have it, the previous owners decided to sell the park. When they announced it, Matt turned to me and said, ‘Let’s buy this!’” Knowing nothing about running a park, Schaefer and McCormick did their research, worked out the finances, sold their home in Toronto and bought Jones Pond in October 2012.

There is no “typical camper,” Schaefer says. “We get everyone from the young 20s crowd who come in for long weekends or block party weekends to the mid-40s crowd who have sites and enjoy the pool scene and the dances to people from the local area, places like Buffalo and Rochester, who come in and use the park for the day. We probably have an 80/20 split between US guests and Canadians, but we’re seeing more and more making the trip across the border. After all, we’re really only 90 minutes from the Peace Bridge.”

The summer social calendar features weekend dances at the 2000-square-foot events barn. One of the busiest weeks is the one running up to the Fourth of July, when there are daily events scheduled, including Schaefer and McCormick’s Bloody Caesar Canada Day party. Other dates to mark in your camping calendar are those of the park’s five block parties (Jones Pond is divided into five neighbourhood “blocks”). Each party is organized by campers in those areas, and this year’s themes include Mardi Gras and Western. All five events feature free barbecues and drinks. “It’s just amazing,” Schaefer says, “how people grab on and throw themselves into putting on these parties.”

Whether you check into a log cabin, bunkhouse or guesthouse, pack your tent or haul your RV rig, there’s a site, a warm welcome and a summer home away from home waiting at Jones Pond.

Jones Pond 
Angelica, New York

Who: Men-only.
When: April 25–Oct 1.
How much: Day passes from $10. Tent sites from $10. Trailer sites from $38.