Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Max Yurenda, Double H chief since its start, to retire

Max Yurenda, the only CEO the Double H Ranch in Lake Luzerne has ever had, announced he will retire next March after 30 years at the helm.

“Double H officially opened its doors on July 4, 1993 and has served over 80,000 children dealing with life-threatening illnesses from around the world all completely Free of Charge,” said a Double H press release. “It was the second ‘Hole in the Wall Camp’ in what has become a worldwide network of not-for-profit recreational and therapeutic experiences for children with serious illness.”

Mr. Yurenda was quoted: “I am incredibly proud of this organization and the impact we have made. I am humbled and grateful for having this opportunity to witness the power and magic of the Double H experience that will continue to flourish into the future.”

Fateful tour in 1992, in foreground from left, Max Yurenda, Charley Wood, the actor Paul Newman and A.E. Hotchner (co-founder of Newman’s Own products and charity) walked the former Hidden Valley Ranch property in Lake Luzerne. At the tour’s conclusion, Newman agreed to join Charley to create the Double H Ranch camp for critically ill children. Charley hired Max Yurenda as executive director even before the camp existed.

Charlene Wood, a Double H Board Member and trustee of the Charles R. Wood Foundation, was quoted:

“Max…was selected as CEO by my dad, Charles R. Wood, as he saw the potential in Max and knew he could carry out the dream and goals he had for this local camp modeled after Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Camp in CT.

“Max’s leadership skills have made Double H Ranch a star in the Serious Fun Children’s Network. He will be greatly missed but I know he will leave the camp in the hands of a great team he has cultivated over his many years of service.”

Double H Ranch encompasses 320 acres of land with waterfront access to Lake Vanare. Its cabins can accommodate 126 campers, 125 staff and 50 volunteers. “Program areas include an indoor and outdoor pool, a high ropes course, archery, horseback riding and pasture, picnic pavilion, stage area, dining hall, arts & crafts, ski lodge and two winter ski and snowboard slopes.”

Among highlights cited in Mr. Yurenda’s “30-year illustrious career”:

  • Creating a formal partnership with the Children’s Hospital at Albany Medical Center in the Fall of 1993.
  • Forming a strong and dedicated Board of Directors to lead the strategic direction of the organization.
  • Strengthening financial sustainability for the organization.
  • Encouraging an all-inclusive and welcoming environment that promotes an “I can do it” attitude.
  • Establishing a reputation of excellence in the community and NFP sector.
  • Leading a successful inaugural capital campaign for the organization with the completion of numerous capital improvements to enhance the accessibility and experience for all.
  • Pivoting the organization throughout the COVID Pandemic and successfully providing alternative and virtual programs for our campers and families.

When The Chronicle interviewed Mr. Yurenda five years ago for a special section marking Double-H’s 25th Anniversary, he said the camp’s launch in 1993 was “a true roll of the dice. What we were leading with was passion and heart.”

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