summer-campSummer camps have existed for so long that it’s hard to imagine NOT having them. The first organized camp for youth started in 1861 in Washington, Conn. Frederick W. Gunn and his wife Abigail ran a home school for boys. In the summer of 1861, the entire school hiked to their camping site destination, lugging all of their equipment with them. There, they enjoyed boating, fishing and trapping for two weeks. The outing was such a success that the Gunns took their students for the next 12 years.

Not too long afterward, in 1874, the YWCA held its first summer camp in Asbury Park, N.J.: Sea Rest. It was considered the YWCA’s “vacation project” for "tired young women wearing out their lives in an almost endless drudgery for wages that admit no thought of rest or recreation." In 1876, Dr. Joseph Trimble Rothrock founded the first private camp: the North Mountain School of Physical Culture near Wilkes-Barre, Pa., so that the "pursuit of health could be combined with the practical knowledge outside usual academic lines."

And although the YWCA provided the first camp-like experience for females, it was more of a break from the workforce for women. It wasn’t until 1902 that a genuine camp, Camp Kehonka, was created for girls. This camp was founded by private-school teacher Laura Mattoon in New Hampshire. She was a true trailblazer, believing that girls should be allowed to enjoy nature when most of society thought it was inappropriate. She even created pants-like clothing so that the girls could move about freely. “Her ideas,” the American Camp Association site says, “were often misunderstood or met with social resistance.”

Looking back, of course, we have a different perspective. In History of Organized Camping: The First 100 Years, author Eleanor Ells writes that Mattoon “understood the place that women were to occupy in the 20th century and that the camp experience would prepare them for it. Her ideas about camping, education and a woman’s role were in advance of her time."

The years of 1861-1910 are recognized as the beginning of summer camps. Momentum grew in 1910 with the formation of the Camp Directors Association of America, an organization known today as the American Camp Association. Over the years, countless parents, teachers, experts and studies have touted the value of this tradition.

Day Camp for Your Child This Summer

We’ve got plenty of great day trips in mind for summer 2016, and there’s a simple way to let your child get first dibs on which ones to enjoy.

  1. Prepay for your child’s summer camp activity fee before April 15 by stopping at your center’s office:
    • For one child: $150
    • For two or more children: $300
  2. Please pay by check or money order.
  3. Then, your child or children will get first choice of these space-limited trips.
  4. We understand that sometimes your plans need to change, so this fee is fully refundable until June 3, 2016.

Consider using your tax refund to sign up.

It’s hard to believe, but true: Summer is just around the corner. We’d love to talk to you about your summer camp needs, so be sure to visit!

Horizon Summer Camp