Moments in Camp History

Celebrating 150 Years of Camp!

Throughout the 150-year history of camp, there have been moments of great innovation, groundbreaking policy implementation, and — yes — fun! This year, we will be celebrating the moments that have made camp what it is today.

Check back to this page every Wednesday, or follow ACA on Facebook and Twitter for bite-sized facts to feed your knowledge of camp history! Make sure to share this link with your camp friends and families!

December 21, 2011

Since its first publication in 1930, Camping Magazine has gone through several design revisions. And the content has evolved from news about the association to critical articles and resources on best practices, programming, and camp management.

In the last ten years, Camping Magazine has become the most sought after resource in the camp industry. With cutting edge articles on relevant (and sometimes controversial) topics, and intentional content around history, diversity, and the evolving world of camp, Camping Magazine consistently delivers high quality articles and resources for camps and camp professionals. 

Look for your next issue of Camping Magazine today!

See the Camping Magzine editors through the years.

December 14, 2011
2012 National Conference

In honor of tomorrow’s Early Bird Deadline for conference registration, today’s Moment in Camp History is all about national conference!

  • 1925 — The first national conference was held in Cedar Hill, Massachusetts. ACA was still known as the “Camp Directors Association” back then, and the national conference was regarded as the “annual meeting.”
  • 1935 — The first national conference of the American Camping Association was held in Cleveland, Ohio. It was referred to as “convention.”
  • 1949–1977 — National conferences and regional conferences were held in alternate years.
  • 2005 — The first conference of ACA as it’s known today (American Camp Association) was held in Orlando, Florida at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort.
  • Number of times the conference has been held in Atlanta: 3, including the 2012 conference.
  • City that has held the most ACA national conferences: It’s a tie! Chicago and New York have both hosted ACA national conferences 5 times.

When did you first attend conference? What’s been your favorite location?

Learn more about the 2012 conference, including a program preview.

December 7, 2011

Camp is the ultimate gift! It gives children a sense of who they are, helps them to become more independent, and opens up a world of opportunity where they see that they CAN become leaders, work with others, and accomplish goals through hard work . . . all while having fun!

This holiday season, give the gift of camp. Whether it is a week at camp for the special child in your life, or a donation to ACA's Send a Child to Camp Fund for a deserving child who might not otherwise have the opportunity, camp really is the gift that will never break or become outdated. The the skills and memories a child gains from a camp experience last a LIFETIME!

To learn more about the gift of camp, read "Giving the Ultimate Gift: Camp" from the November 2011 CAMP e-News.

Find out more about ACA's Send a Child to Camp Fund (which raised $39,000 in 2011, allowing 78 children to enjoy and learn from the camp experience).

November 30, 2011

For the past two years, ACA has celebrated its 100th anniversary, and the 150th anniversary of organized camp. Each camp has its own unique story, with its own unique history. How does your camp celebrate its history?

Click here to view a list of ACA camp centennial milestones.

November 23, 2011

Among camp friends, our favorite counselors, and the wonder of nature, being at camp gives us a lot to be grateful for!

Even when we're away from camp, we can look back at days filled with fun, the chance to discover independence, and the opportunity to forge lifelong friendships as some of the top reasons we're thankful for the camp experience!

When you think about YOUR camp experience, what are you most grateful for?

November 16, 2011

Religiously oriented camps have been around since almost the very beginning of organized camp. According to Jennifer Burch, M. Div., and Nancy Ferguson, M. Div., M. A. Ed., "Today, religious camp thrives in many forms, from conference-style youth assemblies to small-group rustic camps, day camps and travel camps, intergenerational and interfaith experiences, in a dazzling array of denominational and religious traditions."

Read more about the history of religious camps in the article "Religious Camps: Common Roots and New Sprouts," by Burch and Ferguson in the November/December issue of Camping Magazine.

Tell us about your camp experience on Facebook.

November 8, 2011

In 1910, Charles R. Scott became the first president of ACA (or, the Camp Directors Association of America, as it was known then).

This week, ACA announced Tisha Bolger as the president-elect of the National Board of Directors. Bolger, a current board member, will be the 65th president of ACA when she takes on her new role in April 2012.

Learn more about the members of ACA's national board, and find out why the board recently received a prestigious leadership award.


November 2, 2011

In 1997, there was a resurgence of emphasis on youth development outcomes of the camp experience.

In the mid 1990s, the Search Institute began providing results of research in schools on child and adolescent development, risk prevention, and resiliency based on a framework of four developed assets, which are positive experiences, relationships, opportunities, and personal qualities that young people need to grow up to be healthy, caring, and responsible adults.

ACA provides meaningful and applicable research about the camp experience, and even offers outcomes measurement tools to help camps improve the quality of the camp experience.  

October 26, 2011

In 1906, Winning Farm for Mothers and Children in Lexington, Maine, served as one of the industry's first mutli-generational camps. Today, camp programs for families are a big part of the camp experience — benefiting all campers, from the very young to the young at heart.

What is your favorite family camp moment?

October 19, 2011

Whether it's creating longlasting friendships, trying something new, or accomplishing personal goals, many aspects of the camp experience help build confidence in campers. Think about these statistics*:

  • 96% of campers say camp helped them make new friends
  • 92% of campers say camp helped them feel good about themselves
  • 74% of campers say they tried things at camp that they were afraid to do at first
  • 70% of parents say their camper gained self-confidence at camp

What did camp teach you about yourself?

*Find more about the outcomes of the camp experience in ACA's research report Directions.

October 12, 2011

Every year, traditions at camp serve as a point of connection and unity. They are often a time to remember the past, consider how much we've grown, and even set goals for the future. Traditions can be fun, crazy, or solemn . . . but whatever they may be, they are always unique!

What are the traditions at your camp?

Read more in "Camp Traditions: Memories in the Making" from the 2010 May/June issue of Camping Magazine.

October 5, 2011

Today, October 5, is "Do Something Nice Day." Throughout history, camps have understood the value of service whatever the date may be.

For example, did you know that after serving as crowd control at President Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration in 1913, the Boy Scouts have maintained a tradition of serving in some way at presidential inaugurations to this day?

Did you know that throughout the years, Girls Scouts have undertaken initiatives to better the world, such as breaking down racial prejudices, helping Vietnamese refugee children adapt to their new circumstances, and creating a "Global Understanding" project focused on health care, hunger, literacy, natural resources, and cultural heritage?

What does your camp do in the spirit of service? Let us know how you and your camp make "Do Something Nice Day" a common occurance!

September 28, 2011

In 1929, Hedley S. Dimmock and Charles Hendry identified the critical connection between the camp experience and the development of character in their book Camping and Character. Character development remains one of the most critical outcomes of the camp experience to this day.

How does your program work to build character in campers?

September 21, 2011

Since the 1930s, camps and public lands have shared a close relationship.

This Saturday, September 24, get outside and enjoy National Public Lands Day! Find a local site where you can volunteer to help beautify your public lands, or enjoy the day in a national park with free admission!

How will you celebrate National Public Lands Day?

September 14, 2011

For 150 years, camp has been a place where children and youth can develop their talents, find their passions, and become inspired to take their camp successes into their everyday lives.

Many important figures in business and science, artists and performers, and political leaders can put a camp experience on their resume — people like Nancy Reagan, Ralph Lauren, Julia Roberts, and Neil Diamond, just to name a few.

These are some of the well-known success stories from camp — but there are millions more out there. How did camp inspire you to follow your passions and strive to do your best? Tell us YOUR success story!

More Camp Inspirations.View ACA's Because of Camp . . .® public service announcement.