- Get Involved
- Education & Events
- Publications & Research
- About ACA
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!
February 9, 2011
In 1979, the ACA national conference was moved to an annual event after having rotated biennially with regional conferences for many years. The conference was called "Northland Calling, 1979 International Convention", and was held in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The conference was co-hosted by the Minnesota Section and the Canadian Camping Association.
February 2, 2011
In 1876, Dr. Joseph Trimble Rothrock founded the North Mountain School of Physical Culture near Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. For about $200, boys from Philadelphia and Wilkes-Barre came for four months over the summer. According to Dr. Rothrock, the idea was to take "weakly boys out into camp life in the woods . . . so that the pursuit of health could be combined with the practical knowledge outside usual academic lines."
January 26, 2011
In 1874, the Philadelphia chapter of the YWCA (Young Women’s Christian Association) founded Sea Rest in Asbury Park, New Jersey. This summer boarding and vacation house was for "tired young women wearing out their lives in an almost endless drudgery for wages that admit no thought of rest or recreation."
January 19, 2011
In 1902, camp pioneer Laura Mattoon founded Camp Kehonka for girls. A revolutionary for her time, Mattoon believed that all students, even girls, needed to interact with the natural environment. Although the bifurcated skirt was originally debuted at a fashion show in 1892, Mattoon was the first to include them as part of a girl’s camp uniform, allowing girls to move freely in the outdoors.
In her book, History of Organized Camping: The First 100 Years, Eleanor Eells stated that:
"[Mattoon] understood the place that women were to occupy in the twentieth 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." (p. 14)
Over 100 years ago, something as simple as the bifurcated skirt helped lay the foundation for women in the twentieth century and beyond.
January 12, 2011
The Gunnery Camp was founded in 1861. It is considered the first organized American camp. Frederick W. Gunn and his wife Abigail operated a home school for boys in Washington, Connecticut. In 1861, they took the whole school on a two-week trip. The class hiked to their destination and then set up camp. The students spent their time boating, fishing, and trapping. The trip was so successful that the Gunns continued the tradition for twelve years.