Congress Recognizes the 150th Anniversary of Organized Camp

Indianapolis, IN (September 20, 2011) — The American Camp Association® (ACA) is privileged to have Congress recognize the 150th anniversary of organized camp in the United States. The camp experience was formally recognized when Representative Chellie Pingree of Maine, extended her remarks about the importance of camp experiences in the Congressional Record on September 13, 2011.

In 1861, Frederick W. Gunn took students from his Gunnery School program 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 tradition continued for twelve years as The Gunnery Camp, and became the catalyst for a nationwide movement — one that spans experiences across the globe and has encompassed milestones in youth development for more than a dozen decades.

“Camps are special places where kids get a chance to re-create themselves, develop independence, be physically active, and learn new skills outside of the traditional school setting,” remarked Representative Pingree. “And, through exposure to new experiences, friendships with kids from other states and around the globe, campers gain perspectives on their own lives that augment their education during the school year.”

Research shows that involvement in intentional programs during summer months can help stem the natural summer learning loss that occurs when children are out of school. For 150 years, camp has been the natural extension of traditional education — focusing on the whole child and providing the physical, social, and developmental growth needed as precursors to academic achievement. A classroom without walls, the camp experience has long been a critical part of year-round education — providing experiential learning environments for over a century and for millions of children, youth, and adults.

“From the beginning, the camp experience has been about education,” said Peg Smith, chief executive officer for ACA. “Even when campers are learning a specific skill, like archery, they are learning more than just where to put the arrow and how to hold the bow. Campers are actually learning about respect, developing an awareness of those around them, and gaining self-esteem. Camp educates for tomorrow — and educates for a lifetime.”

ACA is honored to have Representative Pingree's support for the camp experience. ACA also recognizes the leadership of the Maine Youth Camping Foundation, and thanks them for facilitating this important recognition.

Click here to view Representative Pingree’s remarks to Congress.

About ACA
The American Camp Association® (ACA) works to preserve, promote, and enhance the camp experience for children and adults. ACA-Accredited® camp programs ensure that children are provided with a diversity of educational and developmentally challenging learning opportunities. There are over 2,400 ACA-accredited camps that meet up to 300 health and safety standards. For more information, visit