In honor of the 150th Anniversary of organized camp in the United States, Representative Chellie Pingree  of Maine recognized the importance of camp experiences for children with comments that now appear in the Congressional Record. Her remarks highlight the importance camp experiences have in the year-round education and development of children. The American Camp Association is honored to have Rep. Pingree's support, and recognizes the leadership of the Maine Youth Camping Foundation  in facilitating this important recognition for camp!
- Download  a copy of Rep. Pingree's comments from the Congressional Record .
Congressional Record - Extension of Remarks - September 13, 2011
Marking the 150th Anniversary of Organized Camp in the United States
Hon. Chellie Pingree of Maine
In the House of Representatives
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Ms. Pingree of Maine. Mr. Speaker, this summer marked the one-hundred-and-fiftieth anniversary of organized camp in the United States. Summer camps throughout the nation provide valuable educational experiences and offer the chance for youth from many different backgrounds to connect to the outdoors, enhance their mental, physical, spiritual, and social development; make new friends; and learn life-long skills. In the summer of 1861, William Frederick Gunn and his wife Abigail organized the first summer camp in America by taking a group of kids into the wilderness along the Long Island Sound for two weeks. Since then, thousands of camps have been founded, and 150 years later there are over 12,000 summer camps nationwide. While times have changed, the purpose of summer camp has remained the same – to provide our youth with havens in which to grow and learn in nature.
In the state of Maine, we have nearly 200 camps — most of which are accredited by the American Camp Association — including sleep-away camps, day camps, co-ed camps, boys–only and girls-only camps, and specialty camps. More than 18 of those have been operating for more than 100 years. In 1902, Wyonegonic Camps in Denmark, Maine opened its doors to girls and, today, remains the oldest continuously operating camp for girls in the nation. Girls’ camps have and continue to play a pivotal role in young women’s lives — providing settings in which they can grow confidence and develop can-do attitudes. In the same year, Pine Island Camp for boys opened in Belgrade Lakes, Maine and remains the oldest continuously operating camp for boys in the state. In 1908, two camps were opened by non-profit agencies in Maine: West End House Camp in East Parsonfield and Camp Jordan YMCA in Ellsworth.
Camps in Maine and throughout the nation reflect a unique American attitude towards the outdoors and towards the value of natural settings in the education of our youth. 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. 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. Camps are also a place to build lasting friendships — a home away from home where the camp community becomes a second family. In a fast changing world, summer camps continue to be a mainstay of American society — providing youth a time for quiet reflection away from the pace of day-to-day modernity. As millions of summer campers head back to start another year of school, let’s remember the valuable role that summer camps play in the year-round education of children.