A Brief History Of Day Camp

Summer day camp is such an institution; sometimes we take it for granted. But camp, as we know it, has a rich and storied history. All of the traditions that we have come to know and love began somewhere, but most of us don’t know where. Here is a brief timeline of the history of day camp.

The First Summer Camp In American History

The history of day camp begins with a camp called “The Gunnery” founded in 1861 in Washington, Connecticut. So, if you think of it, summer camp is over 155 years old…that’s older than the civil war. Kids went fishing, boating and even trapping. Now, modern summer camps don’t trap, far from it, but at the time this was a necessary skill!

Camp Dudley In Vermont

Camp Dudley in Vermont was the first Young Men’s Christian Association camp, established in 1885. And, believe it or not, it’s still around! It’s the longest operating summer camp in the history of the United States. Camp Dudley was the first summer camp to advocate for camp as a means for positive development and interaction with peers, as well as having some good old-fashioned fun.

1918 Marks The Beginning Of The History Of Day Camp

The first day camp was established in 1918 by a young physical education teacher named Forrester Pierce (“Pop”). He envisioned a new way of spending summer vacation. He believed that kids should engage in physical activities and bonding that would instill a lifelong commitment to fitness, health and overall wellbeing. He rented a property in Deal, New Jersey and put his vision to action. Many or even all of the principles of your day camp are built upon Pop Pierce’s vision.

There were several other day camps that continued to innovate the field of day camps and influence the history of day camp, such as Camp Mohawk, the Girls Scouts and the Boy Scouts.

YPDC Enters The Timeline

And 54 years after the monumental invention of the day camp, Young People’s Day Camp is established in 1972. YPDC improved upon Pop Pierce’s innovative transportation plans by offering free transportation for any camper who needs it. They’ve also improved on and institute many of the same principles and ideas that Pierce began, more than half a century before.

You And Your Child Can Be Part Of The History Of Day Camp

YPDC of Nassau County has a long history of providing fun and educational summers for generations of kids. Be a part of history with us! Contact us to find out more about the history of day camp and how your child fits into that timeline.


*Historical information courtesy of American Camp Association – www.acacamps.org

*Historical Photo Courtesy of the Cornwall Historical Society — www.cornwallhistoricalsociety.org







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