Have you ever sat down and really thought about the great-American camping experience and who invented it, when it was thought up and where it first took place?
Did you know that the camping experience is unique to America and is an American tradition? Many aspects of the camping experience have changed over the years and over the century, however the idea has always remained the same as the love of the outdoors.
In 1861 the first camp was founded in Washington, Connecticut. This camp was called Gunnery Camp and was founded by a husband and wife who had a boys’ school.
The couple took the boys in the school on a two-week trip where the group hiked to a specific pre-determined spot and then set up ‘camp’. The group spent their time hiking [hiking safety] and fishing and walking the trails and continued this tradition for the next twelve years.
In 1874 the first YWCA camp was started. The camp was actually called a ‘vacation project’ and took place in the Philadelphia chapter of the YWCA.
The camp or vacation project as it was called catered toward women and was at Asbury Park in Pennsylvania at a camp site they called Sea Rest.
In 1885 the first YMCA camp was set up in Newburgh New York by Summer F. Dudley. There were eighty-three campers at the YMCA camp by summer of 1891.
The American Camping Association was founded in 1910 under the original name of Camp Directors Association of America. This was founded by Alan Williams and later in 1924 they merged with the National Association of Directors of Girls’ Camps and changed their name to the Camp Director Association. Once again the name was changed in 1935 to the American Camping Association.
In 1912 the first Girl Scout Camp was founded and held in Savannah Georgia and has remained a very important role in the Girl Scout organization ever since its inception. Years later in 1922 the organization chartered Girl Scout Camps throughout the United States.
A large step in the camping world was made in the 1930s when the National Park Service developed Recreation Demonstration areas which were available for lease by groups. These, today are known as camp sites and camp grounds. Now they have been turned over to state agencies, mainly state parks.
All of these historic steps and events have helped to mold what the American camping experience is today as we know it.