Celebrating the 125th Anniversary of Camping at the Y

CHICAGO, IL, May 11, 2010—What began 125 years ago as one small group of friends from the Y who wanted to experience nature has blossomed into a summer phenomenon that has changed the lives of millions of youth around the world. This year, hundreds of the nation’s Ys will commemorate the 125th anniversary of camping at the Y. 

“The Y is proud to have helped pioneer the tradition of camping,” said John Duntley, Senior Camping Specialist for YMCA of the USA, the resource office for the nation’s 2,687 Ys. “For well over a century, Y camps have continuously provided an environment where youth feel they belong and can gain confidence and independence as they grow into caring and responsible adults.”

To commemorate the 125th anniversary of camping, Ys across the country will hold a symbolic nationwide campfire event on July 14.Campfires will include stories, skits, songs and special camp traditions.  

Camping officially began at the Y in 1885, when a volunteer named Sumner Dudley helped start the first continuously-used camp. His goal was to help build character in seven teenagers during a week-long camping trip in Orange Lake, N.Y. The first YMCA camps were small, consisting of a cluster of tents, lined up near a lake, a camp fire and a flagpole. Over the years, as more Ys believed that the camping experience nurtured young people’s values and leadership skills, camps would expand and change to serve males and females of many ages, abilities and incomes. In 1910, Y leaders helped create the American Camping Association (ACA) with a Y camp director as its first president.

Today the Y has become one of the nation’s largest providers of camping programs, with camps from the shores of Maine to the peaks of the Colorado Rockies to the northwest beaches of Hawaii. More than 335 resident camps and nearly 2,000 day camps serve more than 800,000 kids and adults every summer. Each year, an additional 1.5 million people participate in camp programs through Y family camps, weekend retreats, outdoor education, and school camping.

For more information on the national campfire, visit to find a camp in your community.

About YMCA of the USA YMCA of the USA is the national resource office for the nation's 2,687 YMCAs, which serve 21 million people each year, including more than 9 million children under the age of 18. YMCAs respond to critical social needs by drawing on their collective strength as one of America's largest not-for-profit community service organizations. Through a variety of programs and services focused on the holistic development of children and youth, family strengthening, and health and well-being for all, YMCAs unite men, women and children of all ages, faiths, backgrounds, abilities and income levels. From urban areas to small towns, YMCAs have proudly served America's communities for nearly 160 years by building healthy spirit, mind and body for all. Visit to find your local YMCA.

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Contact: Mamie Moore 312-419-8323

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

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