Why We Do It

We think it was said best back in 1920’s by Dr. Charles Eliot, a trailblazing educator, and president of Harvard University.

The organized summer camp is the greatest contribution America has made to education.

– Charles Eliot, Harvard President

He understood that camp offered so much more to youth than summer fun and time away from home. It’s about IMPACT. Providing access to an extended stay wilderness summer camp program allows a child to grow and develop, priming them for future success. A growing body of research in camp-based youth development suggests that summer camps play an important role in the development of young campers. Results show that camp provides an opportunity for youth to grow socially, to develop important life skills, and experience nature, all in a fun, hands-on setting. The results provide scientific evidence that camp – a unique educational institution – is a positive force in youth development; increasing self-esteem, independence, leadership skills, environmental awareness and social comfort; and promoting peer relationships, friendship skills, values and decision-making, and adventure. Studies also show the impact of a summer camp experience for at-risk middle school youth by exploring self-reported growth in skill development and resilience. Results showed statistically significant differences in the campers’ belief of a good future for themselves.

We also know that these evidence-based camp outcomes mirror many of the necessary skills that have been identified by the Partnership for 21st Century Learning for today’s youth to thrive in a world in which change is constant and learning never stops. The original founders of JACF understood this in their hearts that camp had a profound effect on the trajectory of their lives and desired to carry this powerful opportunity forward to others. It’s why we have a vested interest in the success of young people, particularly those who face significant barriers in our society.

It’s why our tagline says: “Because Camp Matters”.

The truth is that the benefits of camp are available only to a very small population of young people and their families across the United States. Aligning with the American Camp Association’s “20/20 Vision” which calls for 20 million children and youth of all social, cultural and economic groups to have access to a camp experience, we are uniquely positioned as an organization to advance this shared vision.