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Summer camps were presented as a natural alternative to the overwhelming modern life. They promise young children a chance to break free from the ills of contemporary life. At the summer day camp, children find the opportunity to put away their iPhones, laptops, and other gadgets and immerse themselves in natural settings. The thought behind organizing the 1st-day camp was to build character and save children from the boredom of spending most time indoors.

R.A.D Camps have designed its Summer Day Camps based on the “No Child Left Inside” Movement. Our day camps make the outdoors more accessible for children between the ages of 7 to 17. Together with our dedicated guides, children explore over 50 unique and pristine locations in the forests and mountains of Central Oregon. Our summer day camp programs focus on interaction with nature, camaraderie, free play, and fun.

​This article highlights comprehensive information about the history of summer day camps.

Early Years Of Adventures And Challenges

Pierce Country Day Camp is thought to be the first documented day camp in the U.S. Founded in 1918, the Pierce family continuously organized Pierce Country Day Camp for three generations. Forester Pierce, a young physical education teacher, started his day camp in Deal, New Jersey, after World War 1. He moved the day camp to Roslyn, New York, in the late 1930s. Pierce Country Day Camps continued to grow and expand over the years. Pierce Coach Lines now provide approximately 130 busses daily to all children attending Pierce Country Day School and Camp.

John Cittadino, a swim coach, founded the first Seashore Day Camp in New Jersey to engage children in interactive and recreational programs. Several municipal and agency day camps emerged shortly after in Iowa, Chicago, and other locations. These day camps provided opportunities for teachers to introduce health and fitness programs during the summer. Like the Pierce Country Day Camp, other independent camps began a tradition of excellence and have provided children with active, safe, and memorable summer experiences ever since.

​After the war, more and more day camps were established across the US. In the 1950s, 431 associations were reported to have organized day camps with 67,999 campers. By the 1960s, the number of associations and day camps doubled. American Camp Association (ACA) adopted the first set of day camp standards in 1956. In 1961, there were over 1,000 privately operated and 3,000 sponsored day camps in the United States.

Changes In Camp Programs

By the 1980s, changes were made in the day camp programs to accommodate the growing national need for childcare. Campers with single and working parents stayed in week-long day camps for multiple sessions. The camps offered door-to-door transportation and early and afternoon care pick-up facilities. These multipurpose day camps began attracting a wide range of children. The day camps became increasingly popular among children and their parents because of their stimulating and adventurous activities.

In the last fifteen years, more and more day camps have been designed and scaled to meet parents’ needs and ensure that children feel included, cared about, and become resourceful individuals. Modern-day, day camps offer unique contributions to the community, educational sectors, environmental conservation, and most of all, to childhood.

The duration of day camps is usually similar to the average school day period. Day camps engage children in well-structured activities during school vacation periods. These camps teach children different skills and allow them to explore diverse natural settings that boost their cognitive development.

Enroll your children in our R.A.D Camps Summer Programs to give them a memorable outdoor experience. Our summer day camp programs are located in Bend, Oregon. We offer multiple fun-filled trips for children to the Deschutes and Willamette National Forests. Our motto is “no child left inside.” We connect children with nature through fun-filled activities.

For more information, visit our website, contact us, or call us at (541) 410-7258.


Chance is the owner and CEO of R.A.D. Camps in Bend, Oregon. He attended R.A.D. Camps summer programs as a kid and loved it so much he bought the company!