Family Camp

Family Camp Today
Today, family lifestyles share many similarities with nineteenth century families. Parents work long hours, and some have two jobs, sacrificing time together as a family. They still crave an avenue to connect. Salvation Army Family Camp provides a pathway to strengthen and maintain familial bonds while enjoying the great outdoors.
One camper noted, “It is our home away from home for four days. We play bingo, make S’mores, take a boat ride, have barbecues, climb rock walls, and play Tarzan on the ropes course. We have a lot of fun. There is so much laughter. We create memories here.”
Older Adult Camp
In the early days of Salvation Army Camps, older adults attended camp with the mothers and children. The camp leaders saw such clear advantages for the “Golden Agers” a camp was established just for folks sixty and older.
A program for healthy living and healthy aging, the thriving Older Adult Camp program offers one week of fellowship, arts, and culture, that creates a sense of belonging. Campers return year after year to revisit old friendships and make new ones. For some, it is the highlight of the summer.
Family Camp Yesterday
As the world evolved into an industrialized economy, more families left the farm and moved into the city. The era of parents teaching children while working or playing slipped away. Some parents began working in factories up to nineteen hours a day, leaving their children at home unattended. Ultimately, these families lost their time together.
Through a network of fresh-air camps, The Salvation Army provided opportunities for families to reconnect and gain respite from their busy lives. Camp offered idyllic surroundings for weary mothers and children to relax, replenish their souls, and find joy, if only for the day.
The First Fresh-Air Camps
In 1897, Major Harry Stillwell opened the first fresh-air camp in the U.S. by pitching twenty tents for families at Fairmont Park in Kansas City, Missouri. On the family farm in Hinsdale, Illinois, thirty miles west of Chicago, Mr. and Mrs. Francis Fowler improvised accommodations for mothers and children. By 1904, a Salvation Army advisory board helped open Camp Glen Ellyn in Illinois. The same camp moved to Wisconsin and became Wonderland Camp in 1924.