A New Beginning For A Historic Resident Camp In Pennsylvania
Philadelphia Freedom Valley YMCA partners with Camp Speers-Eljabar YMCA to revive the once financially struggling resident camp
By partnering with one of the top ten YMCA Associations in the country, Camp Speers-Eljabar will have the unique opportunity to expand its reach throughout Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania serving the needs of thousands of new and returning campers and their families. “The addition of such a world-class facility to our organization could not have come at a better time,” stated John Flynn, President & CEO, Philadelphia Freedom Valley YMCA. “We are in the midst of planning for the 2015 camp season and we are thrilled to be able to expand our mission to increase the positive impact we have on the communities we serve.”
Seasoned and well-respected Resident Camp Director, George Painter, has been recruited to oversee the operation of Camp Speers-Eljibar. Painter brings more than 45 years of successful and dynamic leadership in YMCA Camping to his position. The majority of Painter’s tenure and experience includes leading YMCA camps in New York and Massachusetts, most recently as the Executive Director of YMCA Camp Chingachgook in the Adriondack Mountains. During his time spent at the residents camp, Painter was able to build upon the positive reputation of YMCA camping, grow programs and increase revenue to continue supporting life-changing experiences for more than 225,000 children. “I’m thrilled to help Camp Speers-Eljabar continue the groundbreaking work envisioned over six decades ago,” stated Painter. “With my expertise, and the support of such a strong Association as the Philadelphia Freedom Valley YMCA, this camp will continue to impact the lives of campers and their families for generations to come.”
Camp Speers-Eljabar’s long, rich history dates back to World War II. Several visionary YMCA officials were determined to create a camping facility where African-American and Caucasian boys could camp together as equals; such a place was non-existant at that time in the United States. Edmund R. Tomb, Executive Secretary of the Central Atlantic Area Council of the YMCAs began hand-selecting leaders that shared his passion to create the first integrated resident camp in the U.S. The founders that would open Camp Speers-Eljabar YMCA recognized the time had come to drop practices that segregated people, and took the bold steps necessary to create the first YMCA camp to serve an interracial population.
Throughout the years, Camp Speers-Eljibarhas expanded to encompass 1,100 acres of camp land that includes a 36-acre lake and 400 acres of conservation easement land used strictly for educational purposes. Campers have the ability to sail, kayak, canoe, hike to two different waterfalls, participate in team building activities before falling asleep in their cabins.