Princeton Education Center at Blairstown

Princeton Education Center at Blairstown is an outgrowth of the Princeton Summer Camp, which was founded in 1909 near Bay Head on the New Jersey shore and was moved in 1930 to its present 170-acre site on Bass Lake near Blairstown in the northwestern part of the state. Originally overseen by the trustees of the Philadelphian Society and later of the Student Christian Association, the facility has been governed since 1974 by a board of trustees under its present name.

The original camp program involved special two-week summer sessions for boys from New York and Philadelphia and from the black and Italian communities of Princeton. In 1970, it became coeducational and since then has included young people mainly from the Princeton-Trenton area as well as from northern New Jersey and Philadelphia.

Over the years the camp has provided an enjoyable and educational experience for more than 10,000 young people as well as for 750 undergraduate counselors, who, according to former Student Director Everard Pinneo '48, ``will always remember the youngsters who came from the hot city streets for a few weeks of fun and adventure. It was a positive experience for them and an equally important one for us. The special satisfaction of working with the campers has significantly affected many of our careers and voluntary activities since graduation.''

The Blairstown facilities have also served for many years as a retreat and as workshop quarters for student, faculty, and staff groups as well as for community organizations.

The camp has been supported by many devoted alumni including Dean Mathey '12, Bernard Peyton '17, Laurance Rockefeller '32, and the McAlpin and McCormick families. Some buildings bear names of individual benefactors, while cabins memorialize the alumni classes that supported their construction. Another major source of financial aid has been the annual Campus Fund Drive conducted by undergraduates.

In 1971, recognizing that program development and major renovation of the physical plant were necessary, the board began a long-range rebuilding program. Architecture Professor Harrison Fraker '64 directed a team of Princeton students and outside consultants in designing the new facilities. Their plans involved using natural power -- sun, wind and flowing water -- both to conserve energy and to give campers and other program participants a first-hand lesson in ecology. The reconstruction program began in 1977.

The Reverend T. Guthrie Speers, Jr. '50, chairman of the Blairstown Board of Trustees during the 1960s and 1970s, has described the Princeton Summer Camp/Princeton Education Center at Blairstown as ``a kind of neutral ground for learning, a non-threatening environment, a place where human interaction is greatly facilitated. . . . Simply put, something extra and significant happens, both individually and to the group, in the setting of Blairstown.''

Since 1930, directors of this project have been: Reverend Laurence Fenninger '09 (assistant dean of the Chapel) 1930-1945; Howard Stepp hc '39 (swimming coach and registrar) 1946-1966; David Rahr '60 (director, Alumni Council) 1966-1970; and John Danielson '58 (assistant dean of students) since l971.

John G. Danielson


From Alexander Leitch, A Princeton Companion, copyright Princeton University Press (1978).

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