Vacamas Programs for Youth is a non-profit organization founded in 1924 by a group of dedicated business people and educators. Vacamas is committed to enabling children of moderate income families to enjoy positive experiences. This includes year-round programs and camp that serve the diverse population of the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut and Pennsylvania metropolitan areas. Over 5,000 youngsters benefit each year from our services.
Vacamas Programs for Youth is committed to offering quality experiential learning and fun programs to moderate income families and at-risk youth populations. Our programs are based on a non-competitive philosophy geared toward fostering the individuality of each child. Our goals include empowering young people and teaching them skills they need to make positive choices by working to improve self-esteem, social skills and develop leadership qualities. Vacamas is a multicultural community that serves a diverse population on every level: economic, religious, racial and cultural.
A Letter from the Executive Directors
Welcome to Vacamas! We invite you to explore our new and improved web site and learn about our many programs. For the past 88 years, through good times and bad, our organization has been committed to providing children with positive learning and growth experiences in our camp and school programs.
In a year of great challenges, Vacamas Programs for Youth is busier than ever. Read More >
Vacamas was established in 1924 by a group of teachers, social workers and businessmen who saw the need for young immigrant women from the Lower East Side to spend a few weeks of the summer in a country setting. They founded the East Side Vacation Camp Association, purchased a campsite in Kingston, New York and began providing summer camping for girls. In 1948, the camp changed its name to Camp Vacamas as it expanded to include children from all over the New York metropolitan area. Camp Vacamas became co-ed in 1954. As the organization grew, we needed a new site to accommodate more children. Camp Vacamas moved to its present site in rural West Milford, New Jersey in 1955. Vacamas became one of the first camps to integrate in the 1960’s.
In the 1980s, Vacamas Programs for Youth began providing year-round programming through in-school drop-out prevention and mentoring initiatives. In 1990, Vacamas Programs for Youth founded sister camp Top of the Pines to meet the growing needs of children from the New York Metropolitan area. In 1998, Vacamas began collaborating with the Newark Office of Alternative Education to provide specialized programming for the middle school students in their program. In recent years, we have also offered Alternative Education programs for students from Elizabeth and Perth Amboy. Today, Vacamas employs 50 full-time staff members and an additional 100 part-time staff members in our various school-based programs. Youth development, conflict mediation and team-building are important components of every program we run.