Modest Beginnings

In 1924 a group of teachers, social workers, and businessmen saw that girls in New York City’s Lower East Side needed summer respite, and could benefit from exposure to a new environment outside of the city streets. In response, they formed the East Side Vacation Camp Association and began providing summer camp opportunities for girls from working poor families. Later they expanded to serve boys so that they too could benefit from the fresh air, sun, exercise, and community living in a lakeside mountain environment.

Seeing that young people from New York City and New Jersey needed the same summer camp experience, East Side Vacation Camp Association expanded its service area in 1948 and again in 1955 when it changed its name to Camp Vacamas and moved from Kingston, NY to its present location in the foothills of the Ramapo Mountains in West Milford, NJ.

Camp Vacamas

In the mid 1980’s, Camp Vacamas started providing year-round services in New Jersey and New York schools when student performance decreased dramatically and demand for programs like Camp Vacamas increased. During this period of immense growth, Camp Vacamas modified its name to Vacamas Programs for Youth (Vacamas) and added a new location in Harriman State Park and named it Top of the Pines. Soon after, Vacamas Day Camp was established to serve the children of Bloomingdale, West Milford, and neighboring communities.

Hands In 4 Youth

For 90 years, Vacamas has understood the changing needs of children, families, and communities, and responded with quality summer camp, after-school, in-school, and experiential learning programs. In 2014, Vacamas underwent a full organizational review and formed a more nimble youth agency with a refreshed name, brand, mission, vision, program model, and metrics system to gauge our impact on young people.  While our values have remained steady throughout nine decades, we are now “Hands In 4 Youth."

Day Trips In NJ

In addition to the HI4Y summer program, HI4Y recently began offering field trips and day trips in NJ for youth. These retreats have a primary objective of improving team-building skills through the use of challenge courses, campfires circles, sports, zipline courses, hiking and more.

Corporate Team Building in NJ

Hands In 4 Youth Conference and Retreat Center also offers corporate team building in NJ for companies looking for group activity engagement. The Arlene Labadorf Learning Center, Hayden Lodge, and the Franklin Lodge can accommodate various size teams with bedrooms, a full service kitchen, dining area, conference rooms, BBQ stations, and more.