Harrisburg Island was home to Kamp Kaughtinrein in the early 1900s

An island near Harrisburg on the Susquehanna River was a summer camp destination in the early 1900s for kids from Pennsylvania’s capitol city.

According to a new book called Harrisburg and the Susquehanna River by Erik V. Fasick, an island near the city known as McCormick Island hosted its first summer camp in the summer of 1912 after its owner James McCormick gifted the 101-acre island to the City of Harrisburg.

Forty-two girls attended the first camp, which was given the name Kamp Kaughtinrein because of a downpour the first night of the girls camp. A boys camp was held after the girls returned home in August.

The camp continued until 1924 when it was discontinued because of a lack of interest. Today it is a protected area used for naturalist studies.


Activities at the camp included swimming, boating, vaudeville productions, basketball and education in the domestic sciences for girls like cooking, baking, sewing, embroidery and basket-weaving (pictured above).

via PennLive

Matt Ralph

Matt Ralph

I'm the editor of Summer Camp Culture and also blog at Tangzine.com and MatthewRalph.com. I live in the Philadelphia area and went to camps and camp meetings growing up in Ohio, Maryland and New Jersey.


  1. Matt, thanks for write-up, but just to clarify, McCormick’s Island is situated in the Susquehanna River opposite the northern-most portions of the City of Harrisburg. It is currently used for naturalist studies and is a protected area. City Island is located in the Susquehanna closer to the “downtown district”. There were “day camps” located on City Island such as the gardening school in 1906 and ’07, swimming beaches, and playgrounds, but nothing as structured as those found at Kaughtinrein on McCormick’s Island. McCormick’s Island was far more secluded, with only boat access to the island, which lent to it being a perfect location for summer camps.

  2. Hello Matt, thanks for posting this. I was unaware of the 100 year old history of McCormick’s Island. That’s very interesting to me. My mother is 86 and I talked to her today. She can remember her parents talking about McCormick’s and Independence Islands being used for recreation during the summer months when the river level was low. She said someone had built a “dance hall” on Independence Island that was only accessed by canoes and flat boats. She also said that “most of the fun on those islands was lost in 1936 when the first great flood hit the City of Harrisburg.” Her home on Penn Street was flooded out too.

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