Department store magnate John Wanamaker created a summer camp for his young employees in 1902 known as the John Wanamaker Commercial Institute Summer Camp.
The 13-acre camp overlooked the water in Island Heights, N.J., a Barnegat Bay summer resort founded as a Methodist camp meeting after the Civil War, and was for both male and female employees at Wanamaker department stores in New York City and Philadelphia.
A typical day at the camp for the “Wanamaker Cadets” as they were known consisted of exercises, clean up, breakfast, assembly and inspection in the morning followed by boating, hiking, fishing, crabbing, calisthenics, rifle practice, baseball, track and other games.
The camp was used during World War II by the army and purchased by the Presbyterian Church in 1949, which operated a camp until the ’70s when the property was purchased by the borough in 1975. Nine sleeping cabins, a chapel, recreation hall, an infirmary, shower building, maintenance shop and garage were built when the church acquired the property.
The recreation hall was converted into Borough Meeting Hall, the infirmary into the Municipal Clerk and Tax Collector’s Office, the chapel into a post office and the sleeping cabins were relocated throughout the town and one is still in use as the Borough Police Department.