Long-abandoned New Jersey camp to reopen

A long-abandoned New Jersey camp Mel Brooks attended as a kid is being reopened by a Korean group that recently purchased the property for $850,000, according to news reports.

The camp, Camp Sussex in Vernon Township, N.J., closed in 2004 after being operated for 80 years by the nonprofit Brooklyn Children’s Fresh Air Camp Association. It also had a short-lived run as a sports camp by Derek Jeter’s foundation before being left to rot.

A Vernon councilman was quoted in a recent news article saying that the new owners are “a Korean group with the intent and purpose of bringing in Korean, and possibly other Asian students, for purposes of studying and to become familiar with the United States.”

The town had discussed acquiring the 88-acre property two years ago and turning it into a park using open space and farmland preservation funds but the plan was scrapped in the face of intense opposition by members of the public and some town officials.

During its heyday as a camp, Camp Sussex had a number of campers who would go on to make a name for themselves in show business like famed comedian and movie director Mel Brooks, Gabe Kaplan (Welcome Back, Kotter), Alex Winters (Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure) and Louise Lasser (Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman). Steiner Sports Marketing CEO Brandon Steiner is also a notable alumnus of the camp.

Below is a photo of an old brochure that was found on the property when Vacant New Jersey visited it in 2011.


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 Comment

  1. Hello, I’m Paul, a writer from Spain. As a horror writer, I find this post very interesting because in 2013 I wrote a novel about an old summer camp who reopens (a little inspired in Friday the 13th: I sent a copy to Adrienne King, who played Alice Hardy in the 1980 film). Despite novel is in amazon as ebook I’m trying to get a better edition, but when I wrote it I only supposed there should be many old abandoned real camps, even some haunted (as camp Rouletdge in Georgia or camp Los Alfaques here in Spain. You can search what happened in it in July 1978 in google). I’d like very much to know about abandoned or haunted camps, so I will thank any link or tale based on real facts. Congratulations Matt for your blog dedicated to summer camps.

Leave a Response