My dad went to Camp Columbus and never went back

Growing up, my brothers and I heard a lot of stories about summer camp from my mom, who always sang the praises of the formative years she spent at Byron Bible Camp in South Dakota.

Since we never heard those kinds of stories from our dad we assumed he was never fortunate enough to attend camp as a kid. It turns out that wasn’t the case.

418214_10150585132831367_1035128340_nI only recently found out that my dad attended Camp Columbus in New Jersey in the 1950s, but went home vowing never to return or apparently to tell his kids about it until they were adults.

My dad is not the camper that my mom was and still would much rather do anything else than sleep in a tent or spend an extended period outside that doesn’t involved working in his backyard or watching a baseball game. So it’s somewhat understandable that he didn’t enjoy his time at camp very much.

Fortunately, that didn’t stop him from sending us to camp or supporting our love of it, even if it meant only visiting when my mom and brothers were volunteering as camp counselors and running programming at the camp we grew up going to.

Camp Columbus opened nine years before my dad was born in July 1939 and was sponsored annually by the State Council of the Knights of Columbus. It was located in the New Jersey Pine Barrens – the same area my camp still operates – in Ocean County.

The camp closed its doors in 1975. A Facebook page keeps the memory of the camp alive and there’s a discussion thread by some former campers talking about the camp on a Pine Barrens website.


Matt Ralph

Matt Ralph

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

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