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: Our Sto
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l Adventureland Day Camp: Our Story
Adventureland Day Camp find your true north 6401 Hulmeville Road Bensalem, PA www.adventurelanddaycamp.com firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s very difficult to describe the camp experience to someone who hasn’t lived it, but suffice it to say camp gets in your blood. There are many in this world who count their summers at camp as among the best times of their lives. That’s what camp does for you. It challenges you. It brings you joy. It helps you grow. And it creates memories that last a lifetime. For us, as second generation camp owners, everyday at Adventureland brings back memories of times gone by. Our camp’s history is a personal one and always leads back to our father and founder Lou DeVicaris. He loved summer and he loved this camp. He loved the land along with the fish, turtles, birds and animals that call it home. But most of all he loved the people who have been a part of Adventureland. This love is the 5 decade legacy we proudly carry on today and hopefully carry far into the future.
Career educator Mr. Louis DeVicaris (Mr. D.) founded Adventureland Day Camp in 1960. His career with the Philadelphia School District as teacher, coach and principal is still legendary. As a young man Mr D. worked as a Philadelphia Rec playground instructor evenings and summers and our day camp is an outgrowth of this earlier work. You see, our father loved kids and never wanted to stop working with them, mainly because he was a child on the inside as well. Camp was the place where he could share this joyous and child-like nature with the world. Adventureland Day Camp began in PENNYPACK PARK and originally consisted of only two camp groups. Mr. D. was one counselor and his fellow football coach and phys-ed teacher Mr. Dick Bauder was the other. In the early days Mr. D. drove the bus. A deli man delivered sandwiches and milk each day for lunch. Tuesday’s were trip days and the campers went bowling, roller skating, or to the movies. Since there was no pool at Pennypack Park, Mr D. used Highway Pools for his swim program. Originally located along the Boulevard, HIGHWAY POOLS were open to the public and since the camp wasn’t big enough to rent the whold facility, the public was there as well. Mr. D. used to fondly remember how he would be teaching swimming to Adventureland campers when the next thing he knew there were additional kids in the group. Children who were not part of the camp would see what he was doing and join in the fun. These kids didn’t pay for lessons, but such was the heart of this man that he never turned them away. He continued teaching swimming at Adventureland well into his 70’S, and literally thousands of campers credit their first dive in deep water to Mr. D. In 1962 Adventurelanders arrived in Pennypack for their first day of camp and discovered that because the day camp was a for profit business they were not allowed to use the park anymore. Our father always thought it was funny for the camp to be considered a for-profit business since, like most small businesses, we’ve never made lots of money. Anyway, without the use of a regular site most people would have thrown in the towel, but not our dad. He spent that summer taking the campers to a different playground around the city each day for the entire summer. This was the beginning of Adventureland’s “Never Quit” attitude and not once has an issue, natural disaster, or anything else caused us to ever consider closing our doors. The enrollment of our camp was steadily increasing so Mr D. located and purchased our current 30 acre site at 6401 Hulmeville Road here in Bensalem along the Neshaminy creek. Prior to being a day camp, our present campus was, at one time, a tree farm and a fishing club. If you look closely at the nature and arts & crafts buildings you can see they were once fishermen cabins. They are the only original structures left.
In 1963 construction began on our main office building, locker rooms, 10 foot diving and baby pools.
A new wing with more locker rooms, the present day WII room, nurse’s station, and Lakeside Pavilion were built several years later. Our 5 foot training pool complex (now called The Annex) including the Sunset Pavilion and our miniature golf course were added in the late 60’s. The golf area was supposed to be an area for trampolines, but accidents at other camps prompted Mr. D. to change it to miniature golf.
bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb The Baby Boom saw great times at Adventureland with almost 600 campers in attendance. Mr. D’s administration and staff were mainly friends who were energetic colleagues from area school districts. Most of the staff were teachers and coaches who returned year after year, and a typical child would spend 13 years at Adventureland. Many returning alumni speak fondly about the rowboats, sleep-outs, and special events. The 1980’s and 90’s saw a big wheel track and computer lab added, and the milennium was greeted with a ropes couse and climbing tower.
We often describe camp as organized chaos and note that dad seemed to thrive in this kind of environment.
A sudden rain or heat wave, lightning storm or rising creek waters could destroy the best-laid plans in an instant but if you know anything about our father, you know that nothing could stop him. He had a solution for every problem that could occur and of-
tentimes no one would even know something was amiss. And Mr. DeVicaris could sing by heart every camp song known to man getting 400 campers including teenagers to join in.
Mr. D’s favorite times at camp were evenings after most people had gone home for the day, when the camp is quiet and the lake
takes on a wonderful golden glow. Animals would venture out and dad would feed the fish leftover sandwiches from camp lunch. As the sun went down, he loved to ride the tractor, cut the grass and ponder the beauty of this special place.
His grace and charity was always evident here. Many families who couldn’t afford to attend camp found their way in because
of our father. He bent over backwards to get kids into Adventureland because he knew the value of children attending a place like ours. A magical place that gives everyone who comes in contact with it a special experience that travels with them for the rest of their lives.
The late 1980’s saw a Picnic Branch added to the Adventureland tree. We were approached by Ms. Bunny
Shore, the former owner of Shore Picnic Park about using our site for a picnic. Her site was overbooked and she needed space to host additional groups. The only problem was that our site was so much bigger, and more beautiful some groups began booking
at Adventureland instead. And from there Adventureland Picnics was born! Presently Adventureland offers many types of picnic options from public admission to fully catered events for thousands of guests, and everything in between. See our Picnic Page to find out more about what Adventureland has to offer!
There have been many changes and additions to the Adventureland Family over the years. Each new child, parent and staff member adds to the wonderful spirit and legacy of Adventureland Day Camp. We can’t tell you how many former campers have also been camp counselors at Adventureland. Many who even put off getting “real” jobs so that
they could keep coming back summer after summer. Parents phoned Mr. D over the years begging him not to re-hire their children so they would be forced to get full time jobs. That was because of the camp culture he created.
Our father got all of us kids involved with the day camp too. He fired us all as teenagers (except Chris) at least once. But he
never held a grudge and we’re happy to say he hired us all back.
Mr. D has since passed on and we, his children, now run Adventureland. We are pleased that you are considering being a part of
Adventureland Day Camp, and look forward to working with you in creating a lifetime of memories for you and your family.
Sincerely, Suzanne, Lisa, Jackie, Chris, and Alex DeVicaris
Published on Feb 17, 2013
Our history is the legacy we carry forward into the future. So read on and maybe learn something you didn't know about Adventureland Day Cam...