It was the early spring of 1921 when Herb Smith, a past president of the Lynn Rotary Club and the secretary of the Lynn YMCA, approached the members of the Lynn club with the idea of working together to provide Lynn boys a chance to enjoy the experience of overnight camping. His idea was for the club to buy and own the property and lease it to the YMCA to operate the camp. The idea was well-received and members of the club found a 48 acre parcel of property on Stiles Pond in Boxford and on April 21, 1921 the club voted to spend $3000 to purchase the property. The property had recently been forested and what remained were stumps, bushes, boulders and bare land. However, the club members had a vision of what the property could look like in the future. A member named Samuel Fisher donated $1000 to cover the cost of building a road from the street to the top of the waterfront area. There was one building located on the property that was down near the waterfront, that would be used as an arts and crafts building. Wood was brought in from Lynn on back roads cutting through Peabody to be used to construct a dining hall. A tent site was selected, some essential equipment was purchased along with a bus and boats, all in time to allow the camp to open that very same summer!
A start-up, nonprofit board called Youth Service Managers, Inc. (consisting of a mix of Rotary club members from Lynn and surrounding communities, along with non-Rotary members who are invested in seeing the camp succeed) took over the responsibility of operating the camp for the Lynn club in 1991. With their guidance and determination, the vision the original members had of what the property could become was realized. Since the inception of this new guiding board, the camp has built 22 camper cabins, a modern infirmary building, a BMX bike racing track, a ropes challenge course, and has improved the remainder of previously existing facilities. In 2021, the camp opened a beautiful and spacious new $3.5 million dining hall.
On June 11, 2022, the camp is planning a gala dinner, as a capstone event to mark the end of the centennial year celebration. Camp Rotary has served tens of thousands of children throughout the years – many of them returning as counselors or staff members who spent summers giving back to a place that helped to shape them into who they are today. If you are an alumni of the camp or know someone who is, please go to the camp’s website (camprotary.org) to get details on the event and to be notified when tickets go on sale.