The History Project
A history of Camp Onas through the years
The Hicksite Young Friends Movement (HYFM) is first organized
HYFM is recognized by Philadelphia Yearly Meeting with funds and an Advisory Board. Members are between 15 and 35, and paid one dollar annually.
The Original Home of Camp Onas in Rushland, PA
Young Friends Movement of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting creates Camp Onas as a vacation place for young people to “enjoy the simple life and to become better acquainted while living cooperatively.”
Mabel Briggs is the first director of Camp Onas. Boys came one half and girls came another half.
Permanently established on the banks of the Neshaminy River in Rushland, PA.
October Camp Onas is officially incorporated
Charles and Mary Rebloger; directors in early years- missionaries in Alaska, 1 or 2 summers, William Eves director for one summer- dean of George school
HYFM merges with its Orthodox counterpoint, forming the Young Friends Movement (YFM)
Russel and Marion Burton are directors
John W. and Elizabeth “Betty” C. Parker are directors
Wilbert and Nina Braxton are directors (also directors at Camp Dark Waters 1952-1955)
Friends Camp Association of Pennsylvania established as a non-profit corporation to run Camp Onas.
Last year that The Friends Camps, Dark Waters and Onas, are coordinated together with campers switching between locations.
Dusty Miller becomes the next director.
Blasting at a nearby quarry threatens water quality and swimmability of Neshaminy Creek. Camp Onas is in a quandary.
The Great Move 1963 - 1966
Transition from Rushland to Ottsville
Over the years Camp Onas has expanded and adapted to suit our growing needs. After four decades at the Neshaminy site in Rushland, our tranquility and water quality was threatened by quarry blasting and contamination in the Neshaminy River.
April 13, 1964
Ottsville site purchased. Barn renovated, tents and latrines built. Earthen dam built to enlarge pond and archery range was cleared. Mabel Briggs retires from board 42 years after serving as the first director at Camp Onas.
Younger campers are kept at old site and older campers at the new location in Ottsville
July 25th marks the first session at the new camp location. The Rushland site hosts 80 campers per session, and the new Ottsville site has 40 for a total of 300 campers over the whole summer. Pioneer or “Tripping” program starts as a boys only adventure opportunity.
The Dining Hall (formerly called “West Hall”) is constructed. Camp is reunited at new site, ending the two-part camp system.
Swimming Pool constructed, Tripping Program (Pioneer) two days hiking on Appalachian trail and two days canoeing
Russ and Jane become the camp directors.
Girl’s Shower House built
Camp Onas turns 50! Boys shower house built (thank goodness!)
YFM merges with the Religious Education Committee of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting
Russ Neiger proposed his family maintain camp and oversee rentals during the off season. Thus began a three decade long tradition of Neiger’s living at Camp Onas.
11 acres in what is now called the “Upper Fields” are purchased with the intended purpose of serving as an overnight site and “outpost camping”
Nature Center constructed
Vehicle Shed constructed
Penn Pavilion constructed
ACA Accreditation achieved with Sue as assistant director to Russ and Jane
Hooray! Sue becomes camp director!
Dellview is built
Camp creates its first Strategic Plan. Camp starts setting long-term plans in place. Russ and Jane have 30th Anniversary at camp.
Russ and Jane Day to celebrate their retirement, established Russ and Jane Camper Fund.
History Project begins, with History Day celebrations on August 13th
New composting toilets on girl’s side added
Girl’s shower house renovated. Stage completed for outdoor performances
First Camp Onas Winter Camp Session, First Family Camp Weekend, First One Week sessions for summer camp
Camp turns 90 years old, Suzan Neiger Gould retires and the history project is completed!
Holly Mueller Hecht becomes Director of Camp Onas and moves to Camp with her husband Matt. We all get our Onas Chronicles!
Ottsville 1966 - Present
A wonderful description from 1971 summarizes all that is special about Camp Onas- “Onas strives to help each camper feel the joy of sharing in community living”- it is because of values like this that we all care enough to come back and give back year after year. It is also why it is so important to preserve and remember our history, to ensure that Camp Onas continues its legacy.