Mission & History

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develop Campers' inner strengths through outdoor exploration & adventure.


At Red Oak Camp our mission is simple: To develop children's inner strengths through outdoor exploration and adventure. Our trained counselors provide campers with structured activities designed to build their confidence and independent thinking skills. For over 71 years, we've been using experiential learning techniques to help the summer campers of today grow into the leaders of tomorrow, all while building lifelong friendships and memories. 


Red Oak's story began on a summer evening in 1947, when a group of boys decided to meet up for the first time at the red barn near the Holden Arboretum in Kirtland, Ohio. This first meeting quickly turned into a routine, and the boys passed the summer together fishing, canoeing, swimming, camping out and completing service work for the Arboretum. In honor of the "Red Barn Boys" a regular summer day camp was founded, and the program has only grown since then.

By 1952 the boys of Red Barn were growing up. Not wanting to leave their summer safe haven behind, they teamed up to form Red Oak Camp as an overnight program for older boys. Warren H. Corning, a prominent Cleveland financier and philanthropist, became a patron of the camp and acquired 87 acres to provide space to make both boys’ camps possible. The new Red Oak program incorporated all of Red Barn's established activities, and added extended week-long trips to the mix as a bonus for the older boys.

In 1957, Corning's daughter Alison, a.k.a. "Sunny", founded Chincapin - a girls' summer day camp that functioned under the Red Oak umbrella. While Chincapin's original emphasis was on horseback riding, the girls also engaged in all the same activities enjoyed by the Red Barn boys, including sports, nature, arts and crafts and the rest of the camp's varied activities. 

Today, steeped in 71 years of tradition, Red Oak Camp continues its long history of excellence in all three of its branch programs:

Though the camp has grown, it retains its timeless focus on nature-based experiences and learning through adventure.  Our campers are able to enjoy an organic experience that is truly unique.  Red Oak Camp promotes self-confidence, teamwork and a love of the great outdoors that will stay with campers for a lifetime.

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