First Integrated Summer Day Camp in Philly Started at Allens Lane – and It’s Still Going Strong!
The Allens Lane Art Center, celebrating its 70th Anniversary this year, is one such community treasure. Founded by a group of educators and activists committed to social and racial justice, the Center began offering arts classes to children from the Germantown and Mt. Airy neighborhoods in 1953. That same year, it also opened the city’s first integrated summer camp.
In archival documents recently discovered at Allens Lane, a report on the 1965 Summer Camp stands out for its exuberant enthusiasm.
“Although each of the previous reports spoke in glowing terms of the achievements attained for the particular period concerned and we felt that we had reached the ultimate,” the report states, “the results of each succeeding year have been even better than each of the prior seasons. Again, it is with justifiable pride that we report that this has been the best of them all.”
The report glowingly asserts that “The Allens Lane Art Center Day Camp has been widely accepted as an organization of quality by a discerning public.” It continues to explain that “This is truly a service organization concerned with the welfare of people. Its climate of wholesome human relations, the availability of wholesome creative experiences, a well-balanced program with consideration for the cultural as well as the physical aspects of human development, concern about health and safety, the joy of participation, and the furtherance of spiritual values are clearly recognized and generally accepted.”
At the time, the Allens Lane Art Center Day Camp consisted of three divisions: “Nursery, Regular Camping, and Counselor-in-training program.”
Every year since then, the Allens Lane Summer Camp has served hundreds of children from surrounding neighborhoods, with programs in visual and performing arts for ages 5 through 13. The Counselor-in-Training program continues to attract young leaders and emerging artists.
“Allens Lane has been my summer home away from home since I was 5 years old”, said Carla Saunders our amazing Counselor-in-Training from summer 2021. “Only this year, when I became a Counselor-in-Training did I realize all of the hard work that went into making this camp such an awesome place. Allens Lane Summer Art Camp Forever!”
Chloe Collet found her passion for acting at Allens Lane Summer Camp which she attended between the ages of 7 and 13. During these years she starred in four end-of summer camp productions, including Aladdin, Matilda, The Descendants, and in Anne as Ms. Hannigan. During her time studying acting and performing in the Summer Camp productions, Chloe began to realize that she had quite a knack for acting and as her mom, Molly, says – “she really shined on stage”. Today, at the age of 15, Chloe is seriously perusing an acting career and is represented by CES&D Talent Agency in New York. She is also pursuing her studies in acting with a private coach and through education programs at the Atlantic Acting School.
“In her time at Allens Lane Summer Camp, Chloe learned how to work with others and how to appreciate being part of an ensemble. She was inspired, and it was fun!”
Fast forward to 2023, and Allens Lane is preparing for another summer of wholesome, well-balanced programs for children ages 5 through 15. In the spirit of the previous 70 years of summer camp, the Center expects this to be, yet again, “the best of them all”!
For information and registration, visit allenslane.org.