Hiram House CampHiram House Camp

"Camp means learning with a smile, we build character, values and vital life skills through participation"


Having Fun is just the Beginning at Hiram House Camp!


- Ohio’s Oldest Camp Offers Kids a Lifetime of Benefits -



  by Russell R. Grundke, Retired Executive Director, Hiram House Camp


“Camp means learning with a smile” is our motto at Hiram House Camp, Ohio’s oldest camp and one of the first camps in the United States. Established in 1896 and in continuous operation for over a century, the camp and its staff have seen generations of boys and girls benefit from the life-enriching experience that a stay at camp offers.

“Children develop on so many levels simultaneously, physically, mentally and emotionally. Camp offers an outlet for growth in each of these vital areas”, explained Russell Grundke, Executive Director of Hiram House Camp, and an expert in camping with over forty years in the field.

“At camp we enable children to have fun in a safe, wholesome and nurturing environment,” Grundke said, adding, “We strive to open new horizons, build character and promote family values to enrich their lives, their communities and our nation.”

Camp is More Relevant for Children Today Than Ever

Physical fitness in youth is one developmental area that is as important now as it was when the camp was founded.  Hiram House was an early leader in recognizing the benefits of plenty of fresh air, exercise, good nutrition and healthy lifestyles. This is even more crucial today, Grundke, noted, as medical professionals are seeing an alarming rise in childhood obesity, which may lead to health problems later in life.

On the camp’s 172 scenic acres inNortheast Ohio, filled with ponds, streams, meadows, woods and wildlife, children are given the opportunity to enjoy a variety of exciting, hands-on activities, like archery, canoeing, climbing, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, swimming, wilderness skills and performing arts. They can experience American history and pioneer traditions firsthand, via the camp’s rustic Log Cabins, Teepees, Frontier Fort, and Conestoga Wagons. Other popular attractions include a Treehouse, 1890s Fire Station, Equestrian Center, Environmental Center, Train Station and Caboose.

“Camp offers children a positive, active, alternative to spending too much time sitting indoors watching TV, on the Internet, playing video games or immersed in our high stress, hi-tech world. At camp they can get outside and play in the great outdoors, experience nature’s bounty and just be kids,” he said.

Imagine a child’s joy in discovering a family of ducks nesting at the wetlands, their sense of accomplishment from building a wilderness shelter out of branches and leaves or feeling of exhilaration in scaling to the top of the 35-foot climbing tower.

Summer Camp Empowers Children with Vital Lifelong Skills While Having Fun

“Equally important are the intangible, but vital, lifelong skills and traits that camp can help children develop through our focus on “Group Dynamics”, Grundke explained.

Hiram House specializes in camp activities and programs that allow children to challenge themselves, build self-confidence, leadership, communication, responsibility and resourcefulness, all essential for success throughout life.

Summer Campers also meet others of diverse backgrounds, make and build friendships. In the process, they learn tolerance and cooperation. Teamwork is fostered through many interactive group activities, programs and facilities, like the camp’s new High Ropes Course, Low Ropes Obstacle Course, and Alpine Climbing Tower at the Adventure Center. 

Studies have also shown that working with animals can help children bond and trust.  At the Hiram House Camp "Double H Ranch", Farmstead and Garden, in addition to riding, campers groom and care for the stable of ten horses and baby farmyard animals, like calves, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens and rabbits, and learn about animal husbandry. They plant and tend the vegetable garden to learn about sustainable agriculture.

Campers also gain from the simple pleasure of gathering together for conversation as they share family style meals in the dining hall, or for cookouts, songs and S’mores over a roaring campfire. The camp maintains a low ratio of campers to staff to give more personalized attention to each child. The camp’s dedicated professional and program staff, trained counselors, specialists, and others are chosen for their commitment, interest and backgrounds in childhood development, outdoor education and recreation for youth.

Whether at camp for a one to two week stay or the entire summer, the benefits of camp can be life changing. Yet, they are not only limited to the various Summer Camps Hiram House offers, including Overnight, Day, Junior Day camp programs.

School Campers Gain by Reinforcing Classroom Lessons with Mother Nature

These benefits are also available throughout the other seasons of the year, with a visit to Hiram House’s School Camps, Group Retreats, and Teambuilding Adventure programs for youths and adults.  During the fall, winter, spring and late summer, Hiram House offers spacious, all-weather, handicapped-access Lodging, Dining and Meeting accommodations for groups large and small.  The camp’s staff works closely with faculty members or group leaders to design flexible programs to meet their needs and goals.

“What better classroom than “Mother Nature” for students to learn about ecology, biology, astronomy, art or math in the outdoors, and a host of subjects?,” Grundke asked, “What more stimulating a setting for your next civic, church, school, business or youth group outing or seminar than an adventure at camp?”

For students, camping can achieve successes in a way that no other educational experience can and helps supplement and reinforce their academic curriculum. Living in simplicity away from home, without constant requirements of school grades, being able to make a mistake and learning to correct the error without any loss of face, are factors in a 24 hour-a-day living experience which call upon the finest resources of a camper. The physical, mental and emotional needs are met by positive role models, with appropriate challenges and through constant guidance.

Living apart from home and parents is also enormously important for children to find out who they are, what they dare, what talents they have.

Retreats Build Group Cohesion, Teamwork, Confidence in Youth, Teens & Adults

For Retreat Groups, among the most important long-term benefits of a camp experience are building confidence within each individual, better interrelationships and cohesion within the group. Once a camper feels he or she is a valued, contributing part of a group, the pride and fun of the group helps them learn and practice the basic principles of fair play, hard work, honesty, teamwork and cooperation. Self-esteem, group harmony and synergy are achieved.

No matter what type of camp stay, it all comes down to the basics for Director Grundke. “At Hiram House, our primary goal and what we sincerely believe is the very best part of any camping experience,” Grundke emphasized, “is that campers of all ages have fun, create great memories, expand their horizons, and come away with lasting skills that will benefit them a lifetime!”


Hiram House Featured in Camp Navigator Magazine Volume 2, Issue 2

The article above about Hiram House Camp is also featured in the current issue of Camp Navigator magazine, in Vol.2, Issue 2. See the article on pages 14-16 and an inside front cover ad, entitled "Having Fun is Just the Beginning" about the many benefits of camping for children at Hiram House, plus a podcast Q & A interview with Hiram House Program Director Ken Fortuna about the camp, our programs and attractions.

You can also View it under our Spring/Summer 2013 Newsletter page at: or on:


About Hiram House Camp, Outdoor Education, Conference & Retreat Center:

Hiram House Camp, Ohio’s oldest camp, offers a variety of Summer Camps, School Camps, Group Retreats and Teambuilding Adventures year-round for children and adults on 172 scenic acres inNortheast Ohio.

An independent, nondenominational, nonprofit organization, Hiram House is accredited by the American Camp Association for providing quality programs, services, staff and facilities and is a United Way Community Partner Service Agency.  It has been recognized for its long legacy of services for youth with an Ohio Historical Marker, awarded by the Ohio Historical Society and the Ohio Bicentennial Commission. Hiram House is listed among the oldest camps in the United States and worldwide. Only a few camps in North America have this distinction.

Hiram House also offers financial aid for children in need to attend summer camp. Each fall it hosts its annual Pumpkin Festival, featuring autumn colors, food, rides, games, entertainment, animals, and family fun for all ages to benefit its “Campership Fund”.

For more information, please visit online at: ; email: ; call the camp office at: 216-831-5045, or write to Hiram House Camp, 33775 Hiram Trail,Chagrin Falls,OH44022.

33775 Hiram Trail, Chagrin Falls, OH 44022. Telephone: 216-831-5045. Fax: 216-831-2477. Email:

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