Before Charles Scott set up Camp Wawayanda in 1901, Sumner Dudley initiated a literary society for children and eventually convinced YMCA leaders to support his summertime “rambling tours” that brought children into the wilderness. These tours were a combination of open discussion and contemplation (known today as evening devotion or “devo”) and retreat into natural settings. Dudley soon lengthened the tours into overnight camping when Dudley took seven boys for a week at Orange Lake, New York. In 1886, Dudley moved the project to Twin Islands in Lake Wawayanda, New Jersey – Camp Wawayanda’s beginning.
As visionary as he was, Sumner surely had no idea what his persistent revolution on behalf of young people would later make possible. By the end of the first decade of the 20th century, the Wawayanda Whirlwind interviewed some of the original campers from the very first Wawayanda summers, one of whom recalled, “Dudley’s life was a happy joyous life, full of hope and earnest looking forward to the day when some of the things which he planned for the larger work among children should become realities.” If only Dudley could see what Wawayanda at Frost Valley has now become—the sheer number able to attend, and their astonishing diversity. The July 19, 1910 issue of the Wawayanda Whirlwind printed a description of 25th anniversary celebrations in honor of Dudley’s first encampment of 1885. During a special morning reflection, one person asked the alumni to donate money that would be used in a partnership with a Newark-based organization. A total of $18 was raised, enabling two more children to attend camp. From an idea inspired by Dudley 106 years ago, emerged what is now “Project 332.” For these reasons and countless others, the Frost Valley Board of Trustees has chosen to induct Sumner Dudley into Frost Valley Hall of Fame.