At Camp Kon-O-Kwee Spencer, we believe that kids, adults, families, and communities become happier, more confident, and more remarkable versions of themselves when given the opportunity of a quality camp experience in a welcoming natural environment while being led by inspiring and supportive leaders and role models.
Camp Kon-O-Kwee Spencer engages families, encourages adults, and inspires kids to learn, grow, and thrive through:
- Summer Overnight Camp
- Special Needs Overnight Camp
- Outdoor Environmental Education
- Family Engagement & Team-Building Weekends
- Retreats & Conferences
Founded in 1926 — Camp Kon-O-Kwee was founded in 1926 as a YMCA summer camp for children. It encompassed 265 acres of fields, forests and countryside along the Connoquenessing Creek, five miles west of Zelienople, Pennsylvania.
A Rich History of Camping - For many years Camp Kon-O-Kwee operated solely as a summer camp for boys and rental groups, expanding to co-ed programming and Outdoor Environmental Education under the leadership of Camp Directors Ray Steeb (1926-28), George Nichols Jr. (1929-33), Roy Cotten (1934-43), F.W. Stahl (1944), Wayne Mong (1945-46), Charles Faust (1947-49), Robert McCurdy (1950), James H. Dale (1951 -53), Herbert Niiler (1954), Conley Davies (1955-65), Stanley Buswell (1966), Herbert Niiler (1967-70), Uncle Harry Kramer (1971-2007), and Rick Deer (2007 -2012).
1970’s Mark New Era of Winterization & Expansion — Beginning in 1970, the camp underwent a gradual transformation of winterization, renovation and expansion, permitting the extension of camp services beyond the summer months. New structures were added to house larger numbers of camp participants. A swimming pool was installed to replace the original small, deteriorated pool, and a nature study center and small pond were added.
Programs and Special Services Continue to Grow — By 1990, Camp Kon-O- Kwee was hosting campers 50 weeks out of the year.
Camp Fombellina Acquired and Dedicated to Challenged Campers — In 1991, Camp Fombellina — 150 acre Girl Scout Camp adjacent to Kon-O-Kwee — was acquired through the leadership and generosity of A. Lawrence Spencer. The Camp was renamed Camp Spencer and dedicated primarily towards serving children and adults with disabilities. In 1992 the Metropolitan Builders Association of Pittsburgh constructed a 3,000 square foot dormitory at Camp Spencer. Since Camp Spencer was acquired, many other skilled volunteers have come together to make improvements to the camp, including pool locker rooms, four summer cabins, a winterized dormitory, renovation of a 100 year old barn, and handicapped accessible pathways to allow all participants easy access to facilities.
New Water System Installed — Also in 1991 Chuck Doughty of Construction Resources volunteered his time to design a new water system for the camp consisting of a supply loop and fire hydrants. As part of this project, three new bath houses were constructed, providing all campers — including the physically challenged — toilet and shower facilities within a short distance of their seasonal cabins. Completion of the project was made possible by funds contributed by the McCune Foundation, Henry L. Hillman Foundation, R.K. Mellon Foundation, USX Foundation, Eden Hall Foundation and Rockwell Foundation.
Bridge Constructed to Unite the Camps — 1993 marked the beginning of one of the single largest projects in the Camp’s history. Literally hundred of volunteers — including engineers, architects, attorneys, television personalities and business people, as well as members of a multitude of Western Pennsylvania trade unions — came together to build a bridge across the Connoquenessing Creek. This 440-foot steel framed structure that united the campers of Kon-O-Kwee and Spencer was dedicated on April 30, 1996.
New Medical Center Opened — In 1997 Architect Robert T. Stevens developed plans for a new Medical Center, replacing the original infirmary constructed in 1926. The new Medical Center, completed in 1998, not only improves medical care for all our campers, but also enables us to provide a valuable camping experience to participants with severe asthma, burns and those requiring kidney dialysis. UPMC Health System is providing resident physicians to staff the Medical Center.
A Recognized Leader…Today Camp Kon-O-Kwee/Spencer encompasses 500 acres with 45 seasonal cabins and 27 lodges. Camp Kon-O-Kwee/Spencer has become a nationally recognized model for camps pursuing specialized programs including:
- Adaptive camping & sports for children and adults with physical and mental disabilities
- Adventure programs for inner city youth-at-risk
- Team-Building Retreats
- Parent/Child Camping
- Outdoor & Environmental Education