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CCWA's founder was a visionary
woman named Eliza Turner. She
had a powerful notion - children
living in an urban environment
would benefit from what she called a
"country experience." Eliza and her
friends shared a common interest,
they all owned farms in Chester
County. The enterprising women
set about recruiting children to
come stay with them on their farms.
They literally knocked on doors in
the streets of Philadelphia, asking
families for permission to care for
their children.
From these humble beginnings,
CCWA got its start. Its evolution
has been quite remarkable. From
its inception, until 1915, it was led by an all-woman Board of
Directors. After having done their youth development work from
their own farms, in 1912, the enterprising women set about finding
a permanent home from which to do their good works. They found
the perfect place while exploring Paradise Valley.
The ladies knew that was the spot, so the organization purchased
two working farms in the valley, those of Enoch Pearson and
Caleb Mercer. Together they were approximately 150 acres. After
acquiring the lands, the women set upon building their first camp
structure on the hillside overlooking the valley below.
Paradise Farm Camps officially opened in 1913. It is one of
the oldest camps in the United States of America and has been in
continuous operation since that first summer. Last summer, their
camp programs served almost 800 individual campers.
The Day Camp was launched in 2004. It was built upon the
core values of Teamwork, Respect, Enthusiasm, and Kindness.
TREK informs all of the lessons and development of the ageappropriate programs. Paradise Farm Camps offers eight weekly
sessions through the summer, each designed around a theme. The
Day Camp serves approximately 275 campers each week and
effectively sells out before winter ends. Accordingly, families are
encouraged to sign up early to attend.
Jessie Leone leads the Day Camp and has been involved since
its first summer. Her family has a long and deep connection to
CCWA, as her grandfather, Dr. David Helig was the Camp Doctor
and her grandmother was the Camp Nurse. Jessie's mother grew
up running around camp and Jessie likes to say that Paradise Farm
Camps is her happy place.
Overnight camping remains the heart and soul of CCWA. It
is what the organization was founded to do. The independent
and immersive residential experience is where so much growth
and development can happen in the life of a child. With proper
guidance and mentoring, magical things can and do happen at
Unfortunately, many children do not have the opportunity to
walk in the woods, to wander along or wade in a stream, to catch

and release a fish, or gaze upon the
night sky to see the moon and stars
in complete silence. These are the
enriching experiences CCWA offers in
the summer.
One family that had an enormous
impact on the evolution and growth
of CCWA was the Colley family. The
late Arthur Colley was the Camp
Director from 1948 through 1982.
Arthur was succeeded by his son,
Michael, who served for ten years.
Bruce Colley, the incoming President
of the Chester County Medical
Society, grew up with his family
running Paradise Farm Camps. He
continues to serve the organization on
its Board of Directors and will host
our fall Clam Bake at his favorite place. The event is scheduled for
Friday, September 27, and will serve as an excellent opportunity for
everyone to see the splendors of Paradise Farm Camps.
During the spring and fall, Paradise Farm Camps is the place
for outdoor education. In 2018, the organization partnered with
70 public and private schools. The students are hands-on, feet-in,
with their minds engaged in true experiential education. That is
how children learn best. Education Director, James Mora works
collaboratively with the schools' teachers in tailoring programs to
meet the specific needs of students. The programs are designed to
meet the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's education standards and
are based on sound scientific principles.
Team building has become a core component of Paradise Farm
Camps' outdoor education programs. A low-ropes challenge course
is built into a section of the property's vast woodlands. It has more
than twenty elements that certified instructors guide the students
through. Creative problem solving and enhanced communication
skills are developed through these initiatives.
Along with its own programs, CCWA partners with other social
service organizations in providing positive youth development
experiences. They work frequently with Girl Scouts, Scouts of
America, Coatesville Youth Initiative, Big Brothers & Big Sisters,
Trout Unlimited and West Chester Fish, Game & Wildlife
WCFG&W has a cooperative trout nursery located on Paradise
Farm Camps property. The fingerling trout are raised in pens, fed
daily, and safely released into West Valley Creek. This all-volunteer
organization hosts fishing rodeos for area youth and has done
extensive stream restoration work along West Valley Creek.
As CCWA - Paradise Farm Camps looks forward, it plans on
continuing to evolve, anticipating and addressing our community's
needs. Along the way, it will remain focused on helping raise the
next generation of responsible citizens. The organization welcomes
input from interested stakeholders and support from all sources.
For more information, please visit the organization's website

SUMMER 2019 | CHESTER COUNT Y Medicine 9


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