The history of camping at Kingsley Pines began nearly one hundred years ago. Anna M. Collins and Ruth C. Day were nurses who worked out of Boston and New York City. One summer they came across the land on which Kingsley Pines is currently located remarked that the property held everything that an ideal vacation place needs; “..a wide lake, a sandy beach, open field, rocky pastures, lovely trees, and so much of it bathed in the sun’s health giving rays.” In 1926 Anna & Ruth purchased the property and founded Camp Kokatosi, a camp for “Business and Professional Women and Girls”.
For the next 35 years Camp Kokatosi served as a women’s retreat and vacation camp. Camp guests could stay for just a few days up to a few weeks. Daily activities included many of those still offered today including canoeing, swimming, arts, dance, sports and more. Campers during this time had no set routine or schedule. Activities were offered throughout the day, and it was up to the individual to decide if they’d like to attend or simply do nothing at all.
It was during Anna & Ruth’s ownership that many of the buildings the Kingsley Pines uses today were built. Including many of our small camper cabins, the office, Panther Dining Hall, and most notably, Kokatosi Lodge which was built from timber sourced on camp property.
In 1961 Amherst Summer Music Center (ASMC), based out of the University of Massachusetts purchased the property from Camp Kokatosi. ASMC, directed by its founder Dr. J Clement Schuler purchased the property with the purpose of hosting their summer music camp in Maine. It was a summer camp for children aged 12+ where campers would be trained and educated in music theory and application. Campers could choose to attend for the full program (6 ½ weeks) or just for half the program (3 weeks).
The daily schedule for ASMC consisted of music classes and practices in the morning and after lunch. All campers were required to study Sight reading, Theory, & Solfege during their time at camp. In the afternoon there would be time to partake in some of the more traditional camp activities that we know of today such as “canoeing, barbecues, off-campus trips, dances, skit nights and the annual student-faculty softball game.”
Many of the buildings on camp at the time were used as classrooms or for rehearsal. It was not an uncommon sight to see a cabin be outfitted with chalkboard and desks. Each summer would also include regular public performances of the ASMC Orchestra, Concert Band, and Chorus hosted at ASMC for all who wished to attend.
It was at such a performance that Pat Coughlan, in the area visiting his sons who were attending a nearby boys’ camp, first discovered ASMC, and the beautiful property which it is situated on. It was while attending this concert at ASMC that Pat first envisioned starting a children’s camp. Pat spent his younger years attending and working at Camp Kingsley, a now non-operational boys’ camp located on Crescent Lake, Maine. Inspired by his transformative time there, Pat Coughlan founded Kingsley Pines Camp in 1984. Pat along with his wife Joyce, built and designed a co-ed camp program based on the ideals and lessons instilled in him from his time at Camp Kingsley.
Kingsley Pines Camp in its early years was directed by Jake Congleton. Jake had previously served as Camp Director at Camp Timanous and been an educator for many years. Camp had no more than 60 campers in its first year. Slowly over the years as more campers experienced the joy and transformative experience of camp, Kingsley Pines slowly grew in camper size. In 1996 Alan Kissack was appointed as the new director for Kingsley Pines. Over the next 26 years Alan began to build camp into what we know it as today. One of Alan’s greatest impacts on camp is the creation and implementation of our Camp goals. These goals were set in place to serve as a framework for how all camp programing and planning was designed and implemented. Under Alan’s guidance Kingsley Pines grew into one of the leading camp experiences in the world.
In 2010, Pat transferred ownership of Kingsley Pines to his three sons; Devon, Carter & Drew. All three being former campers and counselors at Kingsley Pines. They along with Dan Emmons, who was appointed Director in 2022 currently oversee the camp program. Kingsley Pines has now been providing amazing camper experiences for over 40 years!