Nonprofit profile: Princeton-Blairstown Center, serving youth through adventure-based programming

In brief 

Name: Princeton-Blairstown Center

Location: Near the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area in northwestern New Jersey


The organization began in 1908 as Princeton Summer Camp. Initially run by Princeton University students and faculty, Princeton-Blairstown Center is now an independent nonprofit organization that has evolved to offer a wide variety of year-round programs and serves nearly 8,000 young people each year.


Princeton-Blairstown Center serves young people, primarily from historically marginalized communities, by nurturing their social-emotional skills through experiential, environmental and adventure-based programming. Developing these skills enables our participants to engage in self-discovery and transform their communities to create a more just world. We strive for a future in which young people exhibit personal resilience and compassion, embrace expanded possibilities for their lives and enact positive change.


Princeton-Blairstown Center’s social-emotional learning programs promote community and help participants strengthen the creative problem-solving, teamwork and leadership skills necessary for success in the 21st century. Our experiential education facility and staff provide participants with the opportunity to try new things and encourage students to connect the lessons and skills they learn on our campus with the challenges they face in their academic, social and personal lives.

The award-winning Summer Bridge Program serves as the centerpiece of the center’s work, providing a weeklong academic and leadership enrichment program free of charge for hundreds of students from Newark and Trenton each year.


After a year of all-virtual programming, the center began offering day programs on our Blairstown campus and completely remodeled the Summer Bridge Program into an off-site format that was hosted in community spaces in Trenton and Newark, so students could be housed with their families. A full six-week roster of sites in each community was offered, with four days in students’ home communities with a day trip to Blairstown campus offered on Fridays. The center was honored with the New York Life Foundation Excellence in Summer Learning Award and is accredited by the American Camp Association and the Association for Experiential Education. We also are certified by the Green Restaurant Association for our efforts towards sustainable dining practices for our staff and guests.


The organization is supported through grants, individual contributions, in-kind gifts and fundraising events like the Soiree Under the Stars and the Links to Youth Golf Outing. In 2021, the Spring Into Action hike-and-learn event debuted as a COVID-safe fund- and friend-raiser for PBC.


Bristol-Myers Squibb; Janssen; the Laura J. Niles Foundation; NRG; the George H. and Estelle M. Sands Foundation; SCOPE; and the Victoria Foundation; among others.


Although strategies and tactics have evolved with the times, the organization essentially exists to provide the same thing it did when the organization was founded 114 years ago. What the young Princetonians who started the Princeton Summer Camp intrinsically recognized was a benefit to young people, we now know — and can show — is as important as ever today.

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