Origins of the AYF

The origins of the American Youth Foundation can be traced to John Alexander and his studies in the 1890’s.

Recognizing that the Biblical philosophy found in Luke 2:52 described a balanced life of physical, mental, social and religious growth for youth, he sought opportunities to provide programming in the YMCA, Boys Scouts, and the International Sunday School Association. Preston G. Orwig, Richard A. Waite, and William H. Danforth were also active participants in some of these same youth development groups, and met each other at “The Men and Religion Forward” in 1911. Together they pioneered youth camp conferences which combined study and fun at Lake Geneva WI, Geneva Point at Lake Winnipesaukee NH, and Geneva Glen CO.

In 1924, driven by their vision to broaden youth leadership education to include vocations and community involvement, these four men founded The American Youth Foundation, and, in 1925, its Miniwanca and Merrowvista Camps.

Decade Preceding AYF

Winnepesaukee, New Hampshire

Lake Geneva

Launch of AYF Camps – Leader Greetings