Camp Fuller History

100th Anniversary of the Dining Hall

As far as we know, the Dining Hall was built in 1922. Originally referred to as “The Lodge”, this iconic building has been the centerpiece of Camp Fuller for one hundred years.

Before it was Camp Fuller, it was Camp Lawton

What we all know as Camp Fuller By-The-Sea actually had a short history as Camp Lawton. Founded in 1887, Camp Lawton had several locations throughout Rhode Island including North Scituate and Hog Island off the shores of Bristol. It was re-located to its current location on Point Judith Pond in Wakefield in 1912 and re-named Camp Fuller in 1914. The legacy and re-naming of the camp makes Fuller one of the oldest camps in the country. Our knowledge of Camp Lawton has been known, but the discovery of an old brochure printed in 1912 brings its history to light.

Brief History of Camp Fuller

All institutions, regardless of age, have a history that is made up of facts, significant dates, people, and often times, stories that cannot always be validated. Regardless, the history of Camp Fuller often resides in our memories which tend to change over time. Our goal in writing the history of Camp Fuller is to be as accurate as possible based on old documents, photos, printed publications and folklore that has been passed along through the generations.

Camp Fuller During the Great Depression

While many summer camps struggled and probably closed during the Great Depression of the 1930’s, Camp Fuller grew and flourished during this challenging time. Under the strong leadership of the camp director, John A. Cranston; an enthusiastic staff and a dedicated board at the Providence YMCA, Camp Fuller continued to offer a hearty and diverse summer program for boys.

Camp Fuller Goes to the Movies

We never know what we will find in the many boxes of material that was stored in the Ad Building for decades. From what we can gather, these old movies were recorded in the late 50’s or early 60’s at camp. We are guessing that they were taken during a Visiting Day to showcase the range of activities, campers and staff at Camp Fuller.

Camp Fuller Nut Club

With any camp that has been around for over 100 years, traditions come and go. Stories and memories are passed down from one summer to the next and sometimes they just cease to exist. Before you know it, a variation pops up or a new tradition begins. These traditions are what create lasting memories, which sometimes outlast the actual tradition.

Camp Life Through the Years: 1928

This short article was written from a 1928 Providence YMCA newsletter which featured Camp Fuller entering a new season. Some things don’t change, some do…. “Camp Fuller Prepares for Seventeenth Season”.

From Our Inbox

The Archive Project receives emails from people who visit the website. This one, sent to us by Sherry Edmonson Snow really caught our attention not only from a generational perspective, but because it spoke about finding a family member who attended Camp Fuller in the 1930’s.

History of the Sailing Program  

Although many other programs make up the list of camp activities during the summer, few are more popular than the sailing program. The first sailboat, named "Oswald" arrived at Fuller in 1928. A second, named "Goblin" followed in 1929, and a third, "The Blue Streak" came along in 1932.

Hurricane Bob: August 19, 1991

Hurricane Bob was one of the costliest hurricanes in New England History. The first and only major storm of the 1991 Atlantic Hurricane season originated in the Bahamas on August 16, 1991. It hit Camp Fuller and the Rhode Island coast on August 19 as a Category 2 storm and caused a heap of damage to the area. Camp Fuller mostly dodged its devastating winds, rain and high tides, but did not come out unscathed. Fortunately, camp was secured as best as possible and evacuated to the nearby roller skating rink. Kids and staff took minimal belongings with them and hunkered down to ride out the big storm.

Photos from the Providence Public Library

When the Greater Providence YMCA was preparing to re-locate, their collection of archival materials needed a new home. Many photos, documents, journals and records dating back over one hundred years would have to be sorted through, cataloged and stored in a secure place where the public could still have access to them. Steve Palmer was instrumental in finding a home for these priceless pieces of history which chronicled the history of the Providence YMCA and Camp Fuller By-The-Sea.

Spring Valley and the Spring Valley Bus

If you went to Camp Fuller in the mid-1970’s then you certainly remember that there was an unusually large number of campers from Spring Valley, New York. You probably also remember that for several years there was a Spring Valley bus that took that group to and from camp. My name is Myra Scher, and my sons Steven and Bobby attended Camp Fuller from 1968-1976 (Steven) and 1969-1976 (Bobby). I can shed some light on the reason there were so many campers from Spring Valley (and Rockland County, NY), as well as how the Spring Valley bus came to be; after all, the bus was my idea!

The Camp Truck

Among the many vehicles that have been a part of Camp Fuller’s fleet, the one that has a special place in many of our hearts was the green Camp Truck. The one I remember from my years at Fuller was a 1968 Ford F-600, stake bed truck. It was painted Holly Green, with dual rear wheels, a 330 V-8 engine, 4-speed manual transmission and a custom 12-foot stake bed, from Jannell Truck Body of Woonsocket, RI. It replaced a mid 1950’s International Harvester R Series truck with much the same layout.

The Fuller Statue

Sitting quietly on the fireplace hearth of the Ad Building is a bronze statue of a man holding what appears to be a tool of some sort (possibly a scythe). Between his feet is a bundle of wheat, suggesting that the man was a farmer or laborer. The statue stands about thirty inches tall on a wood base. Attached to the base is an engraved plaque, which, in part reads “Presented by the Board of Directors of the Providence Young Men’s Christian Association to Frederic H. Fuller”.


Camp Fuller was established in 1887. Check out the timeline and how Camp Fuller has changed and evolved through its rich history.

Read More