In 1921, when most camps were segregated by gender, race, and religion, educator Donald Slesinger established Camp Treetops, and enrolled boys and girls from diverse backgrounds.
Helen and Douglas Haskell joined the Camp staff in 1926 and were appointed as directors three years later. For the next four decades, the Haskells shaped Treetops in accordance with values influenced by John Dewey’s progressive views of education — notably that too much structure and competition stifled children’s natural curiosity and creativity.
As a result, Treetops campers awoke every morning not from a call of reveille but from a counselor’s gentle nudge. They dressed not in uniforms but in their own clothes, often going barefoot. They chose their own activities and planned their own days, a practice that helped foster their independence and self-confidence. They performed daily work jobs and slept in quarters apart (but not far) from their counselors.
In 1938, Helen’s sister and brother-in-law, educators Leonora and Walter Clark, opened North Country School on Camp property to extend Treetops’ ideals to classroom learning.
Ever since, Camp and School have operated in tandem – sharing facilities, a guiding philosophy, and a single Board of Trustees instituted with the reorganization of the two programs into one non-profit in 1957.