25 Summers of Johnsonburg: The Stevens Summer Study Camp That Could
Mention the name to Stevens alumni from the 1930s through the 1950s, and they immediately return to memories of surveying in wide open fields, trips to the “J’bgh Inn,” bad cases of poison ivy — bonding experiences shared in the wilds of northwestern New Jersey and still cherished more than 60 years later.
The mandatory summer camp for Stevens students after freshman year, officially known as the Stevens Civil Engineering Camp, lasted from 1930 through 1955 and took place just west of tiny Johnsonburg (population currently 101) in rural Warren County, New Jersey. There, for four weeks, Stevens students learned to survey, work with level circuits and transits and read topographic maps.
They also competed in athletic contests, cabin versus cabin; swam in a nearby lake; and even put out a camp newsletter called the TranSIT. There were tales of hitchhiking to hit the nearby towns of Blairstown, Hackettstown and Newton (followed by long moonlit walks back to camp). There was a ritual of dunking the camp instructor.
“This type of camp was something most of us had never come across,” a member of the Class of ’58 (the final class to participate in the camp) wrote in the 1957 Stevens yearbook. “We were forced to understand, to be tolerant and then to prove ourselves. We really were by ourselves together. We had rules...yes and we had freedom as well.”