Meet the Harris Family
Blue Bell Camp has been owned and operated by three generations of the Harris Family since 1946. The four current directors, Tom and Joyce, and their daughters, Katherine and Lisa, live, eat, and breathe camp. Each of our houses border the camp property, and we prepare ten months of the year so your child will have the most rewarding two months of his or her life. We are outside at camp all day long during the summer and are involved in every aspect from a homerun to a scraped knee to a new obstacle course record.
It is important for us to get to know each of our campers and to develop a personal relationship with their families. Therefore, when you call us on the telephone, it will always be a member of the Harris family who answers, except during the camp day when we are with the children. We are typically available by phone from 9:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M. seven days a week in the off-season. Many camp directors have a background in phys ed, while our areas of expertise are child development and education. We frequently make visits to observe children in school to help parents determine if Blue Bell is the best place for their child and how we can help them reach their individual goals.
Tom has been the owner and director of Blue Bell Camp for over 40 years. He is passionate about helping children become confident and independent, and learn to take personal responsibility. He graduated from Penn State University with a degree in Finance, but soon chose to carry on the family tradition of running Blue Bell Camp when his parents retired in 1978. Since then, parents and campers alike have sought his advice and valued his tremendous insight on raising children. He spends countless hours in the evenings and off-season advising parents on topics ranging from when and how to choose an overnight camp to how to get a child to eat or sleep better.
Joyce graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and received a Master's Degree in Education from Arcadia University. She is the "camp mom" who takes care of both campers and counselors. She coordinates special events at camp such as 4th of July festivities, Pennant Club Celebration, Counselor Appreciation Day, the last day Banquet, and more.
Katherine graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and received a Master's Degree in Elementary Counseling from Villanova University. She runs the Leadership Program for the Senior campers and teaches their weekly leadership seminars. She and her husband, Craig, are parents to sons Gavin and Hayden, and as a mom herself, Katherine understands the immense responsibility of caring for other people's children as if they were her own.
Lisa graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, specializing in Sociology. She often tutors in the off-season. The campers think of her as a "big sister" and love when she joins in with them at activities. When she is not coordinating special events, such as the Counselor Show, Camper Shows, the Camp Carnival, and musical events, she can usually be found at Craft Corner planning new projects and helping campers explore their creativity and artistic abilities.
History of Blue Bell Camp
Tom's parents, Bob and Edna Harris, founded Blue Bell Camp in 1946. Bob and Edna's vision of a productive day camp was unique: It had the picturesque atmosphere of a New England overnight camp with an educational philosophy similar to a Montessori school. They wanted to teach a multitude of sports and activities with a focus on instruction rather than competition.
Tom became the Director after his parents "hung up the whistle" in 1978. He and his wife, Joyce, had two daughters, and although BBC had been an all-boys camp, they began taking girls in 1990 when Katherine and Lisa were old enough to attend. Over the years, Tom and Joyce expanded the camp property, built new facilities, and added events and activities, including the Leadership Program in 2006.
Having grown up at camp, Katherine and Lisa have always been passionate about helping children and knew from a young age that they wanted to continue the family tradition. They joined BBC year-round when they graduated from college in 2007 and 2010, respectively. They, too, have incorporated their own ideas into the camp program and are excited about the possibilities for the future. The camp Bob and Edna began with approximately 35 campers on 8 acres has grown over the past 75 summers and three generations to 15 acres and 200 campers, but their recipe for in-depth instruction and vision of a camp where children can build a strong foundation of character, knowledge, and physical abilities has been carried on as part of the Harris family legacy.
"Thank you just isn't enough to cover how much you did for [our son] this summer. He feels like part of a family there and is learning so much about sports and being a leader. Everyday he was smiling and excited to tell us about something new that he learned that day. Thank you for all that you have done for not only our son but all the children!"
– Mr. and Mrs. T., Ambler, PA
"I just wanted to send a quick note to your family to say a HUGE thank you for another wonderful summer. You truly run the best camp. I continue to be so impressed by Blue Bell's values, instruction, and professionalism. [My daughter] had the most wonderful summer and we loved hearing about each fabulous day."
– Mrs. Z., Gladwyne, PA
"Harris Family philosophy and care distinguishes BBC from any other camp I have ever come across. On top of well-run activities with top-notch counselors, my son gained a sense of self-confidence, positive attitude and came out of his comfort zone. My husband and I could not believe what we were seeing. We are obsessed with BBC. Thank you for the gift you give to our children. We are so grateful our friends told us about your camp."
– Mrs. K., Chalfont, PA
"[My son] and I thank you for a great summer. He misses camp already, and I know BBC has made a significant impact on his development. He wants to show you his journal that he has been keeping this summer, where he "tells about" something he did at camp each day."
– Mr. B., Philadelphia, PA