Our History

1913 - The Rockingham County YMCA was founded to meet the needs of young boys through recreation and leadership programs. Since then, camp and community programs have developed to meet the needs of the community and expand the YMCA's mission.

1914 - Percy Jewell organized the first camping group on Pawtuckaway Pond, in Nottingham, NH.

1923 - YMCA Camp Ordway was established on Onway Lake in Raymond by Percy Jewell. The site was temporary and was outgrown in just a few years.

1926 - Warren Tucker sold the Rockingham County YMCA 65 acres of land on the shores of Kingston Lake in Kingston, New Hampshire to develop a permanent site to provide summer camping experiences to boys and young men.  Camp Lincoln was founded and dedicated to the boyhood of Abraham Lincoln.

1926 - A Permanent dining hall and the first 8 cabins were built.

1930s - 1950s - The camp was a one-week overnight camp for boys ages 8-15. A few cabins were built and the capacity per session was 60-80 campers.

1960 - A unique speech and hearing program was developed in partnership with the state. Campers from across the region came to Camp Lincoln and engaged in camp activities for the first time. In addition to the program the campers participate in the camp programs.

1967 - A Capital Campaign was conducted to raise $150,000 to build a variety of structures around camp. Less than half the amount was raised and ten cabins, a new beach, a ball field a craft center and new administration center were built. A new dining hall, lodge, infirmary and miscellaneous renovations on existing structures were not completed.

1974 - Wilderness Wanderers was offered as an 11 day backpacking and adventure trip for boys entering grades 9-11. The first trips went to Carter Notch, Franconia Notch, Mount Washington and Baxter State Park.

The Rockingham County YMCA Board of Directors transferred the ownership of the camp to the New Hampshire YMCA in hopes that camp could be stabilized by a single strong organization. Began teaching Environmental Education Program

During the spring and fall Camp Lincoln become available for family and group use.

1981 - Camp Lincoln becomes a co-ed day camp.  Spring and fall adventure programs are offered for school groups, and year round programming at camp begins.

1986 - The YMCA offers their first after school program in Hampstead.

1990s - The YMCA offers after school programs in 10 local elementary schools. The YMCA office is open year-round.

1997 - The New Hampshire YMCA breaks up and Camp Lincoln becomes Southern District YMCA/Camp Lincoln and an independent YMCA.

1999 - In addition to the traditional day camp, specialty camps, a travel camp, and overnight adventure trips are offered.  A new ropes course is built and year round offices are expanded.

2000 - A strategic plan is created to improve the conditions of the camp.  A climbing wall is built and camp offices are winterized and year round offices expanded.  Music and enrichment programs are offered after school in local elementary schools.

2003 - Over 1,400 campers spend part or all of their summer at Camp Lincoln.

2004 - Over 450 children are enrolled in the year round after school program in 12 local elementary schools and 5,000 school age children participate in YMCA programs throughout the school year.

2005 - The driveway into camp is widened from 14 to 24 feet and lights are added to the Pavilion.  The world's largest Adirondack chair is built and sits proudly at Camp Lincoln.

2006 - $350,000 worth of renovations have been completed since 1999 including 10 renovated cabins and the building of a new field.  The YMCA has raised $250,000 since 1998 to provide financial assistance and scholarships to families.

2008 - The YMCA raises over $300,000 since 1998 to provide financial assistance and scholarships to families.

2009 - Southern District YMCA partners with other community organizations, HEAL (Healthy Eating Active Living) and Seacoast Coalition, to further the cause of a strong, healthy community.

2010 - Southern District YMCA/Camp Lincoln expands programming into more communities for families during teacher in-service days and school vacations. A healthy scholarship fund pays for over 100 children to participate in programming.

2011 - Exeter Center for Creative Arts (ECCA) seeks partnership to broaden arts education in Exeter. Y-Arts opens in September for after school child care and art classes at the YMCA at ECCA facility at 30 Linden Street.

Facility Improvements Since 1998

Over the years, we have made numerous upgrades and improvements to the facilities that we have to offer for the public, as well as to our own offices. These improvements are based on need, as well as functionality, allowing us to provide a fun, safe and productive environment for all.

Staff Housing

2001 - 2005 - Purchased, renovated and re-roofed the 63 Ball Road house, which has 3 bedrooms and a separate in-law basement apartment. Renovated the 67 Ball Road home including addition of a deck, new carpet and appliances.

2006 - 2010 - Re-roofed Directors House and installed vent fan in attic. Weather sealed windows and constructed new porch at 63 Ball Road House.  Installed tile in 63 Ball Rd House.


1999 - 2002 - The Camp office and pavilion bathrooms are winterized. A 24x24 addition is added to the District office.  Other improvements include a new septic leech field, new signage and a PA system.

2003 - 2010 - The Camp Office reception area was renovated to allow for a "living room."  A propane "wood stove" was installed along with a hardwood floor.  A propane generator was hard wired to service both office buildings.  The pavilion roof was re-shingled.  Closet space was added to the camp office.


1999 - 2006 - The Pavilion was improved by adding see-through rain flaps, tongue and groove walls, a new gas grill and ice machine and exterior lighting. The bathrooms were renovated. The exterior area was improved by adding a garden and flag pole area and a reflection area and peace pole, building a brick Walk of Fame walkway, converting the driveway area into a picnic area and building the Worlds Largest Adirondack Chair.  In 2006, the main parking lot was moved and converted into an upper field. 

Unit Areas

Eagles (Ridge Cabins)
2005 - 2010 - Renovated bathrooms for individual stalls and urinals in men's side.  Hung t-111 interior and exterior. Installed on-demand hot water.  Constructed 16 changing stalls behind cabins.  Hung t-111 in all cabin interiors. Built new stairs in front of all cabins.  Installed fence along hill for erosion control.

Middlers (Courtside Cabins)
2005 - 2010 - Installed tongue & groove pine in all interiors and upgraded all electrical service. Bathrooms were upgraded with tile floor, pine walls and stalls for toilets. Water service run to "back-40" and along sports field to upper green.  Flag pole installed.  Platforms constructed for lunch and meeting space.  Ga-ga dodge ball court installed.

Voyagers (Lakeside Cabins)
2005 - 2010 - Installed tongue & groove pine in all interiors and upgraded all electrical service. Bathrooms were upgraded with tile floor, pine walls and stalls for toilets. Flag pole installed. Ga-ga dodge ball court installed.


2010 - Garage built to house maintenance behind directors house.  30'X32' structure with loft, two bays and an access door.

Arts & Crafts Cabin

2002 - Rebuilt the front deck, painted and reinstalled existing water hook up.

2009 - Deck was constructed under the porch and t-111 was hung inside.

Health Center

2000 - Renovated and insulated the interior and bathroom.


2002 - Rebuilt the front deck, reconnected the cold and hot water and purchased pottery supplies.

2008 - 2010 - Pottery wheels and kiln were purchased.  T-111 was hung in the inside, new windows were installed and a metal roof was installed.


2000 - 2004 - Renovated and reconnected the water.

2008 - The building was straightened and brought plumb.  Kiln closet for pottery was added to the back.  Metal roofing was installed.  T-111 was hung on the exterior and a wood-stove was installed inside.

2009 - 2010 - Additional supplies were purchased.

Vespers/Lower Amphitheater

2000 & 2004 - Built the amphitheater and stage.


2000 - 2004 - Extended amphithatres seating and added a stage and a speaker system.

2005 - 2010 - Erosion control measures were taken - terracing through major paths and boards under benches.

Dining Hall

2002 - 2003 - Purchased wood stove and new windows and screens, painted floor and building, replaced sink and changed hot water to on-demand.

2009 - Plumbing and electrical wiring in kitchen upgraded.  Major work to footings and stringers accomplished to remove rot.

2010 - Propane oven installed.

Cook's Cabin

2002 - Renovated the bathroom.


2001 - 2002 - Renovated building and rebuilt retaining wall.

2008 - Second archery range constructed in the "back-40."

Sports Cabin

2005 - Opened up the front of the building and added bleacher stairs and a covering for the lawn mower.

2008 - 2010 - Farmers porch constructed over side of cabin.  Cupboard space constructed inside.  Cabin built on to exterior for storage.

Hobbs Field

1998 - 2005 - Fertilized, rebuilt the infield and added retaining walls to right field and the first base line, and added a scoreboard and waterfountain.  Resurfaced the basketball court, added new hoods and added a retaining wall to court.

Game Area

1999 - 2005 - Added a miniature golf course, horseshoes and tetherball.


1999 - 2001 - Built a large playground with 12 elements.

Mountain Biking

1999 - 2004 - Purchased 20 bikes, 30 helmets and a storage shed.

2005 - 2010 - Maintained over 40 bikes and helmets.

Ropes Course & Adventure Camp

1998 - 2005 - Constucted a 7 element high ropes course, a 10 element low ropes course and a Burma Bridge; added a climbing wall and a debrief area; built 2 storage sheds and purchased a treadwall.

2008 - 2010 - Constructed new challenge course elements and high ropes elements.


Purchased 26 kayaks and paddles, 50 lifejackets 6 windsurfers.  Added one 40 foot fishing dock, two 80 foot long docks that extends from shore, one 100 foot cross dock that connects the two main docks, a lifeguard chair and a new fence surrounding the swim area.

2005 - 2010 - Maintained 45 kayaks, 25 canoes and 8 rowboats with over 80 lifejackets.  Floating docks have been replaced as needed.

Other Improvements

  • 50 Adirondack chairs and 75 picnic tables
  • Design an approved 2,400 gallon/day septic system
  • Land clearing throughout camp
  • 12 new computers, several printers and a fax machine
  • Networked system and added a new phone system
  • New office furniture in each office
  • Popcorn and cotton candy machines
  • 50 pairs of snowshoes
  • 7 aluminum tables
Camp Lincoln School Age Child Care Y-Arts Classes Community Programs Group Retreats