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About Us | Our History:

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Ruth Uarda Zirkle Kauth and her husband, Willard L. Kauth, founded the Girls' Vacation Fund in the summer of 1936 at Camp Manitou in Central Valley, New York.

Girls Quest was founded in 1936 as Girls' Vacation Fund by Ruth Uarda Zirkle Kauth, a social worker at the Henry Street Settlement House. She led a group of visionary women to provide recreation and health programs for the sisters of boys attending the Boys Athletic League's summer programs, which her husband, Willard L. Kauth, co-founded. Mrs. Kauth and her friends opened the first camp in 1936, Camp Manitou in Central Valley, NY, to provide a two-week vacation for over 100 girls between the ages of 8 and 13. The Girls' Vacation Fund was a reality.

Our name changed to Girls Quest in July 2005 to more accurately reflect the breadth, depth, and evolution of our programming and to highlight the aspects—year-round programming and a multi-year continuum—that distinguish our approach to the development of girls and young women. Our focus has likewise matured, and our refined mission is: to nurture girls from low-income families in New York to help them achieve their full potential and become active members of their communities by building academic and social competence. In this way, we continue to build on our seventy-year history of empowering girls to become strong, productive, and caring contributors to their communities, and our work continues to center on outdoor experiential education, literacy development, adult mentoring, leadership training, and peer-to-peer learning and role modeling.