About Girls Quest
Girls Quest Mission
Our mission is to nurture girls from underserved families in New York City and Greene County, New York and help them achieve their full potential and become active members of their communities. We do this by building academic and social competencies and an appreciation of nature. In this way, we encourage girls to become strong, independent, productive and caring individuals. Our work focuses on outdoor experiential education, literacy development, leadership training, and peer-to-peer modeling. To achieve our mission, we operate the Summer Experiential Education and Development Program (SEED) and the Teen Leadership Program.
Camp Oh-Neh-Tah, which means “Silver Hemlock”, is located 150 miles (2.5 hours) northwest of New York City and can accommodate over 100 girls a session. The site covers over 400 acres of pristine woodlands on the north end of the Catskill Mountains in New York. The camp property is surrounded by 10,000 acres of state forest and includes nature trails for hiking, a beaver pond and Silver Lake for swimming and boating. To accommodate the various activities held at camp, Camp Oh-Neh-Tah has sports fields, classrooms, a library/learning center, health center, dining hall, staff lodge, animal barn, garden and the Windmill (our arts and ceramics studio).
Girls Quest was founded in 1936 as Girl’s Vacation Fund by Ruth Uarda Zirkle Kauth, a social worker at the Henry Street Settlement House. She led a group of dedicated and 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.
Girl’s Vacation Fund opened its first camp, Camp Manitou, in 1936 and it sat on the tip of the Lower Twin Lakes in Central Valley, NY. In 1941 to accommodate the growing need for space, a sister camp, Camp Talako, was opened directly across from Camp Manitou. In 1945, Girl’s Vacation Fund purchased 500 acres of mountains and woodlands in the Catskill Mountains, located in East Windham, NY. This purchase provided a permanent location for Mr. and Mrs. Kauth’s camping vision for girls—Camp Oh-Neh-Tah.
Girl’s Vacation Fund changed its name 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 distinguished our approach to the development of girls and young women. We successfully executed this approach until 2012 when the fallout of the 2008 financial crisis crippled our ability to operate. At that point the Board made the decision to go into dormancy to discover and evaluate all our options. After actively identifying and considering strategic merger partners, and a possible sale of the camp, the Board decided to return to its roots and make the effort to open camp again. They enlisted the help of former campers, staff and funders to help them prepare Camp Oh-Neh-Tah and the SEED program to welcome young girls once more.
2019 marked the rebirth of our camping program at Camp Oh-Neh-Tah and the beginning of a new group of girls experiencing a multi-year continuum.
Ruth and William Kauth
Board of Directors
President: Eileen Murphy
Vice President: Gail Gross
Treasurer: Florence Danforth-Meyer
Board of Directors
Mrs. Theodore N. Danforth