In 1982, Michael (age 15) and Bill Rouse (age 11), started a for profit day camp, ESF Summer Camps, on the campus of their school, Haverford School, located in Haverford, PA. In exchange for use of the space at their school, the teens were required to offer camp scholarships to two children who could not afford to attend. The brothers experienced firsthand how something as simple as a summer camp could make a difference in a child’s life.
After years of providing full scholarships for children at their summer camps, the Rouse brothers created ESF Dream Camp Foundation in 1998 to put structure behind their philanthropic efforts. Paul Raether, a friend of the Rouse brothers and trustee at Trinity College in Hartford, CT, offered them a proposition. As the architect behind Trinity’s outreach programs, Mr. Raether was concerned about Hartford’s decline, which has left children disproportionately destitute and vulnerable. Hoping to create change, Mr. Raether connected the Rouse brothers with Trinity and provided the necessary support to create Dream Camp. The Trinity Dream Camp was started on the campus of Trinity College in 1998, while the Philadelphia Dream Camp started on the campus of Girard College four years later in 2002 and has since moved to the campus of Temple University.