The Children’s Outing Association was founded in 1906 by a group of women who were members of a charitable organization called “The Personal Relief Society.” In that first year, eight needy children were taken to a tent colony in Whitewater, Wisconsin for fresh air and sunshine.
1906 Four acres of land on the Milwaukee River at Thiensville are acquired for a Fresh Air Camp for underprivileged Jewish children.
1928 Mrs. Sidney Cohen donates six acres of land on Upper Lake Nemahbin in Waukesha County for a new camp. The Thiensville property is sold to the Boder family to establish a restaurant; and Camp Sidney Cohen begins its first year of operation.
1930 The name of the Children’s Outing Society is changed to the Children’s Outing Association. The camp becomes a member of the Milwaukee County Community Fund and Council of Social Agencies, forerunner of today’s United Way of Greater Milwaukee.
1943 Out-of-county children are admitted to camp.
1945 Working together with the Urban League, COA’s Camp becomes the first camp in Wisconsin with enrolment open to all children regardless of family income. The Children’s Outing Association Conducting Camp Sidney Cohen (the legal name of the group that operates the camp), the Jewish Center and the Jewish Social Services form a consortium, known as The Joint Committee of Sidney Cohen, to oversee summer camping.
1947 Non-summer use of camp by groups begins with the Business Girls’ session held Labor Day. It is the beginning of year-round camping.
1950 Mr. Charles D. Ashley presents the camp with 3 ½ acres adjoining the camp to the south.
1954 Men are elected to the corporation board for the first time in the organization’s history.
1958 Norm Adelman, a full-time, year-round executive director, is hired to oversee the agency.
1965 Coeducational camping begins at Camp Sidney Cohen.
1967 COA moves into a building at the west end of the North Avenue viaduct and begins daily programming serving children in the West-of-the-River neighborhood. Formal contacts are established with other youth-serving agencies that lead to participation in the newly formed Inner City Youth Serving Agencies (ICYSA).
1968 Giving Youth a Chance, a program to promote interracial relations among young people, is inaugurated involving COA and other groups from community agencies and poverty groups.
1969 COA begins a summer Cooperative Day Camp program in a Milwaukee park and starts a “Northwoods Project” for male teens and young adults.
1970 The agency purchases its new headquarters at 909 E. North Avenue and adds more neighborhood services programs. Land for another camp is purchased in Vilas County. This “northwoods” facility is named Camp Flambeau. A youth employment program for teens begins.
1973 Services to neighborhood children and youth increase significantly. The “PRIDE” community program is established in response to worsening conflict among White and Hispanic teen groups that resulted in a fatal shooting. Cooperative programs with children at Pierce School begin.
1974 COA helps develop a county-wide Youth Services Bureau.
1975 An all-diabetic session at Camp Sidney Cohen almost doubles the number accommodated by the camp. A new Camp Flambeau lodge is completed and camping services for teens increase.
1976 An interracial youth organization grows and acquires the name LIBRE. “US” program is developed for troubled youths on Brady Street. COA opens a nursery school for neighborhood children. Pride Community Center is launched with a community board of directors.
1979 COA acquires land one block away from its headquarters for a Creative Playground Program. Construction of a third floor for the North Avenue facility is completed. Alternatives for Youth (Diversion) program begin. Wilderness camping is offered for teens.
1981 Full day care program begins.
1982 Elder Teen program, a collaborative effort between COA and ESHAC, brings teens and senior citizens together.
1984 COA becomes a major summer youth employment coordinator under government programs that includes the Job Training Partnership Act and Milwaukee County Youth Employment Program. COA provides Family Camping and initiates special programs for teen parents. A day care program for “latchkey” children begins.
1988 COA staff identifies lack of adequate space and facilities as a major obstacle in meeting community needs. Quality child care is identified as the most important need in the Riverwest area.
1989 COA Board approves a capital campaign to raise funds for expanded facilities.
1991 After a successful fund-raising drive, COA’s Riverwest Center, including space for childcare and youth programming, is built on the site of the Creative Playground. The Crooked Lake property near Camp Sidney Cohen and Camp Flambeau are sold, and COA’s much larger Camp Helen Brachman opens its first season.
1994 The Family Resource Center and an MPS Head Start Program move into the Child Care and Community Center, and COA begins a full-time, on-site community center at Lapham Park.
1996 COA celebrates its 90th anniversary.
1998 A “Next Level Campaign” enables COA to raise funds to complete the lower level of the Riverwest Center. COA initiates a home-based reading program for preschool youngsters and parents Home Instruction of Parents of Preschool Youngsters
1999 The Norm Adelman Center for youth development programs opens.
2000 COA collaborates with MPS to open a Community Learning Center at Riverside University High School. The child care program is designated by the State as an Excellence in Early Childhood Education center.
2001 The ABE/GED program becomes one of COA’s core programs. COA expands youth services to include a computer learning center and a cultural arts program and enters into a partnership with five MPS elementary schools to provide HIPPY programming. The Goldin Summer Day Camp is now held in Kilbourn Park, adjacent to the Child Care playground.
2002 COA, in partnership with MPS and the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, launches Youth Leadership Institutes at Camp Helen Brachman to train teens how to become leaders in their communities. The COA/UWM Odyssey Project enables adult students to receive six college credits in humanities, free of charge. COA creates the new Youth Leadership Institutes at Camp.
2003 COA’s HIPPY program expands to include 11 MPS partnerships. With support from the Healthy Wisconsin Partnership, COA initiates the Riverwest Health Initiative coalition to provide wellness programs to the Riverwest neighborhood.
2004 COA works with the City to renovate Kilbourn Park and create a new Alice Bertschy Kadish Park on the bluff lands rising from the Milwaukee River; and the City leases these parks to COA to operate and maintain. COA opens Community Learning Centers at Washington High School and O. W. Holmes Elementary school.
2005 COA purchases the building – now known as the COA Goldin Center - at 2320 W. Burleigh Street, renovates the facility to create one of Wisconsin’s largest youth and family centers, and begins youth programming. COA builds a mini amphitheater in Kadish Park and a new soccer field in Kilbourn Park. HIP (Having Involved Parents), an after school program focusing on parent involvement, is initiated at OW Holmes.
2006 COA celebrates 100 years of service to the Milwaukee community. COA’s 100th Anniversary Campaign raises $6.2 million to: purchase and renovate the new Goldin Center, name and upgrade Kadish and Kilbourn Parks, renovate COA’s Administration and GED center, build a new double cabin at Camp, and create endowment funds to support programming for the decades to come.
2007 HIP program adds five additional schools. COA opens a Community Learning Center at Hopkins Street Elementary School. COA begins Skyline Music, a new summer music series in Kadish Park to bring residents together.
2008 Summer programming includes Washington HS CLC and Riverside HS CLC. The Goldin Summer Day Camp at the Goldin Center doubles its attendance in its second year.