Masthead header

Summer Camp – Wandawega Lake Resort (and a giveaway!)


This is not going to be my “normal style” (whatever that may mean), but it seems to happen every August. So I am just giving you a warning that my posts for the next couple of weeks will be…um…different.  You see, for some strange reason, every August I start thinking about summer camp.  It’s kind of strange how it happens like clockwork.  I think it is because of this….

This is the Methodist church camp that I went to for a number of summers in August when my husband and I were dating and for a number of years after we were married.  The building above is called The Arbor, and that is where the church services are held. Families still come for the week of camp meeting for reunions, worship, and a wonderful time just being together.  There are buildings all around it that are called “tents” where the families stay for the week.

Some are rather primitive, while others have all the comforts of home.  The one we used to stay in had no glass in the windows…only screens.  This was pretty comfortable with fans there in the north Georgia mountains.  My husband’s family sold their tent a number of years ago, and camp meeting is now held in July instead of August, but the memories of that place seem to come on strong each year at this time.

Couple those memories with the fact that school has started here in the middle of summer, and bam!  I get a craving for fun… and not just any fun…summer camp fun for adults.  And that brings me to a place I want to share with you…a place for fun – Camp Wandawega.

Located in Elkhorn, Wisconsin, Camp Wandawega is your time portal back to the camp you wish your parents had sent you to as a child.  Only now, you can do all those fun things as an adult.  Owners, David Hernandez and wife Tereasa Surratt have poured their heart and soul into this place that appears to be frozen in time to give you that summer camp experience.

They have an amazing talent for finding vintage items that give the place its authentic feel…down to every single last detail.  And I do mean every one.

Their wedding was featured in an article at Martha Stewart Weddings.  Here is how they tell their story…

“Boy meets girl. Boy proposes. Proposes both marriage and that they purchase his abandoned childhood summer camp to be wed at. Girl accepts on both counts.”That’s how Tereasa and David tell their love story. The Chicago-based couple set off on a mad dash to restore the camp to its former glory just in time for them to tie the knot there.

Isn’t that amazing?  Camp Wandawega has a rather interesting past being used as everything from a brothel to a church campground.  There is an assortment of buildings in the camp including an old hotel …

an old lodge,

a giant teepee to stay in right by the lake,

several authentic Boy Scout tents,

a collection of cottages,

including a tiny tourist log cabin that was moved 245 miles from Illinois to Wisconsin.

(You can read all about the little cabin’s move and renovation in this book.)

A Very Modest Cottage (Country Living)

And…there is an absolutely amazing treehouse they built with the help of some very talented friends in memory of Tereasa’s father.

(You can take a video tour of it here.)

The whole place is so perfectly appointed that everyone from Lands End to Land of Nod have done photo shoots there.  photoshoot for lands end

And goodness knows, we probably couldn’t even count all the gorgeous weddings that have been held there!

But even though these nostalgic spaces are wonderful, it wouldn’t be summer camp without activities.  So what is there to do at Wandawega?  How about playing volleyball, basketball, shuffleboard, tennis, or take one of their vintage Schwinn bikes down to the grocery store?  If that is too strenuous for you, you can read from their library of books, shoot pool, put together a puzzle, or just enjoy a hammock.

And then…there is always the lake. 🙂

So swimming, fishing, boating, and floating on an inner tube are all available…along with that very long rope swing.  Are you ready to go to summer camp now?  I certainly am.  Unfortunately Life calls, and adulthood replaces the long unending days of childhood summer camp  fun.  But everyone needs fun, so how about a giveaway? 🙂

I’m afraid I can’t take us all to Camp Wandawega, but I have put together a few things to celebrate that summer camp feeling. First there’s a pair of skewers from Williams Sonoma for making delicious s’mores.

Then there is a precious movie for you to enjoy about a group of adults returning to their childhood summer camp. (You will definitely have to roast marshmallows after watching this one!)

Indian Summer [Blu-ray]

And finally, I’m including a copy of Tereasa’s book,  Found, Free, and Flea that tells all about collecting vintage items for Wandawega and includes many photographs taken there at the camp.

Found, Free, and Flea: Creating Collections from Vintage Treasures

If you would like to be entered to win, simply leave a comment on any or all of the Summer Camp posts (there will be a few!) between now and midnight August 22, 2013.  The winner will be chosen in a random drawing and announced in the next post after that.  And just to get you started, I will leave you with a question to talk about today.

Did you go away to summer camp as a child?  If not, did you ever want to?

Hope to hear from you soon!

You might enjoy these posts:

Heather S - August 21, 2013 - 4:47 pm

I went once when I was 9 years old and hated it! It was a camp that was really far away from where I lived and the weather was horrible. I remember begging a counselor to use a phone to call home to have my parents come get me!

Katie - August 19, 2013 - 9:15 am

Loving these post! Would love to be at camp right now!!! I’ll keep wishing! Great giveaway! xx.

Linda@Lime in the Coconut - August 19, 2013 - 5:25 am

Oooh. Yes. I even worked as a counselor at summer camp when I was in High school!

Kaye Ann - August 16, 2013 - 2:17 pm

Summer Church Camp…..memories. Mine was a Baptist Youth Camp. Had a crush on an older boy, who didn’t give me the time of day!!! But I was only 11. LOL

Cindy - August 14, 2013 - 2:21 am

As a teenager I went to summer camp, Lake Junaluska and Camp Tekoa, both Methodist camps in the North Carolina mountains. Some of my favorite memories…thanks for reminding me of those good times. From one of your post I saw Camp Tekoa is still in operation. Good. (Yes, it is the middle of the night, blogging is what I do when I can’t sleep.)

Kathy - August 12, 2013 - 11:59 pm

Growing up, I went to Quaker Lake Camp in Climax, NC. I loved spending a week there each summer. I also went to Girl Scout day camp. As an adult, I have helped with our Methodist church camp, Camp Patton Springs and Camp Patton Springs at Tekoa for 20+ years. It is only for a weekend. My children used to say if they had to choose between Christmas presents or going to
Camp Patton Springs, they would pick CPS. (And, Kelly, I love that you have so many comments for this post! You go, girl!)

Heidi - August 12, 2013 - 9:00 pm

I went to camp Kanuga in NC and was a couselor at Camp Hope run by Clemson Univ. in SC. in the late 60’s. Those weeks at camp were magical, liberating, and thoroughly different than and unlike any other time in my life. I wish a camp experience for every child growing up!

susy teale - August 12, 2013 - 8:46 pm

Went to camp as a a girl scout….Vividly remember the campfire and the large lodge of sleeping bags…. First girl that went to sleep woke up with a frozen bra…so funny!

Jennifer from Chesapeake, VA - August 11, 2013 - 7:26 pm

I was NEVER allowed to go to camp as a child, that is why I have made it a point to change that for my own kids! Within the last two years 4 families from our church have formed a camping group and we have gone twice a year for the past several years. So we all unplug, and head for the hills and make lots of sweet memories! Camping is a wonderful thing for your spirit!

Sandy - August 11, 2013 - 1:33 am

I never went to camp and probably wouldn’t have liked it but in high school I had so many friends who went to Gnaw Bone Camp in southern Indiana and told wonderful stories that I wished I had been a part of that. My daughter got that chance and she absolutely loved Gnaw Bone and went every summer from age 8-15. My granddaughters will all get that chance if they want it.

Marken - August 10, 2013 - 11:14 pm

I loved camping with the GS and attended the National Roundup in Colorado Springs in 1959, along with over 8,000 other scouts. I also attended Methodist Church camp in Junior High. As we were being assigned our cabins, I was asked to wait a minute. Seems they had assumed from my name I was a boy and some scrambling around was taking place when they saw that, clearly, I was a girl. Fun days.

Deborah E - August 10, 2013 - 9:38 pm

post 2 really reminds me of the years we went to Nestor Falls. We bought several Hudson Bay blankets which are shown in some of the pictures you posted. My in-laws also had many because they had been going for decades before I married into the family. They are sturdy and very warm. We now use them in the attic “bunk room” were we have 4 twin beds for when our children and grandchildren visit.

Deborah E - August 10, 2013 - 9:31 pm

I never went away to camp until I was married. Every year we went to Nestor Falls, Ontario. We stayed in little log cabins with tiny kitchens. It was so much fun. We fished for walleye most days. Some days we would explore the tiny islands and of course, pick LOTS of fresh blueberries.

Nicola - August 10, 2013 - 7:04 pm

I love summer camp. I went to many different types of camps while I was growing up and I have very fond memories of my experiences! After my freshmen and sophomore years of college I was blessed to be a counselor teaching needlecraft, weaving, (which I had to take a crash course in!) and assisting with arts and crafts. I did this at Camp Illahee in Brevard, NC.

Kayleigh Harkins - August 10, 2013 - 6:09 pm

I was (and still am) such a homebody that I never went away to summer camp and I never wanted to either. Now, I loved camping with my parents and sister when we were younger. We had a pop up camper and my mom would always pack a ton of food and we would eat all day. My dad would grill hamburgers and mom would make the side dishes. My sister and I would spend all day riding bikes or jumping in the lake. We always had so much fun!

Jennifer - August 10, 2013 - 12:18 pm

My sisters and I sold cases and cases of Girl Scout cookies to earn our way to Girl Scout Camp at Lake Coeur d’Alene, ID for two weeks. Many fun memories. Loved your post…what an amazing couple and beautiful place they’ve created.

Thanks for Sharing,

Be happy. Be kind. Be grateful. Be generous. Be your best YOU!

Louvina - August 10, 2013 - 11:44 am

Yes, I attended a Methodist Church Camp every summer for several years. Loved it– in the mountains of WVA. Then I became a Camp Fire Girl leader for 10 years and took 30 little girls camping many times. When I moved to FL,I had the experience of taking my intercity 5th graders on an overnight cabin camping in a state park- most of them had no camping experience so it was quite the adventure!:) Great memories!!

Brandi D. - August 9, 2013 - 9:22 pm

I’ve never been to camp, but I have been camping. It rained. It was terrible. I never wanted to go again. 🙂 Now, if I’d encountered someplace like Camp Wandawega, I’m sure I’d have been in wholeheartedly. I’m a sucker for nostalgia!

Katrina - August 9, 2013 - 9:04 pm

A month and a half ago my husband and I moved to Brevard,NC. Hard to believe, but we read the other day that there are 100 summer camps in our small mountain town! I went to the UPS/Fed Ex store yesterday and was greeted by stack after stack of the cutest decorated trunks you have ever seen. Seems that camps are winding down and kiddos are boarding planes to go back home. The camps deliver the trunks to this store and they ship the trunks home for the kids. That being said, my husband and I are volunteers at Camp Tekoa (a Methodist Camp) in Hendersonville, NC next weekend.
Here’s hoping I win the book! Happy Trails! Katrina

kim - August 9, 2013 - 8:33 pm

This post has me thinking of my Girl Scout Camp days. I am missing camp fires, fire roasted hot dogs, and songs around the campfire. I am conveniently forgetting outhouses, bug bites and midnight bathroom treks across camp. It is better to remember it through the soft focus filter that comes after 35 years.

Rose L - August 9, 2013 - 8:03 pm

Kelly, I love this post! This is the reason I RV to this day and it doesn’t matter to me if it’s winter, summer, spring or fall. I earned my way to camp many times as a kid by selling candy while a Campfire Girl. I also went on a caravan to various camps out in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana when I was in the sixth grade. My son and I camped together with the Boy Scouts as well. And as a family I camped in tents with my mother and in a converted school bus with my father. It’s in my blood as much as farming is and I doubt I’ll ever grow tired of it. In fact we plan to go RVing this coming week, where wherever you park is a brand new camp! Thanks for sharing, I loved your camp Wandawega! I can’t wait to see the next one.

Marianne in Mo. - August 9, 2013 - 6:49 pm

I never went to camp, but probably would have not gone anyway. I was an extremely shy kid, didn’t even like bible school or scouts. Even now, I have a hard time with strangers and don’t make friends on my own. If it weren’t for my husband, I doubt I would know our neighbors in our new-ish home. We moved here in 2007, after living in our former home since 1976. The thought of big groups puts me in a panic. Camp – don’t think so! But I love the thought…kind of a contradiction, huh? :0/

Renea H. - August 9, 2013 - 6:39 pm

I camped as a kid and still camp with our kids every year. My hubby and I both went to 4-H camp and now are kids are boy and girl scouts.

Great post!

Cindy Nowlin - August 9, 2013 - 6:21 pm

Just got back from”camp meeting” in South Arkansas didn’t know there was another one so similar or people that go like we do. Davidson united Methodist campground. Yes we have tents no screens but we cheat because a nice camper is sitting in the back!! Love campmeeting

Susan - August 9, 2013 - 3:15 pm

I went to Campfire Girls camp, while I was growing up, in Kansas. It was great fun and a good experience to help you appreciate home!

lisa - August 9, 2013 - 12:47 pm

Oh now I want to go to camp. Adult camp would be so much fun. I went to church camp and YMCA camp as a kid. My favorite memories are going to Black Mountain, NC. Lots of great memories of friends, food and fellowship. Thanks so much for bringing back a special memory.

Margaret - August 9, 2013 - 12:09 pm

I never went to camp.

This looks likes fun – in the daytime!

Love your blog.

anita - August 9, 2013 - 12:01 pm

I just went to the wandawega blog and there are some amazing photo shoots! Brilliant… your blog Kelly!!!

anita - August 9, 2013 - 11:56 am

Love those pictures and the treehouse. How darling! I would love to decorate a cottage using the Hudson’s Bay Company blankets as seen in I recall going to camp in Lake of the Woods in grade 7 in the winter time. Thanks for sharing those fun pictures.

Grammy - August 9, 2013 - 11:33 am

I grew up going to kids camp and family camps at ‘Beulah Park’ in Santa Cruz, CA. It has now closed and we take our family to Mount Herman Christian Camps also in Santa Cruz, CA. I love going and they were very instrumental in forming the person I am today. Thank you for today’s entry. I think this would be a great place for a family reunion!

Garden, Home and Party - August 9, 2013 - 11:28 am

What fun! I believe I read something about this camp some time ago but I think you’ve shared some additional images that only seals the deal on wanting to visit some day. What a charming camp and story of true love. I used to go to a church camp and always loved it. My family used to camp a lot in the summer, wherever my mom and dad could fish and/or water ski. Later my parents bought a camper and we spent many a summer long weekends in the camper at various camp sites. I love it! Great post, can’t wait to see where you take us next.

Cheri - August 9, 2013 - 11:10 am

I went to GS camp for 2 weeks and learned how to wiggle my hips when I walk from a girl who everyone thought was so sophisticated. LOL

I LOVE the tree house and want to stay there. How fun. They have the job that my hubby and I would like…kudos to them.

Sandy - August 9, 2013 - 11:05 am

Hi Kelly,

This was such a fun post…the camp looks like a lot of fun.

If you love the summer camp concept, you would love Camp Reveille, which I wrote about in this post…

I can’t believe you are already back in school down there! All the more reason to enjoy your weekend! xoxo

Laura Ingalls Gunn - August 9, 2013 - 10:54 am

I was a Girl Scout from brownies through seniors and I camped like a champ. Sometimes in a tent and sometimes just a sleeping bag on the ground. Then there was also 4H and YMCA camp. My family were also big clammers (those who dig for clams) so a lot of camping was involved. Because of this I have really no desire for “real” camping any longer. But a place like Wandawega…well, now you’re talking.

My birthday is on the 20th and I think that wonderful book would be a perfect gift. Fingers crossed.

Lonna Berridge - August 9, 2013 - 10:17 am

How amazing! A wonderful way for a couple to bond while fulfilling a lifelong passion. Very inspiring story!

Terri - August 9, 2013 - 9:23 am

Awww…. Summer Camp!!! ( My Summer Camp memories are actually … Church Youth Camp) Loved it!!!! your pics from the Methodist Campgrounds remind me of our trips to “Camp Wimauma” every summer in Hot and Humid Florida!!! BUT OH WAS IT FUN!!!!! Lake swimming… archery competition… kickball… volleyball… and an open air “Tabernacle” for night services!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 …. even the cafeteria style food was good!!! Isn’t Camp Wandawega the site that Kev & Kayla over at The Lettered Cottage did some stylin’ at?? Sure do wish I lived closer to Wisconsin!!!! LOL… Thank you so much for your post… and the “opportunity”!!

Debbie w - August 9, 2013 - 8:51 am

I went to 4H camp once….loved it!

I loved the pictures of your camp meeting! Brought back memories from my camp meting years…..near st George, sc! Fun giveaway!

karen - August 9, 2013 - 8:38 am

Cool…..Elkhorn WI is an hour from my town….will definitely make this a day trip soon. Looks so relaxing…

Arlene@Nanaland - August 9, 2013 - 7:48 am

I never went to summer camp but I have heard of Camp Meetings and I just finished a book by Augusta Trobaugh called Resting in the Bosom of the Lamb that features a camp meeting very similar to the one you described. Love looking at all the pictures of camp…enjoying all the nostalgia of the old days.

Mary from Virginia - August 9, 2013 - 7:44 am

What a beautiful place. I never attended camp, but it looks like it would have been fun. They have really brought the camp back to life.

Thank you for the chance to win such a clever give away!

mymosk - August 9, 2013 - 7:36 am

I never did go to camp. However, it’s never to late! Right? I will have to add this experience to future plans. Enjoyed your post and pictures. Thank you.

Mary M (mymosk)

Anne Boykin - August 9, 2013 - 5:14 am

Enjoyed this post. Thanks for the giveaway!

Sallie - August 9, 2013 - 3:49 am

I went to Skyland Camp in Clyde N.C. with my sister and 3 cousins. It was wonderful and life was so innocent at that time. The food was so good that you gained weight and they had the best hot fudge sauce ever!! Thanks for bringing back such wonderful memories. I would love to visit your camp!

Karen Golson - August 9, 2013 - 12:21 am

I never went to camp as a child, but Camp Wandawega looks like the place for me!! Your pictures of the Methodist church camp reminded of the Neshoba County Fair in Mississippi. When I was a little girl, several of my dad’s siblings had family cabins and I still remember the magical feeling. You should check it out.

Laura E - August 8, 2013 - 11:47 pm

Thank you for sharing your memories of summer camp! The memories of my camp days came flooding back. While the photos you shared were beautiful, the camp I attended wasn’t quite so picturesque! Our church camp, Mount Lebanon was about 45 miles south of Dallas, Texas – which seemed like hours when I was in elementary school . Like you, I have wonderful memories of my camp days!

Laura - August 8, 2013 - 11:17 pm

Never went away to summer camp, but spent the summers doing things one would do at camp (and sometimes camping). Thanks for writing about this camp – it makes me happy to know there are places like this still around 🙂 And the movie & book are something I’ll definitely need to check out – still use sticks for roasting marshmallows 😉

Suzanne - August 8, 2013 - 10:53 pm

Well, I went to summer camp but nothing like Camp Wandawega. I wish I could go there right now!! Looks gorgeous and probably a bit cooler than here in Arkansas. Thanks for the giveaway.

Sharon Heinzel - August 8, 2013 - 10:46 pm

I never went to camp. My mom stayed at home with me and my 3 siblings, so there was never a budget to go! I would love to go to camp Wandawenga one day! I would also like to win your giveaway! Thanks for the opportunity!

Julie - August 8, 2013 - 10:29 pm

Oh, how I loved camp! Every camp I ever went to, I loved, but my favorite memories were at Camp Robin Hood in Bear Mountain, NY. Our church bought the camp and I was there during the first summer as a C.I.T. the year I turned 13. We had an 80 ft. deep lake, where I earned my Red Cross Jr. Lifesaving certificate. With some other mischievious friends, I collected bull frogs from the pond and we set them lose in one of the guy counselor’s cabins! We picked blueberries for pancakes during family week. We hiked through the woods at night, hoping to stay at a rock shelter, but we were stopped by a rattlesnake! We had mattress races, softball, and archery tournaments. One night, as we sat in the center of our cabin for prayer, a friendly raccoon came in to join us! Thank you for today’s post. It was fun to reminisce.

Dawn - August 8, 2013 - 10:29 pm


This post has perfect timing for me. I went back to work this week. So it feels like my summer has kind of come to an end until the weekends for now. I love all of the “Summer Camp” photos you used. I did go away to Girl Scout camp for a week one summer and got very home sick. So that was it for me. Your give away looks fun! We love to make s’mores on our grill for dessert lots in the in the summer time. My husband just keeps the fire going in the grill while we eat whatever delicious meal he has grilled for us and them we run out and make s’mores for dessert while the coals are still hot. It’s the perfect summer treat!

Darla - August 8, 2013 - 10:02 pm

Try going to camp as a counselor! That’s memorable! Thanks! Camp Wandawenga looks fantastic.

Jayne - August 8, 2013 - 9:56 pm

I enjoyed a church camp each summer on Hilton Head Island! Cabins with screens on the windows, bunk beds for about 10-12 people and camp ground showers! The walks on the beach at night to go get ice cream were great! Volleyball turnaments, Bible studies and the beach! It was great!!! Love the tree house!!! I want one!

Lynne - August 8, 2013 - 9:56 pm

Enjoyed this post. I have read all about this amazing place before and would love to visit there someday. I always went to a place called Camp Fortson every summer growing up. It was a
4-H camp and we had the best time there. Kids still go there today and my own daughter went when she was younger. WE have a Methodist camp like the one you went to here in McDonough Ga. It is called Shingleroof Campground and has primitive family cabins too. I’m Baptist so I never went but have lots of friends that still go once a week every summer. Since I lived in the country I enjoyed every little chance to get away. I always loved the week of Vacation Bible School we had at church. Back then it was from morning till lunch. Now most churches have it at night. Summers used to be so carefree and we could always find something to do. We practically lived outside in the summer building forts, playing in the pond, playing baseball(I had 2 brothers), barbies, riding bikes, and climbing trees. Then when we got hot we would come in, stretch out on the cold wood floors and watch Herman Munsters or The Little Rascals or something like that. And most of the time we had a bowl of lime or orange sherbert to help cool us off ☺ Hot fun in da summertime!

rebecca@midcenturymodernremodel - August 8, 2013 - 9:31 pm

Hi. It is funny you talked about camp… my friend and I just took a trip that we kept saying over and over again — this is like camping. I wrote about it last night. Not a plug for the blog but I just thought it was a fun comparison.

House Crazy Sarah - August 8, 2013 - 9:23 pm

Kelly – don’t put my name in for the draw because I have already won one of your fabulous giveaways – but I just had to leave a comment about this.
Wow – I enjoyed this post immensely! Like you, I get the summer camp nostalgia at this time of year which is a combination of childhood memories and my love for the movie Dirty Dancing 🙂
This place in Wisconsin looks AMAZING! I will be traveling through Wisconsin next week on my way back from Canada so maybe I will swing by.
Take care!

Mary - August 8, 2013 - 9:13 pm

Lover seeing summer cabins. Reminds me of some I visited when I lived near Lake Erie. thanks so muck!

Nancy - August 8, 2013 - 9:01 pm

That tree house is amaaaazzzzing. I would love to stay there. They have done an awesome job with the place and I bet it’s tons of fun to stay there. I went to church camp up in the mountains of California when I was young. My favorite camp was the family one though. It was at the same place. We also did the same in Alaska. Family camp was my favorite there as well.

Holly - August 8, 2013 - 8:54 pm

Cute post! I heart summer camp… grew up going to Seafarer on the coast of NC and I miss it every summer 20+ years later. And Indian Summer is the best! Thanks for reminding me it existed… I will have to hunt it down.

Pat Peele - August 8, 2013 - 8:44 pm

I went to Girl Scout day camp and later to 4-H camp in South Carolina. This looks like a dream. Thanks for the give away.

janet - August 8, 2013 - 8:44 pm

I loved going to “Good news camp” as a child with my whole family for family camp. We went with several other families and I have such great memories of the swimming lake, craft tent, the mess hall and so much more.

S u b s c r i b e   b y   E m a i l