For many people, summer evokes fond memories of heading off to camp. Who can forget those sunny days filled with swimming, canoeing, games and crafts, or the starry nights of singalongs, bonfires and s'mores? If you thought those days were long gone, think again: You can enjoy summer camp every day at Camp Wandawega.
Camp Wandawega sits on Lake Wandawega, a few miles north of Elkhorn. The old-school camp began life as a hotel and speakeasy in the 1920s, and after a short stint as a resort, Catholic Latvians took over, holding informal summer camps for kids every year. Then, in 2003, a former Wandawega camp attendee purchased the property, along with his wife, and the two transformed it into today's vintage summer camp – a camp that comes complete with cabins, tents, a treehouse and loads of organized activities.
While Camp Wandawega mainly targets private groups looking to rent the entire property – think company retreats and family reunions – individuals still have plenty of access via any extra spaces that are available. That may be a cabin, one floor of an old bunkhouse or the property's "rustic camping cluster," which consists of canvas platform tents, an A-frame cabin, a stick frame cabin and a teepee.
Although the vibe and décor here are vintage-chic, the accommodations are truly rustic. Many lodging spaces require the use of latrines, for example, and cookfires or grills. And your bed may be a camp cot. But, of course, that's part of the charm.
Also part of the charm are all of the old-time camp activities available. Wandawega offers activities such as boating, canoeing, fishing, hiking, biking, horseshoes, tennis and shuffleboard. You can even try your hand at archery and axe throwing. If organized events are more your style, camp counselors lead nature hikes, knot-tying classes, macramé lessons, fire-building sessions and more.
Just as with many traditional summer camps, Wandawega has a list of off-site experiences you may wish to enjoy. Like heading over to FarmWise and helping with the morning chores, such as milking cows, collecting eggs and feeding and watering the livestock. Or maybe picnicking with the bees, sponsored by The Hive Taproom. This experience involves enjoying a charcuterie board and plenty of The Hive's session meads al fresco near the company's beehives, while the resident beekeeper regales you with tales about bees, beekeeping and mead-making.
A newer initiative at Camp Wandawega is the ability to order provisions. With no restaurant or chef on-site, guests traditionally have had to bring their own food or shop locally in Elkhorn. Now, you can order an apple crate stuffed with 30 regionally produced meats, cheeses, baked goods and snacks.
Despite Wandawega's emphasis on the summer camp experience, three of its lodgings are open year-round. A stay here when the snow flies means hiking, ice fishing, ice skating, sledding, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, either directly on the property or at an area nearby.
Love everything about Wandawega but the rustic part? You're in luck. The property includes the Hillhouse, a 1930s summer cabin that has been reinvented as a sleek, modern cottage. The three-bedroom, two-bath home includes a fully equipped kitchen, fireplace, and washer and dryer. There's even wifi and a dedicated work space. But leave the briefcase at home. You'll be at summer camp, after all.