Remember When… Chewonki Through the Decades

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Last Sunday, we welcomed dozens of campers for the opening day of Camp Chewonki. This inspired us to reflect on Chewonki’s earlier decades. Founded in 1915 by Clarence E. Allen as a saltwater camp for boys, Chewonki has evolved significantly over the years, even as our core values remain steadfast. Explore historic photos with us and spot the similarities and differences in the Chewonki landscape of yesterday and today. 

Campers carry gear at Chewonki's Oxbow Waterfont in the 1940s, and below Chewonki paddlers ready themselves for an overnight paddling excursion with similar gear 60 years later.

kayaks in front of the waterfront

Campers haul gear for an overnight trip 60 years part - in the 1940s and 2020s.

Our 1979 Osprey campers (recognize any familiar faces?), and this year's Ospreys in front of their cabins, Ranch House and Veery.

Recognize this building? It's the Wallace Barn in the 1940s-before the dining hall was built. Then, we have the same building in 2010 and earlier this week before lunch.

But if there was no dining hall, where to did campers eat? In the barn of course!

Now we use the Wallace Barn for other activities, like this opening night variety show last Sunday.

This 1950s image appears to show a rustic group camping shelter. Can you imagine the star-studded skies and campfire singalongs of that era?

Maybe those campfires weren't all that different than todays...

Speaking of campfires, here's a great shot of a 1980s campfire circle led by Scott Andrews, and a campfire image from last summer. Same spot, same feeling, 40-odd years apart.

Canoers explore Monstweag Brook 60 years apart.

Chewonki camper explorations of Natural History in the 1940s, 50s, and today.

Recognize this building? It's still a museum-our nature museum (summer home to Doc Fred). Rumor has it that this was originally a chicken coop, and Chewonki founder C.E. Allen allowed young counselor Roger Tory Peterson to use it as a painting studio in the 1920s.

Here's Doc Fred teaching in the same building (now located behind the farmhouse) in 2021.

Something that hasn't changed much in the last 60-odd years: the westside cabins. Here's Stockade in the 1940s and again this week with its current residents.

This is a fun one: preferred campfire seating in the 1940s vs today.

We could share so many more photos, but we’ll stop there. Did anything jog your memory? Please email us your story (Alexis Grillo at We hope you enjoyed this stroll down memory lane. 

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