CAMPS OF ORLEANS 1905-1988
Town of Orleans was one of the pioneers in the birth of summer children’s camps. In 1905 when Mrs. E. A. W. Hammatt established Quanset Sailing Camp for Girls and Rev. Gibson Bell established Portanimicut Sailing Camp for Boys on the shores of Little Pleasant Bay, they were among the first camps in the country. By the mid-1980’s more than 14 camps had existed in the Town of Orleans. They were Cheri, Cunningham, Lake Farm, Mayflower, Namequoit, Owaissa, Pleasant Bay, Sealore/ Seamaid, Spyglass Hill, Tonset and Viking. In 1988 the last camp closed, and an era ended.
Draft of material under construction below:
1925 - 1934
Maximum 30 campers
Founded on the west shore of Arey’s Pond by Mrs. Alice L. Murdoch for the purpose of helping young women be more fluent in French. French was used as much as possible in the daily activities of tennis, swimming, riding and sailing.
1917 - 1940’s
Maximum 25 Girls
Camp Cunningham was located on the Barley Neck Road property of Miss Edna Carret. It was run for underprivileged girls from the Milton, Massachusetts area, Ages ranged from pre-teen to early teen years. The camp was named after its benefactors, the Cunningham family from Milton.
Lake Farm Camp
1930 - 1984
Coed, Ages 5 - 13
Maximum 150 campers
In the fall of 1929 Margery Plimpton Felt the need to bring some of her New York City school students back to her summer home, an give them a summer experience on a farm with animals. Eight students opened camp in 1930.
As camp grew, buildings were added; each camper had his own garden and participated in animal jobs. Activities included riding, swimming, arts and crafts and group games In 1957 the camp was bought by Elizabeth Nale and Marion Currier, both of whom had worked at Quanset. They added tennis, archery, sailing and canoeing to the activities while increasing the camp’s physical size and population.
View images from Sylvia Pott's scrapbook>> [LINK TO SLIDE SHOW of Sylvia Potts photos below "Camp Days Summer of 1950" on chalk board, 5 photos, pool]
Listen and view recollections and images from Nancy Fisher >> [old site links to Oral history narrative recorded by Nancy Fisher, but video has been removed by user.]
1920 - 1966
Girls, ages 6 - 10
Around 1920 Mr. Norman White, Sr and Mrs. William (Katherine McLoon) Bryan joined to form the Mayflower Camp on the eastern shore of Crystal Lake, The girls enjoyed swimming, rowing, tennis and acting in plays, as well as many beach picnics and overnights. It was later taken over by Meg and Norman White, Jr. and subsequently became an adult camp run by Meg.
Namequoit Sailing Camp
1925 - 1988
Boys, ages 8 - 15
Maximum 140 campers
A fresh and salt water sports camp for boys 8-15 and a special two-year counselor-in- training program; owned and directed by Brooks B. Thayer and Arthur E. Farnham with over 30 years of camping experience. The administrative staff consisted of men who were professional educators. Most of the counseling staff were college trained and chosen for their ability to teach certain skills and for their interest in working with children.
Sailing, swimming and tennis were featured with sailing instruction and racing held in Pleasant Bay. Other activities included: team sports, archery, riflery, drama, woodworking, gymnastics, fishing, canoeing, waterskiing and windsurfing. Boys attended from all over the U.S. and many foreign countries.
Oral History - Brooks Thayer and Art Farnham -
The camps of Orleans and in particular Camp Namequoit, and more! Listen now >> [LINK Thayermp3]
1909 - 1925
Girls, ages 10-16
Maximum 34 campers
The vacation spot of Mrs. Norma (Margaret Cowdery) White, Sr. became the spot she chose to share her love of the Cape. The usual activities of swimming, diving, archery, hiking, arts and crafts, overnights to the “outer beach” and dancing were highlighted by a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta each summer. It was later continued under the name of Tonset.
Pleasant Bay Camp
1938 - 1979
Coed, ages 6 - 14
Maximum 70 campers
Founded in 1938 by Mr. and Mrs. James Bartlett Melcher, Sr., PBC was located on Little Pleasant Bay in South Orleans. It was the first and only coed salt water sailing camp on Cape Cod. 1957 the camp was taken over by James Bartlett Melcher, Jr and his wife Barbara. Besides sailing, the children enjoyed overnights to the “outer beach”, archery, swimming, creative crafts and land sports. PBC continued in operation through 1979.
1905 - 1976
Maximum 150 campers
In 1905 Mary L. Hammatt, an advocate of active outdoor living, opened a girls camp to provide summer friends for her daughter Nine campers spent the summer tents behind the family farmhouse. Bunkhouses were added and Mary L. was assisted by her daughter Alice and son Francis, In 1938 Francis (by this time called “Poppa”), became the director. In 1966 “Poppa’s” son Bruce and his wife bought Quanset and ran it until it closed in 1976. Sailing aboard sharpies, baybirds and on Tioga was the major activity. The days were rounded out by activities such as riding, tennis, drama, swimming and arts and crafts. Beginning in 1936, Quanset Yacht Club hosted weekly races between the camps on Pleasant Bay.
Quanset Sailing Camp Reunion on July 14 from noon to 6 PM at the Namequoit Sailing Association
71 Keziahs Lane, South Orleans!! Click here for information to join!! > > [SKIP THIS, LINK WAS BROKEN]]
1934 Camp Quanset song book, courtesy of Mary Lou Brier > > [LINK TO Camp-Quanset-Song-Book1934.pdf]
1975 Camp Quanset song book, courtesy of Lisa Nilsson Gabler > > [LINK TO Camp-Quanset-Song-Book1975.pdf]
Camp Sealore (Boys) Camp Seamaid (Girls)
1930s - 1942
Maximum 50 campers
Camps Sealore (boys) and Seamaid (girls) were located in East Orleans on what later became the Camp Tonset site. They were owned and directed by Ellis “Doc” Abell of Lexington, MA. “Doc” was the boys’ physical education teacher at the Lexington Junior-Senior High School from the 1930’s into the 1950’s. The camps, which featured sailing, swim- riling, tennis, team sports, arts and crafts, archery and dramatics, were in operation in the late 1930’s until 1942 when they were forced to close due to World War II and the threat of possible attack or invasion of the Atlantic coast by German U-boats.
Spyglass Hill Camp
1924 - 1928
8 year olds
Maximum 8 campers
Started at the summer cottage of Katherine McLoon Bryan and Agnes McLoon on Crystal Lake, Spyglass was designed to offer eight of the ladies’ New York City students their first camp experience. Water sports and frequent trips to ocean shores filled the days.
1949 - 1972
Boys ages 9-1 6
Maximum 100 campers
Camp Tonset, a boys sailing camp, was founded in 1949 by Roderick and Mary Hagenbuckle. It was named after the Indian word for that area in East Orleans and was the only camp at that time to be located on Nauset Harbor. The enrollment was approximately 70 campers of diverse interests, backgrounds and geographic origin. The season ran for 6-8 weeks during July and August. The activity program emphasized sailing with weekly racing at the Orleans Yacht Club in the Town Cove. The boys participated in a general program of outdoor physical activities including swimming, tennis, riflery, archery, baseball and basketball. Overnight camping trips to the outer beach to stay at the “Duck Camp”, fishing expeditions, snipe hunts and the arrival of the Hawaiian All-Stars softball team were special events. In the shop program each boy built his own model sailing boats which were raced against each other in a regatta at the end of the season. Tonset’s last season was in 1972.
1929 - 1984
Boys, ages 8-15
Maximum 110 campers
In 1929 Katherine McLoon Bryan and Norman White, Jr. joined forces to establish a boys camp on the point at the top of Little Pleasant Bay. During the war it was run by Mrs. Bryan alone, and during that time offered a limited number of bunks to girls to assist in the “war effort”. After the war it returned to being a boys sailing camp. In 1945 it was bought by Cedric Hagenbuckle who was assisted by his brother Roderick for several years, until the latter bought Owaissa and turned it into Camp Tonset. Ced was later assisted by his son John and in 1976 he leased the operation to Tom Lincoln, a former camper and counselor. He ran it until 1984. Viking boys were especially known for their overnight sails to North Beach, Monomoy and Nantucket in their black double-ended whale boats.
Gratefully supported by the Orleans Cultural Council <IMAGE Massachusetts Cultural Council>
1997 book "The Camps of Orleans, 1900 - 1988", courtesy of Hagenbuckle > > [LINK TO 1997-Camps-Book.pdf]
Lake Farm Camp - Sylvia Potts images