Outdoor Rec, and an Eerie Side to Camp Wishe:
Scouting An Abandoned Children’s Camp – Part 3

This is the final installment of our look at Camp Wishe, a children’s sleepaway camp that has been abandoned for more than 15 years. Click here for part 1 and here for part 2!

At this point in our tour, you’ve hopefully come to know Camp Wishe as a classic American sleepaway camp, a warm and welcoming place to send your kids over the summer. In a way, that’s what makes the next part of the story all the more eerie.

Photo courtesy Campe Wish Memories – Click for More!

Probably the strangest bit from Camp Wishe’s history concerns the man who owned it from 1995 to 2010, the years it was allowed to fall into ruin. During that period, the only piece of the property he maintained was this building at the camp’s entrance, which at one point was a hunting lodge.

074 Entrance House 36

The man is said to have been a 32° degree mason, the second highest Masonic rank attainable.

075 Entrance House 41

When the new owners purchased the property in 2011, they were startled to find the main room of the old hunting lodge painted a brilliant red.

077 Entrance House 03

Stranger still, mounted above the fireplace…

078 Entrance House 05

…was an enormous 3-foot tall marble Masonic cross:

079 Entrance House 07

The cross has since been removed and room repainted…But just what candlelit seances were performed at the abandoned camp on old Route 6…and why weren’t Scooby and the gang around to save the day?? Feel free to contribute your theories in the comments!

In the meantime, I love the heavy wooden door:

076 Entrance House 09

The rest of the building is your classic hunting lodge, with room after room covered in wood paneling:

080 Entrance House 01

Though it was known as a horse riding camp, Camp Wishe also had all the outdoor activities you’d expect from a sleepaway camp. From the cabins, we walked through the woods to the old basketball courts…

056 Basketball Court 01

My guides pointed out this oddity off to one side: an old wooden carriage dating to God knows when…

057 Basketball Court 02

There’s a TON of woodland at Camp Wishe, which must have been great for the kids. One of my favorite events described on the Camp Wishe Memories website:

Taps has just blown and the children are settling into their bunk beds.  Eerie music begins to play throughout the camp.  A goblin (that mysteriously looks like a counselor) opens the cabin door!!!  The children follow the goblin to the Haunted Forest.  The Headless Horseman appears and rears back before cantering away into the night.  A witch serves witches brew in the Mess Hall with spider cookies….

070 Woods

An old tennis ball left in the woods:

071 Forgotten Ball 02

A stream cuts through the property…

064 River 01

…and in the 1950’s, the Wishe family used it to create a lake for swimming, complete with a shallow end for more timid swimmers.

063 River 06

Below, the lake in its heyday:

Picture courtesy Camp Wishe Memories – click for more!

Later, this pool was built, fed by the lake:

058 Pool 09

At the time, it was state of the art…

Picture courtesy Camp Wishe Memories – click for more!

After 15 years of abandonment, it’s going to need a pretty big pool cleaning:

059 Pool 06

Entry stairs:

060 Pool 03

AWESOME old pool benches:

061 Pool 05

Not sure I’d still trust the diving board…

062 Pool 08

The old pool filtration system – I would love to know how this worked:

067 Pool 14

The water is actually very clean…

065 River 10

…and in fact feeds two wells on the property (I braved a drink, and yes, it is super fresh-tasting mountain water!).

066 Well 02

The old pool house:

069 Pool 12

Behind the pool, a hill rises up out of the woods that the new owners refer to as their “Sound of Music” hill:

073 Hill 03

Finally, one last remnant of Camp Wishe hung in the garage:

086 Entrance House 19a

I really hope you enjoyed the tour of old Camp Wishe as much as I did exploring. When the new owners of the Camp Wishe property contacted me, they described it as “a very magical place,” and I couldn’t agree more.

From a filming perspective, the possibilities are endless: a mess hall, wooden cabins, a basketball court, acres and acres of beautiful NY woodland, a lake, a stream, a 1950’s hunting lodge…There’s nothing I love more than a horror movie in a camp setting, but you could just as easily bring this back to its charming origins with a little paint and some elbow grease.

There are a few camps close to New York that allow filming, but shooting around the camp schedule always causes endless headaches. This isn’t a problem at Camp Wishe, where you could literally take over the property. If interested, send me an e-mail at nycscout@gmail.com. Be sure to check out part 1 and part 2 for the rest of the pictures.

Finally: a very special thanks again to the new camp owners for giving me a tour of the property and waiting patiently while I took literally hundreds of photographs. Thank you also to the Camp Wishe Memories page for their wonderful pictures and history of the camp.


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  1. Jamsire Ernoir

    This was awesome! The pool filtration system you see is a sand based system where the water flows from tank to tank and eventually comes out clean through the last one. The dirt would remain on the top and then cleaned away by a “back washing” mechanism. This was the main way swimming pools operated until systems utilizing diatomaceous earth powder (which work the same way as the sand did) with screens inside the tanks become more widely used.


  2. Ah, shades of the music camp I went to in the Poconos in the ’60s.

    Does anyone who actually went to Camp Wishe know what those bowls along the benches are outside the cabin in the first picture? They look for all the world like dog food bowls – but surely can’t be!

    Great series of posts, Scout!

    • They were probably sailor caps. I think they were required for special occasions when I was there as a camper in 1965, but I don’t recall anyone wearing them when I was there as a counselor in the mid-70’s.

  3. @Lifesart – Based on my own camping experience, I would say those are for face washing and/or tooth brushing. We didn’t have individual bowls though. We just had a big galvanized bucket and a ladle.

  4. Thank you Scout, and the new owners, for giving us this tour and flashback to my own days at ‘Riverside Bible Camp’ back home. Bible camp…where I learned to play pool, foosball, and what the term ‘panty raid’ really meant. Good to be a Lutheran!

  5. I have no idea why, but old abandoned pools freak me out. Nothing looks more haunted to me than a pool with no water and a few dead leaves scattered around it.

  6. Abandoned swimming pools are creepy.

  7. Scout, you mentioned an abandoned gas station in part 2 — any pics? Or was that the hunting lodge, too?

  8. Scout, this reminds me of an old Michael J. Fox film called ‘Poison Ivy’ (at least that was its Australian release title). Fox played a camp counselor at ‘Camp Pinewood’. Being an Aussie kid that didn’t have the American camping experience, I just loved the film. The camp used in the film was exactly like Camp Wishe, right down to the lake. Thanks for bringing back the memories.

  9. I spent every summer at camp wishe from 1973-1980. What a waste and a shame for it to fall into ruin. It was like seeing a ghost.

  10. Scout,

    This was definately worth the wait – kudos to you for bringing life to something so quiet and still.

  11. Sean P. Fodera

    This one time, at Band Camp…

    Great series of posts. I never attended a sleepaway camp as a kid. The first time I ever went camping was when I became a Scout Leader just after college. It was pretty funny, having all these kids teaching me what I needed to know about camping, woodsmanship and blade/fire safety. I wish my son had an interest in camping. I’d like to go again.

  12. Linda (Peanut) Schuerman

    I spent 8 WONDERFUL summers at Camp Wishe.

    During periods of heavy rain, the lake – having been separated from the pool by only a “flashboard” – would occasionally overflow into the pool. Campers were thrilled to catch and return giant frogs, fish to their customary habitat.

    The pool was equipped with both high and low diving boards. Campers swam twice every day – one hour instructional swimming and another “free swim”. One summer, Mr. Wishe instructed select campers to scuba dive in the deep end!

  13. I loved this series! Heck, I love this blog! Keep it comin’!

    You promised pics of the gas station though.

  14. What you called the Hunting Lodge is the house where the owners lived.

  15. It was the most magical place! Talk about good karma….this place has it. While it would make a great set for another Friday the 13th, it should really be a place people invest in to restore to it’s former glory. Kids should be here!

  16. I went to Camp Wishe for three years in the mid 1970’s. I have the most wonderful memories of this place. It’s heartbreaking to see it like this. I hope someone has the good sense to bring it back to it’s former glory. My parents had the right idea…get my sisters & me out of the city for the summer to socialize and have fun. Time for this world to get back to basics…BRING BACK CAMP WISHE!

    • Hi Kerry,
      I just saw the bloc about Camp Wishe. Was shocked about what it has become. It really stung my heart to see the decay.
      Then I found your entry from January 10th 2012-
      Why I write to you is, I was an European counselor in the year 1974 and I was responsible for a girl named Kerry Tonning. Was that you? My bunk’s name was Hill Crest. Does that recall any memories? I am Gisela “Princess Eating from Germany”. Right now I started writing a book about my expriences in America starting with the six weeks stay at Camp Wishe.
      “We are the Camp Wishe girls.
      We wear our hair in curls.
      We wear our dungarees right up above our knees.
      We never smoke or drink –
      that’s what the Wishes think…”

      Gisela (Bittermann) They said: Bitman

  17. Allyson Nostrand

    It’s fun to see the picture at the top of part 3 and realize that my Mom is the 16 year old counselor in the picture. She later came back as the Camp Director in the 70’s working closely with the Wishe family.

  18. Just read the entire article, can’t believe the emptiness of Camp Wishe. Was a camper for 10 years starting in 1964 and my final year was a CIT. Met so many wonderful people over the years. My mom was a councelor as a teenager that’s how I knew about the camp. The Wishe’s were a wonderful family and took great care of us girls every summer. I met one of my best friends here and we still keep in touch. These were the best times of my life. I will hold Camp Wishe a place in my heart forever.

  19. Jessica (Jessie)

    It breaks my heart seeing Camp Wishe deteriorate like these photographs show..

    I was a camper and counselor in the ’70’s and I would say my summers there were the best days of my life.

    What you show as the “nicer cabins’ actually was the infirmary which was attached to the rec hall (where the drawing of the horses on the blackboard was). The double building with the overhead roof was the crafts shack and the sports shack which had most of the sporting equipment…and MY volleyball! 🙂

    Life was simple then.

    I want to go back to that time.

  20. This is a great site, love the pictures. As someone who has studied architecture I did want to point something out. The “Hunting Lodge” you described should not really be described as such – if you have ever been in classic lodges in the Adirondacks or New England you would see there is no comparison. It’s simply a 1950’s ranch house, and a very cheap and ugly one to boot. MY guess is probably built as a home for the owners or camp managers. That’s it. The paneling is cheap composite and the “heavy wooden door” is very typical of what was used on cheap homes built during the period. The fireplace looks like it was enhanced/updated later on (hideously).