Scouting An Abandoned Children’s Camp

Driving by, you’d only know it as a horse ranch, offering boarding services, hay, and horse trailers.

002 Wish3

But go up a dirt road in the back, and you’ll find a magical secret…

003 Up The Road 09

An entire children’s sleepaway camp, dating to 1950, that has been abandoned for more than 15 years.

004 Up The Road 02

Camp Wishe had everything you could want in a classic American sleepaway camp: a beautiful mess hall building (above) flanked by two towering pines, numerous cabins for the kids…

025 Cabin View 03

…An enormous pool, basketball courts, a lake, streams, and plenty of forest, covering over 100 acres.

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And yet sadly, for the past 15 years, this incredible property has been left to rot.

I recently received an e-mail inviting me to take a tour of the former Camp Wishe by its new owners. They’re interested in leasing the property for film and photo shoots during renovations, and I jumped at the opportunity to explore a forgotten children’s camp. Abandoned places always have a certain level of mystery and romance about them, but a children’s camp?

That’s something special.

Picture courtesy Camp Wishe Memories – click for more!

Camp Wishe was founded in 1950 as a girls riding camp (later, it would be come a co-ed day camp). A sleepaway camp for much of its existence, it thrived from 1950 until its closing in 1995. The property was then divided – the equine portion is still in operation as a horse farm, but for 15 years, the camp was left to rot.

006 Up The Road 04

Amazingly, a tremendous amount of beauty and charm has somehow managed to survive. Our first stop was the old mess hall…

007 Main Lodge 01

Below, a picture of the mess hall in its glory days, courtesy of the wonderful Camp Wishe history website. Definitely check it out for many more historical pictures, a full history of the camp, and memories from former campers.

Picture courtesy Camp Wishe Memories – click for more!

Just walking onto the mess hall porch, I immediately started feeling like a little kid heading off to camp. The log-cabinish feel, the canopied porch, mosquito netting on the windows, an old ping pong table: the air is heavy with decades of memories.

008 Main Lodge 05

Even that shelving unit on the wall – I have no idea what that would even be used for, but it just feels like camp to me:

008a Main Lodge 31

Inside, the mess hall is in beautiful shape…

009 Main Lodge 05pan

…with 30-foot high cathedral-beamed ceilings and a balcony area. I love the timber banisters, which are as in good condition today…

010 Main Lodge 08

…as when the camp was active:

Picture courtesy Camp Wishe Memories – click for more!

In addition to dining, the mess hall served as a camp meeting hall and was used for such events as the weekly skit night, in which each bunk house had to put on a play.

011 Main Lodge 09

The balcony area:

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On the chalkboard, a name written on November 2, 1995, shortly before the closing of the camp:

013 Main Lodge 14

We went on to the kitchen in the rear of the mess hall…

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Yes, these are the very same plates and cups used by the campers for decades…

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And these things are HEAVY – you could probably kill someone with one of these mugs!

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The old kitchen stove…

017 Main Lodge 22

Through a door off the kitchen, the old refrigerator room…

018 Main Lodge 23

Can anyone date this?

019 Main Lodge 25

Ha, I remember at camp how anything frozen (popsicles, fudgesicles, ice pops, ice cream sandwiches) was the equivalent of gold. I wonder if the same was true at Camp Wishe…

020 Main Lodge 26

An additional stove:

021 Main Lodge 27a

A soccer ball that hasn’t been kicked since at least 15 years (I gave it a little tap for good measure).

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Little did I know, we’d barely scratched the surface. From the mess hall, we made our way up the dirt path to the cabins…

024 Cabin View 01

Click here for part 2!

The new owners are very open to filming/leasing inquiries. For info, just shoot me an e-mail at nycscout@gmail.com. Be sure to include your budget!

-SCOUT

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33 comments

  1. Great post! Though it probably would have been more appropriate to post this on Friday the 13th. :)

  2. Why does the movie “The Shinning” come to mind? Great to have you back Scout!

  3. Jamsire Ernoir

    yikes! Though the first thing I think of is converting it into a recording studio estate.

  4. Beautiful and sad at the same time, pondering the future of kids who live only connected to their PS3s. Looking forward to part 2 Scout!

    Sedge

  5. I always find your posts to be interesting. As a young adult who grew up in the lower NY/Hudson Valley area, I’m familiar with a majority of the areas you scout in. Many times you post buildings/estates that I’ve driven past dozens of times and either completely missed or always wondered about.

  6. It helps if you read this post while saying, “ch ch ch, ah ah ah.”

  7. My husband and I just love your site….in my younger years I used to go to many abandoned places around the hudson valley just to hike around with friends and get away from day to day drama of being a teen…. a few of your locations I have been to…. and I must say the pictures you take bring me way back. Now Camp Wishe, I had no idea about! I do recognize the name as well as the horse boarding facility but I had no clue that the camp even existed!!! Thank you so much for bringing more of the Hudson Valley that I missed so many years ago to my eyes! I lived in Middletown from ’84 – 2000 – then again from 2003 – 5…. i go back and visit every so often… but with young children I can’t really go exploring again just yet lol so keep doing what you’re doing because we love it!

  8. Did the new owners say what sort of renovations they have in mind?

  9. What wonderful memories that place holds for the campers. Too bad they can’t be informed about it.

  10. Wow, this brings me back! I didn’t go to Camp Wishe, but I went to a camp in the Poconos that closed in 1993. And this camp reminds me so much of mine – the stables, the main dining hall, the front porch with the ping pong table (ours was a foosball table, actually), those little cubbies so camplike (there was always scrapwood around to make something like that – it probably stored waterfront equipment or ping pong balls or something), the graffiti on the cabin walls you posted the other day. The cabins even look like our cabins! Looking forward to the next post.

  11. Hey Nick, Welcome back. Hope you had some good time off. We missed you. Thanks for the tease on this one. This post sure takes me back. I used to go to a camp at Bear Mountain as a yoot. It sure was fun being a kid in those less structured non electronic go outside and have some fun days.

  12. I grew up in Middletown NY and went to Camp Wishe during the summers of 1962 1963 1964 and 1965. My son also attended Camp Wishe when it turned into a co-ed day camp.

    Wonderful place and wonderful memories.

  13. As usual, another unique posting…

  14. I went to Camp Wishe from 1978 through 1983. I loved it…

  15. I went here with Stacey from 78-80 and was a counselor in 84. It was one of the best times of my life. These pictures brought me to tears. God damn that sonofabitch who let it rot. I wish I could get my hands on him.
    On a lighter note, I (and I’m sure many of the others, check out the Camp Wishe page on FB) have tons of memorabilia and photos I would love to share with you or the owners, if you’d like. Feel free to email me, use Camp Wishe as the subject line.

    • He, he! I was a Swimming Counsellor roundabout 1975 I think. From England! Camp America! I could barely swim! Amazing memories – log cabins brought it all back. Jacky

  16. I was a camper from 1975-1985. It’s where I learned how to swim, ride a horse, play tennis and just be a kid. I loved it too. I love it even more now that there is no such thing for “grown ups”.

  17. Wonderful memories …. I was a Camp Wishe camper for many years in the 1960′s and loved your beautiful photos. I can still remember all the words to “Oh Camp Wishe — for you and me” (our song). Thank you.

  18. I went to Camp Wishe from 1994-1995, and these pictures definitely brought back memories. I can remember going upstairs in the mess hall, in the morning, and playing the record with Nina for the flag raising. Playing ping pong on the mess hall porch, while a couple of the counselors would play guitar. Going down to the lake and trying to snag a few fish, but having trouble getting the worms onto the hook.

    It’s sad to see that it was abandoned.

  19. It broke my heart to see the condition of the pool. I was a camper at Wishe from 1966 through 1968 and some of my best memories are of my time spent there. While, heartbreaking, these pictures also reminded me of so much happiness that was Camp Wishe. I am so glad you discovered it and that the land will be put to good use after all of these years of neglect. Thank you for posting these pictures!

  20. I went to Camp Wishe for 3 years, from 1956-58. I too, have some great memories. One of my fondest is finding a mother cat and her newborn kittens in the straw in one of the barns. The horse that was assigned to me was named Robin. Oh! the Angst! Robin just happened to be the name of the boy I had a crush on in 7th, 8th and 9th grade. Great memories of bingo in the main hall, and singing in the dining room. I SWEAR I’m in the first picture you posted. So pleased the property will be put to good use.

  21. Dale Plunkett Thiel

    Camp Wishe was a wonderful place where many memories were created for so many of us.I was a camper/CIT in the 60′s and waited all year for summer to arrive just to go to camp. As a life long horse lover, it was instilled in me at Camp to care for these special animals- so I now breed Tb’s near Albany…. A dear camper friend (Sue) and I for years talked about running a camp when “we grew up” It was a dream. Seeing the pictures were sad as it is such a special property. I do hope the new owners are able to revive it and help create new life experiences for our youth…..Best of Luck.

  22. Wow–these pictures are amazing. They bring back such a flood of special memories. I was at Camp Wishe as a camper/cit/counselor from 1981-85 (and my mother was a camper in 1952, 54). I recall playing ping pong on that table while we waited for the mess hall doors to open–I think that shelving unit was used to hold our riding helmets when we came up from the barn, and the loft above held a library and the record player for reveille and taps. It’s great to see so many former campers share their experiences. Sad to see the bunks and pool area in such disrepair…I hope the new owners can revitalize it. Camp Wishe was a very special place.

  23. Jill Witkin Mante

    You took a picture of my name on the board in the mess hall. The pictures are heartbreaking, but bring back wonderful memories too.

  24. I just saw your article…the first one. I am a former camper and counselor and will be driving by to the Saugreities horse show this week
    I still hope to be at the reunion on Sept 17th, leaving show to go to reunion.
    I have a ton of pictures. I saw those you took
    Such memories…being up stairs in “library” above dining hall where record player was and playing various wake up call and call to lunch and working with Grandma in the kitchen setting tables and cleaning side by side all those dishes. And teaching horse and tennis and just basically having fun.
    As a kid I loved it and have some pic. from then
    So 1958-1969.
    Mr. Wishe helped me start a riding program down the road in Port Jervis, 1970 for the Morris County Girl Scouts. Getting the horses and in general helping my director make sure we had places for the horses and tack. I was the “director” of riding at nineteen and we just opened that camp in 1970…it was passed over to kids at risk last October and I went to that ceremony.
    Have been to Camp several times.
    Thank you for doing this.
    I think there is sooooo much potential for this camp to keep it’s integrity and offer things once it is fixed up and winterized.
    Meghan Shannon
    (760)472-3735
    I am in Chester County PA…with my CA telephone:-)

  25. WOW…I went to Camp Wishe in the late 80′s, early 90″s…I can’t believe that it was just left to rot. Thanks for the photos…brought back a lot of memories.

  26. I was a CIT in 1953, a swimming counselor in 1955 and 1956. I was a Director of Camp Wishe from 1974 -1978. My daughters were campers from 1973-1978. Al and Laura Wishe were friends and Mentors. It’s sad to see the decay. Hope the new owners have had time to clean it up and restore to old glory. My special greetings to all the campers and counselors who made Camp Wishe a young girl’s Shang Ra La

  27. I was a camper, a CIT and a counselor between 1968 and 1973. I spent my summers there and the people there were my summer family. I have very fond memories of Mrs Wishe teaching me to be a springboard diver, learning to ride and taking care of Motsie. The eldest of the horses at that time. A long distance Hello to Jane, Eve and Apples.

  28. I went to Camp Wishe in 1958 and 1959. I was 5 years old. They filmed the original “Parent Trap” there with Haley Mills. What memories I have of those 2 summers. Archery, Canoeing, Swimming, Ballet, Arts and Crafts, Bonfires!

  29. theres a abandoned camp in Riverhead, 10x as creepy, 10x as abandoned. I grew up there, theres some weird stuff in those cabins!

  30. I went to Camp Wishe from 1951 (Their second year) to 1957 or 1958. These were some to the happiest times of my life. I would love to find some of the people who went at that time. The pictures brought back so many memories.

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