Camp Wekeela is a 60-acre sleep-away summer camp in Maine with close to 300 campers and 135 employees. It is a traditional resident summer camp for boys and girls ages 7–16, in season from June to August.
This property is situated on a mountain lake, Little Bear Pond in the town of Hartford, Maine. Camp Wekeela is twenty minutes north of Lewiston-Auburn in the Oxford County region of Maine. The facility is approximately seventy minutes from Portland Airport, three hours from Boston and six hours from the New York Metropolitan Area.
In 1922, Emma Graumann opened a camp for girls on the shores of Little Bear Pond called We-You-Wega. After World War II, Joe and Francis Weene took over Camp We-You-Wega and turned into a boys' camp now named Wekeela. They came up with the current name by blending their last name with the names of their sons Ken and Larry (We+kee+la).
During the Summer of 1968 Camp Wekeela served as a training site for a group of Peace Corps Volunteers going to Ethiopia.
In 1970, Claire and Dusty Drew purchased Camp Wekeela turning it into a co-ed camp. During this time, the camp had approximately 75 - 100 campers. Most of the cabins had indoor plumbing but some cabins relied on outdoor showers. Cabin names during the 1970s included: Fireball, Brookside, Lakeside, Roadside and Strawberry Hill. An area designated "up top" was reserved for older campers. Dusty was known for his cigars (memorialized in a camp play as "Dusty Drew Exploding Cigars") and Claire was the camp nurse. Popular camp activities during the 1970s included Drama, Arts and Crafts and Archery. Free swim in the lake occurred each day. Throughout the swim period, to ensure all swimming were accounted for, the call of "Buddy Up" required campers to stop their swim and join and raise hands with their designated buddy. During free time an ever present game of soccer ensued with campers joining in on either side throughout the play. Evening included various activities including the popular Capture the Flag. During the 1970s, an Outward Bound Ropes course was added.
Ephram Caflun became the next Assistant Director of Camp Wekeela, joined by his wife Lori. The Cafluns and their three children first arrived in 1997. Ephram is a 1989 alumnus of SUNY College at Oneonta and Lori is a 1986 alumnus of Brandeis University.
In 2005 the Newman's and Waldman's of Camp Indian Acres for boys and Forest Acres Camp for Girls assumed ownership of Wekeela. In 2008, Ephram and Lori purchased the camp and continue to maintain and honor Wekeela's traditions.
Camp Wekeela has twenty-three rustic cabins, all with indoor bathrooms and showers. The following are all cabins used by campers.
The campus also includes a dining hall (for seating up to 400), a performing arts building with an indoor and outdoor stage and a gymnasium. Camp Wekeela has abundant recreational facilities and scenic nature preserves spanning sixty plus acres right next to Little Bear Pond. Some of these recreational facilities include horseback riding, tennis courts, baseball diamonds, soccer fields, basketball courts, hockey rink, lacrosse fields, beach volleyball court, climbing tower, natural rock climbing wall, zip-line, high and low ropes course, environmental sciences building, culinary arts building, gymnastics pavilion, photography studio, dance center, weight room, radio building, creative arts center, and a large waterfront for swimming, water-skiing, sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, fishing, and scuba diving.
Wekeela's campus can accommodate approximately 300 campers at any time.
Wekeela's diverse population of campers come from 39 states and 12 foreign countries. The majority come from California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania. While these areas represent the largest concentrations, campers come from all over the United States as well as Europe, and South America.
Camp Wekeela has a 2:1 camper to staff ratio. All prospective staff members go through an intense interview process with extensive background checks. Wekeela has department heads, group leaders and counselors that come to camp from the United States, Europe, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and South America. Many of the staff are former Wekeela campers.
Camp Wekeela offers 7-week, 4-week, 3-week and 2-week sessions.
USTA pro instruction and tournaments.
Environmental Education and Animal Care
Inter-camps are when two camps compete against each other in a specific sport. According to Ephram Caflun, although participants play competitively and certainly like to win, emphasis is placed on participation and sportsmanship.
During the first session, Wekeela has an all camp competition known as College Weekend. The camp is split into four teams. The four teams compete and are judged based on sport events, spirit events and sportsmanship.
During the second session, Wekeela has an all camp competition known as Color War. The camp is split into 2 teams. The two teams compete in various activities including sports, spirit events, silent meals, presentations and sportsmanship. The competition begins when the camp director crosses two hatchets, one green, one white. Immediately after, a ceremony called tap outs begins. Each camper is handed an either green or white bead, indicating what team they are on.
Color War teams of the past decades:
- 1982: Green Berets vs. White Lightning
- 1983: Green Machine vs. White Knights
- 1984: Green Giants vs. White Dynamite
- 1985: Green Gators vs. Great White
- 1986: Green Marines vs. White Warriors
- 1987: Green Demons vs. White Wolves
- 1988: Green Dragons vs. White Wizards
- 1989: Green Cobras vs. White Stallions
- 1990: Green Gladiators vs. White Magic
- 1991: Green Wolverines vs. White Wisdom
- 1992: Green Eagles vs. White Tigers
- 1993: Green Scorpions vs. White Fire
- 1994: Green Griffins vs. White Cyclones
- 1995: Green Grizzlies vs. White Pirates
- 1996: Green Gangsters vs. White Zombies
- 1997: Green Gargoyles vs. White Warlords
- 1998: Green Vikings vs. White Elephants Parade
- 1999: Green Genies vs. White Buffalo
- 2000: Green Phoenix vs. White Angels
- 2001: Green Ninjas vs. White Pegasus
- 2002: Green Jedi vs. White Funk
- 2003: Green Jungle vs. White Wave
- 2004: Green Assassin vs. White Storm
- 2005: Green Dream vs. White Light
- 2006: Green Revolution vs. White Ice
- 2007: Green Gorillas vs. White Mustang
- 2008: Green Hydra vs. White Poseidon
- 2009: Green Monsters vs. White Tribe
- 2010: Green Android vs. White Nike
- 2011: Green Ghost vs. White Skeleton
- 2012: Green Galaxy vs. White Outlaws
- 2013: Green Odyssey vs. White Armada
- 2014: Green Empire vs. White Pulse
- 2015: Green Heroes vs. White Sky
- 2016: Green Renaissance vs. Wild White
Once a week Camp Wekeela has a campfire. Campers and counselors are encouraged to sing songs, tell jokes, read poems and tell stories. Camp fires are special because it is a time for the entire camp to get together as one in a place Wekeela calls the council ring.
Notable people with associations to Camp Wekeela
- Willie Garson attended Camp Wekeela for 11 years.
- Patrick Dempsey attended Camp Wekeela.
- Terry Kirby spent a part of his summers teaching optional programs at Camp Wekeela such as football, strength/fitness and speed training.
- Verdon, Joan (2010-06-27). "Businessman has year round career at summer camp". The Record (Bergen County).
- American Camping Association Official Website
- Google Maps
- Peterson's Summer Opportunities for kids and teenagers 2005
- "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh!". BusinessWeek. 2001-06-06.
- "Class Notes". Reflections. SUNY College at Oneonta. Winter 2008.
- Brandeis Review
- Sunset for owners of summer camps
- Summer Opps for Kids & Teenagers 2004
- Inter-camp Activities
- College Weekend or College Days
- Tee time for 'Entourage'
- Grey's Anatomy Star, Patrick Dempsey, reveals his Maine Dreams
- Camp Wekeela