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What Summer Camps Looked Like in the 1910s and 1920s

Camp Kveller

In celebration of all things summer camp, we are publishing a series of photo essays of what summer camps looked like in America over the twentieth century. Surprisingly (unsurprisingly?), not much has changed — besides the hair styles and clothes — and that camp bunks are no longer open-air tents.

The first of our photo essays focuses on the 1910s and 1920s, featuring Surprise Lake CampBrant Lake CampCamp Tawonga, Aloha Camp and Camp Chickawah. These five camps were all founded in the early twentieth century. And they have the best photographs.

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Red and Blue Tug of War, Surprise Lake Camp, 1919 [Millstein Online Archive, used with permission of Surprise Lake Camp]

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Paddlers, Aloha Camp, 1920s

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Camp Chickawah, 1920 [campchickawah.com]

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Brant Lake Camp, early 1920s

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Aloha Camp, 1920s

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“Uncle Chick,” Camp Chickawah, 1920 [campchickawah.com]

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Campers assembled outside the Sigmund Neustadt building, Surprise Lake Camp, 1920 [Millstein Online Archive, used with permission of Surprise Lake Camp]

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Henry and Millard Saltman, Camp Chickawah, 1920 [campchickawah.com]

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Postcard from 1920s, Camp Chickawah [campchickawah.com]

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Camp Tawonga, late 1920s or early 1930s

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Cele Saltman & Ruth Saltman, Camp Chickawah, 1927 [campchickawah.com]

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Arrival at camp; Campers arrived by train at a station near Cold spring and walked three and a half miles to the camp, Surprise Lake Camp, 1929 [Millstein Online Archive, used with permission of Surprise Lake Camp]

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Camp Tawonga, 1929

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Rise and shine, Surprise Lake Camp, 1929 [Millstein Online Archive, used with permission of Surprise Lake Camp]

Thank you to all the helpful contacts at the various camps: Kip Miller at Surprise Lake Camp, Jenn Merritt at The Aloha Foundation, Rick Kozlowski (and the Gersten Family) at Brant Lake Camp, Jeff Grant at Camp Chickawah, and Casey Cohen at Camp Tawonga.

Camp Kveller

Camp Kveller is our series dedicated to all things summer camp.

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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