Camp Winnebago in Fayette offers canoe, kayak, paddle board and sailboat lessons. This is the 100th year of operation for the boys camp. Livermore Falls Advertiser photo by Pam Harnden





















FAYETTE — Camp Winnebago, located off Route 17 on Echo Lake, has been owned by three generations of one family after its founding in 1919 by Frederick Guggenheimer.

The property was originally a farm owned by someone from Brooklyn, New York. It was leased to the Smiley Farm before Guggenheimer turned it in to a boys camp.

Lilienthal’s grandfather purchased the camp in 1943 and became the director in 1946. His grandparents purchased land across the lake in the 1950s.

Andy Lilienthal first attended camp there in 1974. In 2000 he returned as an assistant director. He transitioned to owner director in 2003.

Boys, ages 8 – 15, attend the camp from as close as Freeport, Maine or as far away as Tokyo and Shenzhen, China. This year there are 150 boys from 21 states and seven countries at camp. The first day of camp was June 21.

“The grand majority come for the full 7.5 week session. A few come for four weeks,” Lilienthal said. “It’s so nice to finally see the camp in action.”

Counselors, age 19 to in their 60s, come from Maine and other countries with the furthest this year from New Zealand.

“We limit the number of international staff. Diversity is important but counselors need to know American culture too.

“Counselors used to be just teachers. Now it is much more flexible. Increasingly a whole age bracket of 20 to early 30s aren’t finding full time careers. They are able to have their work, come for the summer.

What’s interesting with a camp our size, everyone knows each other. The focus can be on counselors being role models, not just teachers,” Lilienthal said.

Campers take day trips across Maine for the boys to explore the state. They put together a camp newspaper and make videos of their experiences.

Every age group goes on two overnight camping trips and puts on a play.

The boys raise vegetables in a recently built greenhouse for camp meals. An outdoor garden, once a Victory garden during World War II where produce was weighed, was re–established five years ago.

“The boys love harvesting, bringing it up to the kitchen,” Lilienthal said.

Camp Winnebago offers swim, canoe, kayak, paddle board and sailboat lessons. A free swim is enjoyed daily.

Archery and shooting plus tennis, soccer and other group sports are offered. Classes in architecture and photography are other options.

During an architecture class on June 24, the boys discussed growing vegetables hydroponically in the new greenhouse. The experiential design and build class provides skills the boys can later market. The counselor teaching the class is a camp alumni who will begin studying for his Masters at the University of Chicago in the fall.

Lilienthal said the camp uses eight words to focus all of its activities on:

  • Responsibility
  • Empathy
  • Community
  • Integrity
  • Respect
  • Leadership
  • Effort
  • Creativity

“We base everything we’re doing on those eight words. Teaching, interacting with the boys, those words create a foundation for development and growth,” Lilienthal said.

There has been a scholarship program for almost 50 years. Some 10 kids per year are given financial assistance. The goal is to have the boys attend annually until they age out, Lilienthal said.

Four building are original to the camp’s beginning. The owner’s house is now the health center. The dining room has had a deck added for outdoor eating. The lodge is large enough to host theater classes and other group activities. The library, built in 1920 or 1921, may be the country’s oldest camp library.

Some of the cabins are located near a stream, others are near a field. Two counselors and six boys stay in each cabin. The cabins don’t have electricity or bathrooms.

Other buildings include the field house, an arts/crafts/woodworking center, an office and museum. The museum has yearbooks from 1920 on, banners, pictures and other items saved over the years. Boys and counselors are combing through the archives to see how much camp has stayed the same yet evolved with the times.

Lilienthal said his goal is to keep improving and maintaining what the camp has and offers while not taking away from the past.

“A lot of amazing things have happened here,” he said.

Lilienthal said camp is becoming more important for kids. It gives them a chance to turn electronics off, just play, explore, learn new things. Not be judged. It’s one of kids’ last refuges.

“The first few days the kids are twitchy. Three or four days in, they give a collective sigh, have longer conversations.

“Kids are born to ask questions, wonder. As adults, we are here to guide them. If you can show and explain to kids how to act, be consistent they’re wonderful. It’s not that difficult. You have to pay attention to details,” he said.

Camp Winnebago has always been different than other camps. It’s not just for entertaining, giving kids what they want. It helps them grow.

Camp alumni wrote a special song for the campers to learn this year. A new totem pole was erected and acknowledged during the June 23 campfire. Interspersed throughout the summer will be other events to celebrate the camp’s centennial.

After camp concludes, an alumni weekend is planned with 350 people expected.

Lilienthal’s mother put together a book, Camp Winnebago The First 100 Years. The fundraiser for the scholarship program is available for sale.

For more information on Camp Winnebago or to purchase a book, call 207-685-4918 or email [email protected]

Camp Winnebago in Fayette is a camp for 8 – 15 year boys. Seen are some of the younger boys on their fourth day of camp. Livermore Falls Advertiser photo by Pam Harnden

Basketball, shooting, archery and other sports are enjoyed at Camp Winnebago in Fayette, now in its 100th year of operation Livermore Falls Advertiser photo by Pam Harnden

Boys at Camp Winnebago in Fayette attend an architectural class. A greenhouse has been added and the boys discussed growing vegetables hydroponically. Livermore Falls Advertiser photo by Pam Harnden

Camp Winnebago in Fayette is a boys camp that provides half hour swim lessons and free swims daily on Echo Lake. Livermore Falls Advertiser photo by Pam Harnden

Photography lessons are offered at Camp Winnebago in Fayette. Livermore Falls Advertiser photo by Pam Harnden

In the museum at Camp Winnebago in Fayette, owner Andy Lilienthal points to an earlier picture of the camp. Livermore Falls Advertiser photo by Pam Harnden

Camp Winnebago owner Andy Lilienthal stands on the porch of one of the camp’s original buildings. 150 boys attend the camp and take day tours and overnight camping excursions to learn more about Maine and its culture. Livermore Falls Advertiser photo by Pam Harnden

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