Camp Awosting was founded in 1900 by Dr. Walter Truslow, member of the Kings County Medical Society of Brooklyn, New York, and Blake Hillyer, president of the executive committee of the Physical Education Society of New York. Originally established in what is now Minnewaska State Park, New York, the camp now operates in Bantam Lake, Connecticut. Since 2010, it has been run by the Ebner family.

Campers were encouraged to “rough it” and embrace the rugged, natural landscape located at the crest of the Shawangunk Mountain range, in order to offset the “softening effect of the modern city.” The woods, weathered cliffs, and mile-long shore provided the boys with a healthy life in the wilderness.

Traditional male characteristics such as physical strength, discipline, and teamwork were the characteristic building blocks for which camp activities, sports, and events were based.

As many boys came from affluent urban communities, summers at Awosting provided them with a more rustic environment at an age when testosterone ran free and competition reached an all-time high. Camp provided well-to-do, adolescent boys with the means for a healthy and physical upbringing. Parents sent their sons here to receive lessons that they believed could not be taught or learned in their own communities. The boys were given the chance to escape their everyday lives and the opportunity to live among their friends in the Hudson River Valley for two summer months under the guidance and supervision of counselors.

Credits

This collection of photos and memorabilia was generously donated by William Faber Davis Jr., former camper at Camp Awosting. The exhibit was created by Francis DiChiara, Lucia O’Corozine and Susan Stessin-Cohn. The four scrapbooks used for this exhibit are housed at the Haviland-Heidgerd Historical Collection at the Elting Memorial Library, New Paltz, NY.