Camp Wandawega: A Well Worn Story
Morgann and I worked together on the ISU Fashion show four years ago. I followed her business and stalked her Pinterest almost daily in college.
She designs these amazing backpacks, totes, purses, and pouches out of old tents, military bags, Horween Leather, and flea market finds. She reached out to Zach and I to head up to Camp Wandawega to shoot a special line of bags she created from an old teepee from the camp.
If anyone is close to me, or as I get older, maybe are even a new friend, I have probably shared with you that Camp Wandawega pole-vaulted my dream up and over a few years back when I discovered it on someones photography blog.
I grew up at my family's cabin that is basically a time machine of 60's camp themed everything. My parents and I stayed a few cabin resorts in northern Minnesota in high school. And my love for cozy, cabin, and the outdoors found new potential when I discovered Wandawega. That's kind of what this place does, it inspires you, draws you way into your laptop screen, and invites you to something cooler than you are doing at that time.
After decades of rich history and various uses, the camp was picked up by a successful and creative couple in the advertising business in Chicago. The camp has been updated, styled, and promoted in the coolest vintage summer camp way. Here are a few snapshots that I took that weekend, just to get your mojo going.
Morgann was amazing and wanted us to bring a couple of friends with us, to fill up the beds that were a package deal. We brought our friends Nathan and Avery and headed to northern Illinois Friday after work (FAC). We were so well hosted and welcomed to her farmhouse that she shares with her boyfriend, Dylan. They were quick to point out all the things that needed to be fixed and updated. But, he seriously bought this house on foreclosure and they have basically stripped it down to the frame and built it back up again.
Morgann was so excited to show us the insides of the big red barn that sits next to the house. This classic Iowa barn is one of the few that are left standing proud in the state, and even cooler, is the corner that is about to be Morgann's studio. No, seriously, she is going to be in the old MILKING CORNER of this beautiful barn crafting and sewing her bags in a few months. Amazing.
The next morning, we all set off north and arrived at Wandawega in the middle of the hot. sunny. day. Morgann and I share the same draw to the camp, so we walked in shear delight around the grounds.
We settled into our side-by-side cabins and took a gander around. The aesthetic was perfect, seriously perfect.
First stop was obviouslyyyy the tree house.
The middle of the day gave us the biggest storm in years, we are told. We were huddled in our little cabin for a few minutes before we were beckoned to the Main Lodge over the loud speaker, camp style. We and the other campers hung out for half an hour in this cellar (that seriously used to be an underground whiskey and gambling bar during the prohibition). The owner, Teresa brought down beers and wine on a vintage serving tray.
The storm lifted and it was just as hot and sunny as before. We explored the old dining hall/main lodge/social building.
There was this perfect moment by the hearth (and bear) that "Big Bad John" came on the jute-box. If you had a dad slightly similar to mine, you listened to this song on every summer road trip.
We got some more photos of Morgann's amazing bags in before evening set.
All Photos: Zachary Gilbert (Tusk Adventure)
We wandered up to the tent/teepee grounds. I don't know when someone would for real stay here, the mosquitoes would seriously seriously eat you, but they look absolutely amazing.
We grilled hamburgers and hot dogs and ate so much camp food before we ran into the lake. We spent the entire evening swimming and canoeing, throwing axes, and shooting archery.
We capped off Saturday with a bonfire (Nathan, the serious boy scout genius, kept the wet wood burning for hours) and smores. It was so peaceful, so quiet, and exactly what summer nights are supposed to be.
The next morning we woke up early and caught the sun coming up as we made breakfast and coffee on our back deck. Seriously, not a bad Sunday morning in the slightest.
Aside from finally getting to see the camp, my favorite part of the weekend was hanging out with Morgann and Dylan. It was hardly hard work doing what Morgann envisioned, and everyone became friends quickly. It was so fun getting to know both of them, dreaming together, and talking about everything and nothing all weekend long. If we can end a "working" weekend with some new friends, we have a pretty great life, in my little opinion.
It's also pretty amazing getting to be married to a man who is not only so goofy, so good at photographing products and moments, but loves the people around him so well in whatever he is doing. The weekend would be 60% less enjoyable without him. (Not entirely unenjoyable, I was at Wandawega, guys)
I left the camp satisfied and determined. I don't want to own a camp just like Wandawega - it's way more fun to sit back and admire what they have done and are doing. Someday, I think you'll find me hosting events and weekend visitors alongside a lake somewhere. But, for now there are similar, more feasible ideas that Zach and I get to daydream about doing. Stay tuned on those!
Until then! Home at Pleasant Street and off to see more and more.