lake winni museum logo
Like Us On
Preserving the History & Heritage of Lake Winnipesaukee & Vicinity



Return to Mishe Mokwa

Return to Camps

Return to Main History


That's me, Merrill G. Bradlee, at Camp Mishe Mokwa, back in 1931!

By Merrill G. Bradlee

My family and I visited a Mr. Irwin at the Weirs on Lake Winnipesaukee in the spring of 1928 to find a boys camp where I might spend the summer. After a harrowing experience at the marina where I almost drowned, but was saved by the same Mr. Irwin, it was decided that Camp Mishe Mokwa on Treasure Island would be the best place. So in July of 1928 I was driven to Alton Bay by my family and was put on a boat for a ride to Treasure Island.

I guess I adjusted ok, for I only remember being homesick for a short period. I was the youngest camper on the island, so probably got a little special attention.

We slept in a cabin with about ten boys and a counselor. Bathroom facilities we must have had, but I don’t remember that. Because there were no females on the island, any place along a trail was ok. The cabins were connected by trails in the woods, with the main trail ending up at the mess hall and auditorium. Along these trails could be found blueberries, which were eaten with relish.

On one side of the island was a wild area where we could fish. It was not too far, if I remember correctly, from a baseball field and open area. Closer to the main buildings was a tennis court. I do remember Bill Tilden coming to visit Mr. Wallis who ran the camp. Some of us got to hit a few balls with him.

On one side of the island was a dock where a Chris Craft was tied. On rare occasions we would be taken for a ride. Down by the mess hall was the beach where we swam. No one used a bathing suit of any kind. Only on Sunday, when parents might come visit was a bathing suit worn and then the kind “in vogue” at the time -- the ones with straps over the shoulders. It was at the beach where most activity took place: it was here that we were taught to swim, here that canoes were launched and here where we were taught to handle a canoe.

When one had mastered the act of swimming, they tested our prowess. Each boy had to swim from Treasure Island to some other island. As I remember it, the island was Big Cub or Little Cub. There were long canoes, which were called war canoes. I would guess they would hold between ten to fifteen boys. These were sometimes raced.

Once a boy had learned to swim, instructions in the handling of a canoe could proceed. A boy would go one on one with a counselor. After the counselor thought the boy had the hang of canoeing, he was taken out a hundred feet or so from the shore where the canoe was tipped over and the counselor swam to shore. It would be the responsibility of the boy to gather the paddles and get the canoe to shore. Once this was accomplished, the boy would be qualified to take the canoe out on his own. At what stage I mastered this I do not know, but it happened before I left the camp after a four year stay. I learned to both swim and canoe with a fair amount of proficiency.

A couple of times each summer we were taken to somewhere around Portsmouth, NH and put on a boat and given a hand line to fish for cod and other fish of this sort. It was a day trip.

Rattlesnake Island was the mysterious island. We could see it, but we never went to it. One time in 1930 some of us were taken to the foot of Mt Chocorua, a 3490 foot peak, with our necessary overnight equipment, which probably consisted of a blanket with blanket pins which in that day was our sleeping bag. We climbed up part way, stopped, made camp around a fire, roasted marshmallows and listened to ghost stories told by our counselors. In the morning we climbed to the summit and back to our transportation. For me it was fantastic. The highest mountains I had ever climbed. I still remember it to this day.

Once every summer, we were taken for a sail on the “Mt. Washington” a big tourist type boat that may still be running. The highlight was our being given a box of Cracker Jacks. There was always a “prize” in each box.

In my last year at Mishe Mokwa we put on a cabaret. I played the part of Bad Girl. I can remember one of the other boys singing to me “You forgot your gloves.”

Also, I can remember one year when my family came to pick me up, we went over to Pecketts at Sugar Hill to spend a day or two. When we got there I remember getting out of the car and rolling on the beautiful green grass, the likes of which I had not seen for the last two months.



Home | About Us | Museum | News | History | Bingo | Shop | Membership | Contact | You Can Help!

The Lake Winnipesaukee Historical Society is a non-profit organization.