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Day Trip, Camp Acadia, 1950.

Camp Acadia Left Visible Reminders of Summers Past
by Roger Amsden News Correspondent

Camp Acadia, a waterfront summer camp for girls which operated from 1909 until 1956 near the end of Lucerne Avenue at the Weirs, has left behind visible reminders of its presence in and around the Pine Trail Condominiums complex.

Still standing, minus the bell which called campers to worship at the chapel in the woods, is the Memorial Arch, about 100 feet away from the entryway to Pine Trail, where many of the original buildings used by the campers and staff at Camp Acadia have been converted into homes, some of which see year-round use.

Among the original buildings still standing are Trail’s End, with its large porch and commanding view of Spindle Point in Meredith; the Quimby Lodge, which was the camp’s recreation center and dining room; and the Tip Top House and laundry, the latter of which has been converted to a garage.

There are also fireplaces from the original camp as well as stonework which once supported the circular wooden bench where Acadian campers met for morning assemblies and Saturday night songfests around a large campfire.

A large oak tree, which once was enclosed within the assembly area, still stands, surrounded today by boat trailers rather than campers.

And, even though the songs sung by the campers, counselors and other staff members can no longer be heard wafting through the woods, the voices of the campers are not stilled and live on in a remarkable chronicle of the camp’s many summers in the form of yearly log books which compile the writings, drawings and even the most innermost thoughts of each year’s crop of campers.

The log books, which were recently donated to the Lake Winnipesaukee Historical Society by Grant and Beth Seaverns of Hampton, both of whom had ties to the camp, evoke a wonderful portrait of a simpler era when life moved at a slower pace but people were more physically active and attuned to the natural world.

Grant was named for his great-uncle, Dr. J. Grant Quimby, a Lakeport physician who, along with his wife were pioneers in the camping movement and started bringing children to their lakefront property for camping out adventures in tents. The Quimbys bought additional property on either side of their original lot and soon started putting up buildings and running an eight-week long summer camping program for girls from the Northeast, most of whom were from Massachusetts and New York. They continued to expand the camp during the 30 years that they ran it and the camp enjoyed a fine reputation throughout the Northeast.

Seaverns, a 1945 graduate of Laconia High School, worked at the camp as a maintenance man for three summers while attending college. His dad, Earle Seaverns, who served on the Laconia City Council and was the city’s civil defense director during World War II, was camp manager at the time.

And it was there that he met his future wife, Beth, who was a camp counselor. (His brother had the same good fortune and also met a counselor there who became his wife.)

Beth said that the camp had 50 to 60 campers and 10-12 counselors when she worked there and that activities centered around the waterfront, where there was swimming, canoeing (the camp had a large war canoe which could seat 14 paddlers), hiking, horseback riding, arts and crafts, archery and tennis. There were even ballet lessons, drama at the Rustic Theatre, and entomology in the Bug House, where specimens which were found in the woods were kept. And there were frequent day trips to the White Mountains for hiking.

For years the camp was run by Havene Q. Ryan, the Quimby’s daughter, who carried on the traditions of her parents by instilling a sense of adventure and purpose in the camping experience.

After the camp closed in 1956 the property was sold to the Ruscher family from South Carolina, according to Richard Thornton, who lives in one of the condos at Pine Trail. He said that from that time on through 1966 the family set aside a portion of the rental income from the camp cabins and tent platforms and used that money to build one new cabin each year, eventually phasing out the tent platforms.

The property was sold to Fred and Lois Rotwitt in 1966 and they operated the Pine Trail Cabins there until 1987 when the buildings were converted to condos.


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