Camp Awosting, founded in 1900 by Dr. Walter Truslow, is the oldest private boys camp in continuous operation in the United States. Originally, the camp was located on Lake Awosting in New York State. In the early 1900’s, the campers spent much of their days walking – some days as far as 25-30 miles. Campers woke up at 6:30am to do a half hour of exercises followed by a quick dip in the lake. Camp was much less structured than it is today and it had very few activities – mostly sports.
In 1905, Jerome F. Kidder and Ralph Woodwood purchased the camp from Dr. Truslow. They introduced the famous Awosting Tribal system. The tribal system was institued by Fred Dolbeare in 1910, modeled after the famous club system at St. Paul’s School of Concord, NH. Tribes competed for 1,000 points, had perpetual membership and a distinct method of choosing club members. Mr. Kidder and Mr. Woodwood also were responsible for bringing in camp traditions like our “Highest Camp Honors” award, squad duties (now called “Good Earth Teams”), and the central bathhouses, affectionately known to campers as “The Mines”.
William Faber Davis, a first-year camper in 1903, purchased the camp from Jerome F. Kidder in 1925. He ran the camp until he sold it to Preston Beaver in 1947.
In the mid 1930s, the late Oscar Ebner Sr. was a counselor at various camps in New York, Connecticut and Maine, including Camp Awosting. In 1948, Mr. Ebner Sr. and his wife, Virginia, purchased Camp Awosting from Preston Beaver. Seven years later, in 1955, Oscar and Virginia founded Camp Chinqueka for Girls, located a few miles away in Litchfield, CT on Mt. Tom Pond.
Prior to devoting their lives to camping, the Ebners spent many years working with children in the field of Education. The late Oscar Ebner Sr. retired from his position of teaching Industrial Arts to spend more time to managing the two camps. His late wife Virginia was formerly a music teacher in the public schools before becoming active in camping. Their three children, Barb, Buzz and Bob were all teachers in the NJ and CT school systems, before retiring to operate the camps full time in the 1970’s. All three of them have been licensed by the state of Connecticut as Camp Directors of both camps. Barb is Director Emeritus of Camp Chinqueka and she has been a member of Chinqueka’s staff since it’s founding in 1955.
Today, Buzz and his wife Sherry, live next to Camp Awosting during the summer and are still active in the camp program. Buzz and Sherry are Director Emeritus at Awosting and Sherry is a Registered Nurse, still overseeing the health services and food programs of both camps. Their children have all been involved in the camping business over the past 40 years and today their son Kevin Ebner runs the camp business, also acting as Director of Camp Awosting.