Dells camp celebrates 75 years, campers returning for decades

By: Phil Levin Email
By: Phil Levin Email

POSTED Tuesday, July 23, 2013 --- 11:30 p.m.
Reporter: Phil Levin

A Wisconsin Dells camp originally a retreat for those with polio is celebrating its 75th year.

Camp Wawbeek opened in 1938 and now serves kids and adults with a variety of physical and other disabilities. Some campers have been coming back for decades.

"I've been coming here since I was 8," said 68-year-old Suzanne Treek. "When camp time approaches I get excited."

"For some people, this is the only place they can swim," said Camp Director Carissa Miller. The site even features an accessible high ropes course. "You know, maybe they like to swim, maybe they just don't have access to a pool that is accessible, and this is the only place that they can swim one week out of the year."

Two of this year's campers became a couple during a relationship fostered during their visits.

"We got to know each other out here 20 years ago," said Debra Atkinson who recalls the first time she coerced her now husband Mike to hold hands on a camp trip. "Now we've been married in September it'll be 9 years."

Over the years the camp has hosted more than 50,000 campers. Staff say this summer is the biggest crowd yet, with more than 1,000 visitors expected to stay for a week at Wawbeek.

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