The Best Summer Camp in New Hampshire: Camp Walt Whitman
As the director of Camp Walt Whitman, I’m obvoiusly going to tell you that our camp is the best sleepaway camp in the Northeast, and certainly the best summer camp in all of New Hampshire.
But you wouldn’t expect a camp director to be unbiased, would you?
What I can say—based on hard data, and not my own personal opinion—is that 90% of our campers return to our idyllic home away from home in the White Mountains each year. That’s an incredible number! If you’re familiar with summer camp enrollment, you know why we’re so proud of this statistic.
I can pinpoint many factors for our high camper return rate, but it all comes back to how intentional we are about every aspect of our program. It begins with our staff, who we spend all year hiring in a very competitive process, extends to our extensive staff training, and continues with our ongoing focus on personal growth and enrichment throughout the summer.
Another key ingredient to our camper’s happiness at Walt Whitman is the unique role our cabin counselors play during the summer. In each cabin we dedicate two college-age counselors to oversee the group throughout their days and nights, ensuring that campers are happy, kind and having fun with one another. Our counselors are not the coaches or instructors of our activities; their purpose at camp is to make sure that children are well and thriving in our community.
My family started Camp Walt Whitman in Piermont, New Hampshire over 70 years ago, and we strive to inspire the same appreciation and love among campers, staff and parents that they did.
Some awards, accolades, and reviews that we’ve received over the years that helps to explain why Camp Walt Whitman remains the best summer camp in New Hampshire:
Town and Country Magazine
“Inspired by Walt Whitman’s poem ‘I Hear America Singing,’ Camp Walt Whitman is an idyllic lakefront camp on 300 acres, evenly split between 200 girls and 200 boys and with a 92 percent camper return rate. Outdoor hiking, camping, and adventure are big programs, and their tennis director of 20 years recently became the winningest coach in NCAA history. Walt Whitman prides itself on a warm, down-to-earth atmosphere, with a strong community emphasizing teamwork, responsibility, and friendship. The camp experience centers around Cabin Groups, where campers both live and participate in group activities together, and the Walt Whitman staff adopts a hands-on approach to help with child development. (Famous alumni include Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal.) Activities include tennis, soccer, softball, gymnastics, and lacrosse, as well as swimming, boating, art, drama, music, white-water rafting, and adventure backpacking trips.”
“Despite the name, Walt Whitman is not a poetry camp. (Although it does open with a campfire-side reading of Whitman’s ‘I Hear America Singing.’) Arnie and Chick Soloway, who started this New Hampshire-based camp in 1948, chose the name because they were both fans of Whitman’s poetry and his philosophy on community, which the founders wanted to incorporate into the experience. Today, Camp Walt Whitman is run by the grand-nephew of Arnie and Chick, and is a favorite jack-of-all-trades sleepaway camp: sports, water games, outdoor adventure, and the arts. (For kids that are into sports this is a particularly fun camp as many of the athletic coaches are current or former collegiate athletes/coaches.) And although there is plenty of room to explore and play on campus—300 acres set on the shores of Lake Armington—older campers also have the opportunity to head out on three-to-five-day expeditions (backpacking, biking, canoeing), as well as week-long trips to the Maine seacoast and cities like Montreal. Camp Walt Whitman is designed to be a summer-long experience, but kids (second to seventh grade) can sign up for a shorter three- or four-week session; and there’s also a five-day family camp in case Mom and Dad want to join in on the fun.”
“Children choose a weekly special interest from among such choices as cooking, photography, or a particular sport. In addition to a mature staff, this camp has excellent coaching; the tennis instructor, for example, is head coach at Brigham Young University.”
“New Hampshire’s gorgeous White Mountains are the setting for this camp, which is perched on a lovely lake. It’s a traditional, coed program that offers a week-long Pioneer Camp for kids who’ve completed first or second grade.”
Early Childhood Education Zone
“Camp Walt Whitman allows each camper to experience the ultimate in summer camping by participating at their level. Generations of campers have enjoyed the scenic surroundings of Camp Walt Whitman, located in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Campers learn to improve existing physical skills while developing new skills in sports and activities while focusing on personal development in areas such as leadership, teamwork, and responsibility. Lifelong bonds are formed as new friendships develop while experiencing the camaraderie among Walt Whitman Campers. Named after the poet Walt Whitman, honoring his poem ‘I Hear America Singing,’ describing the working men and women of America, each camper at Camp Walt Whitman also develops an individual sense of pride while going about their daily camping activities.”