Camp Wilson Days

An island in the river

Summer Days at Camp Wilson

As children, Roger and I went to Camp Wilson, a YMCA camp on an island in the Delaware River about 30 miles north of Trenton. It was an exciting time for us to go, we would drive up on a Saturday about an hour or hour and a half drive along the river past New Hope. We ended up at a river landing where there was a ferry to take us across to the island. It was a flat barge that was canted on a cable so the river current supplied most of the power but it was also poled by one of the men. We took our trunks and other gear across on the ferry. The camp had about a dozen cabins sleeping 8 boys.

They were open but roofed and had roll down canvas curtains for rainy weather. There was a big dining hall, a craft center and a store. There was an area for swimming in the Delaware River. We did not wear bathing suits for some reason (it was all boys). It was a lot of fun. We had crafts during the week when we would make lanyards, bow and arrows, made wood burning pictures, etc. We always came home with little leather purses or some other craft gift that we had made for our mother or father. The meals were served in a big open dining room and each table had a "runner" who went up to the front of the room to get the food for the table. We had a prayer before meals and sang songs too. We made ice cream once or twice a week, "the old fashion way" with hand cranked freezers. The food was always good. Sometimes we would take trips outside the camp. Once a week we would go to Frenchtown to go to a movie. On one other occasion, we had an overnight canoe trip where we took the canoes across the river and paddled up the river in the canal. We slept under the canoes near Upper Black Eddy and then returned down the river to camp the next day. In later years Camp Wilson had a real problem because the river was seriously flooded one summer and the campers had to be evacuated by helicopter. Fortunately that did not happen in our time, because there were no helicopters in the 1930s. Camp Wilson was a favorite spot and a fond memory for us. I recall getting bitten by a garter snake at camp and on another occasion I pinched my fingers when folding a canvas beach chair and wrote a letter home saying I wanted to come right home, that I hated the dumb place. A day or so later I got my counselor to let me call home to tell them I had changed my mind and wanted to stay longer.