Vintage photo of campers lining up in shape of letter W.


In 1916, two determined young women from New York, Blanche Hirsch and Clara Altschul, traveled to Denmark, Maine, to purchase property for a girls’ summer camp. Their dream and determination laid the foundation for what Camp Walden is today. Blanche and Clara believed that if individuals had solid support and encouragement from a circle of friends, they could accomplish anything. The traditions of honesty, believing in oneself, respecting others and not accepting failure became, and continue to be, the essential elements of Walden’s philosophy. The primary objective of the Walden experience is to offer campers a setting in which they can grow as individuals and achieve their personal goals.

Walden grew from 30 to over 100 campers in a short period. That first winter, Blanche and Clara planned the camp buildings. Now, with 150 campers enrolled each summer, the number of buildings and facilities has increased, but this growth has been selective and designed to fit within the master plan formulated in 1916.

The tradition of attending Camp Walden continues from one generation to the next. Many of our campers are children or grandchildren of former campers, as well as new families experiencing the magic of Walden for the first time. Other traditions continue and adapt with the passing of time. The Honor System, SPLASH (Walden’s yearbook), camp songs, Counselor Show and Banquet Night are all traditions that began during the early years and are still an important part of camp life today. Camp Walden remains the place where campers return each summer and cherish their time together. For more than a century, Walden has been a meaningful part of the lives of hundreds of campers and staff.

Historic scene from Camp Walden of all campers sitting together in a group photo.
All camp gathering circa 1920s.

“In the year one nine one six AD our Dear Camp Walden came to be….” Explore the history of Camp Walden with a visit to our EAO museum. Discover over 100 years of Walden traditions! What looks the same and what looks different? Campers, counselors, families, and alums welcome!

Historic scene at Camp Walden of girls in a cabin in 1965.
A Camp Walden 50th Anniversary photo from 1965.
Historic scene from Camp Walden of swimming campers at the lake.
Swimming in Walden Pond.
Historic scene from Camp Walden of campers working with horses in the equestrian barn.
Horseback Riding has been popular since the beginning.

When our founders were striking out for rural Maine with a bunch of young girls in tow — they were asked incredulously, "How are you going to care for them?!” The response was simply, “We’re not. We’re going to teach them to take care of themselves."

—Blanche Hirsch and Clara Altschul, Founders of Camp Walden