Camp Wandawega is a throwback rental property that harkens back to a time long gone, while still offering a fresh take on modern lodging for our constantly connected culture. Nestled in the rolling hills of Wisconsin's Kettle Moraine region outside of Elkhorn, Camp Wandawega features rustic cabins, a lake, and whole lot of solitude.
Owners David and Tereasa called themselves "reluctant innkeepers," and when they purchased David’s childhood getaway the main goal was to preserve the history. They brought Wandawega Lake Resort back to its former modest glory. It was always a place where folks could reconnect to the simpler pleasures of a simpler time, and that IS something this world needs.
By day, Tereasa is a Creative Director at Ogilvy & Mather. In her spare time, she’s an author, a stylist, a contributing editor and a flea market junkie. David is an Executive Creative Director at Ogilvy and founder of The Royal Order of Experience Design. An avid preservationist, he also serves on the board of the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust. When David and Tereasa aren’t fixing up old buildings, they can be found rescuing old cars, trucks, boats and trailers. Breathing new life into other people’s unwanted stuff is kind of a thing for them.
Camp Wandawega has quite a back story, which you can read in full on their website where they lay out "how these grounds have hosted everyone from sinners to saints."
There's also a deep dive into the history of the region over at the Wanadega Historical Society if you want to learn more about the history and future of the area. The current property is a nod to the 1950s, when Lake Wandawega was a close attraction and an inexpensive vacation getaway for city dwellers that lived in Chicago and Milwaukee.
Today the grounds at Wandawega serve as a private retreat that makes a few cabins available for recreational camp activities. By renting out on AirBnb, they can support the ongoing property renovation and philanthropic activities for the Wandawega Historical Society. The entire atmosphere of the retreat is informal and casual, and the team at Wandawega tells guests that right up front with what they call their Manifesto of Low Expectations. There are some amazing disclaimers that speak to the audience that seeks this type of accommodation:
“Camp Wandawega is the definition of rustic. Expect ladybugs on your pillow, a cricket if you’re lucky. Oh, and the camp showers: We’re talking old-school, boy-scout-camp, concrete-floors, partially-open-air kinda thing. Be prepared to share them with the toads—they were there first. If you require sheets with a thread count higher than 50, a decent mattress, or even someone to pick up the phone, there are dozens of options in the area we would be happy to direct you to.”
One of their top traditions and callbacks to their history is that they still host Sunday morning Catholic Mass In The Grass at 10am, a tradition dating back to the early 1960s when the Latvian Marian Fathers owned the property. Guests can be sure that like clockwork on a Sunday morning that 100-plus worshipers will be gathered for mass at the nearby outdoor chapel.
As a way to extend the reach of the property, they printed up a vintage camp bumper sticker with bold type and iconic outdoor-themed imagery. You can see the tent-based design in the kiss cut sticker in the photo above, where the See Wisconsin's text is smaller and above and then camp name features in the foreground. You can just imagine placing this sticker on a tailgate or cooler after visiting this special place. The glossy finish is outdoor durable and the colors will stand up to sunlight. Since the property attracts those that love the outdoors and connecting in nature, this sticker can provide a permanent sense of nostalgia and portable piece of advertising.