It has been summer camp all year long for Tereasa Surratt, her husband David Hernandez, and daughter Charlie since purchasing David’s childhood summer camp in 2007.
Located 90 miles from Chicago in Elkhorn, Wisconsin the camp has a pretty colorful past; a prohibition-era “speakeasy”, a brothel, and most recently a Latvian church retreat. In the 1970’s, David spent many happy summers here with his family canoeing, crafting, fishing, star-gazing, and swinging on a tire swing over the clear lake. By the 90’s the forgotten camp had fallen into complete disrepair. “It had ceilings falling in, and it was full of raccoons,” Tereasa says. After hearing David’s stories about 4 generations of his family spending every summer at Wandawega, she finally gave in to the idea of returning the place to its former glory. The couple knew that if they didn’t act everything would be bulldozed to make room for more “cookie-cutter” lake houses.
The pair aren’t strangers to the creative world, both are creative directors for Ogilvy. Tereasa is also a stylist and author. David is an avid preservationist who also serves on the board for the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust. Confessed flea market junkies, easy to see this in the decor/collections, the couple also rescues unwanted buildings, cars, trucks and trailers. The old Pendleton blankets, sports equipment, children’s books, board games, quilts, and Fiesta Ware they have amassed fill the cabins with vintage personality.
Word that the couple loves to save pieces of history spread fast between their friends and even locals in the Wandawega area. The campground is now speckled with refurbished bunk houses, tents, campers, teepees…and any other buildings they have managed to salvage and move to the lakefront.
Like this cool outhouse, turned shower house, rescued from a nearby Girl Scout camp.
I’ve been inspired by this camp for years without even know it. Last year I posted about the hanging antler chandelier in the camp tree house and the paint by number wall mural that Tereasa did on her daughter’s bedroom walls. Never imagined that both of these great spaces were in the same location.
Wanna see more of this place? You know, without actually flying to Wisconsin. Check out Tereasa’s book Found, Free & Flea.
This book is just filled with even more pictures of the camp and Tereasa’s styling.
Plenty of examples of living your life like it’s summer camp all year long.