Camp History

Camp Sarsaparilla began in the summer of 1972 at Crow Hill Farm high above the Pownal Valley. Since that time owner Merry Anderson and, for over 20 years, Dick Steege have run the camp continuously with the exception of two years of camp at Rural Lands Foundation’s Sheep Hill in Williamstown. Our camp was named by a camper in the first year of its existence, and we believe it is a perfect fit, epitomizing the energy and enthusiasm we all experience here.

Beginning in 1972 it’s program was fairly free form, with ideas for activities flowing from the children . There were about eighteen kids, ranging in age from about 7-10. In our early days, there was teepee making, hikes to the Snow Hole, crafts under the trees, and peanut butter and jelly crackers every day for snack. The pond was muddy, and we used an outhouse. Over these 38 years, both Merry’s and Dick’s children were campers, then counselors. With the Clark Art Institute , the Williamstown Theatre Festival, and the Bang On A Can presence at Mass MOCA, children from many parts of the country have participated in our camp. Some of the campers went on to become celebrities -we count Jake and Gwenyth Paltrow and Christopher Reeve’s children among our camp alumni. We pride ourselves on our wonderful and diverse families, joining us from all part of the world. Each one experiences the joy of being in the great outdoors, creating, exploring, writing, and playing. Our camp is a reinvention of childhood pursuits as they used to be when children were physically active, engaging in the natural world and the world of creating things with their own hands.

Be Sociable, Share!