Our History

Camp Mission

As the Rec Well Summer Camp in the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Division of Recreation & Wellbeing, we move our Junior Badgers to play hard, get fit, and live well. Our summer camp is open to campers ages 5 – 14.

If you would like to learn more about our values or vision, please visit our website.

Inclusion & Diversity Statement

We offer opportunities for all people to exchange ideas, share experiences, and achieve personal fulfillment. This pursuit of wellness is a right afforded to everyone, regardless of identity or ability. We have a collective responsibility to foster a culture of mutual respect, courteous interactions, and equal opportunities. Through our programs, services, facilities, and staff, we are committed to cultivating and upholding an inclusive environment in which we celebrate the differences of every member of our community.

Rec Well Summer Camp began in 2017 with an inaugural class of seven campers per week for 8 weeks. After a hiatus in 2020 – 2021 due to the pandemic, Summer Camp came back bigger and better at the newly opened Nicholas Recreation Center with close to 500 campers joining us for the summer of 2022! Our camp continues to grow each year.

In the summer of 2024, Rec Well Summer Camp will be hosted in the Bakke Recreation & Wellbeing Center, which opened in April 2023. This facility hosts exciting amenities for our campers, such as an ice skating rink, rock climbing wall, and teaching kitchen. You can learn more about Rec Well’s facilities here. Our camp collaborates with many partners within Rec Well and around campus to provide unique field trips and experiences for our campers.

Abby Van Note serves as our current Camp Director and is supported by three professional staff, Kelly Esenther, Paul Joseph, LeAnne Davis, and a professional intern. Camp staff consist of UW-Madison and surrounding university students with prior experience working with children.

Rec Well Summer Camp became accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA) in 2022.  Accreditation means that our summer camp voluntarily agreed to undergo a thorough peer review of over 300 standards – from safety procedures to staff training and qualifications. The American Camp Association works with experts from The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Red Cross, and other youth service agencies to assure that current practices at summer camps reflect the most up-to-date, research-based standards in camp operation. Camps and the ACA form a partnership that promotes summers of growth and fun in an environment committed to child safety.

Camper and Rec Well director Aaron Hobson with camp director Abby Van Note in the background.
Group photo of our camp counselors at the end of camp celebration.
LeAnne and Kelly on the high ropes course holding up Ws with their hands.