Tradition & History

Farm & Wilderness is a non-profit educational organization which, since 1973, has carried forward the traditions and programs begun in 1939 by the F&W co-founders, Kenneth and Susan Howard Webb.

Ken and Susan Webb came to camping through their interest in education. The Webbs were very much influenced by John Dewey and the progressive education movement. They started Timberlake, a camp for boys on Woodward Reservoir, in 1939 on a piece of abandoned farmland. Soon, families who had sons attending Timberlake wanted a similar camp for their daughters, so Indian Brook followed in 1941. As these boys and girls grew into teenagers, the idea of a co-ed work camp emerged, and in 1953 the Senior Work Camp became Tamarack Farm. All the subsequent camp programs were born out of the dual emphasis embodied in the name Farm & Wilderness — the work required for life on the farm, and the adventure pursued on wilderness trips.

The Wilderness Corporation, now the Ninevah Foundation, was formed in 1961 to purchase and preserve a large tract of land on Lake Ninevah. The following year, Saltash Mountain Camp (SAM) was formed on a portion of this property. Initially a camp for boys who wanted to live in a small community dedicated to hiking, canoeing and exploring wild areas, SAM later became a small co-ed camp with a strong emphasis on community living and wilderness trips, and more recently, a flair for drama.

In 1965, Flying Cloud was formed and named in honor of an American Indian who was a much-loved counselor at Timberlake. At first, Flying Cloud’s program emphasized the values, skills and traditions of Native Americans. As collective discomfort grew over the years that F&W might be co-opting some aspects of native cultures, Flying Cloud’s emphasis shifted to a simple and strong program of community living in close contact to the land and in rhythm with nature.

The Barn Day Camp was started in 1984 as an outgrowth of a longstanding program for the children of summer camp staff. Now it is a full summer program, in several sessions, for staff children, local children, and the children of summer visitors to the Plymouth area.

In the past decade, we’ve opened our new Tamarack Farm building for campers and retreat groups, built a new Dairy Barn and Resource Building, added lands in Chelsea, replaced the Woodward Reservoir Dam, raised a timber-frame Sugar House and an added an innovative wood gasification plant.

All of the camps follow the values inherent in Quaker philosophy. These central values are service, peacemaking, integrity, community, equity and simplicity. These values underlie all the programs, activities and practices that are alive and well at F&W today.