The history of this camp is one that is long and sacred. What began as a Boy Scout camp, turned into a haven for people of all races, faiths and genders. Camp Wewa stands for the “Land of Many Waters”, mainly because it is surrounded by 3 lakes and stands in the middle in world of it is own. The legacy of Camp Wewa is magical, because for many generations it has touched the lives of many people and will continue to do so many years into the future
1887:: The first record of a Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in Orange County. It flourished for a time under the leadership of a Reverend J.C. Williams with offices on the top floor of the building at Pine and Court Streets.
1905:: The “Y” was reorganized under the leadership from L.G. Starbuck, Newton Yowell, E.H. Gore, F.A. Curtis and Professor Fons A. Hathaway. The “Y” first took offices in the Dollins Block on West Pine Street and later moved to the second floor of the Dickson-Ives Building on Orange Avenue. After two years, interest diminished and the “Y” folded for the second time.
1920:: The Rotary Club builds a dining hall for the Boy Scout Camp in Apopka, Florida. This building, dubbed the “Round House”, is built and serves as a “landmark” for the camp. This feature can still be seen at YMCA Camp Wewa, on its original site, looking much as it did when it was built over eighty years ago!
1925:: The “Y” was revived for the third time. Over $800,000 was raised in pledges for a building and a site was purchased at Main and Lucerne Circle. With the fall of the Florida land boom and the Great Depression, pledges became un-collectable, the property was foreclosed and the “Y” folded again.
1942:: In an unprecedented fourth attempt, John F. Schumann, W.R. O’Neal, Newton Yowell, and M.R. Smith initiated the modern era of the Central Florida YMCA. Jack Barber was employed as a professional in 1945 and $50,000 was raised to purchase the Osceola Hotel.
1948:: The Central Florida YMCA rented a one hundred acre camp belonging to the Boy Scouts so that they could hold a Summer Camp program.
1950:: In May, YMCA Camp Wewa is officially purchased from the Boy Scouts and the history begins. “Wewa” is an American Indian term meaning “Many Waters”.
1954:: With the sale of the Osceola Hotel, YMCA Camp Wewa becomes the oldest, continual Branch of the Central Florida YMCA.
1965:: Major construction begins at YMCA Camp Wewa. A new tennis court is constructed. Two cabins are created to house the CIT program. These cabins, still standing, are now the oldest cabins in the entire camp.
1966:: Construction continues with the welcome addition of a swimming pool to provide a safe, clean place for campers to cool off, practice their aquatic skills and simply have fun.
1969:: The North Orlando Kiwanis Club builds Ki-Nor-O Hall, the new dining hall. This building continues the tradition of support from the Kiwanis who have been a strong supporter of many of the construction projects at Camp Wewa.
1970:: Two new cabins and two new bathhouses were constructed.
1971:: Two additional cabins are built. Also in 1971, the North Orlando Kiwanis Club builds our current chapel. This chapel, another “landmark” feature of Camp Wewa, is dedicated to Bev Laws, former President of the Central Florida YMCA.
1973:: Two houses are purchased. One is to be used for the caretaker’s home, and the other is reserved for the Director to be used as both his home and office.
1978:: The first double cabin is built in Front Camp.
1980:: The second double cabin is built. Also, in 1980, a new outdoor pavilion is constructed and the Trading Post is completed.
1985:: During this year the housing and bathrooms are added to the south end of the dining hall. An open-air pavilion is constructed to be used for arts and crafts and nature study. Both large bathhouses are enclosed and finished.
1986:: YMCA Camp Wewa builds its forty-foot-tall Rappelling Tower. This tower is to begin a new series of construction centered on team-building and personal challenge.
1988:: The Round House is damaged in a storm. A debate begins as to whether it should be rebuilt or torn down. Finally, it is decided that the Round House is an historic piece of camp history, and so it is rebuilt.
1991:: A new Low Ropes Course is completed as an Eagle Scout project, under the direct supervision of the Camp Wewa staff.
1994:: The Low Ropes Course is rebuilt with additional obstacles added to provide even greater challenge for campers of all ages. At the same time, the High Ropes Course was constructed, offering a new experience for program participants.
1996:: Giant’s Swing obstacle is added to the High Ropes Course.
1997:: Construction of an open-air pavilion at the High Ropes Course. The North Orlando Kiwanis Club sponsors the project, built by staff and volunteers. In addition, a new “High Y” is added to the Ropes Course. The Schenk Family donates money to the camp to refurbish the existing tennis courts. This allows for even more activity areas, including: tennis, volleyball and basketball.
1998:: Office moved to the former caretaker’s house. Old infirmary building is remodeled. A camp/conference center-planning firm completes a new Master Concept design.
1999:: The pool deck is resurfaced and a water slide added. Wilderness Trip programs are expanded to include trips to the Florida Keys. The North Orlando Kiwanis Club donates materials and labor to construct a new cabin. In addition, the South Orlando Kiwanis Club builds decks in front of cabins and bathhouses.
2001:: The Rappelling Tower is dismantled. Construction is completed on “Goliath”, the new 40-foot, 9-faced climbing tower. Incorporated into its design are: positive climbs, verticals, negative climbs, overhands, chimney climbs, rappelling and dual zip lines that run to poles beside Mud Lake. Also, ymcawewa.org launches for the first time
2003:: The cabins were completely renovated and air-conditioning was added. The bathhouses were also renovated and updated
2004:: The dinning hall was renovated and extended to include a new entrance and deck. After the series of hurricanes, none of Wewa’s buildings were hit except for the Director’s house, renovations completed by March 2005
2005:: The kitchen was completely renovated thanks to our friends at Sysco Foods. The Archery range is rebuilt and the Chapel was renovated.
2007:: Due to high local demand, Summer Day Camp is added, dining hall bathrooms renovated.
2008:: Online registration begins and the main office is renovated.
2009:: YMCAWewa.org 2.0 Launches. The Roundhouse is condemned by the City of Apopka and torn down, plans begin immediately on a new multi-use structure.
2010:: Construction is completed on the new Pavilion and Camp Fire Circle overlooking the lake next to the Chapel.