Camp Winape main house, the Ski Lodge from Seymour Lake photo by Janet Kolar

(This is an article I wrote for South Island Living on a very special family!)

 Have you ever sent a child to summer camp and wished it was you going instead?

Wished you could be swimming in the lake, kayaking, boating, canoeing, eating in a dining hall? Staring at the campfire?  Watching the sun set and the moon rise?

Dave and I had the privilege of visiting Ron and Janet Kolar at their Camp Winape in West Charleston, Vermont (in the Northeast Kingdom, very close to the Canadian border).

The Kolars are the current stewards of a special property that has been in their family since 1937.

The history of Camp Winape…by Ron Kolar

The camp was founded as a boys camp in 1911 by Sylvester Berry, Headmaster of the Irving School in New York.  By 1921 there were over 100 campers and 15 counselors at camp during summer season.  After “Chief” Berry’s death in 1928, the camp struggled during the Great Depression.  From 1931-1934 Camp Winape was operated as a girl’s camp with Sass Kolar, Ron’s mother serving as head counselor.  Sass had married Ed Kolar, also a head counselor at several boys camps in Connecticut and Maine.  Both Ed and Sass loved the camping life and wanted to purchase and operate Winape themselves.  Their dream came true in the spring of 1937.

Edward took on the name “Chief” from the boys nickname of the previous owner.  Chief Kolar was Athletic Director, teacher and coach at Hoboken Academy in New Jersey while Sass was  a teacher and coach for women in High School.

Over the years the Kolars made many improvements, making Camp Winape a first class camp.

Camp life at Winape was well organized, starting with a bugle call for reveille, flag raising, breakfast, activity periods, rest hour, general swims, meals, evening activities, camp fires, flag lowering and taps.

Winape was well known for its variety of activities and the training and preparation of the boys for long trips and outdoor camping.  Athletics were an important part, with the boys learning and becoming proficient in softball, basketball, volleyball, tennis and lacrosse, target rifle shooting,  archery and horseback riding.

After Chief and Sass renovated their residence in 1963, and installed a dorm, they conducted winter ski trips for boys, girls, and parents.  In 1979, Town & Country magazine designated Winape as one of the outstanding traditional boy’s camps in the eastern United States.

The “End of an Era” for Camp Winape came in 1984 when Chief and Sass retired.  They had operated this very active and successful camp for one hundred boys, each summer for 48 years.  Children and grandchildren of previous campers and counselors had many wonderful memories of summers at Winape.  The Kolars said at the time, “It has been forty-eight wonderful years since we first came to these hills which we now call our home.  Each summer we have seen campers arrive without friends and with little confidence;  we have been delighted seeing ‘our boys’ leave at the end of the summer, happy and fulfilled.”

Today, although many buildings and campers are gone, Winape continues to be used throughout the year by Janet and Ron Kolar and their sons, Eric and Alan, with their wives Megan and Jenie, and grandchildren Val, Shelby, Eli, Clayton, Sara, and Mary Caroline.  Ron’s sister, Nancy Bowen and husband Ken live adjacent to Winape while Ron’s cousin, Erik Lessing and wife Rhealene spend summers just north up the lake.

For most of the summer the Kolar, Bowen, and Lessing families and friends enjoy the camp, especially the dining hall, which comes back to life just like the old days.  The bell is rung for meals and the Winape tradition continues.

As for our visit to Camp Winape, it was a fantastic adventure.  Knowing our time was short, Ron and Janet had jam-packed our days with activities.  We began with a ride in a Kawasaki Mule and a quick tour of the camp buildings…with getting out on the water a top priority.

The Boat House

The lakeside boathouse, firepit and flag at Camp Winape photo by Kathy Miller

Camp Winape Canoes

canoes lined up in a row at Camp Winape photo by Kathy Miller

Ron’s beautiful old Chris-Craft boat

Getting the old Chris-Craft ready to boat photo by Kathy Miller

Dave and Ron on the old Chris-Craft boat photo by Kathy Miller

The main, year round  house is known as The Ski Lodge named for the winter ski trips orchestrated by Chief and Sass.  It is unmistakeable with its white snow flakes adorning the walls.

The Big Lodge( built in 1911) in the foreground with The Ski Lodge behind.

Camp Winape Ski Lodge main house with snowflake photo by Kathy Miller

The front entrance to Camp Winape Ski Lodge with snowflake photo by Kathy Miller

When the entire family is visiting, The Dining Hall is where the family gathers for meals.

The Dining Hall Camp Winape photo by Kathy Miller

Meal times are a special treat with a job for everyone… cooking, serving,  cleanup including hand washing the dishes.

Camp Winape dining hall kitchen photo by Kathy Miller

Dining Hall Camp Winape photo by Kathy Miller

Meals are announced by the “ringing of the bell”  and is a coveted treat for the Kolar grandchildren.

We dined al fresco on our first night, sitting beneath Janet’s beautiful flower beds and the Big Lodge.

al fresco dining at Camp Winape photo by Kathy Miller

Two wood loon decoys adorned the table reminding of us the loon pair and chicks below us on the water.  The cries of the loons were special.

wood loon duck decoys on the table at Camp Winape photo by Kathy Miller

Ron, Rhealene Lessing, Dave, Janet, and cousin, Erik Lessing.

The Kolar gathering at dinnertime photo by Kathy Miller

 Janet served a simple salad made special with her Vermont Maple Cashews and Vermont Maple Syrup Dressing.


  • 2 cups cashew nuts or pecans
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili pepper mix
  • These are delicious as a snack or on a salad.


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix ingredients.
  3. Place parchment paper on a sheet pan.
  4. Spread nuts on parchment paper.
  5. Bake 10 minutes or more.


These are delicious as a snack or on a salad.

By Janet Kolar via KathyMillerTime


Recipe Printed from www.kathymillertime.com


  • Greens
  • Strawberries
  • Candied Pecans or Cashews


  • 1/3 cup Maple Syrup
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
  • 3 tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt


  1. Prepare salad.
  2. Mix dressing ingredients.
  3. Shake well and toss.


The maple syrup dressing and maple syrup cashews make this special!

By Nancy Bowen via KathyMillerTime


Recipe Printed from www.kathymillertime.com

After dinner found us sitting at the lake, star gazing.

We were up at the crack of dawn the next morning for a kayak run.  With the weather looking iffy we kayaked on the Seymour Lake and were back for breakfast before 8!

Janet kyaking on Seymour Lake photo by Kathy Miller

The afternoon brought more “muling” along many trails, used for snowmobiling in the winter and a hike up Mt. Elon for a view of Seymour Lake and Echo Lake.  We even saw the maple syrup lines, tapped on property to make Camp Winape Pure Vermont maple syrup.

Seymour Lake from Mt Elon photo by Kathy Miller

maple syrup lines photo by Kathy Miller

Camp Winape badges photo by Kathy Miller

Oars with Campers' names photo by Kathy Miller

The Kolar family celebrating being together at Camp Winape

The Kolar family at Camp Winape photo courtesy Ron and Janet Kolar

 Janet says it best. “We have been blessed to be the caretakers of what God has created here in the Northeast Kingdom.”   Janet stresses this statement…”It is not a treasure, if you do not share it with others.”
“It gives us so much pleasure over many years to share it…to see the excitement, fun and many activities that are new to children and friends—-we don’t want to take it for granted.  It is all about making memories for family and grandchildren that will be their treasures in the future.”

And now with Ron and Janet carrying on the Camp Winape tradition, I can just imagine Sass and Chief looking down on the land, smiling, pleased that so many are enjoying their vision and labor of love.

And for all of you who have sent a child off to camp,  Chief’s and Sass’ thought is worth repeating…

“Each summer we have seen campers arrive without friends and with little confidence;  we have been delighted seeing ‘our boys’ leave at the end of the summer, happy and fulfilled.”


  • Bob says:

    Wow. Bucolic at it’s best!!

  • Oh Kathy, this tops the list as my favorite! I know ithis magical place takes us all back to fond memories of our own days at camp. Becky

    • Becky, Thank you so much for your thoughts! Even though I write about football and tailgating, there is so much life out there! Going to camp is one of my favortie memories. I am so glad it brought back good memories for you.

  • Bill Buckler says:

    My brother Jonnie and I were campers in the 1950’s, and Dad (Buck) was counselor and softball coach. So many fond memories of Winape, the Kolars, and all the counselors and campers. Thanks for the refreshing tour and for Ron’s history (I had not known!) Sad that so much that was good has passed, Sass and Chief included.

  • Anthony (Tony) Downing says:

    I went to Camp Winape when my family returned from living abroad in Iran, where we met the Kolars. My dad was a camp counselor. Some of the best memories of my life were formed there. How may I get in touch with the Kolars?

  • Robert Berger says:

    I have a Camp Winape Happiness Cup awarded to John Brush (Hempstead.) There’s a date on it that kind of looks like 1010 but might be 1919- Cup looks like I guess pewter. No idea what junk store it came from. I grew up on Long Island, near Hempstead. I’ve been in Los Angeles since 1974. Anyway, I just googled Camp Winape. Whew! Idyllic, huh?

  • Kathy Miller says:

    Thanks for your comment. I’ll pass along to Ron and Janet!

  • Eric Goodhart says:

    Eric Goodhart says:

    May 1, 2019 at 9:08 pm

    “Save your forks!” was a happy announcement in the dining hall. It signaled that the smiling Vermont lassies in the kitchen had some some delicious Vermont apple pie warming in the ovens to be topped with freshly made vanilla ice cream to complete the always delicious evening meal prior to heading for the Trading Post. (Memories are made to embellish.)
    My favorite memory of those summers was the 1956 6 day Rangeley Lakes canoe trip in Maine. One day, on Mooselookmeguntic, the lead held his paddle high to indicate quiet and stop paddling. We glided along in silence for a couple of minutes, wondering what was up. Then we knew. A pair of magnificent American Bald Eagles (not Canadian) circled above us and floated for what seemed like an eternity! For a Brooklyn born city kid at heart, one never forgets the first time, does one? ….All in all, “a good time was had by all.” 🙂

  • Kathy Miller says:

    Thank you for your comment Eric! And for waiting patiently until it was posted. I will forward on to Ron and Janet Kolar…and also that photo you sent has if I’m not mistaken, Ron’s cousin, Erik Lessing in the boat with you!

    • Eric Goodhart says:

      That is correct, Kathy. It was taken about the 20th reunion of Winape’s closing (as a boys Camp) in 1984. Erik took us over to his summer home a little way down from the Camp.

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