HISTORY OF CAMP MAHACKENO
1938: The YMCA offers a day camp based out of Doubleday Field on Riverside Avenue
, named for the Y’s Physical Director, Doc Doubleday. The kids created crafts, sang songs and went swi
mming at Compo Beach. Enrollment cost 30 cents a week per child.
April 1942: The location of the camp is less than ideal since a lot of travel around town was needed for the various activities. A number of locations were considered, but nothing ideal was found. According to legend, a janitor overheard a secretary and a YMCA director talking about the fruitless s
earch. He recommended a place alongside the Saugatuck River just north of downtown that would eventually become Camp Mahackeno.
1942: On an unde
veloped swath of land bordered by the new Merritt Parkway, Wilton Road and the Saugatuck River, the new location for the YMCA’s camp was established. Helen Smith, a Stamford resident, offered use of part of her property as long as the YMCA paid the property taxes. They obliged her and the camp opened for business with 60 boys. Some small cottages were built, and there was no drinking water. Electricity was inconsistent.
1944: Enrollment grew over the years, and Smith sold her property. The new owner offered the YMCA 30 acres of land. E.T. Bedford’s son, Frederick, offered to pay for half of the $10,000 cost. The other half was raised from other donations.
March 1945: The YMCA moves in to the camp. It’s named Camp Bedford.
1946: At the request of Frederick Bedford, the name is changed to Mahackeno. In the early 1600s, the property was used as a summer lodge for Mahackemo, chief of the Norwalke Indians, and his tribe.
1947: Town water and sewers are installed. By then, there are 120 campers enrolled.
1955: Camp Mahackeno was heavily renovated with new buildings, boats, rifles (for the marksmanship activities) and other items.
1969: It’s believed that this was the first summer that girls were allowed at Camp Mahackeno. Around this time period, a sale of Camp Mahackeno to a private developer for more than $300,000 was considered. This idea was rejected by the organization’s board.
1997: Camp Mahackeno continues to grow. What was once a rag-tag group of few dozen boys is now a popular program with 756 campers. More than $600,000 in revenue was generated in that year by the camp.
Fall 2019: Camp Mahackeno undergoes a ground up renovation to modernize and bring the facility up to modern day camp standards.