Our Philosophy & History

Leaders of Camp Walt Whitman Summer Camp
Leaders of Walt Whitman Summer Camp

A Sleepaway Camp for Boys and Girls

Camp Walt Whitman was started in 1948 by Arnie and Chick Soloway (Jed's great-uncles).  The Soloway brothers were determined to establish a sleepaway camp for boys and girls that could provide a warm and caring atmosphere, stretch campers to overcome challenges, and teach children how to reach their full potential as individuals while contributing to a larger community.
Camp remained in the Soloway family until Jancy and Bill Dorfman (Jed's parents) took over camp in 1984. Jed was already a camper at this time and he simply never left.  

In 2006 Carolyn and Jed became the 3rd generation of the Soloway/Dorfman family take the reins as the leaders of the CWW         community. 

Where does the name "Walt Whitman" come from?

When Arnie and Chick Soloway were starting the camp, they strived to find a camp name that was more than just the name of a lake, a nearby mountain, or a Native American tribe. They sought a name that would capture the philosophy of the camp. Both men were fans of the poetry of Walt Whitman and, in particular, his philosophy about community. 

There was one poem by Walt Whitman, "I Hear America Singing," which struck a chord with both Arnie and Chick. The poem describes the working men and women of America each performing their own job and singing their own individual song with pride, but interwoven together to form the great community of America.  

While Camp Walt Whitman is by no means a poetry camp, we read this poem every summer at our opening campfire and discuss how it applies to all of us in the Camp Walt Whitman commmunity.  Fundamentally we are a camp where everyone is respected and important for who they are, while everyone contributes to the community at large. 

I Hear America Singing by Walt Whitman

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear, 
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong, 
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam, 
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work, 
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deck-hand singing on the steamboat deck, 
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands, 
The woodcutter's song, the ploughboy's on his way in the morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown, 
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or washing, 
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else, 
The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly, 
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.