After the arrival of the first colonists,
the land upon which Camp Sewataro now sits came under the control of Josiah Haynes, one of the original settlers of the town of Sudbury. It remained in the Haynes family until purchased by Alba Taylor’s father, Franklin Secatore, in the 1930’s. The land bore little resemblance to the Sewataro we know today with its rolling meadows, ponds and pine groves. Without a clearing or even an access trail, the area was heavily forested, with the lower section consisting of one great mosquito-infested swamp. Immediately, Alba’s father set about realizing the dream he envisioned for the land. First a dirt road was cut, and then he began the long, arduous process of clearing the land to make way for the meadows and lawns that comprise the center of the grounds today. It was a project which would take him 15 years to complete with the help of only one other man.
The name “Liberty Ledge” was appropriate, for the property included the second highest elevation in Sudbury, Flag Pole Hill, used as a signal point by the colonists during the revolutionary war. Rock ledge protruded from the ground at various locations, giving the land a characteristic motif. The next stage of development was the Taylor house, which owes its rustic charm to the necessity of the time. Since there was no ready supply of lumber, the white pines cut in the clearing process were milled and used to build a house which came together more board-by-board than by any preconceived design. In the years that followed, other buildings were added as needed.
During the fifties the water projects were started. The first of three artesian wells (one more than 500 feet deep) were drilled, assuring a constant, safe water supply. Next began the dredging work and after nine months, there slowly emerged what we now call the swim pond, fed by the same underground stream that is its source today.
In 1960, Camp Sewataro was opened for its first season
by the Secatore sisters, Gloria Walsh, Alba Taylor and Paula Romano, aided by the continual maintenance and development of the land by their father, Mr. Secatore. The name “Sewataro” is an even blend of the first two letters of each of their last names. That first year Sewataro had 25 campers and three counselors, two for swimming and one for sports. Subsequently, Gloria and Paula moved away, and Alba with the help of her three children, Christine, Mark, and Rob, who were once campers, took over the operation of camp.
Each subsequent year
has seen the continuous development of the grounds. A three-acre second pond was constructed, where fishing and canoeing are held today. The central field was cleared for a sports and tent area. In addition, there has been the transforming construction of new facilities: an arts and crafts building, a meeting hall, a basketball court, archery ranges, storage sheds, tennis courts, three pools, a concrete lining for the swimming pond, soccer fields, new bathrooms, the Long House, a climbing tower, a low ropes challenge course, etc. Neither the physical nor the business aspects of the day camp just happened. Hard work, vision and determination were the necessary ingredients. As with most successful ventures, much of the labor was behind the scenes: late night adjustments to a spider web of a master schedule, early morning sweepings of silt down the sides of a draining pond, long afternoons of constructing, painting, and repairing, twilight watering of sunparched grass, and all day attentiveness to the thousands of details that build and establish a tradition.
The heart of the camp’s reputation
has been its desire to allow campers to have a fun and enriching summer in a safe environment. This is monitored by careful attention to detail and animated by a desire to make campers happy. We are proud when parents remark appreciatively that we “run a tight ship,” for we believe that structure is a great enabler of freedom. In addition, because Sewataro is a family operation, personal attentiveness to individual needs keeps this structure from becoming excessively rigid.
While improvement is a concern, of equal concern is the upkeep and preservation of all that has come to stand for Sewataro and the fifty years of work that has gone into it. Maintenance of the camp grounds has become an enormous undertaking. It is Mark Taylor who, for some years now, has taken on the care taking and developmental duties from his grandfather, who died in 1994 at the age of 93. In reality, it proves a never-ending battle of continuous labor and perseverance to stem the tide of nature’s reclaim. But it is a battle well worth the effort.
The second immense family loss
occurred when Alba Taylor, the camp’s guiding light and driving force, succumbed to a long illness and died in 2010. There will never be an adequate replacement for Alba, but all of the family are committed to carrying on her vision. Whenever we are faced with a difficult decision, we inevitably ask, “What would Alba do?” So, in a sense, she continues to work her magic for Sewataro.
The land has been transformed,
and a tradition of camp service has been established. Our job now is to continue and preserve, but because what does not go forward eventually retreats, our job is also to rejuvenate and create. We have dedicated ourselves to a pursuit of excellence, and that dedication has produced great rewards. The lives of thousands of children have been enriched through activities and friendships at Sewataro. You will play a large part in the continuation of the Sewataro tradition this summer.