Camp Tecumseh Dock at sunset. Photograph courtesy of Camp Tecumseh.
Our last entry covered Grace and the Kelly family’s long relationship with Camp Oneka, located in the Poconos. This time I’d like to introduce you to another camp that has similar ties to the family: Camp Tecumseh for boys. Though the actual camp site is located in New Hampshire, and is obviously far outside of the greater Bucks County area, it has always had strong ties to Philadelphia.
Camp Tecumseh was founded in 1903 by three alumni from the University of Pennsylvania named Alexander Grant, George W. Orton, and Josiah McCracken. These young men were also Olympic athletes and believed that boys could be improved by spending a summer devoted to athletic pursuits in a camp setting, far away from an urban location like Philadelphia. Through participation in organized sports, hiking, climbing, and putting on musicals, the founders believed that Camp Tecumseh would, “make good boys better.”
Similar in its activities and philosophy to Camp Oneka, Tecumseh must have resonated with Grace. She most likely had cousins or friends who had attended around the same time she went to camp herself. So, it was not at all surprising that while she and Prince Rainier sent their daughters to Camp Oneka, their son, Prince Albert, was sent to Camp Tecumseh.
According to camp memoirs, Prince Albert was quickly nicknamed “Albie” when he arrived in 1970 and the name stuck throughout his time spent at camp and then as an alumni afterwards. He was known for being an exceptional fencer, a skill he developed under the tutelage of the camp’s world renowned fencing instructor, Lajos “Maestro” Csiszar. “Albie” also participated in the camp’s performance of The Mikado, which Princess Grace and Prince Rainier happily attended. In fact, he so enjoyed his time as a camper that Prince Albert returned to camp for a number of years as a counselor and was known to tell girls from visiting camps asking about the Prince of Monaco that they wouldn’t want to meet him – if you asked him, the prince was a real nerd! Amazingly, his fellow counselors say, he pulled this prank off a number of times without getting caught.
Tecumseh alumni also have a number of stories about Princess Grace’s visits to camp. In addition to attending The Mikado, the royal couple also visited their son when he first became a counselor. They came to camp by boat, crossing Lake Winnipesauke with Grace reportedly, “looking like Helen of Troy.” They were taken on a tour of camp by counselor Sam Griffin who brought them into the Prince’s cabin to show them his bunk…only to discover that some sneaky campers had put Albert’s bed in the rafters! Princess Grace and Prince Rainier thought that the whole thing was hilarious. Apparently Grace’s good humor extended even further – when a young camper spilled purple “bug juice” on her beautiful white ensemble she was reportedly very kind and gracious, telling the camper and his mother not to worry.
Camp Tecumseh is 110 years old now and, like Camp Oneka, is still in operation. Campers still come and play sports, act in plays, and go on hikes all summer. At the end of their time at camp, the boys put a plaque with their name and years spent at camp up on the walls in the camp lodge; Prince Albert’s is still there along with hundreds of others.
If you would like to visit camp, please be sure to call or e-mail first to make sure that you’re not interrupting camp activities. However, if you would like to visit the University of Pennsylvania, where all camp founders attended college and the camp fencing instructor was a coach, you can walk the campus anytime. See all contact information below!
Can’t wait until October to see what the James A. Michener Art Museum has to offer? No problem! Visit our website at michenermuseum.org to see what we have on exhibit currently, learn about memberships, programs, upcoming events, and find our hours to schedule your next trip. We hope to see you soon.
-Louise Feder, Membership and Special Events Coordinator
Many thanks to Camp Tecumseh Director Jim Talbot for his help with this entry.
975 Moultonboro Neck Road
Moultonboro, New Hampshire03254
University of Pennsylvania
3451 Walnut Street