American Getaway: The Very True, Very Strange Story of Camp Wandawega, is a six-part audio series available to stream and download on Spotify and Apple Podcast. This limited series tells the stranger-than-fiction story of an infamous lakeside property in southeastern Wisconsin that was once a brothel and speakeasy before later transforming into a family resort, a Catholic retreat center, and a summer camp. Today, the property is owned and operated by a Chicago couple, David Hernandez and Tereasa Surrat, and is listed on the Wisconsin Register of Historic Places.
Brothel, speakeasy, hideout, refuge, summer camp.
For the past 100 years, what is now known as Camp Wandawega has been many things to many people: a speakeasy, a brothel, a hideout for Chicago mobsters, a resort, a summer camp, and the site of a gruesome murder-suicide. Tucked away on the shore of ‘a little lake that no one has ever heard of’ in southeastern Wisconsin, Camp Wandawega has seen it all: from bootleggers to bad cops, priests to prostitutes, hippies to hipsters, as well as flappers, fanatics, and families on vacation.
Now, for the first time ever, Wandawega’s stranger-than-fiction story is being shared as a six part audio experience. Inspired by tall tales told around the campfire, American Getaway blends history, humor, mythology, and music to tell a uniquely American story. Populated with an eclectic cast of characters, including a radical prophet, an infamous madam, a Russian con man, a murderer on the run, a ghost in the woods, and a panhandling racoon, this is a story filled with mystery, scandal, and good old American opportunism. And yes, it’s also a story of hope, of nature’s power to inspire and change us. It is a story of generations of men and women, boys and girls who have come to the shores of Lake Wandawega – whether for virtue or vice – hoping to get away from it all. These people have come here to leave the workaday world behind and enter another, greener and wilder world. This is their story.
This is the very true, very strange story of Camp Wandawega, an American Getaway. Learn more and listen here.
Project Credits: American Getaway was produced, written, and narrated by Austin Sailsbury. It was directed and recorded by Lars Hauschildt and edited by Chad Michael Snavely at Sound On Studios in Nashville. It features instrumental music by Philip Bowen and new recordings of classic American songs by Joseph Bradshaw, Casey Chambers, Beau Jennings, and Robyn and Cory Quintard. Special thanks to David Hernandez and Tereasa Surratt and the Wandawega Historical Society.