Grotonwood began in 1953, not in Groton, but at Camp Squanto near Plymouth. The camping program was an experiment tested by the Reverend Sargis Matson, the newly appointed State Director for Christian Education of the Massachusetts Baptist Convention. Squanto was not suited for a Baptist camp and Matson wanted a location in the heart of the state. In the fall of 1955, his prayers were answered when a friend of his recommended an area by a lake in the town of Groton. Dr. Peter Thompson owned a summer home on what is called Lost Lake, an area that was considered impressive. Grotonwood was purchased for $38,000 (roughly $276,364 today) and at the time was around 127 acres.
In its early years, it was looked after by George Nutting and his wife, who would eventually leave all their property, house, and money to the camp. In 1957, the camp entered the construction process and began with the dining hall, then the creation of the beach, and finally the ten cabins. The 1694 administration building, Memorial Lodge, and the boat house came with the property. The Tremont Temple Log Cabin Chapel would not be constructed until 1965. On the very first day, of the very first camp, Matson had to send the campers home due to a septic system back up, they would return the next day. In 1959, three modular homes were donated from M.I.T and today they are Red Lodge, Grey Lodge, and M.I.T. Matson loved the outdoors and wanted an outdoor camping area and by 1960, Sargis Matson Pioneer Village was complete with custom made covered wagons. Today, only scattered remnants of these remain, sitting in the woods as a reminder of the way camp began.
Beginning in 1970, the camp underwent a massive expansion physically, financially, structurally, and spiritually. Camping for inner-city youth, and senior citizens was introduced. The Adult Education Center, the camp store, and the Family Church Development Center were added. It was in this era that camp saw it highest attendance and the incredible expansion of the bottom line. Even into the 1980’s, the camp was still experiencing growth. Ed Guerard introduced his “A New Day” program, which brought adults with special needs to Grotonwood. Day camping was added to the program and the gymnasium was constructed on the parking lot.
the course of its history, Grotonwood has seen ten “directors”, each expanding the ministry and building it toward what it is today: Rev. Sargis Matson, Rev. Arthur Foye, Loyal “Bud” Weimer, Don and Nan Putnam, Tom Tamblyn, Rev. Robert Gale, Ed Guerard, Carl Kesseli, Rev. Charlie Boucher, Mike Socia, Bill Krueger and Richard Wolf. Each shaped and molded the original experiment to fit the needs of the generation. Today, the Grotonwood staff, along with Danny (Executive Director) and Breeze Everitt (Program Director) are forging a new direction, working to ensure that camping and retreating are meeting the needs of the local community, church and it’s ministries. The faces and names may fluctuate, but the ministry of spreading the Good News will always transcend generations and only time will tell what exciting things the future of Grotonwood will hold!