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École Champlain Summer Camp Records

Identifier: mss-281

Scope and Contents

The École Champlain Records document the educational and recreational activities of the camp in the form of French language instruction texts and audio recordings; instructions for arts and crafts projects; dramatic scripts; skill badges; student and counselor certificates; song books; photographs, negatives, photo albums, and post cards; one scrapbook; and a few attendance records. Given the immersive nature of the camp, researchers might be interested to see the tips for costuming and presenting songs as printed in English in the otherwise fully French songbook. Postcards include those depicting locations in Chester, England as well as École Champlain itself. One set of negatives depicts travels in Southern Europe including sights of bullfighting and a visit to the home of Miguel de Cervantes.

Some activities of camp founder Edward Day Collins are represented including samples of a writing exercise from a Pedagogy class he taught as well as two issues of the Middlebury College literary publication The Saxonian, which advertised the Summer School he helped to establish there.

The photographs depict daily life at the camp in its early period (circa 1927-1930) including boating (canoeing and sailing), swimming and diving, horseback riding and jumping, sports lessons (including tennis, baseball, and running races), hikes and other excursions, group photos (including candids and portraits), dramatics and singing, waterfront landscapes, camp architecture and facilities, inside the tents and cabins, as well as reading, and other leisure activities. While most images are not captioned or identified as to subject or location, it is apparent that photographs of the Collins family members can be found throughout the collection. Note that additional negatives or photographs stored in envelopes provide duplicate or slightly alternative views of images found in the photo albums. Several panoramic photographs show campers, staff, and the site. Many photographs appear to have been taken by a professional, given their balanced composition and formal staging. Some panoramas are signed "H. Bigelow Brattleboro, Vt." which appears to be the name of the photographer.

One camper’s experience is detailed in a scrapbook which contains handwritten notes and photographs. The notes describe some highlights from her time at camp and include contact information for fellow campers from as far away as Oregon, Colorado, and Georgia. Of particular note is a record of the typical schedule of activities at camp and a list of the plays performed in 1930.


  • 1910-1972


Language of Materials

Materials are mainly written in English but French is also present. While an understanding of the French language will aid in making full use of this material, it is not necessary for understanding. French is indicated in folder titles whenever it is present.


Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Curator of Manuscripts.

Biographical / Historical

Dr. Edward Day Collins (1869-1940), graduated from Yale University with a Ph.D. in History in 1899. After having taught there for three years (1899-1901), and publishing History of Vermont with Geological and Geographical Notes, Bibliography, Chronology in 1903, he came back to his native Vermont and worked in education, mainly of women and girls, for the rest of his life. In 1905 he was appointed principal of the Johnson Normal School, an institution exclusively for teacher training, which later became Northern Vermont University - Johnson.

In 1909 Dr. Collins resigned from this position, and became Professor of Pedagogy at Middlebury College at a time that the college was undergoing significant development. He brought five years of experience in the business world to Middlebury, having worked as treasurer, managing director, and publicity manager for different companies. He taught French and founded their French Summer School in early 1916, the second (after German) intensive summer school of the college, and directed the program for nearly 10 years. In 1920 he was instrumental in having the college’s president of the time, John Thomas (1908-1921), found the Bread Loaf School of English at a property given to the college. He also variously held prominent administrative positions there including provost and acting president. By 1923, he had retired from his teaching duties and he founded the École Champlain in Ferrisburgh, Vermont, as a French language summer camp exclusively for girls. When the École Champlain opened its doors in 1924, he was still serving as controller of Middlebury College (1923-1925).

Family -

Dr. Edward Day Collins was born on December 17, 1869 in Hardwick Vermont to Squire H. Bullock, a farmer from Wolcott, Vermont, and Harriet "Hattie" P. Nichols. He was originally named Edward D. Florian Bullock, which was changed after his adoption by Ira Day Richardson Collins and Mary E. Tenney. In 1903 he married Ruth Mary Colby (1872-1942) in Newport, Vermont. They had a son, Paul Tenney Collins, and two daughters, Ruth Mary and Alice Rutherford. In 1932, Ruth Mary Collins married Enoch Sheridan Chase. That same year, Mr. Enoch S. Chase became manager of École Champlain. When Dr. Collins died in 1940, Ruth Mary Collins appears in his obituary as its Director. By 1961, Mr. and Mrs. Chase appear as co-directors. Ruth Mary Collins graduated with an A.B. from the French School at Middlebury College, and later received a Diplome de Professeur a l’Etranger from the University of Toulouse, France. Her studies in French as a foreign language, at home and abroad, further contributed to the school’s reputation. The Collins-Chase family consisted of five children. Daughter Alice Austin Chase took over from her mother as manager. Alice, nicknamed "Babe," grew up at the school, graduated from Smith College in 1954 and was employed at the Pentagon for two years before returning to Vermont as an Associate Director of the École Champlain. She married Claude-Alain Charles Schaetz, a specialist in agriculture with training in agronomy, who had experience in the raising and training of horses. He was originally from French-speaking Switzerland. The Chase-Schaetz family consisted of Derek (b. 1959) and Mavis Melisande Schaetz (b. 1962).

The School -

In 1921, in partnership with some friends, Dr. Collins acquired the property on Kingsland Bay in Ferrisburgh, Vermont that would three years later become the École Champlain. The 7,500 feet of frontage on the Lake Champlain property was then owned by Father Pierre A. Campeau. The only building in the premises was a sturdy grey 1790 stone house, called Hawley’s Ferry House or Macdonough Lodge. Apparently, the house had been used first as a family home, later as a stage-coach tavern, and at the time of Campeau, as a monastic retreat.

When the school opened in 1924, girls aged 8-18 were eligible for the experience which included immersive French language instruction, sports and outdoor recreation, and the development of personal qualities such as "high integrity, cooperation, kindliness and initiative". The May 15, 1928 issue of Vogue magazine sketches the camp’s features for its 5th season: "native French associates," "direct natural methods," "a sane camp program plus French as a life language," "land and water sports, riding and mountain trips." Another significant aspect was art and drama; campers regularly staged plays and musicals presented in French, and created art and craft projects with instruction given in French. With respect to language learning, when the school started with a total of 14 pupils living in tents, it offered two French classes a day, one in conversation and one in dramatics mostly performed outdoors as a means to polish diction. As the programs developed, by 1955 enrollment had gone up to a total of 200 girls, who presented two French plays a week at the camp’s own theater. Native French speakers who worked as counselors were formally trained at different levels (ex. intern, aide, counselor) for this camp setting. By the time the camp closed in 1974, the facilities had expanded to include several amenities such as 30 lakefront cabins, a restaurant-lounge, 44 stalls for horses and 50 campsites.

As enrollment diminished, the school faced financial hardship and had to close. On February 1, 1976 an advertisement in the New York Times boasted the natural beauty of the École Champlain again. Called a "Prestige Summer Camp," the property was listed for $1,100,000. It was purchased by a couple from Woodstock who ran a theater and a restaurant out of the historical Hawley House. A few years later, the school’s original 350 acres were broken down into separate properties. The State of Vermont bought 264 acres and transformed the property into Kingsland Bay State Park, the site of the YMCA run Camp Greylock, a coed day camp for local boys and girls from the greater Burlington area. Some of the traditional summer camp activities, including sports, dramatics and crafts, have remained roughly the same. In 1981, the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


2.42 Linear Feet (1 carton, 1 box album, 1 document box, 1 oversize folder)


Collection consists of photos, negatives, publications, reports and printed matter, documenting camp activities of the French language oriented summer camp for girls.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Panoramic photographs were received rolled and treated in-house, summer 2019.


Library Research Annex; contact for access.

Related Materials

Several promotional booklets about Ecole Champlain may be found in the Vermont Reference Files which are held at UVM Special Collections.

Guide to the École Champlain Summer Camp Records
2018 April
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the University of Vermont Libraries, Special Collections Repository

Silver Special Collections Library
48 University Place, Room B201
Burlington Vermont 05405 U.S.A. US
(802) 656-2138
(802) 656-4038 (Fax)