The Weavers’ Ronnie Gilbert and Fred Hellerman met at summer camp

Influential folk singers Ronnie Gilbert and Fred Hellerman first met as camp counselors at Camp Wo-Chi-Ca in New Jersey.

The two would later join Pete Seeger and Lee Hays to form the folk group The Weavers in November 1948. Camp Wo-Chi-Ca was a left leaning summer camp in Port Murray, New Jersey founded in 1934 and closed in the early ’50s in part because of the increasing pressure from Sen. Joseph McCarthy and the activities of his House Un-American Activities Committee.

The Weavers sold millions of records at the height of their popularity and were a big influence on the Greenwich Village folk scene that made Bob Dylan, The Kingston Trio, Peter Paul and Mary and others household names.

They also popularized a lot of traditional folks songs, some of which are still sung around summer camp campfires today. Gilbert died Saturday at the age of 88.

Matt Ralph

Matt Ralph

I'm the editor of Summer Camp Culture and also blog at Tangzine.com and MatthewRalph.com. I live in the Philadelphia area and went to camps and camp meetings growing up in Ohio, Maryland and New Jersey.

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