History of Camp Sankaty Head

Camp Sankaty Head was organized in July 1930. Its rustic and somewhat primitive facilities were located between the eleventh and thirteenth fairways of Sankaty Head Golf Course, where the Camp is still located. Donald M. Smith, physical director at the Worcester (Mass.) YMCA, was the first Camp Director, a position he held until 1960. During Smith’s tenure, the contributions of a few club members provided basic necessities for the camp.

In 1961, Charles M. Goetz led the establishment of the Sankaty Head Foundation to support and develop policy for the operation of Camp Sankaty Head. That year, the foundation raised five thousand dollars to keep the camp operating. Also that year, a certificate of incorporation was issued, and in 1964, the foundation received tax-exempt status as an organization operated for charitable and educational purposes.

In 1962, Norman L. Claxton became Camp Director. He held that responsibility until 1985, when he became senior advisor to Douglas Ellsworth, the new Camp Director.  Ellsworth served as Director through 2007.  Peter Montesano, a former camper, served as Director from 2008-2012.


Camp Sankaty Head is a camp for boys aged fourteen to seventeen. Exceptions are made for a few “earlybloomers” and for campers aged eighteen to twenty-one, who serve as junior and senior staff members.  Current enrollment numbers about 55-60 Campers, plus staff. Campers come from near and far: Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, California, Canada and Florida.  Recently, young men from France and Ireland have come to Camp.  A unique resident camp experience, Camp Sankaty combines varied competitive sports and recreation activities with healthful work. The camp is located on the historic island of Nantucket, Massachusetts, about thirty miles off Cape Cod. A well-known resort area, Nantucket’s many public and private recreational resources enrich the Camp program.
At Camp Sankaty Head, each camper is responsible for part of the cost of his room and board; the Sankaty Head Foundation, a private foundation set up to support and establish policy for the Camp, subsidizes further operational costs. In turn, Campers earn money by caddying on the golf course.  Caddying gives each Camper the opportunity to return to his family with earned and saved income. Campers may also be considered for awards, including college and precollege scholarships awarded by the Foundation. 
Outstanding among the aims of Camp Sankaty Head is the development of wholesome character traits among campers. This is achieved through the expectation, encouragement, and recognition of high standards of conduct, honesty, and integrity. A vigorous competitive group and individual sports program emphasizes physical fitness and involves and motivates the boys. In addition the program trains selected team captains in leadership. Recreational activities are also available for Campers’ enjoyment and relaxation.
Caddying, a healthful occupation, further enhances campers’ physical well being. In rendering the service of caddying for the Sankaty Head Golf Club membership, campers experience self-reliance while earning their room and board. Both devotion to camp units and the responsibility of service to club members encourage group and individual loyalties.
In general, Camp Sankaty Head is designed to develop high mental, spiritual, moral, and social standards in boys.
Six major facets comprise the camp program:

  1. Work Experience: For remuneration, Campers serve as caddies for Sankaty Head Golf Club members. Caddies report to the club on a rotating basis, leaving ample unassigned time for recreation. Fees that caddies earn are credited to their individual Camp accounts.
  2. Sports Program: The program offers a variety of competitive physical activities, including:
    Team sports: Touch football, volleyball, softball, track and field, swimming, golf, and basketball.
    Individual sports: Senior and junior golf, caddie-caddie tournament, golf contests (driving, hole-in-one, putting), swimming contests (individual medley, freestyle, diving), table tennis, chess, checkers, modified senior and junior marathon, two-on-two basketball, and horseshoes.
  3. Recreation: Pool and beach swimming, tennis, use of golf course at designated hours.
  4. Cultural Activities: Publication of the Camp paper, Sankaty Flashes; books and magazines (provided); planned and incidental tours to points of interest on the island. The Bolling Library offers a place for reading, study, and quiet recreation.
  5. Spiritual/Moral Activities: Group and individual church attendance; inspirational programs with camp staff and guest speakers; individual counseling from staff related to personal and family problems, college and career planning and personal health problems.
  6. Social Activities: Camp open house, barbecue parties, relationships with groups and individuals, responsibilities to groups and individuals in daily routine, Honor Circle selection, annual caddie banquet and other special events.

Experiential Outcomes

Camp Sankaty Head contributes to the following outcomes in campers:

  1. Transition from parental dependence to self-reliance and self-sufficiency;
  2. Development of friendship and loyalties to a cause, groups and individuals;
  3. Independent thinking and planning, Ieading to self-control of action in group situations;
  4. Experience with being accepted and rejected;
  5. Experience with goup and individual interaction through dealings with campers, staff, club members, and vacationers;
  6. Leadership experience through team membership and assumption of camp responsibilities (especially as a captain, co-captain, or unit director), and through expression of individual talents;
  7. Experience in developing a saleable skill;
  8. Growth of financial awareness and management through control of earned money.

Camp Sankaty Head Caddie Camp
Sankaty Head Foundation
PO Box 875
Siasconset, MA 02564
P:June - August: 508-257-6297 Sept - May: 508-228-1300
Camp Director - Dave Hinman