Camp Wah Wah Taysee is a Connecticut Yankee Council Wilderness camp located in North Haven three tenths of a mile from the Sleeping Giant State Park. Norman “Ned” Greist donated the camp to the Quinnipiac Council in 1972. However, the camp’s beginnings go back to 1895, over 124 years ago.
In 1895 when she was seventeen years old Ned’s mother, Estelle, found a 100-acre farm with a deserted and boarded up farmhouse. “There was a beautiful old rail fence around the place and many apple trees.” The farmhouse she spoke of was near the site of the current house north of the parking lot. She returned years later with her husband, Walter, to spend the summer. Mr. Warner owned the house. When Estelle asked if they could live there during the summer, “Mr. Warner said if we wanted to live in such a God forsaken place he would not have the heart to charge us anything.”
After living in the old farmhouse for two summers, Estelle, Walter and some friends purchased the farm and divided it into ten equal parts, slightly less than ten acres each. By lot, Estelle and Walter had the first choice. In 1905 the area was more wooded than today. Estelle had climbed a tree at the top of the hill south of the present parking lot. She visualized magnificent views of the Sleeping Giant and the West Rock Ridge after some tree clearing. Soon they began to build a small cabin. They named the cabin Wah Wah Taysee after the firefly in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, The Song of Hiawatha. During the depression, their summer home became their year round home.
Ned spent his boyhood summers at Wah Wah Taysee. He joined the Boy Scouts in 1922 and Boy Scout camping at Wah Wah Taysee began. There is an old photograph of his Troop 54 New Haven taken in the meadow. In the 1930’s, Ned was scoutmaster of Troop 1 Mt. Carmel. The troop camped many days and nights at Wah Wah Taysee. Money was scarce during the depression; why travel to hike and camp when a wilderness area was located in their backyard. In the 1950’s and 60’s, Ned was scoutmaster of his sons’ troop, Troop 4 North Haven. This troop was an ardent user of Wah Wah Taysee. At least four generations of scouts have camped there: Ned, his sons, grandsons and great grandson and many many hundreds, even thousands of fellow scouts and scouters. Scoutmasters who camped there in their youth return with their son’s troop. Now the fourth generation, Ned’s great grandchildren are camping there. 2019 marks the 97th year of scouts camping at Wah Wah Taysee.
Ned loved scouting, backpacking and life in the outdoors. He gave scouts a wilderness area near to their homes. Ned is gone, but his dream lives on. Scouts continue to enjoy Wah Wah Taysee year round as a training ground for bigger adventures and lots of old fashioned fun.