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Welcome to Camp Elsewhere – a woodsy retreat

In addition to camping and glamping, the 55-plus-acre property in Waupaca serves as wedding venue

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July 8, 2024

WAUPACA – Whether one enjoys tent camping, camper camping, glamping or indoor accommodations – Camp Elsewhere has something to offer almost anyone. 

It also serves as a destination for weddings, vow renewals, retirement parties, corporate retreats, class reunions or any type of large or small gathering. 

Located off a main highway, Camp Elsewhere sits on approximately 55 acres of wilderness between Gooseneck and McClean Lake at N1115 County Hwy. E. in Waupaca.

As the property celebrates its first official year of operations, Owners Eric and Kristen Hoopman said they can’t help but reflect on what got them where they are today.

History of the Camp Elsewhere property

Camp Elsewhere opened July 1, 2023, following a year of top-to-bottom renovations – revamping the former children’s camp and later resort and restaurant into a one-of-a-kind destination.

According to the Hoopmans, the camp and resort were eventually closed, and the property sat vacant for five or six years until they saw it and “knew they had to have it.”

The Oshkosh couple – who said they have a sixth sense for seeing and appreciating historic properties – enjoy reimaging properties, while preserving unique historic elements.   

They said it was buying and repurposing various buildings in and around the Oshkosh area – including the Gibson Social Club – formerly Gibson Motors – and the Elsewhere Market & Coffee House – that inspired their design of Camp Elsewhere. 

A vintage Shasta trailer in a serene outdoor setting. The trailer has a white upper half and a turquoise lower half, with a small wooden table and two chairs placed outside. The scene is set in a wooded area with tall trees, creating a peaceful atmosphere.
There are also four vintage Shasta trailers available to guests, each featuring a queen-sized bed, dinette table and small kitchen area. Photo Courtesy of Camp Elsewhere

When designing the Elsewhere Market & Coffee House, Kristen said she based her ideas on the luxury vacation rentals she designs and curates for the Elsewhere Collection she and Eric own. Those vacation rentals are located in Wisconsin, Georgia and Massachusetts. 

“(Camp Elsewhere) is both an expansion of Elsewhere Market & Coffee House in Oshkosh and also a 10-year dream-come-true for Kristen,” Camp Elsewhere Venue Director Laura Brackley said. “She had been chewing on this idea and this format of doing something like this. When the property became available, she jumped at the chance to buy it – it became this wonderful snowball effect. The projects in Oshkosh were what led the way for us to do this here.”

Though Camp Elsewhere was a much larger project, Brackley said the Hoopmans used their Oshkosh businesses as a roadmap for the creation of the camp. 

“It was a different concept and moment in their lives, but it made doing this project ‘easy,’” she said. “When you’ve done something before your current project, you know how to do that next one.”

After deciding to buy the property, Brackley said the Hoopmans asked folks to tour the property with them while explaining what their vision was to garner feedback.

From there, she said they developed a plan incorporating the feel and history of the Waupaca area into the overall design of the property. 

That, Brackley said, is Kristen’s special gift – seeing a space, getting the feel for the area and then turning that space into something where you’ll feel both comfortable and luxurious.

“(Kristen) has a way of putting special touches and elements into the decor of a place making it seem like they’ve always been there – so there’s a sense of familiarity and something beautiful to the eye, yet it is so fresh and new in its entirety,” she said. 

Preserving history, making it their own

Camp Elsewhere includes several buildings – the main lodge, a reception hall, a cedar chapel in the woods with seating for 120, six individual en-suite cabins located throughout the grounds and six canvas-wall tent platforms designed for glampers – four of which are couple tents furnished with a king-sized bed and a couch, comfortably accommodating up to three guests.

For larger groups or families, two larger tents offer one queen and two twin beds.   

There are also four vintage Shasta trailers on the grounds, each featuring a queen-sized bed, dinette table and small kitchen area. 

There are no plumbing facilities in the tents or trailers, but Brackley said there are modern bathhouses a few steps away.

Though most everything on the property was renovated, she said the Hooopmans used as much of “the bones” of the existing buildings as possible.

A recreational room with a rustic and modern design. It includes a pool table in the center, a seating area with a black leather couch, and a wall-mounted flat-screen TV. The room also features a wooden cabinet with various decorative items, a dining table with chairs, and two bedrooms visible through open doors. The ceiling has a stylish grid pattern.
Venue Manager Laura Brackley said the Reception Hall offers three-bedroom suites on the lower level, two get-ready rooms and open space equipped with a private bar, pool table, flat-screen TV and several seating areas. Photo Courtesy of Camp Elsewhere

“In the main lodge, we did a lot of painting, upgrading and did a big transition of how the physical bar looked,” she said. “The flooring and the ceiling – besides changing the color – are all the same.”

The chapel, Brackley said, received many of the same renovations.

“It got a fresh coat of paint but had a good foundation of cedar and rock, so we left that the way it was,” she said.

The cabins, on the other hand, Brackley said, were gutted down to the bones.

“We put in new walls, and it’s a completely different take from the twin-bed stacking that was there before,” she said. “The trailers are still old on the outside, but they have new interiors – we gutted them to the frame and rebuilt them. They have new plumbing, and everything inside is new. The foldout table tops were kept from the old units, but the way they fit into the wall and are utilized are different. And we recovered the benches – they were there originally, but we gave them a fresh look with new fabric.”

Rounding out the property, Brackley said, is the reception hall – which offers three-bedroom suites on the lower level and two get-ready rooms for the wedding party, plus open space equipped with a private bar (two bar areas in all), pool table, flat-screen TV and several seating areas.

There is also a large outdoor tent and a lounge hall.

Dinner seating is available for up to 250 guests.

Utilizing all sleeping accommodations on the grounds, Brackley said 82 people can sleep comfortably. 

She said there is also a small guest store in the rec hall in case someone forgot shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste – that kind of thing.

The rec hall and the main lodge have Wi-Fi available and are equipped with board games and a projector screen.

An abundance of nature

As mentioned, the Camp Elsewhere property is surrounded by two lakes.

“Our private lake is McLean Lake,” Brackley said. “We share Gooseneck Lake with our neighbors. Gooseneck Lake is what creates the peninsula shape of the camp – it wraps itself around us. The two lakes are connected by a tiny stream of water, so fishing is possible on either lake.”

Besides fishing, guests can canoe, paddleboard or swim at multiple beaches – as well as utilize two hiking trails totaling about two miles altogether. 

The property also has horseshoe pits and other outdoor games, such as cornhole and ladderball.

Off to a great start

Even though Camp Elsewhere has only been open for a year, Brackley said it has already established a strong reputation – especially as a wedding venue.

“We have the luxury of being nearly fully booked for weekend weddings through 2025 – that’s right, 2025,” she said.

Outdoor wedding ceremony by a lake with many seated guests, an officiant, and a wedding party standing on an aisle surrounded by trees and autumn foliage.
The cedar chapel in the woods at Camp Elsewhere, Laura Brackley said, can accommodate up to 120 guests. Photo Courtesy of Camp Elsewhere

However, Brackley said there is still availability for cabins, tents, etc., and those interested are encouraged to look online (elsewherewaupaca.com) or reach out directly to check availability.

Though weekends are quite busy at Camp Elsewhere, weekdays have availability.

“It’s nice to come and enjoy a reprieve (during the week),” she said. “Even if someone lives in Waupaca, it’s nice to get away for a few days.”

Camp Elsewhere, Brackley said, has a two-night minimum.

She said the property is also looking forward to hosting winter events for guests. 

“In the winter – which runs from the second week of November through March – we can (only) host groups of 100 or less because we don’t have our event tent then,” she said. “That means we’d utilize the main lodge for nearly everything, and the chapel, if someone wanted to use it.”

Though Camp Elsewhere doesn’t offer overnight accommodations in the winter, Brackley said, “we have the bridal suite accommodations totaling four beds in the downstairs portion of the main lodge.”

And while Camp Elsewhere aims to provide its guests an escape from the hustle and bustle, Brackley said it is near town if anything is needed.

“(Camp Elsewhere aims) to give folks the ability to feel as though they’re thousands of miles away without having to travel that distance,” she said. “I feel like it’s the easiest camping you can do – you will feel calm. Even though we’re right off the highway, there’s a delicious sense of quiet once you’re here.”

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