ODC Retreat: A Weekend at Wandawega

We're a company that hangs its hat on creating memorable digital experiences, but we know the importance of taking time to unplug as a team. Every year, the One Design crew steps away from our typical project work to kick back together. This year we travelled to Elkhorn, Wisconsin in a caravan o' minivans loaded with a lot of beer and cheese. Typical, we know.

CAMP WANDAWEGA

To say our home for the weekend has a storied history would be an understatement. Camp Wandawega, a former Latvian church camp that has been restored to its original 1950s splendor, was originally founded as a hotel hideout for prohibition-era gangsters.

Since then, it has been resurrected and lovingly restored to lake resort glory by the current owners and "camp counselors," David and Tereasa.

Arriving at Wandawega felt a lot like stepping into a Wes Anderson film. We immediately fell in love with the Airstream trailer turned bar, the treehouse filled with old photo albums, and the bonfire pit situated under string lights. Even though it was a little brisk out, there was a warmth that seemed to wash over every nook and cranny of the grounds.

DAY 1 HIGHLIGHT: THE VILLAGE SUPPER CLUB

There was no way we were going to spend a weekend in Elkhorn without going to a supper club. As our Creative Director David Sieren pointed out, there is nothing more Wisconsin than a Friday night fish fry, and—dare we say it—he was right. 

Local favorite The Village Supper Club is usually packed to the gills, and for good reason: the fish is amazing...especially after a few chilly rounds of ax throwing and archery. Plus, the staff was incredibly accommodating and kind to our rambunctious group (really, we're sorry for being so loud). True Wisconsin hospitality, let us tell ya. 

After we stuffed ourselves, the rest of the evening was spent by the fireside trading stories and sharing craft beer into the wee hours of the morning.

DAY 2 HIGHLIGHT: WANDAWEGA PLAY DAY & BEER FEST 

Although the team was out late in the Airstream playing Egyptian Ratscrew, we were up early thanks to plenty of coffee provided by our amazing hosts.

They were kind enough to open the Wandawega lodge for us, where we hung out in between our adventures. The lodge itself is a rich archive of all the camp's past lives—with old radios, taxidermy, and graphic art posters illustrating how the property evolved from a prohibition-era hotel to the retro lakeside retreat it is today.

After ogling the beauty that is David and Tereasa's second home, we spent most of the morning exploring the camp—which is equipped with everything from canoes to hammocks to hiking trails—before we rallied the troops to head to the Lake Geneva Beer Fest.

Close your eyes and relive it with us: a hotel banquet room lined with a bunch of local and greater Midwest breweries. Your mom and dad as the DJs, playing the same music you hear on the radio—even some throwbacks that you wish you didn't know the words to. The team drinking niche kombucha-style lagers, jalapeño cider, and Wisconsin cult favorite Spotted Cow from New Glarus Brewery. A lot of people with cheese and pretzel adorned necklaces. Taking pictures with Piggly Wiggly. Bianca putting a Piggly Wiggly temporary tattoo on her neck without hesitation. Sam videotaping the people who had been at the fest for too long on the dance floor.

Okay, now open your eyes. Have we mentioned yet that we had a lot of fun?

Camp Wandawega is truly a magical place.

Tereasa and David's attention to every detail of the camp's vintage equipment and decor has created a wonderland where twenty colleagues can play, relax, and enjoy each other's company. No office environment—not even ours—can possibly compete. 

While the retreat may not have been productive in terms of work, we all left the weekend feeling relaxed, recharged, and more together than ever. Until next time...

One Design Company is a research-driven design and development studio. For over a decade, we’ve explored the intersection of experience and technology—where powerful brands come to life. Want to learn more? Let’s chat.

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