“It was as if the land was telling us what to do,” said Eleanor Houston Smith.
In 1947, Eleanor and her husband, Lawrence M.C. Smith, of Philadelphia, purchased what is now Wolfe’s Neck Farm, named for Henry Wolfe, who was the first settler on the neck. This 626-acre saltwater farm was the perfect place for the Smiths to begin their natural farming operation, as proof of their belief in the useful preservation and protection of open spaces.
The long-range planning of the farm began in 1949, when Eleanor Houston Smith became a member of the Cumberland County Soil Conservation District. Eleanor liked to say she had “been in the conservation world since ‘conservation’ was a dirty word.” In 1953, the Smiths began their natural farming operation with 9 cows and a bull and by 1959 the herd neared forty cattle. They farmed the land for years and worked to educate local farmers about how to best care for it.
The campground itself was established in 1962 as a place for people to enjoy the tranquility and beauty of the land. The name “Recompence”, which means “repayment” was chosen to signify the Smiths’s desire to give back to the community. From 1986 to 1997 the University of Southern Maine operated the farm and the campground. Since then, the farm and campground have operated under the Wolfe’s Neck Farm Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
Today, Recompence aims to continue the Smiths’ tradition of ecologically responsible stewardship of the land, while responding to the needs of today’s camper. The campground has changed over the years, adding electricity and water hookups to select sites in order to accommodate RVs and trailers, while maintaining the quality camping environment for tent campers as well. Amenities such as kayak, canoe and bicycle rentals have been added to enhance people’s enjoyment of the land. The eco-friendly focus, paired with staff carefully selected and trained to provide true “downeast hospitality” set on breathtakingly beautiful land adds up to a unique campground with many devoted campers who have been bringing their families every year for decades.
In the future, Recompence will continue to protect the simplicity and beauty of the campground, while continuing to apply great effort and investment in upgrading facilities. In the coming years, look forward to seeing improvements such as the rebuilding of Point Senior Cottage, the addition of another cottage, and new restroom and shower facilities in West Bay.