Look to the Mountains: A History of Mt. Lemmon
I found this book on the history of Mt. Lemmon at the Palisades Ranger Station on Mt. Lemmon last summer and have been trying to get time to read it ever since. The complete title is: Look to the Mountains: An in-depth look into the lives and times of the people who shaped the history of the Catalina Mountains.
Visitors to Southern Arizona are often amazed by our "Sky Islands" tall mountains rising suddenly and majestically out of our flat desert lowlands. Several of Arizona's major observatories are located atop Sky Island peaks. Southern Arizona’s 7 Sky Islands are the mountains ranges named Baboquivari, Whetstone, Chiricahua, Huachuca, Pinaleño, Santa Catalina Mountains, and Santa Rita. The tallest of these is 10,720' Mt. Graham in the Pinaleño Mountains above Safford and the Gila River.
Mt. Lemmon as viewed from our pool on the desert floor 7,000 feet below the summit.
Mt. Lemmon, tallest peak in the Santa Catalina Sky Island, has a unique history. Few people realize what a special place Mt. Lemmon is, aside from the allure of a cool summer escape. From ancient paleo-Indians 4,000 years ago, to the complex Hohokam culture a thousand years ago, to the Spaniards of the 1542 Coronado Expedition, to the Apaches and 19th century Mexican and Anglo-American pioneers of Arizona's Territorial Period, to the residents of a 21st century metropolis, Mt. Lemmon (9,159') and the Catalina Mountains on Tucson's northern periphery have been exploited and enjoyed by many peoples seeking woodland resources and a respite from the scorching desert floor.
Look to the Mountains was written by long time local resident, Suzanne Hensel. It was twelve years in the making and was published by Mt. Lemmon Woman's Club in 2006. Every one of the chapters in this book is a story in itself, full of anecdotes, history, and very personal lives of the people who were here before us. Read More
Chapter 1 summarizes the beginnings of human occupation of Mt. Lemmon, then the use of the area by Apaches and the military from Ft. Lowell.
Chapter 2 covers the first pioneers to this area and the search for gold on the north side of the mountain. There are several stories in this chapter that I did not know, including the legend of the Mine with the Iron Door, presumably the same door that the restaurant at the top of the mountain is named after. Many names are dropped in this book, names that are familiar, but whose history was unknown to me until reading this book: Canada del Oro, Salpointe, Romero, Oracle, Peppersauce are all referenced. If you ever wondered the origin of many of the names used around Tucson, this book would be an excellent resource. We have all heard of Sam Hughes, but do you know who Bob Leatherwood or E.O.Stratton or Louis Zeckendorf were? All of these men were pioneers in the mining days of Mt. Lemmon. Did you know that Buffalo Bill Cody owned a piece of the Campo Bonito Mining Company near Oracle.
Botanists John & Sara Lemmon.
Chapter 3 is all about the person that Mt. Lemmon is named after. Nope, not a guy Sara Lemmon, a botanist. Have you ever wondered how Summerhaven Village came into being? Summerhaven is the community near the top of the mountain, surrounded by public land that was decimated in the Aspen fire of 2003. It was "patented" in 1910, by Frank Weber with the help of the Homestead Act.
Chapter 4 is about homesteading on and around the mountain, notably the Steam Pump Ranch of Oro Valley and the Romero Ranch, which eventually became Catalina State Park. Did you know that the CCC created Romero Pools while blasting for a trail for a fire access route? We learn that the Bighorn sheep population in the Catalinas was dwindling as early as 1938 and that Catalina State Park almost became a housing development.
In Chapter 5 Henzel writes about how the Catalinas became the Coronado National Forest under Teddy Roosevelt in 1908. Chapters 6 and 7 are about life in Soldier Camp and Summerhaven in the early 1900's. Soldier Camp lies where the Aspen Trail begins, weaving through the Government leased housing and on to Marshall Gulch, not far from where the Aspen fire started. It is a short hike to Summerhaven from here starting at the Sunset Trailhead near the camp.
Catalina Highway from Tucson To Mt. Lemmon.
For years, the only way up to Mt. Lemmon was through Oracle and the route from the North. Few people these days have traveled the route up the north face. A high clearance vehicle is recommended. In this book, Henzel refers to the Catalina Highway by its official name the Hitchcock Highway comprising Chapter 8 of this book.
Near the base of the mountain is a campground. In 1999, it was renamed the Gordon Hirabayashi Recreation Site.
Some of the prison camp ruins today.
Mr. Hirabayashi's story is one of the most amazing of the many we have discovered since starting Southern Arizona Guide in 2011.
This is the former site of the prison camp from which Federal prisoners built the scenic Catalina Highway in cooperation with the Bureau of Public Roads. Many pictures and anecdotes are in these pages. A plaque dedicated to General Frank Harris Hitchcock is at Windy Point. It is useful to note that the term "General" in those days did not refer to a military title but an honorarium. He had been postmaster general of the United States. His is an interesting story. Near mile 12 is a very nice campground also dedicated to this man who was so instrumental in making this road a reality. The road was completed in 1951, and later paved and widened from 22 to 28 ft. It is still in good shape today.
Control Road To Mt. Lemmon. The original road was not wide enough for two cars to pass. So there were times of the day when you could only drive up and other times when you could only drive down.
More history on Summerhaven and Ski Valley are covered in Chapters 9 and 10. These pay special attention to the people who made Summerhaven happen and the struggles of The Lodge that was built in the 50's now the Iron Door Restaurant. The Iron Door is one of our favorites. Think excellent chili and cornbread followed by fresh-baked pie. These chapters have plenty of pictures to illustrate what it looked like in the 1950s and still does today.
Observatories at Sky Center on Mt. Lemmon.
Above Summerhaven and the Ski Valley are the observatories and the Radar Base. It was also built in the 50's to thwart the Russian threat. By the 60's though, it was closed and the University of Arizona became instrumental in re-purposing this site for astronomic ventures. Several observatories were built. Today you can visit the Sky Center and see the stars through one of these telescopes. It is a wonderful worthwhile program. You must make a reservation and we suggest you dress warmly, even in summer.
Chapter 12 covers Scouting in the Catalinas, Camp Lawton, which is just south of the Palisades Visitors Center off Organization Ridge. There are several other camps on this road as well. The last chapter, of course, brings us up to date, at least to 2006. The addendum has pictures of the Aspen fire in 2003. I vividly remember seeing this fire as I flew from Texas to Burbank that summer. From 30,000', the blaze was a awesome sight. On the ground it was utter devastation: 85,000 acres of forest and 340 homes and businesses went up in smoke.
There is so much good information in this book that I can come back to it again and again. One thing I do miss, however, are more maps, so that I might orient myself to the various places mentioned in the wonderful book. Read this book. It is thoughtful and personal. Purchase Look to the Mountains or better yet, head on up to the Palisades Visitor Center and buy it there.
Camping describes a range of activities and approaches to outdoor accommodation. Survivalist campers set off with as little as possible to get by, whereas recreational vehicle travelers arrive equipped with their own electricity, heat, and patio furniture. Camping may be combined with hiking, as in backpacking, and is often enjoyed in conjunction with other outdoor activities such as canoeing, climbing, fishing, and hunting. Fastpacking involves both running and camping.
There is no universally held definition of what is and what is not camping. Just as with motels, which serve both recreational and business guests, the same campground may serve recreational campers, migrant workers, and homeless at the same time. Fundamentally, it reflects a combination of intent and the nature of activities involved. A children's summer camp with dining hall meals and bunkhouse accommodations may have "camp" in its name but fails to reflect the spirit and form of "camping" as it is broadly understood. Similarly, a homeless person's lifestyle may involve many common camping activities, such as sleeping out and preparing meals over a fire, but fails to reflect the elective nature and pursuit of spirit rejuvenation that are integral aspect of camping. Likewise, cultures with itinerant lifestyles or lack of permanent dwellings cannot be said to be "camping", it is just their way of life.
The history of recreational camping is often traced back to Thomas Hiram Holding, a British travelling tailor, but it was actually first popularised in the UK on the river Thames. By the 1880s large numbers of visitors took part in the pastime, which was connected to the late Victorian craze for pleasure boating. The early camping equipment was very heavy, so it was convenient to transport it by boat or to use craft that converted into tents.  Although Thomas Hiram Holding is often seen as the father of modern camping in the UK, he was responsible for popularising a different type of camping in the early twentieth century. He experienced the activity in the wild from his youth, when he had spent much time with his parents traveling across the American prairies. Later he embarked on a cycling and camping tour with some friends across Ireland.  His book on his Ireland experience, Cycle and Camp in Connemara led to the formation of the first camping group in 1901, the Association of Cycle Campers, later to become the Camping and Caravanning Club.  He wrote The Campers Handbook in 1908, so that he could share his enthusiasm for the great outdoors with the world. 
Possibly the first commercial camping ground in the world was Cunningham's camp, near Douglas, Isle of Man, which opened in 1894. In 1906 the Association of Cycle Campers opened its first own camping site, in Weybridge. By that time the organization had several hundred members. In 1910 the Association was merged into the National Camping Club. Although WW1 was responsible for a certain hiatus in camping activity, the association received a new lease of life after the war when Sir Robert Baden-Powell (founder of the Boy Scouts movement) became its president.
In the US, camping may be traced to William Henry Harrison Murray 1869 publication of Camp-Life in the Adirondacks resulting in a flood of visitors to the Adirondacks that summer. 
The International Federation of Camping Clubs (Federation Internationale de Camping et de Caravanning) was founded in 1932 with national clubs from all over the world affiliating with it. By the 1960s camping had become an established family holiday standard and today camp sites are ubiquitous across Europe and North America.
Different types camping may be named after their form of transportation, such as with Canoe camping, car camping, RVing, and backpacking, which can involve ultralight gear.
Camping is also labeled by lifestyle: Glamping (glamorous camping) combines camping with the luxury and amenities of a home or hotel,  and has its roots are in the early 1900s European and American safaris in Africa. Workamping allows campers to trade their labor variously for discounts on campsite fees, campground utilities, and even some degree of pay. Migrant camps are formed not for recreation, but as a temporary housing arrangement. Campgrounds for custom harvesters in the United States may include room to park combines and other large farm equipment.
Another way of describing camping is by the manner of arrangement: reservation camping vs. drop camping. Campgrounds may require campers to check in with an employee or campground host prior to setting up camp, or they may allow "drop camping," where this is not required. Drop-in campsites may be free or a drop-box may be provided to accept payments on the honor system. Although drop camping is often specifically allowed by law, it may also exist in a legal grey area, such as at California's Slab City.  Social media-oriented towards drop camping provides information on recent police enforcement, campsite quality, cost, and length-of-stay requirements.
The equipment used in camping varies with by intended activity. For instance, in survival camping the equipment consists of small items which have the purpose of helping the camper in providing food, heat and safety. The equipment used in this type of camping must be lightweight and it is restricted to the mandatory items. Other types of camping such as winter camping involve having specially designed equipment in terms of tents or clothing which is strong enough to protect the camper's body from the wind and cold.
Survival camping involves certain items that campers are recommended to have with them in case something goes wrong and they need to be rescued. A survival kit includes mandatory items which are small and must fit in one's pocket or which otherwise could be carried on one's person. This kit is useless in these circumstances if it is kept in the backpack that is left in camp. Such a kit should include a small metal container which can be used to heat water over a campfire, a small length of duct tape which can prove useful in many situations, and an emergency space blanket. These blankets are specially designed to occupy minimal space and are perfect for making emergency shelters, keeping the camper warm. Also because of the aluminum-like color this blanket is reflective which means it can be easily seen from an aircraft. Candle stubs are good in starting a fire as well as in warming an enclosed space. One or two band-aids are mandatory in this type of camping. Any camper, and not only the survival ones, need waterproof matches or a lighter and a large safety pin or fish hook which can be used in fishing. Rubber gloves, antiseptic wipes, tinfoil, jackknife, or halazone tablets (which purify the water) are also to be included into a survival kit. Although these seem too many items to be carried on one person, they are in fact small, lightweight and definitely useful.
Winter camping can be dangerous without respecting the basic rules when it comes to this particular activity.
- Firstly, the cold is protected against with clothing of three types of layers as follows: a liner layer against the camper's skin (longjohns), an insulation layer (fleece), and a water- and wind-proof outer shell.  Although cotton is one of the best quality fabrics there is, it is not recommended to be worn on winter camping because if it gets wet it dries out very slowly and the wearer could freeze. Rather than cotton, winter campers should wear wool or synthetic materials. The boots must be waterproof and the head must be protected against the cold. Although it seems a good choice, campers are advised not to wear too many pairs of socks as they might restrict blood flow to the feet, resulting in cold feet. Gaiters should also be worn to avoid snow and rain wetting the boots.
- Secondly, one should include carbohydrates into their diet to keep their body warm as well as to provide energy. Hydration is very important so winter campers should drink plenty of water to keep themselves well hydrated, noting that water stores must be kept from freezing.
- Thirdly, the tent must be carefully chosen to shelter it from the wind.
List of common equipment Edit
The following is a list of commonly used camping equipment:
Much of the remaining needed camping equipment is commonly available in the home, including: dishes, pots, and pans however, many people opt not to use their home items, but instead utilize equipment better tailored for camping. These amenities include heavy plastic tableware and salt and pepper shakers with tops that close in order to shelter the shakers from rain. Old kitchen gear purchased from thrift stores or garage sales may also be used in place of home items as an alternative to buying specialized (and more expensive) camping equipment. Backpackers use lightweight and portable equipment. 
How a North Carolina Summer Camp Started Christmas in July
Camp director Fannie Hold dreamed up the holiday in 1933.
Growing up, Page Ives Lemel spent one week of every summer using her arts and crafts skills to make a gift for a fellow camper at North Carolina's Keystone Camp. Maybe it was a monogrammed pillow or a tennis-ball canister turned into a pencil holder, or a teddy bear with mismatched button eyes. At the end of the week, Page and her fellow campers, dressed in flannel pajamas and clutching mugs of hot cocoa, awaited the arrival of Santa Claus on the back of a maintenance truck driven by Page's father. The only way to summon the man in red, Page recalls, was to sing Christmas carols at the top of your lungs.
It wasn't until a couple of years ago that the former Keystone camper realized her 1970s sleepaway experience wasn't typical. "I never thought it was unique to us," she says. "It seems like something other camps would do." Now the director of Keystone Camp in Brevard, North Carolina, 35 miles south of Asheville, Page is the fourth generation in her family to hold the title, which passed down to her father through her great-great aunt, Florence Ellis.
Last year, in commemoration of its 100th anniversary, the camp chronicled its history in a new book. Flipping through an early draft, Page learned that the first time anyone ever celebrated "Christmas in July"&mdasha phrase that originated with an 1892 opera&mdashwas at Keystone, at the behest of camp co-founder Fannie Holt.
"Miss Fannie was such a character: a whimsical, dreaming, creative type who added all of this uniqueness to the program," says Page. "Most camps number the cabins to identify them. Here, we have Crabapple, Skylark, and Crow's Nest, for example. Instead of junior and senior campers we have Elves, Pixies, and Dryads."
The first midsummer Noel started 84 years ago on July 24 and 25, 1933, with guests gathering around a decorated stage. "When the curtains opened we found ourselves looking at a group of carolers standing by the Christmas Tree," said camper Blanche Ulmer Pavlis of a 1935 celebration. "Then who should arrive but Santa Claus himself? Right out of the top of the shoe house to the tune of 'Jingle Bells.' After saying 'Hello' to everyone he began giving out the presents. Then the carolers began throwing cotton imitation snow. And those who have never seen snow got quite a thrill."
By the time Page's parents took over, during the 1970s, the annual celebration had evolved into quite the production. Campers would place laundry bags outside their cabins the night before and awake to find them filled with candy. Everyone, including staffers, participated in the gift exchange. "It was intimidating for the poor 12-year-old who drew Bill Ives' name," she recalls. "One time my dad got a bejeweled toilet plunger decorated with feathers and glitter."
Elves, reindeer, and Mrs. Claus began to accompany Old Saint Nick, who always wore his cozy red suit, despite 86-degree temps that are standard for North Carolina summers. "The fact that we didn't lose Santa to a heat stroke was pretty fortunate," says Page. Going for a post-presents swim in the lake became standard practice. A few years ago, the camp transitioned its invented holiday into a more inclusive celebration, adding Hanukkah, Halloween, and Easter rituals into the mix.
Early on in her tenure, someone from Greensboro called to inquire about Christmas in July they wanted to attend, just for a day. Keystone doesn't make such concessions, of course, though there's a town 150 miles north that offers similar festivities. West Jefferson, North Carolina, held its 31st annual Christmas in July festival earlier this month. Of course, there's plenty of sun-soaked Yuletide cheer to be found elsewhere this month, too, including the Hallmark Channel's weeklong Christmas movie lineup starting July 14.
4. Physical and virtual access
A camp proper is a nomad’s binding-place. He may occupy it for a season, or only for a single night, according as the site and its surroundings please or do not please the wanderer’s whim. If the fish do not bite, or the game has moved away, or unpleasant neighbors should intrude, or if anything else goes wrong, it is but an hour’s work for him to pull up stakes and be off, seeking that particularly good place which generally lies beyond the horizon’s rim.
— Horace Kephart 13
The first act of camping is laying claim to the site. But the seductive image of the camper pitching his tent, an “inherited symbol of high adventure,” does not really capture the very first gesture of occupation. 14 One might argue, for example, that the car — and not the camper — is the first occupant of the cleared site (the immobilized bulk of the motor vehicle constitutes a far more powerful statement of intent than does the fabric tent). Others might point to the campground map with its fresh ink stain marking one’s claim, or even to the details of an online reservation made months in advance, as alternate evidence.
Access is a complex phenomenon that happens both within and outside the site itself. To be sure, access involves the presence of physical infrastructure (roads) that leads the camper to the site’s threshold. Expressing concern about overuse in ecologically sensitive areas of national parks during the 1920s, plant pathologist Emilio Meinecke was the first to codify the potentially destructive role of the automobile: “Man injures only those smaller plants he actually tramples under foot. The car, much clumsier to handle, crushes shrubs and sideswipes trees, tracing off living bark and severely injuring them. Oil, a deadly poison to plants, drips from the parked automobile.” 15 Meinecke’s enduring contribution to campground design was to push beyond the notion of the individual plot and propose one-way loop roads that led automobiles to individual parking spurs next to each campsite. In this light, the plot as we know it today is as much about establishing a territory for the camper as about accommodating the automobile in the landscape. The emergence of the heavier, more sophisticated trailers in the 1930s would require a yet more generous re-engineering of Meinecke’s pull-off spur and the implementation of various infrastructural hookups (e.g., electrical, sewage), as well as the progressive segregation of RV and tent sites. Here is John Steinbeck on the trailer: “They are wonderfully built homes, aluminum skins, double-walled, with insulation, and often paneled with veneer of hardwood. Sometimes as much as forty feet long, with air-conditioners, toilets, baths, and invariably television. … A mobile home is drawn to the trailer park and installed on a ramp, a heavy rubber sewer pipe is bolted underneath, water and electrical power connected, the television antenna raised, and the family is in residence.” 16
It would be tempting to limit the question of campsite access to matters of physical infrastructure. But as in the case of the campground map, access increasingly implies the presence of a virtual infrastructure as well, which requires the imagination to make up for a gap in experience. By pointing to a map, we decide which plot to occupy in advance of arrival, before we have seen the site. In the 1920s Meinecke’s newly minted infrastructural guidelines were implemented in response to the growing appeal of automobile tourism. Horace Kephart’s exhortation to take to the wild, “to pull up stakes” and move elsewhere at one’s whim had been quickly embraced by early motorists, who rejected the tyranny of organization and the artificial trappings of late 19th-century railroad tours of the national parks: “You are your own master, the road is ahead you eat as you please, cooking your own meals over an open fire sleeping when you will under the stars, waking with the dawn swim in a mountain lake when you will, and always the road ahead. Thoreau at 29 cents a gallon.” 17
Top: Automobile parking spur popularized by Emilio Meinecke, Longmire Village campground, Mount Rainier National Park. [Courtesy of the National Park Archives] Bottom: Overland Park municipal campground. [Courtesy of Denver Public Library, Western History and Genealogy Collection]
One suspects that Kephart — focused on not just individualism but also solitude — might well have become alarmed at the masses of automobile tourists taking to the American road. By collectively abandoning the highly organized operations of the railroad tour, these new car campers had created the need for another set of regulations. Railroad tours were limited to the wealthy affordable automobiles like the Ford Model T would open up recreational opportunities for the growing middle classes. No mater the stirring rhetoric about what “lay beyond the horizon’s rim,” the emergence of autocamping quickly presented new logistical problems. Where should I go? Will there be enough space? How long can I stay? Can I decide before I arrive? It is perhaps ironic, if not surprising, that these new freedoms would be accompanied by a deep sense of anxiety, which would in turn make the campsite a kind of virtual commodity to be compared, acquired and traded outside the physical confines of the campground.
Chapter XIII of Motor Camping by J.C. and J.D. Long (1923) stands out as perhaps the first true measure of the campground as place-less commodity. Consolidating information on over 2,000 municipal, state and federal facilities, the authors published the first directory of U.S. campgrounds. The goal was not to present each campground in terms of its unique characteristics (e.g., natural surroundings) but instead to depict each discrete unit in relationship to a larger system. Arranged state by state in a six-column matrix, the authors established rigid, utility-based criteria (e.g., cost, presence or absence of toilets, drinking water, fireplace or stove, lights, bath or shower) that would allow campers to compare in advance of arrival the relative merits of potential campgrounds.
Unexpectedly, such comparative description would prove generative as well as archival: the campground matrix would act as both inventory record and change agent. Featured prominently in the Long directory, Denver’s Overland Park was among the first campgrounds to optimize this new utility-based descriptive style. And in energetically promoting the unparalleled range of services that secured its popular reputation, Overland Park would become the model for corporations like KOA in the 1960s. But while national and state parks, and even municipal facilities like Overland Park, were conceived as a system of landscapes, Kampgrounds of America promoted a vision of camping as a tightly packaged set of services, akin to those offered by other hospitality industry corporations (e.g., McDonald’s, Holiday Inn, Howard Johnson). By mid-century camping had become big business, and KOA’s growth was propulsive: from a single campground in 1961 to 829 nationwide by 1979. 18 By the mid-1960s it had already surpassed the National Park Service in the number of individual campsites. 19
KOA Directory, 1970-71, featuring a recipe for creamed beef among the campground listings. Click image to enlarge. [Courtesy of Kampgrounds of America]
A crucial component of KOA’s information strategy was its exclusive, annual directory, which in effect instituted and perpetuated the image of its campgrounds as a self-sufficient system of facilities. To the camper, the directory promised that the quality of the camping experience would be reassuring familiar: “Travel free from worry about where you will stay each night.” 20 With this information at their disposal, campers could now plan their next stop and even call in a reservation to ensure availability. Why look elsewhere? And more: by associating each franchise with an individual family of owners/operators, KOA put a friendly face on its corporate management: the logistics might be highly organized and abstracted, but there would be an actual person on the ground. This combination virtually guaranteed repeat business from satisfied customers someplace down the road.
A close look at a series of yearly directory descriptions for a single KOA franchise in Fort Myers, Florida, reveals shifting styles and priorities. Like the diagrammatic abstractions of the map, a shorthand of specifications is used to describe the campground.
FORT MYERS (1967) OPEN ALL YEAR $3.00 per car for two persons. 25¢ each extra person. 10 miles Southwest on State Hwy. 867 (Beach Road) to Iona. Then 1 mile south on Fort Myers Beach Road (San Carlos Boulevard). Kampground only 3 miles from World’s Safest Beach, Thomas A. Edison Home and Laboratory of our most famous citizen. Fresh and salt water fishing. Gladiola and Mum growing capital of the world. This is Tropical Florida at its best. OWNER: Iona Kampground, Inc., Fort Myers, Florida, P.O. Box 1502. Telephone: MO 4-9642.
FT. MYERS (1969) OPEN ALL YEAR Closed for vacation Sept. 10 thru 25. $3.00 per car for 2, 50¢ each additional person. Located between Ft. Myers and beach on State Rd. 865. 128 spaces — complete facilities with pull thru parking, air conditioned TV lobby, 24 refrigerated food lockers. Pets on leash. Attractions: all kinds of fishing, America’s best sea shelling, world’s safest beach only 2 ½ miles and many golf courses. Owner, reservation address: Iona Kampground Inc., Box 1502, Ft. Myers, Fla. 33902. Phone: (813) 664-9642. FLASH — 150 more spaces with some direct sewer connections by Dec. 10.
FORT MYERS (1970) OPEN ALL YEAR $3.50 per night for two, 50¢ each additional person. No extra charge for water, electrical hookups. Pull through parking, air conditioned TV lobby, laundromat, 24 refrigerated food lockers, pets on leash. All kinds of fishing. America’s best sea shelling, golf courses, safe beach 3 miles away. Colorful side trips including Florida jungle and animals, tropical gardens, water show, good restaurants. Located between Ft. Myers and Mt. Myers Beach. Take 867, turn on beach road, one mile south. Iona KOA, Rt. #3, Box 462. Ft. Myers, Florida, 33901. (813) 664-9642
FORT MYERS BEACH (1976) OPEN ALL YEAR Loc between Ft Myers & Ft Myers Bch, on Rt 865 1 mi S Jct 867. S bound on US 41 take dntn exit turn R on 867. Pull-thrus, A CTV lbby, shflbd, vlybl, grills, pool, free coffee. Pets on leash. Beach 4 mi. Fish, golf, America’s best sea shelling. Restaurant close by. Scenic trips: Jungle Safari, Edison home Shell Factory, 3hrs to Disney World, paved sts. BBGMPSV $6 per nite for 2 (7 12 thru 4 21) 75¢ ea add’l 2 thru 18 yrs. Adults $1. No chg for hkups. Fort Myers Beach KOA, Box 2819, Fort Myers Beach, FL 33931. Hosts: Jack & Shirley Patterson. (813) 481-0655
FORT MYERS BEACH (1979) OPEN ALL YEAR Loc. between Ft Myers and Ft Myers Beach, on rt 865 1 mi S jct 867. S bound on US 41 take dntn Exit turn R on 867. Pull-thrus, A/C TV lobby, grills. Free coffee. Pets on leash. Beach 4 mi. Fish, golf, America’s best sea shelling. Restaurant near. Scenic trips: Jungle Safari, Edison Home, Shell Factory. 3 hrs from Disney World. Paved Streets. BLMSV Rates: $8 per nite for 2. $1 ea add’l persons 2 yrs & over. ( $9 12/1 thru 4/21) no chg for hkups. Fort Myers Beach KOA, Box 2819, Fort Myers Beach, FL 33931. Hosts: Jack & Shirley Patterson.
FT MYERS / PINE ISLAND (2004) OPEN ALL YEAR. INFO (239) 283-2415 PAST KOA CAMPGROUND OF THE YEAR RES (800) 562-8505 I-75 or Rt 41 turn W Rt 78. Turn L at Stringfellow Rd. Secluded camp in tropical setting of exotic wildlife, mango groves & unparalleled fishing. Serene oasis with free seasonal bus to beach, sights & shops. Deluxe sites, free cable TV, clubhouse, pool, spa, exercise room & tennis. Park model. Golf, nature tours, island cruises, fishing charters. Grp pkgs. KOA 5120 Stringfellow Rd, St James City, FL 33956. [email protected] www.pineislandkoa.com
In many ways, KOA’s appeal lay in homogenizing the camping experience and smoothing out the endearing kinks that make each campsite and experience unique. The company’s telegraphic descriptions underscore its standardization, the consistency of utilities (BBGMPSV) and ease of access from interstates and other major roadways (on rt 865 1 mi S jct 867. S bound on US 41 take dntn Exit turn R on 867). Among the more curious and revealing descriptions of the Fort Myers campground is the characterization of the campsite as a space, acknowledging the importance of the automobile (parking space) over the quality of the encampment itself. The campsite is no longer a prized destination — the end of the road — but rather a brief pause on the way to someplace else.
Like the hotel chains it emulated, KOA created its own virtual access infrastructure mass mailings, credit card reservations and a toll-free phone number contributed to its success. And in the 1980s, following in KOA’s footsteps, third-party entities like ReserveAmerica sought to appropriate this virtual access model by offering to match campers and campgrounds (for a fee) through a sophisticated phone reservation system and later a web-based service. The sale of the company in 2001 to Interactive Corp., which also manages Ticketmaster, Expedia, and hotels.com, further underscored the new reality that camping was now mass recreation, and could be bundled along with other forms of entertainment. 21
Carl Fleischhauer, Boys Playing Football in Campground West of Arena (1983). [Courtesy of Library of Congress American Memory Project, Omaha Indian Music collection]
This increasingly pervasive and sophisticated access infrastructure has in effect democratized the camping experience. Online information duplicates and enhances information once available only on the ground, at the site: on the web, you can browse campground maps of tens of thousands of private and public facilities (often on the same website) and click through to find detailed specs and photographs. YouTube videos, blogs, tweets, and photographs on Flickr and Facebook detail personal vacations at popular facilities. 22 Payments are transacted online. To ensure fair access, some national park campgrounds now accept online reservations up to six months in advance. For the avid practitioner, camping has thus become a year-round activity, one continuous season, real and virtual, on the ground and in the imagination. 23 Web surfing, like camping, is at once a consequence and an expression of the democratic ideal of access — nature commodified and à la carte.
And the Internet is altering the experience of camping as well. Wireless access to the World Wide Web is becoming standard at many campgrounds campers can now post and read blogs and send and receive email from their tent in the wilderness. Satellites orbiting high above the earth make cell phone communication possible nearly anywhere even in the remotest regions of the American West, the camper can link to the outside world. 24 The growing presence — or intrusion — of ubiquitous media certainly takes us yet further away from the old idealization of the nature campground as wild place.
Camping as a cultural proposition is, I would argue, most interesting when we approach the prospect of failure — that critical point along a continuum of experience at which this labor of imagination — the conviction that we have ventured into the wild — no longer becomes possible, necessary or even desired. It is at this point that the adventure of camping, over-freighted by the quotidian, blurs into an experience altogether more ordinary, more familiar it’s at this point that long-cherished ideals are tested, and that lines in the sand between what camping is, and what it is not, are revealed.
Drawing these lines might be largely a matter of perception. Modern comforts have long been part of the wilderness campsite. Early on the installation of electric lights in municipal campgrounds meant that campers could stay on the road until night they no longer had to set up camp in daylight. Nowadays, purists might gasp at the availability of flush toilets or at the presence of neighbors for the night, while others might draw the line at the necessity of driving to the campsite, or the opportunity of overnighting an RV in a shopping mall parking lot. 25 The ability to watch a nationally televised baseball game from the concrete pad outside a late-model RV using campground-provided cable, or to send emails wirelessly from the campsite picnic table — standard amenities at most KOAs — bespeaks the near total elimination of boundaries between the home and away. Is this the point at which the labor of camping — or, rather, the absence of it — ceases to hold any of its old, once almost mythical power? Or maybe our denial is a new kind of labor, as we work to ignore, in the face of mounting evidence and increasing comfort, the parody of camping that takes places at so many modern campgrounds. But this is camping as well.
The Origins of Summer Camps - HISTORY
HISTORY: The camp is one of the oldest scout summer camps in the United States. According to David Eby, "Scouthaven was purchased in 1918 but was first called Camp Crystal as it was located on Crystal Lake it was not called Scouthaven until 1923. It is a 400 acre camp and in the early years Scouts got to it by riding a "milk" train which went by the camp. Eby goes on to state, "It is rather unique as it was a turn of the century amusement park that was converted into a Scout camp. The dining hall is the former dance hall from the park and the Camp Rangers office is the railroad depot that was used at the park to drop off and pick up passengers."
The camp was originally owned by Buffalo Council (BC). In 1949, Erie County Council (ECC) merged with Buffalo Council and the camp became part of the Buffalo Area Council (BAC). The camp was still being used as a summer camp when the Buffalo Area Council merged in 1967 with the Niagara Frontier Council (NFC). The Greater Niagara Frontier Council (GNFC) countinued to use Scouthaven as a summer camp for Boy Scouts until the late 1980s. The camp closed as a Boy Scout summer camp after the 1988 season.
However, in the mid 1990s Camp Scouthaven became the GNFC's primary camp for Cub Scouts during the summer months. According to the GNFC web page, "Camp Scouthaven is the perfect environment for introducing Cub Scouts to the challenges of Scouting and the outdoors. Spanning the entire north shore of Crystal Lake, Scouthaven is located about 8 miles southeast of the Village of Arcade in Cattaraugus County on Route 98. It encompasses more than 732 acres of rolling hills and trees on beautiful Crystal Lake. The main campground is flat and open. The lake is small and calm so even beginners can safely learn to swim and navigate rowboats, canoes, and 'funyaks'."
ADDRESS: Scouthaven is located at 10784 Route #98, Freedom, NY 14065-9763. Phone 716-492-4429. Web http://www.gnfc-bsa.org/
Places To Visit!
Michael Hulsizer's Patch Page
"hot season of the year," Old English sumor "summer," from Proto-Germanic *sumra- (source also of Old Saxon, Old Norse, Old High German sumar , Old Frisian sumur , Middle Dutch somer , Dutch zomer , German Sommer ), from PIE root *sm- "summer" (source also of Sanskrit sama "season, half-year," Avestan hama "in summer," Armenian amarn "summer," Old Irish sam , Old Welsh ham , Welsh haf "summer").
As an adjective from c. 1300. Summer camp as an institution for youth is attested from 1886 summer resort is from 1823 summer school first recorded 1810 theatrical summer stock is attested from 1941 (see stock (n.2)). Old Norse sumarsdag , first day of summer, was the Thursday that fell between April 9 and 15.
"horizontal bearing beam," late 13c., from Anglo-French sumer , Old French somier "main beam," originally "pack horse," from Vulgar Latin *saumarius , from Late Latin sagmarius "pack horse," from sagma "packsaddle" (see sumpter).
"to pass the summer," mid-15c., from summer (n.1). Related: Summered summering .
History of the Summer Vacation
For many students, September means the sad end to summer vacation.
Why does the American school year start in September and end in June? It's something of a mystery. Did children once "bring in the harvest" on the family farm all summer in the distant rural past?
Historians at Old Sturbridge Village, a living history museum that recreates an 1830s New England farming village, say not. According to the web site and schoolmistress there, farm children went to school from December to March and from mid-May to August. Adults and children alike helped with planting and harvesting in the spring and fall.
Working Families: Then and Now
Urban schools in the 1800s also lacked the long summer vacation modern Americans take for granted. Like working families today, new immigrant families needed a safe and affordable place for children to stay while parents worked. In large cities, children of parents who worked in factories, shops, or mills learned English and other subjects during an 11-month school year.
Vacations Around the World
Short school years with long vacations are not the norm in Europe, Asia, or South America either. Children in most industrialized countries go to school more days per year and more hours per day than in America. While just sitting in a classroom longer does not necessarily ensure children will learn more, many American teachers spend weeks every fall just reminding kids of what they forgot over the summer.
A Round of Vacations
Some teachers, principals, parents, and children believe strongly that a three-month summer vacation hurts children, fragments education, and wastes tax money. Since the early 1900s, school districts around the country have offered a longer school year or a school calendar of multiple short terms interspersed with many short vacations. Other parents feel just as strongly that short school years and long summer vacations are essential to growing up.
One popular alternative calendar is the "45-15" type, by which nine-week terms alternate with three-week vacations throughout the year. Kids start school in "waves", rather than all on the same day. In this system, one group is always on vacation during any given week. Schools are less crowded, with fewer students on campus at once, but still serve the same number of children.
What Worked, What Didn't
Successful programs have coordinated the school calendar with the schedules of employers, recreation, and child care providers. The scheduling for "45-15" can be complicated, but some school districts have flourished with multiple short vacations spread throughout the year.
Much less popular historically has been a system that keeps the long vacation, but cycles it through the calendar year. Many parents shivered at the thought of having their children home for three months in the middle of winter. The prospect of frigid vacations effectively froze this option out of most school districts.
Ladies of Leisure and Busy Families
Wealthy ladies of the last century were often sent off, together with their children and servants, to summer homes for months at a time. They were free to take lengthy vacations without worrying about after school programs or days off from work.
Most modern American fathers and mothers work year round and scramble to find fun, safe, affordable programs during summer vacations, winter vacations, spring vacations, snow days, and the seemingly endless parade of holidays that schools take but employers do not.
A Scrap Bag of Time
Often, the schedules of schools, day camps, child care, and after school programs are not coordinated with each other, and don't match the average work day or year either. Parents can end up with a year-round job that ends at 6:00, an after school program that ends at 5:45, and an hour drive between the two. Families can face hours every day and weeks every year with few safe places for their kids to go. Some families would welcome a shorter school vacation. Others would prefer the long vacations available to whole families in European countries.
The current American system is like a scrap bag of time. Perhaps schools and employers can better match vacations and hours to create a quilt to cover kids and families.
Services at Camp Solomon Schechter, a Conservative overnight camp, 2002. (Zion Ozeri/Jewish Lens)
The 1940s saw great growth &mdash and a shift. According to Jerry Silverman, former president of the Foundation for Jewish Camping, Conservative movement leaders &mdash with Reform leaders quickly following &mdash began looking for ways to develop future leaders. That was the start of the movement of Camp Ramah &mdash the camping arm of Conservative Judaism &mdash and the rise of denominational camps.
In an essay in Lorge and Zola&rsquos book, Brandeis University professor Jonathan Sarna explains that before 1940, about two-thirds of all new Jewish camps were either philanthropic or community based. From 1940 to 1960, that number dropped to less than a quarter, while 40% had explicit educational and religious missions.
Many of these camps initially provided transformative experimental and experiential religious programs for teenagers. By the mid-1950s, however, the denominational camps were extending their programs to younger children in efforts not only to &ldquotransform&rdquo but also to &ldquomold.&rdquo
Ninety new Jewish camps opened during the 1960s, but then growth stopped abruptly. &ldquoThere was stagnation of new camps from the late 1960s to the early 1970s until the mid-1990s,&rdquo Silverman said. There are no clear explanations for these trends. Some speculate that the stagnation was related to the push to build congregations and day schools, and that the subsequent new growth is related to the redirection of resources to Jewish summer camping after studies suggested that camps are good investments for the Jewish future because they are effective at making Jewishness &ldquostick&rdquo to kids.
Camp Songs — History and Traditions
Harriet Lowe, editor of Camping Magazine, and Rita Yerkes, historical series editor, were kind enough to invite me to write about the history and traditions of camp songs. However, you should know I failed history class in grades ten and eleven and I can't read a note of music. Besides, I have only been around for eighty-four of the one hundred years of the American Camp Association's existence! Perhaps ninety-four-year-old "Pop" Hollandsworth would be a preferable choice for this assignment, although it is somewhat questionable whether he can, veritably, carry a tune (even in one of his ample packsacks). Now that the cats are out and scrambling helter skelter, it might bring credence to the vital roles played by others, especially The Boys' Camp Band (Mark Baldwin, Jim Knowlton, Tom Knowlton, and Peter Rasberry), Jane McCutcheon, and Joanne Bender. Without them, camp songs and singers of camp songs would not have nearly as rich a tradition or composition.
When and Where Did It All Begin?
When Pete Seeger was a keynote speaker at the 1987 International Camping Congress in Washington, D.C., he expressed the notion that, perhaps, camp singing had its early beginnings in the Camp Gospel Revival Meetings. Rev. Larry Eisenberg, one of camp history's most influential songleaders (and the person who brought "Kum Bah Yah" to camps) tended to agree with Pete.
When Shelley Posen, Ph.D. (a camp song and folk song expert, writer, performer, and researcher) was asked when camp singing began, this was his response:
In the late 1800s / early 1900s, the confluence of the wilderness movement and establishment of National and Provincial (State) Parks, produced the drive to get kids out of the city and into the natural environment. And there was the amazing phenomenon of singing in early movie theaters ("Follow the bouncing ball . . ."), and, of course, in parlours around the home piano. But more than a mere pastime, song was widely seen as a means, in many different settings, of uniting people in action and inculcating certain values. So, you have singing at "camp meetings" to channel singers into religious fervor, singing in union halls and picket lines, singing in Sally Ann soup kitchens. England was alive with communal song: joining in with the performers in the halls singing in the upper levels of the theatre ("The Gods") before a Gilbert and Sullivan performance mass choral concerts at Victoria's Jubilee.
Someone would have to look at the camps, and their very ephemeral literature, to see whether and how and when group singing preceded camps at the city YMCA and other community groups who, later, established the camps. That said, camp offered the perfect conditions for group singing and it is quite likely that whatever singing came to camps, the camps gave back more than they received, in repertoire, vocabulary, songleading techniques and providing singing experiences for youngsters. (Personal communication, 2009)
What Do We Sing?
At camp, we sing songs that are fun, upbeat, harmonious, or inspiring. Most of all, the songs are easy to sing and remember.
We sing folk songs spirituals patriotic songs religious songs fun, nonsense, novelty, action songs melodious (rounds, partner songs) popular songs that are "catchy" songs that we write (or adapt) ourselves.
These African-American songs hold a special place in the history of folk songs their influence in the beginning of camp singing and their continued popularity is without equal. They are melodious, easy to sing, and their simple tunes combine with compelling rhythms to exactly suit the mood and needs of a group singing around a campfire.
They began in the days of slavery on Southern plantations. Owners permitted their slaves to attend church services, although usually they stayed outside just listening or looking through a window. When the service was finished, they did some singing on their own. Their religious beliefs often incorporated traditions brought from Africa and their singing used tunes and harmonies based on their remembered traditions.
They embraced the Christian message with its emphasis on the spiritual equality of rich and poor, reward or punishment in the afterlife. They especially related to the Old Testament Israelites and their Godordained escape from slavery into Egypt and attainment of a Promised Land. Many spirituals sung at camps today celebrate these beliefs.
- "Deep River" (". . .That promised land where all is peace")
- "Do Lord" ("I've got a home in glory land")
- "Joshua Fit The Battle of Jericho" ("Israelites triumphant")
- "When The Saints Go Marching In" ("I want to be in that number")
- "One More River — to the Promised Land" ("There's one more river to cross")
Frederick Douglass, an escaped slave and leading abolitionist, claimed that some spirituals were used as codes to notify the time and place of escape attempts or to convey "how to" instructions (University of Denver, 2004):
- "Steal Away": Escape attempt coming soon
- "Good News Chariot's a-Comin'" and "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot": Help, guidance to escape North is coming
- "Wade in the Water": Wade to throw off scent dogs on your trail
Some authorities have cast doubt on this claim, but in some cases, it seems hard to deny.
Many spirituals appear simply to express joy or despair or the hope of salvation: "Balm in Gilead" "Didn't My Lord Deliver Daniel" "Every Time I Feel the Spirit" "I Got Shoes, You Got Shoes, All God's Children Got Shoes" "He's Got the Whole World in His Hand" "Nobody Knows the Trouble I Seen."
Whatever these songs mean, they are a delight to sing around a fire at night among comrades. The number of them, still popular, is the best testimony to their value and place in tradition.
My deepest gratitude to my friend, Gary Schofield, who searched out these spirituals (and many, many more), as well as most of the war songs that follow. I worked with Gary when he was the Boys' Work secretary at the Ottawa Canada YMCA. Gary later succeeded me as the director of the Ottawa YMCA's Camp On-Da-Da-Waks, and we've recently reunited on the executive committee of the Canadian Fellowship of YMCA Retirees.
Songs from the Wars
Every armed conflict has produced folk songs. Surprisingly, many of them from distant wars are still sung at camp or by well-known performers of folk songs and music. For example, the Clancy Brothers and Paul Robeson performed "The Minstrel Boy," which dates back to the Irish Rebellion (1800). Peter, Paul & Mary performed "The Cruel War," from the American Revolution (1775).
Have you sung these songs from World Wars I and II and Vietnam? "It's a Long Way to Tipperary" "Pack Up Your Troubles" "Mademoiselle from Armentieres" "Over There" "Li ly Marlene" "We' l l Meet Again" "White Cliffs of Dover" "Wing and a Prayer" "There'll Always Be an England" "Blowin' in the Wind" "Give Peace a Chance" "Universal Soldier" "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" "Loch Lomond" "Rule Britannia" "Marine Hymn" "We Shall Overcome." And how about this adaptation of the Navy fight song, "Anchors Aweigh" (Zimmerman & Miles, 1936)?
Anchors aweigh, from camp,
Farewell to camping joys,
We leave at break of day, day, day, day
Though our last night at camp,
We'll never roam.
Until we meet again,
Here's wishing you a happy journey home.
Last summer, the board of our local Big Brothers / Big Sisters Camp McGovern was invited to camp for a hamburger / chips / soft drink evening with staff. Much to my delight, the staff broke into spontaneous song. The first song they sang was "There was Butter, Butter Running down the Gutter in the Corner Market Store." Isn't that great? The terminology in the song really gave away its wartime era origins. Who ever heard of a "Quartermaster"? Marvelous!
In 1861, Frederick and Abigail Gunn founded the first organized American Camp. Their Gunnery school was, reputedly, begun to teach boys, too young to enter the Civil War, how to hike and camp out as their older brothers were doing in battle. At the same time, a New Hampshire musician, Walter Kittredge, was called up to join the Union Army. He was a member of a musical group that entertained the troops to boost morale. The night before he was supposed to report, he wrote a song expressing how he felt about the war. Things were going badly for the north and casualties were extremely high. When he reported for duty the next day, he was rejected because he had had rheumatic fever as a child and wasn't robust enough. He and his group proceeded to sing the song and lost their employment because the song lowered morale, even though the song laid no blame and named no villains. It simply conveyed that where once people pitched their tents for the gospel revival camps, men now fought and died people were tired of the war and wanted it to stop.
In my very early years as a camper, I recall my father teaching us a slightlyaltered version. The song? "Tenting Tonight on the Old Camp Ground."
Folk Songs and Folk Singers
Songs passed down from generation to generation songs passed down orally songs with no known author songs of the ordinary people: These characteristics are the ones most often used to define folk songs. Those that have endured are easy to sing, easy to remember, and usually have some other attractive feature or features. Folk songs form the base of camp singing. They were sung, and indeed, composed around campfires long before there were camps as we have defined them. Soldiers gathered around fires in their encampments pioneers came together on their treks into the vast new lands they settled slaves gathered outside after the church service or secretly in the woods. Many of the songs sung at camp from the earliest days to nowadays grew out of these scenes.
Each individual song, any song, has its own story. Ergo, it behooves us to "zipper" in, as Pete Seeger would say, the songs we know and love that fit the category. And speaking of Pete, for the past many decades, camp singing has benefitted, enormously, from the myriad of folk singers and folk song writers. Here are some of my favorites with a few of their notable contributions to the camp singing scene. For certain, there are many others of each (songs and singers). However, these in particular get our toes tapping and nostalgic juices circulating:
Woody Guthrie: "This Land is Your Land" "So Long, it's Been Good to Know You"
Pete Seeger: "Where Have Al l the Flowers Gone" "Turn, Turn, Turn" "We Shall Overcome" "If I Had a Hammer" (with Lee Hays) "Wimoweh" (with Solomon Linda and the Weavers)
Peter, Paul & Mary: "Puff, the Magic Dragon" "Lemon Tree" "Leaving on a Jet Plane" Seeger's "If I Had a Hammer" Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind"
Bob Dylan: "Blowin' in the Wind"
Lomax Family: We must salute the unequalled contribution to the folk world by John Lomax, the ultimate folk song collector, along with his son, folklorist and ethnomusicologist, Alan, and daughter Bess, who performed in the Almanac Singers (1940s), with Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Lee Hays, and others. Bess is most famous for cowriting "Charlie on the MTA," later a Kingston Trio hit.
Universality of Song
When we had our children's television show, Jack-in-the-Box, where we sang songs, played games, and had special guests on music, art, dance, sport, etc., we did some research on games around the world. We discovered not only the universality of games, but also that every game had its genesis in "hide-and-seek" or "tag." At the time, we didn't look into songs. However, in recent years, we have had some opportunity to observe singing, in many parts of the world, through the International Camping Fellowship (I.C.F.), and guess what? There is universality in songs, too.
Some years ago, a delegation of German dignitaries was invited to visit Canada. They stayed at the Prime Minister's summer residence. I was asked to lead singing for the group. In planning for it, I reasoned that, the simpler the song, the easier to teach and learn. I chose "My Hat, It Has Three Corners." When I began to lead the song, they responded lustily, "Mein Hut, er hat drei Ecken." Magnificent!
When we were planning for the fourth Internat ional Camping Congress in Toronto, we decided to have "Kum Bah Yah" as our theme, having found, unquestionably, the "universality" of that beautiful song. There were five official languages for the Congress, so we sang the verses as follows:
English: "Kum Bah Yah, My Lord, Kum Bah Yah"
French: "Venez par ici, mon ami"
Spanish: "Venaca, amigo, venaca"
Russian: "Prihadi, moi druk, prihadi"
Japanese: "Wareno, motoni, kitare"
We ended each verse with "All the world, Kum Bah Yah."
Non-History Side Notes
The best songleaders are bound to be entertaining, but they should not be entertainers first and foremost. A songleader's raison d'etre is to enable the group singing to be pleasurable, meaningful, and memorable. Many times people have said to us that they wished they could lead singing or they didn't have singsongs at camp because they didn't have piano players, guitar players, or anybody who knew how to lead.
So in 1981 at the ACA Nat iona l Conference in Houston, we were determined to prove that anybody could lead group singing. We were on the stage ready to go, with Betty VanderSmissen at the end of the head table behind us, and Tom Curtin and Ted Cavins in the front row, when I said, "Anyone has the capability to lead singing, and to prove our point, we are going to invite the closest president or board member to come up and lead a song." After everyone nearby blanched, I signaled to Nelson Wieters, who bounced up on stage. Unbeknownst to everyone, Nelson had been bugging us for quite a while, declaring his prowess as a songleader. You see, Pete Seeger had been to Kansas City and taught "Wimoweh." Nelson had learned (and claimed he had mastered) the first part of the song. Glory be, he did it and The Boys' Camp Band bailed him out with the remainder of the song.
Well, this prompted others to get into the act. The next year at New York City, Morry Stein's friends, camp staff, family, and Morry himself extolled the excellence of Morry's leading his signature, "The Song of the Sewer," from the Honeymooners star Art Carney (who played Ed Norton). Jane McCutcheon and I finally got around to rehearsing with Morry in 1984 at San Diego. Then, he was featured at our 125th at Kansas City in 1986. He was sensational, although he missed parts of the second verse. The Boys' Camp Band bailed him out, too.
When Nelson was the chair of the Fund for Advancement of Camping, he invited us to a meeting at the George Williams College Campus on Lake Geneva. We went to dinner at a restaurant nearby (I think it was in a silo). Nelson and I were sitting opposite each other when an album of the Weavers came on through the speakers. A waitress appeared and said to me, "I understand you are one of the Weavers." I looked at Nelson and knew immediately that he had spread this false rumor. I said, "Who told you something like that?" She returned to the kitchen and came out, again, to ask, "Which one are you?" As you may be aware the Weavers were made up of Pete Seeger, Lee Hays, Fred Hellerman, and Ronnie Gilbert. My answer? "Ronnie Gilbert." Before long the kitchen door was ajar with the kitchen staff all peeking out. I guess none of them knew that Ronnie Gilbert was the female vocalist of the Weavers. What a pleasure it was to, at long last, get back at that wily scallywag Wieters!
"Kum Bah Yah" Has a Special Place of Its Own
"Kum Bah Yah" has come to stand as an icon for camp singing. In the early 1950s, when Chuck Kujawa, John Ledlie, and I were the Executive of the YMCA's North American Association of Youth Work Secretaries, we held a National Conference at Green Lake, Wisconsin. Larry Eisenberg was our Conference's incomparable songleader and he introduced "Kum Bah Yah" to us. What an exciting time that was! An African folk song, "Kum Bah Yah"!
As a campfire song, "Kum Bah Yah" has to rank right at the top for popularity. Many people assume the song began as a Negro Spiritual when, in truth, it was written by an American Minister, Norman Frey, in New York City in the 1930s. The original words were "Come by Here, My Lord." The song was taken to Africa by missionaries, and upon their return, the lyrics had transformed into "Kum Bah Yah," and had circulated around the United States. In the 1960s, the song became a very popular part of the Civil Rights Movement, and since that time, it has been deeply ingrained into camp song repertoires all over the world (Criswell, 2007).
"What is Past is Prologue" — William Shakespeare
You may have seen the fellow on TV that said, "I quote Shakespeare a lot. He is a great author. I read all his books. In fact, every time a new one comes out, I buy it right away." Sir Winston Churchill said, "The farther backward we can look, the farther forward we are likely to see."
History is only useful, I submit, if we continue to make it. What do you say we resolve to respect the past and promise to build on it in order to perpetuate the wonderful tradition of camp singing and camp songs.
Mark Baldwin has written some of the most singable and beautiful camp songs — none more singable nor more beautiful than "Let There Always be a Song." If you haven't already sung it, it is featured on page 36. Methinks you will agree.
The sign-off is reserved for the consummate master, Pete Seeger. This is how Pete closes out the vibrant musical film Pete Seeger — The Power of Song.
Once upon a time, wasn't singing a part of everyday life as much as talking, physical exercise, and religion? Our distant ancestors, wherever they were in the world, sang while pounding grain, paddling canoes, or walking long journeys. Can we begin to make our lives, once more, all of a piece? Finding the right songs and singing them over and over is a way to start. And as one person taps out a beat while another leads into the melody, or when three people discover a harmony they never knew existed, or a crowd joins in on a chorus as though to raise the ceiling a few feet higher, then they also know there is hope for the world.
Brown, J., Cohl, M., Eigen, W. (Producers), & Brown, J. (Director). (2007). Pete Seeger: The power of song [Motion picture]. United States: Shangri-La Entertainment.
Criswell, C. (2007). Campfire songs: Sing a song of summer camp. Retrieved from http:// musicappreciation.suite101.com/article.cfm/ campfire_songs
Frey, Rev. M. V. (1936). Come by here (now Kum bah yah). Revival Choruses of Marvin V. Frey [lyric sheet]. Portland, OR.
University of Denver. (2004). Sweet chariot: The story of the spirituals. Retrieved from http:// ctl.du.edu/spirituals/Freedom/coded.cfm
Jack Pearse is senior director of world-renowned Camp Tawingo, Canada. He was president of the Canadian and Ontario Camping Associations, Association of Independent Camps, International Camping Fellowship, and a Distinguished Service Award recipient. Contact the author at 705-789-5612 or e-mail [email protected]
Originally published in the 2010 July/August issue of Camping Magazine.