Monday, September 17, 2007

Memories of Camp Clark. Circa 1956-1966

Google Earth Photo.

This is a Google Earth Photo of a YMCA camp on Cape Cod Mass.

CAMP CLARK as I remember it.

A-Uncle Bob's cabin and camp offices.
B-Boathouse that I "helped" build. I remember pounding nails in the new floor.
C-Chow hall and rainy day activity center.
D-Water front.
E-Junior campers cabin areas.

Camp Clark was owned by the New Bedford YMCA in the 1950 and 60's.

Now it's Camp Lyndon.

Summers at Camp Clark has to be one of my fondest childhood memories.

My Mom and Dad somehow managed to scrape together enough money to send me to this wonderful place.

Each day at Camp Clark started like THIS.

It was here that I learned to swim, sail, water ski and paddle a canoe. It is here that I learned to love nature. That I learned the basics of plant and animal life and exploring the outdoors. It was here that I learned to make a lanyard out of gimp.

I can remember the steam rising off the early morning water front and the sound of the screen doors slamming on the chow hall.

I can still see Uncle Bob (the camp director) and smell the sweet aroma of his pipe.

09/17/07 Update: Uncle Bob's assistant was a guy we called Spike. I'm sorry I cannot remember his name. Uncle Bob's family was from Marion MA where he lived at 48 Main Street until 1981. His family: Wife -Evelyn. Sons - Alan, Donald and Warren. I believe there was a daughter and she was the youngest.

I can still remember the end of session camp fires that included the great magic of a bonfire that started with a great flash of flames and a loud W.O..O..S..H you could hear and feel. NO matches NO flares and NO torches...just "magic".

This magic was created by an appropriate incantations of a senior councilor and as I learned many years later a well timed exothermic chemical reaction assisted by a commonly available accelerant. GAS! See the update below.

Maybe this is why they always had lot of shiny hand pumped fire extinguishers available. They were worried about the candles!

A campfire that included games and fun competitions like laying head to head on the ground with a mouthful of water and a flaming candle on the ground between the each contestant. The object being to extinguish thecandle.

A camp fire where we each received our awards for swimming (minnow, flyingfish, shark, junior and senior life saving). I can still remember the pride of hearing your name being called and getting a badge or certificate to signify your success.

I can still remember the chow hall with it's long tables. One table for each of the many cabins. A long table with the campers and their counselor and CIT (counselor in training). The food served family style. The boxes of cold cereal the we would cut open along the dotted H line and simply pour in milk. Platters of pancakes, french toast, and bacon.

I can still remember the camp songs sung in the chow hall after the noon meal.
Two of my favorites.
Bill Grogan's Goat. Lyrics here.
There's a Hole at the Bottom of the Sea. Lyrics here.

I can still remember the dish-room it's sound and smells and the time I had to spend cleaning dishes when our cabin pulled kitchen duty.

I can still remember the required afternoon rest periods in our cabin bunks.

I can still remember the Sunday evening services on Brown Bread Hill with it's very own "Old Rugged Cross". It was a YMCA camp after all. Lyrics to the Old Rugged Cross HERE. Listen HERE.

I can still remember the the sorrow of seeing mom and dad's car pulling away on that very first Sunday of my very first summer, the tears and the fears of them leaving me at this strange unknown place. And yes, I can still remember the disappointment of the Saturday morning two weeks later when I had to go home. I can remember begging them to let me go back. PLEASE! PLEASE!

And of course, I STILL have great memories of this great place on Lawrence Pond on Cape Cod Mass.

Today some fifty years later it still is a summer camp where boys and now, girls learn to swim, sail, have campfires and learn crafts.

Today it is called Camp Lyndon. Still a wonderful place and a wonderful story.

A story of how my 25 year old nephew in the summer of 1997 helped me re-discover the "lost" Camp Clark... The story of the day 45 years later when I returned to these fond memories and sights.... This story I will tell someday soon. Hopefully, with pictures if I can find them.

Updates: Here is that promised story with pictures.

Each day at Camp Clark ended like THIS.
Day is done, gone the sun,
From the hills, from the lake,
From the sky.
All is well, safely rest,
God is nigh.

09/16/07 UPDATE: Today I posed the following question to a local college chemistry professor "what commonly available chemicals might be used to start a fire by an exothermic reaction". His answer was dead on. Read this. Read the section that describes USES. OH by the way DO NOT try this at home.

This solves an old mystery for me. I guess it wasn't the incantations after all. Thanks R.D.


Anonymous said...

I was a counselor at Camp Clark from 1968 until it closed after summer 71. I got to do that magic fire trick. There was a pipe underground that went from near the totem pole were the counselors sat into the middle of the fire pit. A strong wire ran thru the pipe. A candle on a platform was then placed in the middle of the pit under a a #10 can with a door cut out of it. When it was time a counselor would pull in the wire which would pull the candle out to ignite some kerosene soaked rags which set the whole thing off.

shutterwi said...

Thanks for taking the time to add a great memory of Camp Clark and solve the mystery of the fire. I hope you will visit again and add some additional memories.

Additionally you added the fact that it was closed in 1971. I never had any idea what year it closed.

I always thought it was closed and the land was sold for a development. That thought so sadden me that I never tried to go back and find out for sure.

In the late 90's 98-99 my nephew was living on the Cape and was working for a lumberyard. He made some deliveries to Camp Lyndon and insisted it was the same camp that I had described many times.

We went there and I couldn't believe my eyes. From the chow hall to the water front it was mostly the same. What a great thrill.

Thanks again for visiting and leaving a comment.

Charis said...

You write very well.