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Camp Memories

Posted by on August 8, 2013

2013-07-22 09.34.33On a recent visit to Lutherdale Bible Camp, I snapped a picture of this old cabin. Back in the 1950’s and 1960’s, this was one of four boys’ cabins, with the girls’ cabins situated on the other side of camp. The cement floors, World War II army surplus bunk beds, and natural air conditioning made them pretty rustic by today’s standards.  Cement floors meant you didn’t have to worry about spilled sodas or mashed M&M’s. We’d throw some sweeping compound on them to keep the dust down, sweep it up and once a week, mop them. Both the sweeping compound and the cleaning solution in the mop water had a distinct but not necessarily unpleasant odor. But the problem with concrete floors was whenever the humidity went up, they’d “sweat” and become slippery. Many a hard landing occurred on humid summer days.

The bunk beds were wood frames with springs stretched across to hold the mattresses which were also army surplus. Those mattresses were about four inches thick and consisted of layers of heavy cotton batting. No inner springs for support. As long as the springs on the frame were still in good condition, it was a pretty comfortable bed. But as the springs wore out and the middle sagged, it often felt more like sleeping in a hammock. Of course, the fun part was to lie on the bottom bunk and use your feet to give the person on top an unexpected bounce. Hopefully, it wasn’t enough to bounce them onto the concrete floor.

There were six sets of bunk beds on each side of the cabin. A few times when attendance was especially high, extra bunks were placed in the common room so that each cabin could possibly hold 28 campers. The counselor, a college student, had a room to himself, except during those high attendance camps when a junior counselor (high school age) would move in to help with crowd control.

In the days before air conditioning, those square panels you see were windows. There was no glass in them, just screens, and the outer wood shutter would lift to allow air to circulate or drop to protect from rain. A rope attached to the center bottom of the shutter ran through a hole in the screen’s frame to the inside of the cabin. It took a good strong arm to pull hard enough to raise those shutters.

Back then, we didn’t expect camp conditions to rival the way we lived at home. The bathrooms didn’t even have showers, but a swim in the lake every day cleaned us off acceptably well and was more fun than any old shower. Sharing space with twenty-some other kids developed friendships quickly, some that lasted well past the end of camp.

Do you have a memory of summer camp? What do you recall about your cabin accomodations? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear about it.

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6 Responses to Camp Memories

  1. Ernie

    Mary, even the cabins were “army issued”. They were bought and moved onto the camp property if my memory is correct.

    Also, it was awfully easy to “rope” a cabin in. This meant running a rope around the perimeter of the cabin so that those inside could not open the doors or windows on the sides from which to slide out. Since there was a “penalty” being late for breakfast one could get a whole cabin to sing for their breakfast…..for the amusement of all who did make it to breakfast on time…..

    • Mary Hamilton

      LOL! I don’t remember the roping trick, Ernie.Thanks for reminding me about the cabins. I believe you’re right, they were old barracks buildings that were moved onto the property.

  2. lynellenperry

    The summer camp we attended had 4 sets of bunk beds in each cabin. There were two sinks in the bed room for the kids, I think the counselor room had its own sink. The counselor had a room to themselves off the small entryway. Between the kids room and the counselor room was a shared bathroom. One toilet and one shower, as far as I can recall. No air conditioning here either, but it was in the foothills of mountains in Colorado and didnt routinely get extremely hot. Most mornings it was quite nippy. The bunkbeds had simple mattresses on plywood bottoms, so at least there were no saggy springs. Most people brought a sleeping bag to put on the mattress. There were two large drawers built into the bottom of the bottom bunk and you had to unpack all your stuff into that drawer, then your luggage was stored on the roof of the bathroom… it had a separate interior roof from the roof of the cabin. One year there were a large number of campers and I had to sleep on a cot crammed in the room.. that was one of my most unhappy years at camp… I didn’t have a drawer for my things and it was quite crowded.

    You can see pictures of the camp here:
    http://www.horncreek.org/?page_id=642
    “The Meadows Cabins” is the exterior of the cabins we lived in… they’ve remodeled the interior since then so that is completely different now.

    • Mary Hamilton

      Oh! I’ve heard of Horn Creek! The setting would be wonderful, in the mountain foothills. But, yes, those cabins could get very crowded. Thanks for sharing that, Lynellen. 🙂

  3. Mary Hamilton

    Thanks, Tom!

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