On 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.