I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Camp for 2 weeks 2 years in a row in the early 1950s even tho we were poor as church mice, thanks to the sacrifices of my Mom. I still have photos of my time there. I was berthed in the Eagles Nest cabin along with a great bunch of boys, and I remember one in particular named Scotty who got kicked by one of the horses and got a black eye as a result.
It was probably the best time a kid could dream of, learning how to ride horses, shoot a .22 rifle, archery, swimming and what I loved best: the overnight campouts, canoe trips and visiting Big Rock. Welt (Alm) and his family were super nice, and I can recall he and his counselors telling ghost stories at night around the campfire, and if my memory is correct, over the intercom speaker in the cabins.
I cannot think of a finer time for any kid!
Bob Jordan 1950’s
I had the great fortune to attend Camp Mikquano for, I believe, five summers in the early to mid 1970s. The 12 or 14 weeks of my life spent there have generated some of my fondest memories.
One stormy afternoon, I was with a group of campers hanging out in the Recreation Hall. One of the boys happened to notice the trap door in the ceiling, which of course led to the attic. Being the curious sort, he got up on top of one of the ping-pong tables and proceeded to climb into the attic – closing the trap door behind him. It was at about this time that another camper came into the Rec Hall out of the storm. Being mischievous boys, we immediately started telling an ad-hoc ghost/monster story about the creature inhabiting the attic. Before long, we goaded the newly-arrived camper into sticking his head up into the attic – at which time the camper up there let out a big BOO! We all had a great laugh.
There was organized baseball at Camp Mikquano – with “real” umpires and everything. I’m not a ball-player, but I watched some of the games. There was some competition with teams from other, nearby boys camps. I recall that one visiting team had a very small and very FAST player. Apparently, he couldn’t hit very well, so when he came up to bat, he would squat down so that his shoulders were at about the same level as his knees. This resulted in an impossibly small strike zone, and the kid would end up with a walk to first base. From there, because he was so fast, he would proceed to steal second and third base. While we couldn’t seem to keep him from stealing bases, our pitcher DID tire of giving up the walks. Whenever he came up, our pitcher would simply bean the kid with the first pitch so that we could get on with the game.
My last summer at Camp Mikquano, I was inducted into the “Wakela Clan”, a distinction reserved for the more senior campers. It started one night at the campfire pit (?) where after all of the songs and awards, all the campers were instructed to put their heads down and close their eyes. Then the secret, unknown Wakela members circled amongst the campers and selected the new inductees by pouring some “blood” (watered ketchup?) on them. We were then led away from the campfire pit area, blindfolded, and marched to our “induction area”. There, we were kept up all night for our initiation, basically doing chores. We split quite a bit of firewood – no doubt for the Schmatz home the next winter. In the process, we broke the handle on Dr. Bob’s brand new splitting maul – he wasn’t happy about that. We also cut a path through the woods from the driveway at the Schmatz house over to the riflery shack. I don’t think there’s much other significance to being a Wakela Clan member, but I can claim to be one.
1970 – “Snake Pit” cabin
1971 – “Eagles Nest” cabin
1972 – “Alamo” cabin
1973 – “Wasp Nest” cabin
1975 – “Birch Haven Annex” cabin
The memories are countless. Prime among them were the “mud wars”, essentially capture the flag. We had forts out in the woods and the counselors took steel drums filled with the lime mud from the horseshoe part of the lake to the forts. We would then split the camp into two (maybe 3 ?) teams and raid the other forts to steal the flag. Mud balls were our weapons. If anyone was hit with a mud spot the size of a dime they were sent out to take their turn roasting a pig over an open pit fire, near what was then a tennis court. After the days warring, the whole camp gathered and had an arromatic roast pig diner while we recounted the highlites of the day. It was always fun to see who would be brave enough to eat one of the eyeballs. I recall one camper named Phil eating one.
Tom Graham 1964-1968
I attended Glacier Hollow in 1992 for the first Sylvania Wilderness 2-week trip and then worked in the kitchen for two years following. My brother, Jerry, also attended the camp during this time for 1-week and adventure trips. I am currently finishing my PhD at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, but spend most of my time in Panama (the country) working on the snake community at Parque Nacional G.D. Omar Torrijos Herrera.
I certainly attribute a lot to my days at Glacier Hollow for why I pursued a career in biology and for my research in the forest (although a slightly different type of forest now).
Julie Ray 1992
I went to Camp Mikquano from approximately 1973-1981. It was one of the very best experiences of my life. The era under Dr. Bob and his wife was really special, they ran a great camp experience and there was really amazing history there. My parentsdrove me up from champaign IL (about 8 hours drive?) each summer and I begged to stay longer every year but we could only afford the 3 week stay (not 6) as I recall. I believe I have a sizable brown trout that I caught in a pool off the Tomorrow river still mounted and hanging in the mess hall (last I saw). I could go on for many paragraphs about all the great experiences. We went horseback camping, I waded the Tomorrow river fishing, the mud fights, the sat night skinnydipping all-camp wash up (it was quite clean), the campfire stories, the awards (I still have the knife I earned for ? I forget what, I think 8 years as a camper or something). Dr. Bob had an old camp car with the key knocked off in the ignition so it started w/o a key, it had been sunk in a potato bog and it smelled like it. We kept our cabins clean sweeping them every morning, we reported to the bell ringing on the beach at breakfast. I know that lake inside out, have fished every corner of it and swam / dove much as well. We had old van bench seats to sit on on the beach near the dock, that 60s teal green color vinyl, it was comfortable for me then and fun. I recall when it was raining I went out into the woods and was able to start a fire with one match, and so earned membership in the “one match club” – it takes planning and effort to get a fire going in the rain, and it takes your mind off the rainy day too. In the late 80s I went back and talked with Dr Bob at his house near the lake and let him know how much I appreciated his leadership and mentorship. Several of the songs I now sing to my sons, I learned at camp Mikquano… You probably know, the lake was over a natural deposit of something useful for fertilizer (phosphate rich ancient bird poop, as I was told) and was mined in the early 1900s so that the draglines created sharp dropoffs… this I can say is true, I know of a dropoff (looking right from the dock, out to the point) where the bottom went from about 5 feet deep to about 25, it was clearly (way back when) dug out. Great fishing. I hope your campers now have as much fun, and learn like I did 30 years ago — it is a very special place.
Gerry Hensell 1973-1981
My family has a boatload of memories from Camp Mikquano.
It all began in 1951 with my two older brothers, 12 and 8 at the time, attending their first summer at the camp. Mr. Alm decided to produce a brochure advertising the camp filled with pictures of boys having fun. Both of my brothers were featured in a couple of the pictures. My middle brother, John, is a very conservative person. The funny thing is he is featured in a picture of a group of boys in nothing but loin cloths and feathers and war paint. That picture has been prominently featured in a number of his birthdays since and I will try to find a copy of the brochure.
My brothers attended camp there for 3 years. My parents thought the experience was wonderful for my brothers. So, they started a free summer camp for inner city kids, we lived near Chicago, whose parents worked for my dad’s company. My dad and his brothers owned a dairy farm 50 miles due west of Chicago as an investment and retreat. The camp was modeled exactly after Mr. Alm’s model and he actually visited in the late ‘50’s. The camp sessions were 2 weeks long and included normal camp activities and were coed. The only payment accepted was some minor labor by the campers for minor repairs or maintenance on the farm. This all lasted about 12 years.
I was fortunate to attend Camp Mikquano in 1963 when I was 10. I was there for the entire 8 week camp. I enjoyed every minute. Every week there was a different theme to the activities and how we spent our time. I had an extremely funny moment. When I was at camp, Allan Sherman’s song, “Hello Mudda, Hello Fatha” was a huge hit. My second week at camp I had to write a letter home like he did. I had been bitten by a spider and the right side of my face was very swollen for 3 days and put it in my letter. My mother loved the irony of the timing. Thanks for letting me reminisce.
Rick Rowell 1963