Camp Reed History
Did you know?
- YMCA Camp Reed is the oldest resident camp in the Inland Northwest.
- YMCA of the Inland Northwest was founded in 1884.
- The brochure for the 1938 camping season states "Camp is not an extra. It is an essential."
- Frank and Emma Reed, who donated the orginal 15 acres on Fan Lake, were described by their grandson as "very generous and caring people who were interested in the welfare of children."
- Fan Lake is a part of a chain of lakes that were gouged out during one of the ice ages.
- 1968 brochure: "Probably more important than all the activities and all the opportunity for fun, will be the chance for all the young campers to be exposed to those principles of life that help make stronger, happier, and more mature young men and women. It is the basic principles of the director and counselors to have all campers leave the camp a little better than when they arrived, gaining something of value from their experience."
Ever since YMCA Camp Dudley was started at Lake George, New York youth camping has been an important part of the YMCA program. Camp Dudley was the first boys' camp in America.
The Spokane YMCA did not have a campsite of its own until 1915, but previous to that time it had a rather rugged summer program of hikes to nearby interesting spots. As an example, on April 13, 1915, twenty boys left on a hiking trip to Long Lake and return under the leadership of Clyde Willey, Assistant Physical Director, who was helped by Mount Downing, one of the leaders.
Previous to this time the "Y" had a camp program but did not own a campsite. The writer has talked to several old timers, who were boys in 1908-1909, when the "Y" boys hiked to Loon Lake, starting from the end of the streetcar line in Hillyard while their supplies and much of their gear was transported by wagon, pulled by horses. The boys were transported across the lake from what is now Granite Point to Lakeshore Homes where they lived in tents and used the Corbin Cottage for a dining room, etc. The Corbin family was one of the leading pioneer families of Spokane and generously allowed the use of their cottage by the "Y" boys. From Hillyard, it was an overnight hike to Loon Lake. They would arrive about noon. They hiked by road and railroad tracks. Much of this information was gathered through conversations with George Yancey, President of Murphey-Favre and Rex W. Anderson. Mr. Moore was the Boys' secretary at the time and Dr. C. Hale Kimble was head of the YMCA Physical Department.
This was a pretty rugged program of summer activity for those boys who took part compared to what guys might expect nowadays. How times have changed. The boys and even parents will expect the "Y" to use trucks or busses for transportation to the site where the camp is established.
This was the program of the Spokane "Y" until Frank Reed, a banker in Deer Park , donated 13½ acres which adjoined the southern end of Fan Lake for a boys' camp. It was approximately ten miles from Deer Park. On April 29, 1915, Board members went to Fan Lake on a scouting trip to look over the location of a possible campsite.
The official date of the start of Camp Reed, as it was named after the donor of the original site, was 1915 and a Boys' Secretary, A.D. Brewer deserves full credit establishing the "Y" camping program at that location. Mr. Brewer later became General Secretary of the Spokane YMCA.
In the month of August, 1915, two boys' groups hiked to Fan Lake. One group of older boys hiked from Camp Reed, leaving Fan Lake at 5:00 P.M. and arrived at Hillyard at 3:30 A.M., the next morning- a distance of 35 miles. The latter part of their hike was by moonlight. Imagine their sore back muscles and blistered feet because they did not have modern hiking boots nor scientifically constructed back packs with strong, light gear which has been available since World War II. The writer knows whereof he speaks.
Dr. X. L. Anthony, a strong supporter of the YMCA program for youth, and a Board member for many years, donated 60 acres to Camp Reed which included shoreline on the south end of the lake. This included the Shady Brook stream of spring water which burst up out of the ground above the camp proper and furnished an unlimited supply of fresh water for the camp. Dr. Anthony's donation to the camp also included an area for the large sleeping cabins that were donated by Mrs. Sylvester Heath and were built under the supervision of E. V. Price of the architectural firm of Whitehouse & Price.
There is a story that Dr. X. L. Anthony told Mrs. Sylvester Heath on under-writing the cost of the very substantial sleeping cabins for camp, while treating her for an eye condition. I think this story is true as Dr. Anthony, an eye, ear & nose specialist was an ardent YMCA supporter and much interested in Camp Reed, and Mrs. Heath, of an old and highly respected Spokane family, was known for her philanthropies.
The official starting date of the "Y" Camp Reed on Fan Lake was July 6, 1915. It was under the supervision of A. D. Brewer. I think this is a good place to mention that Mr. Brewer apparently had some very fine assistance in managing the camp by a man from the Rearden and Davenport areas whose name I cannot recall at this time. He had many pictures of early day camping activities and was very enthusiastic about the camping program. I am sorry I cannot remember his name because I think he deserves much credit for getting Camp Reed off to a good start.
The Hutchins Cabin was remodeled and enlarged and was called the new lodge in 1916. When I came here in September, 1933, much of the country around Eloika and Fan Lake had been logged over, burnt and had a desolate, ugly appearance. Old black snags, stumps and huge granite boulders that were left by former ice ages. Since then, during the last forty years, second growth has covered all this ugliness and the area is taking on real outdoor beauty.
The "Y" also owned 73½ acres without much shoreline. During the years this has been increased to 434 acres and all the shoreline of the main body of the lake and part of the shoreline of the shallow end of the lake is now the property of the YMCA.
The White Pine Lumber Company, which had logged off the area on the east side of the lake and used the lake for log storage, was very helpful in securing over half of the shoreline and much acreage on the east side of the lake. Mr. Henry Klopp, President of the White Pine Lumber Company, and I made a special trip to Fan Lake and consummated the deal. We called this the Jennison tract because it was Jennison money that bought the acreage.
Mrs. Angelina Jennison was a school teacher in Spokane and a holder of considerable real estate. She was the owner of the lot on which the YMCA was built in 1906 at the corner of First Avenue and Lincoln Street. She also turned the first spadefull of dirt and started the construction of the first YMCA building in Spokane. In her will, August 6, 1936, she left the residue of her estate to the YMCA and this included two very old houses that were empty and in a bad state of repair. These two houses were on Carlyle Avenue on the north side and Newark Avenue on the south side. By securing a home owner's loan and putting the houses in good shape, the "Y" was able to sell the houses and use the money to buy this land from White Paper Lumber Company. Harper Joy, President of Northwestern Company, used this money to buy lumber mill stock at 42 cents on the dollar and the Lumber Company accepted the stock for 100 cents on the dollar and was glad to get the stock. It must be remembered this was at the bottom of the depression and many banks were still closed and many business people didn't know if they owned anything or were still in business. Mr. Klopp said if the "Y" would have asked for the land in the 1920's when business was good, he would have given the property to the camp, but his hands were tied by the bank at this time. I enjoyed my short acquaintance with Mr. Klopp and he seemed like a fine gentleman and I am sorry to report shortly after he was killed in a plane crash in Montana.
There was a small triangle of a few hundred square yards on the southeast shore which belonged to the White Pine Lumber Company and which the YMCA and Mr. Reed always thought belonged to the acreage owned by Mr. Reed. This was also acquired.
It was found also by the surveyors that the homestead cabin on the tract which Mr. Reed gave to the YMCA was not entirely on this property as the survey line went through the kitchen of the Hutchins Homestead Cabin which later became the dining room and kitchen for the camp.
The largest tract of land was on the western side of the lake and the shoreline goes down well beyond the narrow part of the lake and west to the county road. It was secured from Arnold Graves of the law firm Graves, Kizer, and Graves. It cost the "Y" a total of around $1,700, and the whole deal was handled by Herbert Hamblen of the law firm Hamblen, Gilbert & Brooke. Mr. Hamblen was President of the YMCA Board at the time. It was an unusually good deal because it gave the "Y" all the shoreline around the main part of the lake and since then some $3,000 worth of logs were sold to the Deer Park Lumber Company from this area, as well as furnishing the site for the badly needed new lodge.
It is an interesting story about how we had the $1,700 available to purchase additional camp land. For a period of time we had saved some 5% of the income from the dormitory for new furniture, etc., which was a program started at the urging of Walter M. Clist who had been President of the YMCA Board. Mr. Clist was also the builder and owner of Culmstock Arms Apartments at the corner of 8th Avenue and Washington Street, and had supervised the renovating and refurnishing of the YMCA dormitories of which he was an expert and started us on this program of retaining 5% of the income in a special fund for maintenance.
Mr. Roland Byne, who was the Executive Secretary of the Community Chest, became aware of this fund and insisted that all reserve funds and extra monies should be held by the Community Chest in trust for the Agencies. We spent it for camp land before they could claim it. The Community Chest had reserve funds and the Agencies had accumulated a large unnecessary debt without the knowledge of the other Agencies so we did not have much confidence in the way the funds were handled by the Community Chest office at that time.
During the depression, the "Y" carried out a program of clearing out the brush and scrub trees around the shoreline and burning the material on the spot. It sure was something to have three great fires going at the same time which were being fed by the brush and other debris uncovered by the workers. It was a picnic for the workers because many of them did not have employment and the "Y" furnished the transportation plus the beans and wieners for lunch. This program went on for several years until we managed to get enough money together to hire Dr. Cline, a veterinarian and farmer who lived nearby, and his bulldozer to continue the work on the Graves tract. It cost $9.00 per hour but made quick work of the clearing.
The outstanding need of the camp was a modern lodge with kitchen and dining room facilities. The old lodge was really an enlargement of the original Hutchins Homestead Cabin and had served the camp for many years. The sleeping cabins were lined up behind the log cabin and the dining room, etc., and were really tacked on.
The last remodeling of facilities around the Hutchins Log Cabin was done by Don Jackman, maintenance man at the YMCA, and his son George. They did a marvelous job under very difficult conditions and converted one of the old sleeping cabins into a very practical and much needed spring house. The old original sleeping cabins were torn down by one of the work parties about 1934. We enjoyed this because we divided up the work parties into teams and ran a contest to see who could wreck their cabin first. This contest was won almost single handed by a student from Gonzaga, the leader of the Pep Band and a great favorite with the fellows. His name I cannot recall. He was not very tall but he weighed around 250 pounds and he practically pushed over one of the cabins all by himself and his team won the contest.
Don Jackman and his son George built the first shower house with hot water available. This was made out of poles and slabs on the cement floor. The tanks were seconds secured from a welding company for 50 cents each. Coils of pipe heated by an open fire, fed by down limbs of trees of which we had plenty, furnished the campers with hot water for showers. Since then two new shower houses have been built. The two shower houses, with large electrically heated hot water storage tanks, were built under the supervision of Mr. Vern Johnson, a prominent Spokane contractor and long time Board member. These represented great improvements in the camp and made it possible to keep the campers cleaner by the use of hot water and soap. This is always a problem for younger boys.
The new lodge became a reality about 1954-55. It was made possible by a 6% loan from the Hypotheek Bank and Architect Carl H. Johnson who wrote out a check for $1,000. He also drew the plans, handled the bidding and supervised the construction. The lodge was not named for anyone in the hope it would be named after someone who would agree to underwrite the total cost of nearly $30,000. It was finally paid for during the New Building Drive as the camp improvement program was included as part of the New Building Campaign and was agreed to by the donors of the funds.
The camping program was always very popular and the camp operated at full capacity. Sometimes it was necessary to erect a tent village to take care of the overflow besides putting extra cots in the sleeping cabins. Some boys liked the Blackfoot Tepees but they were a problem because it was difficult to make them mosquito-proof. Mosquitoes were always a problem until we got the services of a Mr. Senske who had equipment that would fog up the campgrounds and drive the mosquitoes back to the underbrush.
Camp attendance was greatly increased by large delegations of campers from Pullman, Washington, under the leadership of Stan Rheiner, W.S.C.-Student YMCA Secretary and the Tri-Cities under the leadership of Dick Ortmeyer, General Secretary and who was formerly Program Secretary at the Spokane YMCA and took a leading part in organizing the Valley "Y" and the first Ski School on Mr. Spokane when he was in Spokane. Dick is now connected with the YMCA Roof Top Schools in Hong Kong (1973).
The Downtown Rotary Club also cooperated in making the camp a success by underwriting war canoes, rowboats and other miscellaneous equipment which over the years amounted to many thousands of dollars.
Camp Reed received much favorable publicity, largely through the personal interest of W.H. McBroom, reporter for the Spokesman-Review who with the writer, featured a full or half page spread. Later this same space was used to advertise all the youth camps around Spokane.
I made several attempts to isolate the lake from the public and these attempts were always thwarted by Deer Park or Pend O'Reille officials. The road to Fan Lake was almost non-existent but these officials maintained they were county roads by usage. I tried to sell them on the idea that one little lake among our many lakes should be set aside for youth camping, but I did not succeed. Government officials, at times, can be arbitrary in the use of power. As examples, we agreed with the REA that they could run their electric power line across camp property but we should have agreement on where the lines should go as not to interfere with camping activities. Imagine our surprise on a visit to camp to find the REA had finished construction and had cut diagonally across the camp without any further understanding.
The State Game Commission also put a public launching place on the "Y" property without even discussing the matter with the "Y." They may have had a legal right and again they may not have had a legal right. That would be something that should be clarified. This creates an annual problem for the "Y" camp as some fishermen use the campgrounds and facilities without consideration of the ecology of the area, to say the least.
During the World War II period, we had our difficulties because of rationing of gas and foodstuffs. Meat was one of the scarce items for our camping program but we made out very well in our diet by increasing the use of chicken and eggs which we secured from ranchers. Carnation and Silver Loaf helped by trucking foodstuffs into camp. This was a great help because of gas rationing.
We were also handicapped because just before camping season started Ray Fletcher, the Boys' Secretary and Camp Director, left Spokane to become a USO Executive.
We were very fortunate in securing the services of Warren Morgan as Camp Director. He was Principal of Finch Grade School. The only briefing or preparation for his duties as Camp Director was received from the writer on the drive out to camp in which he was told the purpose of the camp, how the camp was organized and what sort of activities were conducted. It speaks very highly of Mr. Morgan's skill as an administrator and his general understanding of youth activities, to say we had a very successful camping year.
Warren Morgan was followed as Camp Director by "Skip" Louderback, a well known Lewis & Clark High School teacher and later Glen Hegdahl, who was the Boys' Secretary of the "Y." Glen Hegdahl later went to U.S. Navy Officers Training Camp and he was followed by Paul Hammond, Program Director at the "Y." Glen Hegdahl is now General Secretary of the Butte, Montana YMCA. Paul Hammond is now District Representative for the Easter Seal Fund. We received a letter from Clyde Matters from deep in Germany at the end of World War II. He was with General Patton's Army and was looking forward to returning home and going to Camp Reed as a leader. He became Camp Director for several highly successful years and was followed b Don Barlow, one of his Camp Leaders and a teacher in the Mead School System. Both Don and Clyde grew up at camp and had a special interest in Camp Reed.
Clyde Matters became a member of the Whitworth College staff and spent several years training school administrators in Nigeria, Africa and is now President of a mid-western college (1973). The last we knew of Don Barlow, he went to the coast where his parents lived and from there to Honolulu.
Tom Foley who the former U.S. Congressman for Washington's 5th congresstional distric, was a popular leader and assistant to the camp director during the war years.
Arthur Lundin, a well known Spokane attorney, also was a leader during his college years and was a great help to Ray Fletcher, the Camp Director. He was well liked by the boys and an able camp director when he was left in his charge.
"Automatic" Karamatic, a Gonzaga football hero, spent one summer in camp as a leader, recovering from an appendicitis operation. He was an outstanding leader as well as a great football player and very popular with the campers. The Athletic Round Table underwrote his summer to the tune of $300 so he would be fully recovered and in shape to return to college and play football.
There was a time when Spokane had a dearth of good tennis players which bothered Joe Albi in particular. Mr. Albi, President of the Athletic Round Table, came into the "Y" and discussed this problem with me and offered to build two tennis courts out at Camp Reed. He put Mr. G.A. Pehrson, an architect, in charge, and in a short time the Camp had two asphalt tennis courts, constructed just east of the Hutchins cabin and at a spot where old campfires were held in the early days of camp. They cost $1700. Bill Lucht, the writer, and son, Tuck Knisley, set the poles and tacked on the chicken wire to enclose the courts. For a few years much tennis was played on these courts, but for some reason the courts were allowed to deteriorate.
The "Y" also had an Annual Soap Sale and later and Annual Candy Sale by prospective campers who wanted to earn part of their camp fee. All of the money earned went towards the boys' camp fees and none of it was diverted to camp maintenance.
Dr. Rogers, a retired physician, built a Star sailboat in the basement of the YMCA for the camp. It was a well built boat and was used several years at Camp Reed by the boys. I am sorry to say that it also, like the tennis courts, was allowed to deteriorate and was not kept in good repair until it became useless and was left outdoors to disintegrate alongside the craft cabin. Dr. Rogers practiced for many years in Newport, Washington and was helpful in our meetings with Pend O'Reille county officials.
It is interesting to note that according to a W.S.C. geologist, Camp Reed is located in the midst of the oldest rock formations on the earth as there are no fossils of any kind in the rock. Fan Lake is a part of a chain of lakes that were gouged out during one of the ice ages. This geological information should be verified and preserved as a saga of Camp Reed for the benefit of future campers in the years ahead. It was always one of my dreams that the Hutchins Homestead cabin might be converted into a camp museum but we never seemed to get around to that project during my time at the "Y."
Mr. A.D. Brewer, who founded the camp, seemed to have the same idea but was not insistent about this matter. He left a $1,000 gift for the camp in the care of the Great Western Savings & Loan Association in Spokane which, with the accumulation of the interest and a sizeable check from his son who is now President of the Mr. Clemens, Michigan Savings & Loan Association, founded by Mr. Brewer, the sum for camp is now $2,000. Since the camp lodge has not been named, it might be felt by future administration of the "Y" more appropriate to name the lodge after Mr. Brewer and the museum after Mr. Hutchins who was the original homesteader in the lake area and who actually lived in the log cabin.
Also, I would like to mention that I think the Lester Matter's cottage is located on YMCA property and is not on the old mining claim which Mr. Matters bought from the elevator operator at the Downtown Post Office who had the mining claim rights. We had a verbal agreement that when he and his son Clyde were not using the cottage for their summer vacations, that it would revert to the ownership of the YMCA. He was also going to have a survey made that would set the official boundary lines of the property, but it was pretty expensive and for some reason this survey seemed to be continually delayed. He had an untimely death at the time these negotiations were reaching the point of settlement and this delayed our arrangements and I never got around to it again as his son Clyde and family went to Nigeria for several years and we were unable to have direct negotiations to finalize this matter.
Mr. Lester Matters also kept a watchful eye on the camp property and often challenged trespassers which kept the grounds and buildings free of vandalism. In the winter time the heavy snow kept people away from that area, although we did find evidence one year that some people, we don't know who, spent most of the winter in the Hutchins cabin.
The camp also had outstanding lay leadership from the 1930's through the 1960's, in Milton Fritsch, one of the KHG-TV executives; Carl Vantyne, Arthitect, who was very active in camp development and Arthur Lundin, old time camper and leader while attending W.S.C. and now prominent attorney in Spokane. These men were chairmen successively of the Camp Committee. Many old time campers will remember them.
We remember John Holmstrom and Nels Pearson who were camp caretakers. John was a very tall man and badly crippled from an accident caused from being thrown from a horse but did not detract from his interest in the boys who attended camp and responded to his apparent liking for people. He made many friends for camp. Nels Pearson was a pleasant man with many building skills which he used to improve camp facilities.
So far as I know, the Spokane YMCA was the first to have members' accident insurance and we had this insurance program for members long before the national insurance program was launched. This insurance program was extended to cover the campers as well which was a good thing because there are bound to be accidents and illness in an outdoor program of this kind.
I remember Pat Crowley, who was a very small youngster, who fell from a horse and seriously injured the area around his eye. There was one season when two boys had to have emergency appendectomies at the Deer Park Hospital when the parents were away on vacation and not available. These unexpected emergencies were taken care of successfully and underwritten by the insurance program which greatly pleased the parents. Arrangements were made with a Doctor at Deer Park to handle all emergencies and suspicious symptoms of illnesses before they became serious.
The Horse Program was introduced some time in the latter part of the 1930's and proved to be very popular with the boys. We would have as many as 12 to 14 horses in camp at the same time. We built a small barn with a tack room. Mr. Olson, a rancher near Deer Park and his two boys helped us with this program by taking care of the horses during the winter. There was another ranch neighbor who furnished us with one or two horses every year to pay the camp fee for his son.
One of the first horses the "Y" bought was a Welsh pony which was a pure white small horse and very gentle. The boys named her "White Cloud" and she became favorite with the campers and her colts were made camp pets by the boys. We also had a black Shetland pony that had a mind of its own. It also was a pet and allowed the small boys to practice putting on the bridle and saddle as a part of the Horsemanship program, but reserved the right to allow them to ride by refusing to move at times. On one of the overnight wagon trips to the Devils Well, near Horseshoe Lake, they noted that the Shetland pony was following the group. They decided to take the pony along as they were some distance from camp before they noticed him. The smaller boys could take turns riding the pony bareback but the pony would decide when he wanted to stop and browse and then catch up with the group. (The "Y" bought the wagon and harness from Mike's Trading Post).
When A.B. Prindle, long time Physical Director at the "Y," retired, the campers bought "Big Red," one of the horses from the "Y" string and gave him to Prindle as a present. "Big Red," was a large, spirited Kentucky type of horse and was too big for the youngsters to mount and ride, but he was just right for A.B. Prindle who was a good horseman and rider. He and "Big Red" seemed suited for one another.
For many years we had an "A.B. Prindle Day," at camp with bulletins issued from time to time during the day, announcing A. B. Prindle's approach to camp from town riding on "Big Red." At the announced moment, A.B. would come riding down the east side of the lake on "Big Red" with the cheers and exclamations of wonder by the campers who saw him coming from their vantage point on the other side of the lake. That was the day many of the campers would take life saving and other tests conducted by A.B. Prindle himself.
The YMCA introduced Youth Camping as an educational and character building activity to America. Summer camping has grown by leaps and bounds and some day, I predict that every American youngster will be eligible to go to camp at the taxpayer's expense, probably as a part of our Public School System.
The "Y" also carried on an extensive program of underwriting camperships for needy boys who would not be able to pay the regular fee but would benefit from the camping experience. This program was in cooperation with the Juvenile, Police, and Welfare authorities, whose judgment we accepted. The camp budget also absorbed a number of such boys each year. The program was largely underwritten by the Downtown Rotary Youth Committee and interested individuals.
We were aware of the American Camping Association standards which Camp Reed never quite measured up to during my period of associated with the Spokane "Y," but we felt we ran good camps with strong programs and nearly always balanced the budget so that it would not become a drain upon the finances of the YMCA. Actually it helped the Valley YMCA out of financial difficulties two different years. Our experience was that the college type of cabin leader was too interested in his time off to go to town where he had other interests that were more important to him. He also wanted more money. We did manage to get some fine help from Whitworth students for which they received some college credits. This program was supervised by some member of the faculty. Clyde Matters, Camp Director for several years and connected with Whitworth College, arranged for this very worthwhile program. I think this arrangement ended when Clyde left.
The "Y" camp was never allowed to become just a recreational camp. We kept in mind the YMCA purpose of serving the Spirit, Mind and Body of the youngsters with the spiritual emphasis of the program being given full attention by having chapel every morning and special campfire programs. We knew the youngsters were very impressionable around the campfire with the flickering light of the campfire backed by all the night noises of the woods and shoreline. The eeriness of the night was greatly magnified in the minds of the youngsters by all these sights and sounds. The program should always be the main difference between a "Y" camp and the more recreational type of other camps. The future of the YMCA Movement depends upon it.