In "Coop’s" Own Words…
Stories as told by George Cooper
Recorded in 1967 at Dave’s House at Camp Eberhart during Summer Boy’s CampTranscribed November 2005. Lou SandockThis story is available on CD... hear a sample of Coop's words!
About 60 years ago 4 men, who were members of the board of directors of South Bend, started to look for a place for a boy’s camp. They wandered out in this area and stood up on the hill where the mess hall is located and looked down at the lake. That was a plowed field out there, there was not a single tree on that hill, just a small fringe of trees along the lakeshore, that’s all. All of the rest of the trees have been planted here. They looked down across this lake and thought, "this would be a wonderful place for a boys camp." Now, I don’t know what led them to this place, they didn’t know anything about this lake, they didn’t know that it was spring fed, they didn’t know that we have 90 feet of water out here, they didn’t know that we had good well water here, good drainage, they didn’t know anything, but it just looked like a good place for a camp. And it certainly was, if they had looked all over southern Michigan they couldn’t possibly have found a better place for a boy’s camp. So they rented a little section of land here, and 7 or 8 boys came out to the first camp, and they had a whale of a time here. They pitched a tent down about where you’re sitting now, and they slept in the tent, they did their cooking there, and everything else. And the next year about 20 boys came out and camped on the property, and they had a marvelous time. They camped late, and all of them were scheduled back to school the following Monday, they broke camp on Sunday. One boy who was in that group, by the name of Eberhart, was going to a school over in Illinois and his father was driving the car. He drove the car up onto the railroad tracks and an engine of a fast express hit that car and the boy was killed. His father was not injured. They had not even unpacked the boy’s trunk, but they unpacked his trunk, and in that trunk they found a little drawing of a camp as he would like to see it here at this place. He had the mess hall on the hill, the little stucco cabin where the chef stays, and the White Pigeon which is the other little stucco cabin up next to the hospital, and a little stucco building down here for a dressing area, 6 row boats and 10 canoes. His father took that map, or that plan, and came out here to camp and bought 17 acres of land from Mr. Knevels and duplicated that plan just as his son had drawn it.
So this camp, after all, is a boy’s dream.
His parents were very jealous over the fact that it was Camp Eberhart, not the YMCA camp of South Bend. They did not want a single thing changed up here from the original plan that that boy had drawn. So over the years, for a period of 10 years, Mr. Fred Eberhart said to me one time "We will not change a thing until the family is settled, but we know the boy would want us to make all kinds of changes up here. Then we’re going to start building a real camp."
Mrs. Eberhart always said, and I want you folks to listen to this carefully, "This camp does not belong to the YMCA of South Bend, this camp belongs to the boys and girls of northern Indiana and southern Michigan." So this is your camp. Therefore you should try to help build it into a much finer camp than it is today and leave something of yourself here. Some of us have left a lot in this place and we are glad that we were able to. I hope every youngster here will be able to leave something here at camp that will make the place just a little better for other boys who are to come.
In the early days we did not have any program places at all. We had the row boats. We did not have riflery, archery, or anything else. Softball, hardball, swimming, rowing, that was the program. But we had one of the finest athletic staffs in this area, I think, that ever occupied a position as a staff member on any camp in the country. Rockne came up in the fall and helped with football for the high school boys. Jake Kline, who is the baseball coach at Notre Dame right now, was up here for 5 years teaching baseball. John Mickelson, who was an Olympic hurdler, was here teaching track. Johnny Wooden, who turned out the last few years the top basketball team in the country, he held the championship this year, he’s the one who has that big tall colored boy on his team, he was our basketball coach. We had men of that type, Noel Kiser, Rick Miller, Elmer Vernan, a lot of men who made good records for themselves in the coaching game, and yet we were unhappy. We thought that it was a shame to bring boys to an institution like this and then give them the same program, a better one of course, they had better coaching, there’s no question about that, but give them the same program that they were getting back at school, on the playground, and every other place. So just as fast as we could possibly make the changes after the 10-year period was over we added sailing, archery, riflery, track, water-skiing. All of the things you folks see here at camp. Now, I have always felt this way, I was practically an outdoor boy from the time I was born. I lived in a ranch out in the Dakotas, and I learned to ride there, I had to learn to ride all over again when I came to camp Eberhart, although I rode in a rodeo in Texas when I was in the air service, but I didn’t know how to ride English type of riding. Western riding is different from the eastern riding, we never posted, we’d sit in the saddle. A western horse does not trot, he has a little single foot and you’d just sit in the saddle all the time. Now, a trotting horse, a cowboy would refuse to ride a trotting horse. He doesn’t know how to post, and escape those bumps. So, Coronal Dellahand taught me how to ride. I’ve always felt that the cleanest fun, the best fun that we can have, was in the outdoors. That’s the reason we tried to change to a program to introduce people to outdoor skills. So that, as they grow up, they would know how to handle a canoe, ride a horse, shoot a gun, be good archers, sailors, all that sort of thing. My wife and I rode the horses to the top of Mount Whitney, which is one of the highest mountains in the United States. We enjoyed the trip because both of us were good riders. Other people were so afraid of the horse that they didn’t see anything all the way up to the top of Mount Whitney, except the horse. We rode the mules down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, we had a whale of a time. The man in front of me fought his mule all the way down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. I put the reins over the saddle and I said to the mule, "You know more about this canyon than I’ll ever know. You take me down and bring me back." I didn’t touch the reins, all the way down, all the way back. There was one time my mule turned his head to look over the edge of the canyon. If you dropped a stone from where his head was located, it would not have hit earth for probably 5 minutes. It was straight down, at a narrow pass. But the mule knew just exactly what he was doing. So, up here we’re trying to give you a program that will be a value to you. If you go camping, you have some camping skills. I’ve had dozens of letters from boys in the army who say that the experience that they had at Camp Eberhart is helping them more now than any other experience they ever had. Now, a boy does not become skillful unless he learns to do things with a certain amount of form. And he must practice, and practice until he is able to do all of the things that the instructors are trying to teach you here and do those things in good form. You watch any man bait casting out in the lake here and 75% of them are casting with their arm. They’re not casting with their wrist the way you boys are supposed to be casting. And if I stand down here and see that your casting rod is hitting the sand in back of you, I know that you are not listening to your instructor or your instructor is not telling you how to cast, one of the two. You can walk down to the archery range and take a look at the boys down there and tell whether they have a good instructor or whether they’re trying to learn how to actually handle a bow and arrow. So, while you’re up here, and I’m going to start telling some stories, while you’re up here, spend some time learning to do things skillfully, and try for form in everything that you do. We never had a champion in anything unless he had good form of some kind.
Now, there’s a book that came out from the ‘Y’ last week which says that I came in here in 1911, and was camp director 1911 and 1912 and then I went on to Springfield. I came in here in 1911 but I was a high school kid, just out of high school. So I was not camp director. I was director of the program, and worked with the program. Now there is a book written about Camp Eberhart called ‘The Three Rivers Kids’, and all of us in the early camping days of 1911 are characters in that book. I think you can get it at the library in Three Rivers if you would like to read it. But as I said before, we did not have anything in the way of equipment, and things used to get kind of dull around here. And some of the stories I’m telling you tonight are stories that I wouldn’t be telling you about this camp because you have plenty of things to do without introducing artificial stunts to keep you moving.
Mr. Knevels, the man we bought the property from, attended every campfire that we had. He always came over here, and he is the one who told us the stories that I’m going to tell you tonight. Now, if you look on the wall up in the dining hall, you’ll see an old chest with a lot of daggers, bowey knives, and one thing another, and I’m going to talk about that chest tonight. The store down here is called Hezekia Thomas’s Treasure Chest. Mr Knevels told us his favorite story, I think, was about an old spiritualist who lived in this area in the early days. And Mr. Knevels’ first job when he came into this area was to go up into the old haunted house, the old log cabin part of the house, and shovel half a wagon load of cobblestones out of that room. Cobblestones are these little stones that you boys pick up along the beach and throw into the lake. Now why would a man put a half a wagon load of those cobblestones up in that room? And he asked the neighbors around here, and they said those were Hezekia Thomas’ gold stones. He thought that if those stones were put out here near the spring, and it was a big spring at the end of this point, at midnight, when the blue herring flew over that point, if you had enough faith, those stones would turn to gold. So he went around gathering stones, carried them up and put them in that old, haunted house. Another dream that he had, he thought that there was a huge fish in this lake with a diamond in its stomach. And there was an old dug out canoe, and by the way, some day, someone at camp is going to find that dug out canoe. It was made by the Indians, it’s a log hollowed out, and it’s on the bottom of Little Corey someplace. Because in the early days, Mr. Knevels and the other boys in this area used to dive from that old dug out canoe. He would get into the front end of that canoe with a knife in his teeth, and go paddling along through the cattails with the end of that canoe swinging back and forth. And people crossing a highway down there, near Brooks’ store, thought that there was a huge monster swimming out here in the lake. The legend of the Corey Lake monster started from Hezekia Thomas swimming in the front end of that old dug out canoe. He dreamed about the big fish, he evidently saw the big fish because the big fish is in the lake and it’s still here. A good many people have seen that big fish. D. O. Davies and I came out here one night, there were seven men from Constantine camped down where the road turns off towards the island, in back of the riffle range. They were netting for ciscos. Now according to law, you must put your net in after dark, and take it out before daylight. They put their nets in and usually took them out about 3 o’clock. D. O. and I drove out from South Bend to eat ciscos with them. When we got out here they were frightened to death, they would not go out on the lake. They called the game warden to come and get their nets because it was necessary to have the nets removed before daylight. They said there was a huge monster swimming on the surface of the lake, and that it was about 40 feet long. Well, anything swimming on the lake at night, when it’s dark, would leave a huge wake, even if it were 20 feet long it would look like 50. Now, in those days when they were netting for ciscos in the lake, every winter we would get a report of the Corey Lake monster, it was seen down here in Little Corey, over in Big Bay, over in Turtle Bay, it was seen all around this area. Then one day, the man who was the business manager for the Memorial Hospital in South Bend was fishing right out here. This big fish swam through the narrow into Little Corey. It was right on the surface, and when it went by his boat, he said it was from 2 to 3 feet longer than his rowboat. And his rowboat is 15 feet long. Another boy who played half-back for Washington was fishing for perch over near Richeleiu Lodge, and the big fish floated to the top of the surface. It was within 10 feet of him and he was frightened to death. He said it was 3 to 4 feet longer than his rowboat, which is 15 feet long. Now, we are certain, from all the information we can gather, that there’s a sturgeon in this lake. Sturgeon will grow anywhere from 18 to 20 feet in length and they live to be probably several hundred years of age. So, somewhere in this lake you have that big fish. It’s harmless, it has a sucker-like mouth, no teeth, it would not be harmful to swimmers or anything like that but it’s here, and someday you may see it.
Hezekia Thomas wandered around through the woods, he was a person with a weak mind, normally he would have been in an insane asylum but they did not have institution like that in those days. So he wandered around this area. He started wandering through the woods without any clothing on, and frightened the women. They decided that the men folks should organize a group and get rid of him. So, one afternoon the men got together and chased Hezekia Thomas up the old Indian trail. Now here’s something you boys should remember: the old Indian trail started from Detroit. It came right down through our woods past the archery range, up the hill, along Little Corey, between Little Corey and Harwood Lake, and then over to White Pigeon. One cabin here is called White Pigeon and was named after this man. Most of the buildings here are named after characters Mr. Knevels used to talk about. White Pigeon ran all the way from Detroit to White Pigeon to warn the settlers that the Indians were on the warpath, and at the end of his run he dropped dead over near White Pigeon. If you stop there at the police barracks near White Pigeon you’ll see a huge rock with a big bronze marker on it that tells you the story of White Pigeon. He ran down right past our archery range. So they chased Hezekia Thomas up this old Indian trail, and that night a terrible storm came up. These men were ashamed of themselves for chasing this harmless old person up that road towards Detroit. So they hitched up a team of horses, got some lanterns, and started out to look for him. They found him about 30 miles from here frozen to death on that old Detroit trail. Now that story is a true story of Hezekia Thomas.
I said we didn’t have anything in the way of equipment here in those days and every once in a while we’d try to do something to stir up excitement. Well, Mr. Cheley and Mr. Goodwin conceived the idea that if they could get an old chest, the picture of that chest is up in the dining room with the knives and the revolvers and everything else around it, get this old chest and Mr. Cheley sent west for it and Mr. Goodwin sent east for a lot of old papers, they treated those papers with acid to make them look real old. Then they put all these things together in this chest, and buried it right out here in the sand. Then on the fourth of July we were supposed to dig for a flagpole. We were digging for the flagpole and I remember Cheley came out and "I think the flagpole would look a little better if it was to the left about 2 feet." Well, what difference would 2 feet make in a flagpole? We were disgusted and we started digging over a little farther, then the shovel hit that old chest. I was a pretty hefty youngster in those days. In fact, Cheley used to play jokes on me to get work done. When the boys came in at the depot on the old a-line, that was the only way they had of getting out here to camp, Mr. Knevels used to meet us out here with a hayrack, and I would take those trunks, one in each hand, and throw them up onto the hayrack. The farmers would stand there with their eyes bulging out, or one thing or another. I didn’t realize what was happening but Cheley was trying to get the trunks on the wagon fairly fast. But in this ‘Three Rivers Kids’ it said that the iron box was so heavy that even "Coop" couldn’t throw it out of the hole. So we tied a rope on it, and pulled it out of the hole, cut the big padlock off of it and opened it up. There were sacks of little round objects and we thought of gold, of course, we thought we discovered a pirate’s chest of some kind. But, when we opened the sacks, they were full of cobblestones. And the knives, and the wedding ring, and all the other trinkets that were in there that Hezekia Thomas had at one time. Mr. Cheley and Mr. Goodwin talked to the farmers and then tried to duplicate everything Hezekia Thomas had, they described everything and they went out and bought it and put it in the chest. But, in the chest was a map that showed where Hezekia Thomas’ real treasures were buried. One was buried by the lonesome oak on Perch Point, so we grabbed shovels and went over to Perch Point and dug around every lonesome looking oak on Perch Point, but no chest. The other one was located on the island, so we started for the island with our shovels. We started digging around the island, or we were going to dig around the island. We were wading across the channel when Mr. Noysom, who owned the island came out and said, "Nuh-uh. If there’s a chest on this island it belongs to me." So we would sit in the old campfire circle, look across at the island and watch Mr. Noysom prodding around with a heavy sharpened iron until he hit something hard, then he would get out his shovel and dig. We watched him by the hour. So that is the true story of the chest. That’s how the store received it’s name ‘Hezekia’s Treasure Chest’.
There’s one building out here, and I want you boys to start calling it by it’s right name because it’s name isn’t up there now. Anyone know the name of this building out here where you dress? It’s the Hickory Limb. Now, do you know how it got it’s name? There’s a little rhyme that goes like this: "Mother may I go out to swim?, Oh yes my darling daughter, Hang your clothes on a hickory limb, But don’t go near the water." So we named that the ‘Hickory Limb’. We thought it was a much better name than ‘Dressing Area’…more romantic. So, I want you boys to call that the ‘Hickory Limb’.
Do you know how ‘Buckets of Blood’ got its name? Alright, I’ll tell the rest of them then. This cabin out here that’s called ‘Buckets of Blood’, people look at that and say, "Why in the world would you name a cabin ‘Buckets of Blood’?" Now, another interesting thing, every sign that we have here at camp was printed by a convict inside the Indiana State Prison. Every one of them. I would take a board over to the Indiana State Prison, some brushes, and some paint, and I would tell some of the boys over there, we had some clever boys there, a story and they would reproduce, according to their idea, a drawing of some kind and put the name on that board and then I’d bring it back. Every time I went to the prison they’d ask me "When are you going to bring some more signs for us to paint?" They were interested in what they where doing, especially when they knew they were doing it for a boy’s camp.
Now, old Lady Harwood … Harwood Lake was named after the Harwood family. Corey Lake was named after the Corey family. Ms. Harwood was a person a good bit like Hezekia Thomas. She had a habit of coming down to Little Corey, walking out on a springboard, and letting out a horrible scream every night. Then she’d go back and go to bed. Night after night you could hear the old Lady Harwood scream up there, at Little Corey, and it brought shivers down the backs of a good many of the kids around here. Then one night she jumped in the lake and her body was never recovered. But we had some engineers up here from Purdue, they studied the prevailing wind and the currents in Little Corey and decided after a thorough investigation, that old Lady Harwood’s ghost, or body, if it had floated down Little Corey, would have landed right down by the powder room. They tell us if you go out there alone, without a flashlight, on a real dark night, you may see a filmy, sort of a hazy figure out there. Just out from the powder room. No one has ever seen Lady Harwood’s ghost, I don’t think anyone has had the nerve to go down there on a black night, alone, without a flashlight. Some of you boys might want to try that some time.
After the Corey Lake affair, after the Hezekia Thomas affair, every year the boys would say, "What are we going to do for excitement this year?" Now remember, we don’t need to do these things nowadays, and every time I tell these stories I wonder if people will think that we had sort of a haphazard sort of a camp with a lot of horseplay and all that sort of thing, now that wasn’t true. But once or twice a year we would do something to stir up a little excitement.
Now, we’ve had some marvelous snipes hunts up here. A snipe is a little bird, about that long, it’s good for food just like a quail or any other bird and it’s hunted just like quail and all that sort of thing. But you don’t hunt them the way we hunt them up here. We told the boys that a snipe, when it was mad, would hit it’s tail 3 times on the ground and whistle. We would send about 10 boys over in a certain area to locate them. They’d have sacks to catch the snipe, a club to keep the rabbits out, a lantern to attract the snipes, and some paddles to hit on the ground 3 times and then they’d whistle. Then there’d be another group over here, and another group over here. This group would paddle and whistle, this group would answer them, and they would stay out there for maybe an hour paddling and whistling. Finally they would decide it was a joke and come home. One night one of the boys failed to come home. It was after midnight and we were all worried. We wondered what had happened to him, and finally he came in. He said, "You guys left too soon. I stayed there and I pounded the ground and I whistled and I kept a couple of rabbits out with my club. Finally they started to come and I got 6 of them." And certainly something alive was moving around in his sack. I said, "Crisco" that was his nickname because of a little something he pulled here at camp, "Crisco, what do you have in that sack?" And he said, "Mr. Cooper, I didn’t do anything that you wouldn’t do." I went over and looked in the sack and sure enough he had six of something down in the bottom of that sack. "I didn’t do anything that you wouldn’t do. I pounded the ground, I whistled, finally they started to come." Six of them, pretty good size snipes. I never found out what happened until about 5 or 6 years ago. A farmer came into our place one day and said, "By the way, what ever happened to that interesting little boy who came into our place about midnight one night and bought 6 small fryer chickens?" So it was the chickens they had for lunch that day. I think the funniest snipe hunt we ever had, the victim was the man who organized the Indian guides, Harold Keltner, from St. Louis, MO. He was up here then as a camper, he always wanted to go on a snipe hunt. Cheley said, "If you take him out on a snipe hunt, I’m through with you fellows for life." But he insisted, so we took him out, and we took him down by the pier at pioneer camp. We dug a hole in the ground and buried him to his knees so that he would look like a tree. Then we tied the sack between his legs so he could close his knees fast and close the sack and he had the club to keep the rabbits out, he had the paddle to hit the ground and whistle, and he had the light to swing to attract the snipes. All of a sudden he started to laugh, and he just howled. I thought he knew the joke and was getting out. But I took a chance and balled him out, until he said, "Whew, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to frighten the snipe. I just happened to think how funny it would seem if someone had come along here and saw me that didn’t know what I was doing." So that was one of our funny snipe hunts.
Now, the funniest thing that ever happened here at camp, the thing that I think more things were written about, was our famous watermelon hunt. One year several of our boys wandered over into Mr. Patterson’s watermelon patch and stole a watermelon. Of course we made the boys go back and pay for the watermelon. That gave us an idea. The next season, at watermelon time, I had "Pat" come in with the biggest watermelon I could buy in Three Rivers. Oh, it was a big one. He stood there, and the boys were not listening to me, I was talking first aid or something. They were looking at that watermelon wondering where watermelons like that grew. Finally, I looked up and saw Pat and said "Pat, where in the world did you get that big watermelon?" He said, "Boy, this is a small one. You ought to see the watermelons over in my patch. Biggest watermelons I ever grew. Last year some of you boys broke into my patch and stole a watermelon. Now this year, you boys are welcome to any watermelons you can get out of that patch. I have 3 farmers with shotguns in that patch and I have 3 vicious dogs in the patch. Any watermelons you can get out of that patch, you just go over there, you’re welcome." I could see little gangs discussing the watermelon situation all afternoon. Finally, at supper I said to the boys, "Now, you boys know that I don’t believe in stealing watermelons, but when a fella comes into your own back yard and issues the challenge, now tonight I’m going over there to get some watermelons. If any of you fellas want to come along, well, ok." There were 80 boys in the camp, how many wanted to go? 80. So at 12:00 that night we started for the watermelon patch. All of this area was pasture. Nice smooth, smoother than a golf course back here, it’s all covered with trees now but it was nice pastureland in those days. Mr. Knevels pastured his cows and his horses in that area. So we started out. About a quarter mile from the woods we got down on our stomachs and started creeping. We’d creep about 10 yards then I’d go "Shhh" and everybody would flatten down and listen, then we’d go another 10 yards. It took us about half an hour to creep up to that woods. In the meantime I had Mr. Pulver in the woods with a barrel full of watermelons that we shipped in that day. I said to the fellows, "Now listen, this is a dangerous situation. I’m going in after the melon, I don’t want anybody bitten by vicious dogs, I don’t want any of you boys come back full of buckshot." We’d take some leaders about half way, and there was only one boy in camp that knew anything about this. Our top staff person knew about it. He was the only one, the rest of them were not in on the deal at all. So I would take a melon out to this group and they would take it out to the kids. It took us about an hour to move that barrel of melons out to where the kids were lying on their stomach in the pasture, and there wasn’t a sound out there. Then we picked up the melons and walked over to a corner of the woods, built a nice fire about where Wakeshema’s baseball diamond used to be, we built a nice fire, there was a lot of nice green patch of land in front of us and ate the watermelons. Then I said to the boys, "Now, whatever happens, I want every one of you to hold onto a piece of watermelon rind because we are going to take it over to Patterson with our compliments tomorrow." Each kid had a piece of watermelon rind in his hand. Thad Colson was telling us ghost stories. He was just about to the point in the ghost story where the excitement was to begin, and 3 farmers stepped out of the woods and started blazing away with their shotguns. I yelled, "I’m shot" and fell down. Those boys jumped to their feet and I’ve never seen kids run like that gang ran. They just took off across that pasture. After they ran about a quarter mile there was another man down there with a shotgun and he fired his shotgun and away they went again. One of my leaders, the only one that knew about it, Johnny Bowman, he was an engineer at Studebaker Corporation, I don’t know where he is right now, but Johnny Bowman was running right along with them and he had a blank pistol. Every once in a while he’s fire that blank pistol and away they’d go again. Now, there was a boy with a bad foot who could not go on K.P. that morning because he had a bad foot. He was the first one back to camp. I think probably more kids enjoyed that watermelon hunt, that’s something that you just don’t do now-a-days. Every year we had something like that coming up to stir up a little excitement.
One year I had a group of lifesavers, all trained. I didn’t like the looks of ‘em. The man who was teaching lifesaving wasn’t doing a good job with those boys. When they were breaking a "back strangle-hold", they would push the arm up an then walk around then instead of using that arm as a lever to force that boy to make a move. So we decided to try them out. We were all in the tents except the lifesavers and our business manager who could not swim a stroke. They were all out sitting on the pier. Red Sorenson from Elkhart and another boy went over across the lake and borrowed some women’s clothing , an umbrella, and a canoe. I don’t know why, these boys were not listening to our business instructor, they were watching those women in the canoe. Somehow or another a woman in a canoe is pretty attractive, and they were paddling along. Finally, one of the women opened an umbrella, just a little ways from the pier, and the wind caught the umbrella and the canoe capsized. Our lifesavers went into action. One of them who is a big executive now ran in circles yelling "Coop", they’re drowning! "Coop", they’re drowning!" Another one ran up into a tent to change his clothes and put on his bathing suit. The only one in that group who actually went into action was "Fat" Waters from South Bend, Warren Waters. Warren grabbed a little junior who had wondered out of a tent, threw him in a boat then jumped in the boat himself, grabbed the oars and as he rowed out he had the junior taking off his shoes, he was going to save their lives. He got out there, reached down and grabbed one of them, pulled him up and looked into the freckled face of Red Sorenson from Elkhart, flattened him back under the water and came back to shore. Now, what is wrong with a test like that? Somebody might really be drowning out there sometime and they call for help and the guys on the shore say "fooey…just another joke". So we had to explain to the boys that this was a test, we wanted to see how they responded, and regardless of what happened in the water, they should always go, whether they thought it was a test or not. They should always go into the water to help save a life.
So in those early days then we had a marvelous time because we had some marvelous instructors. The thing that I’m hoping for this group is that you pay attention to skills way down in your junior camp right strait up to your intermediate and senior period, and I’d like to see a lot of the same type of leaders that I had here at camp over the years, counselors and staff members come out of this group. The best way to make a good counselor is to start when you’re a junior or an intermediate, building up all the skills that you can build up. When you’re ready to act as a counselor they may not need you on swimming but you may be an archer, you may be an excellent rifle shot. But, above all, you’ve got to be a fine fellow who likes to work with kids. Then you’ll make the kind of a leader that we want here at camp.
I want to tell you the story of Dave because I very seldom tell that, but so many people ask me about it. This is Dave’s House. Dave’s father built this house. He built the library over there. He built this building, he’s going to build an addition so it’ll have 3 rooms here. He built Warner Lodge, the stone cabin. Dave Warner, the boy that you see up there was about a 6 foot boy. He was the best swimmer and diver that we had here at camp. A marvelous all around boy. One day at the swimming period Dave’s cousin and several other boys were playing with some gallon cans, they’d get a gallon can filled with water and throw it on each other and so-and-so finally stopped the thing. But after the swimming period was over, I was in the dressing area dressing, Dave’s cousin filled a can full of water. All the boys were dressed in their camp clothing, and started to chase Dave. Now, the piers were connected to shore in those days. Some of you will wonder why we do not connect the piers with the shore anymore. I think a pier connected to the shore is a hazard in the swimming area. One day a little boy was chasing a butterfly with a butterfly net. He couldn’t swim a stroke. He ran right out to the end of the pier off into the deep water after that butterfly. Of course there was someone there to fish him out. But there was a pier there those days, and Dave Warner ran out on the pier and his cousin followed him holding a can of water. Dave went up on the platform to the high dive which wasn’t half as high as it is now. Up on the platform, his cousin started up after him. No one knows why, but Dave turned and dove towards the shore. He landed in water about that deep, and he was talking to the kids along the shore the entire time he was in the air. Then all of a sudden I think he realized that he was in shallow water, and instead of hitting flat, he tried to turn it into a dive and broke his neck. That’s the only casualty we’ve ever had here at camp. Most all of the accidents, little accidents, here at camp, start with horseplay, just like that.
I’ve enjoyed being here tonight and talking with you. It’s good to be back to camp. I hope all of you boys will make this a better place to live in.