History of the Ongoing Dream
1967 – 1993
by Don Garrett
A special acknowledgment to Elladean Brigham for her interest in this project, and her willingness to take the time to bring it to a most successful conclusion. She and her husband Dale have been long-time friends and supporters of the camp, so it is with understanding and appreciation for what the camp stands for, that she shares with us her abilities and talents in compiling this history. With her keen sense of adventure, she was persistent, yet gentle, in her quest for material to establish truth and facts. Although the history is not in chronological order, it captures the excitement of camp and has all the necessary information for each event, making the point for its place in the history. It is our hope and our prayer that as the future unfolds before us, someone with Elladean’s qualities will be willing to record a companion history of the ongoing growth and activities of Camp Manatawny – showing again what can be accomplished when people work together in a spirit of love and unity.
It is my prayer that those now serving and those who will serve on the board in the future never forget the One who has made camp and its experiences all possible-Jesus Christ, our Lord. To Him be the glory, honor and praise forever and ever.
Anytime a book of this type is written, there is the distinct possibility that someone really important will be left out. I have attempted to reach all of those who began the camp, or had some part in the beginning work, and have requested information in camp bulletins, at camp dinners, and during camp sessions. Still, there are sure to be people who should have been mentioned, but have not been. The stories related here are but a fraction of those that could be told. I apologize to any whose stories should have been here, but are not. Although these are but a sampling, I hope they will bring to remembrance wonderful experiences of your own at camp.
This book is not written in chronological order; rather, it is topical and anecdotal. Each section is centered around a topic best expressed by the quote at its beginning.
My thanks to the board for permitting me to have the pleasure of writing this book. Many people assisted in providing stories, memories, events. Special thanks to Don and Ruth Garrett for their loving support and guidance through this project and to all those who proofread the manuscript and offered suggestions and changes. Some were made, some not; but all were considered carefully and appreciated as coming with the best of intentions. Special thanks to Cheryl Brigham Snyder for her research assistance and for putting me up for several nights while I did research in the camp office. Last, thanks to my husband Dale for his support and patient listening as I read and reread many of these wonderful stories to him. May this book be a blessing to many for years to come.
by Jerry Reynolds
In mid-summer, 1745, one small Indian village remained on the banks of the Manatawny Creek, where the stream winds its way past the steep cliffs near what is now called Earlville. These last Indians were very peaceful and philosophic. Their simple lean-to shelters and tepees offered a stark contrast to the strange-looking rockhouses and fences built by their new neighbors-European settlers passing from Philadelphia and moving west along the waterways.
The Manatawny Creek provided not only good water for drinking, but also an abundant supply of fish for food. Animals were numerous, so there was never a lack of good food. The Indian chief and some of his advisors laughed at the strange-looking neighbors who then lived on the west bank of the Manatawny Creek. “Why should anyone build a rock teepee? And why keep small animals in a pen?” This was only one of the many discussions about these “strange” people. The Indian children played in the open areas of the woods. They chased one another and stalked imaginary game. One day, two Indian boys came upon two white boys playing a similar game. All our were started — yet no one ran. They looked at one another for about five minutes — then as if by some signal, they turned and went their separate ways. This chance meeting was the very first time 12-year-old Daniel Boone had ever seen an Indian. His home was about five miles away. Josh Boyer had seen Indians before, but had never stood face-to-face with them. Daniel and Josh thought about the Indian boys and wondered why they wore so few clothes. The Indian lads walked about 200 yards away and laughed loudly at the strange shoes, pants, shirts and hats the “foreigners” wore. Later, as the Indian boys sat with their families, the chief told them that these strange people would chase all the animals away and would no doubt spoil the water, too. They made plans and soon moved upstream — never to return.
That summer was hot. The Indian boys played, as always, with no fear of these strange neighbors. Young Daniel also moved a few months later–down to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, where he explored and learned to hunt wild game. He later moved to north Carolinas. He would spend most of his life in battle with Indians — but that hot summer of 1745 was a time for games, imagination and exploring for these four young boys. Sadly, those young people did not become friends, and events that might have changed our history did not occur.
It was almost 200 years later when some people with vision decided to establish a summer camp where young people could play and be taught crafts and wholesome activities on the bank of the Manatawny Creek. Despite the passing of two centuries of time, the area had remained a place of beauty. Many came and settled the east bank of the creek. The west side along the big swooping “S” near Earlville remained wooded and undeveloped except for the one house where young Daniel Boone visited his friend Josh. Some land was cleared, but about 100 acres remained wooded. The community leaders agreed, “This is a wonderful place for a summer camp!”
Lots of work, thousands of dollars, and hundreds of hours later, the Pottstown Community Camp became a reality. Children from all over the area enjoyed the well-supervised program. The central activity was playing in the clear, cool water of the Manatawny. A spillover dam was built with a dock area to launch canoes and flatbottom boats. Swimming and water games attracted many hundreds each year.
Then something horrible happened! All over Pennsylvania, children were stricken with polio. It was quickly determined that almost all those stricken had played in contaminated water. A blanket ban was ordered — and swimming in the Manatawny stopped. The fact that no one in the camp had gotten polio made no difference.
Quickly, the directors and planners for the camp launched a program to build a large swimming pool, but the cost would proved to be too great. The camp closed! And it remained closed until 1967, when children came together in July for the first session of “Delaware Valley Christian Camp’s” operation.
Now, at last, there is a place where children of different backgrounds, races and economic can come together to worship, pray, study, and develop deep and abiding friendships. We call this place “CAMP MANATAWNY.” Here’s how it came about…
“We have been able to just take our dreams and visions and our faith, and parlay it into a nice camp program…” –Jerry Reynolds
Camp Manatawny started as the shared dream of Christians such as Jerry and Jean Reynolds and Don and Ruth Garrett. The year was 1966, and Jerry Reynolds was struggling amid the youth rebellions and crumbling institutions of society, to preach the Gospel in Pennsylvania and Delaware. He became increasingly aware of the need of a Christian camp to give direction to young lives.
The concept of a Christian camp in Pennsylvania was not new. In 1957, a group began a day camp for children in rental facilities on the campus of Northeastern Christian Junior College (NCJC), in Villanova. The next year the group incorporated under the name Pennsylvania Christian Camp, and larger facilities were rented in Stillwater, PA, where two week sessions for Junior and Senior High were held. In subsequent years, the sessions were conducted at Blue Knob State Park, near Johnstown.
In 1963, the PCC Board of Directors met to evaluate the future of this camping program. Don Garrett remembers, “It was noticed that we were losing the children from the eastern part of the state, because of the distance. After much prayer and consideration for all involved, it was obvious that we would need two camp locations.” Don, who was Chairman of the PCC Board, requested those from the east to start another camp, and leave PCC intact for those in the west. It was agreed, and those in the east decided to try and purchase a permanent facility.
Jerry Reynolds and Don Garrett, and a group of friends, including J.D. Parker, Howard Henry, Wendell Broom, Bob Williams, Erine Hyne, Nelson Gouge, D.C. Jenkins, John Thee, Aniceto Sparagno, James & Eunice Pickering, D.C. Bishop, Larry Webb, Dwight Smith, and Milton Hobbs, spent many hours walking over some 50 farms and properties for sale in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.
Jerry remembers, “I’m sitting here in my living room looking at an organ that I got from an old house on a farm down in Dover (DE); I had determined that the farm land was too marshy and too swampy, mosquito-prone, and a lot of things that would just make it undesirable for a permanent camp, but I spotted this old organ …, and the guy who owned the house said, ‘Well, it’s just sitting there and nobody wants it, you can just take it if you want it.’ So within the hour I had it out of there and over at my house in the garage, where we worked on it and we’ve kept it ever since.”
Don Garrett, along with several New Jersey friends: James and Eunice Picerking of Tinton Falls, Aniceto Sparagna of Tabernacle, and John Thee of Hammonton, looked at farms in Chester County, around West Grove. They found many beautiful farms, some with lakes, multiple buildings and nice facilities, but never that special place with the right price.
Then, one day in 1966, Mr. Swavely from Swann Realty called Jerry Reynolds. “Mr. Reynolds,” he asked, “Are you guys still looking for a camp site?” Jerry answered affirmatively, and the realtor replied, “I think I’ve found just what you want.” They met an hour later and drove from Boyertown to the property.
Jerry relates the event: “As soon as I saw the big semi-circular driveway, the rec hall, the row of gray cabins, battleship gray then, 22 of these cabins forming the horseshoe, and then behind the recreation building and the other buildings…a beautiful caretakers house, I said, ‘This is exactly what we want!’”
Don Garrett looked at the property and had the same reaction. The next hurdle was financing it. The 35-acre campsite was then owned by the Spicer Corp.(whose name was changed to Dana Employees’ Aid Association in 1956) of Pottstown, PA, and used as a summer camp by UAW Local 644. It was called Pottstown Community Camp. The UAW had bought the land in 1948 from the Reading YMCA, who bought access to the environs on the west side of Manatawny Creek in 1925, from Mr. & Mrs. Howard Kline.
Don, Jerry, and Elza Huffard met in the union office in Pottstown. The union was asking $85,000 for the campsite. Don and Jerry had determined ahead of time that $30,000 was all they could afford to pay, so they started with an extremely low offer. Don asked the union officials and their Philadelphia lawyer to “just give us the property for the camp, because we would be helping the children,” which was the union’s original purpose for the camp.
Jerry remembers that the realtor almost had a heart attack right on the spot. “Why are you belittling the union officials and the property?” the lawyer asked Don. Don replied that he was simply appealing to their benevolent nature, whereupon the lawyer became furious, and cursing, blurted, “We don’t have any benevolent nature!” A recess was hastily called, and the realtor escorted Don and his friends out of the room.
When they met privately with their realtor, he said, “Why did you ask them to do that?”
Don replied, “Well, I believed it. We have to ask someone for the money. They are financially stable, and could do it, if they would.”
Then Don asked the realtor if he believed that it was worthwhile to help the children. They realtor affirmed it was, so Don requested him to donate his commission on the sale to the camp. The realtor agreed to give $500 of it–about half of what the commission turned out to be.
After the meeting resumed, Don and Jerry offered $20,000 for the property, and the lawyer almost pretended a heart attack. He was not prepared to offer any compromise other than lowering the price to $80,000. Don offered $30,000 as top figure, which the lawyer refused, so Don said, “Well, if that’s the case, then we’ll just have to forget it,” and he and Jerry walked out. The union officials and their lawyer were stunned, and sat looking at each other. That was on a Saturday.
The following Monday, a neighbor of Jerry’s, Mike Hirac, who was also a union official, called him and said, “I understand that you guys didn’t buy that camp property the union has. Let me tell you, if you want that property, you can have it for $30,000. We told that lawyer if he could get anything close to $30,000 to sell it, and he said you guys mentioned that you would give that much, but he wouldn’t take it. We’ve fired that lawyer and if you want that property, it’s yours!”
On October 1, 1966, a group of over 30 Christians from the area met in Pottstown to discuss purchase of the property. Although it was a cold, rainy day, they went to look at the campsite. Don apologized to them for such poor conditions, but one family assured him, “Don, it looks great today, and just think what it will look like in beautiful weather.” That day, the $3,000 needed for down payment was raised. Mr. & Mrs. James Pickering, and Mr. & Mrs. William McNett donated $1,000 each. They were later honored as lifetime camp members, with an award of beautiful walnut arrowheads, hand-carved by Lou Murter.
In January, 1967, a group of men met in the office of Frank Risko, attorney, in Media, PA, and drew up the incorporation papers. Delaware Valley Christian Camp, Inc., was formed, with Don Garrett, president, Cecil Allmon, vice-president, Jerry Reynolds, secretary, and Larry Webb, treasurer. They were to serve a 3-year term. In addition, 12 board members were elected. They were: (2-year term) Jack Bradley, Ken Vanderpool, Robert Williams, E. L. Murter, Jr.; (1-year term) James Stewart, William McNett, Eugene Pattishall, Jon Browning, James Nelson, Paul Evans, Paul Coffman, Danny Boyd. The first committees were Grounds, Membership, and Publicity. Much work had to be done before summer, as the men were determined to hold sessions that year.
Because of ties with a realtor on the board of the bank in Boyertown, they were guaranteed a mortgage of $19,500. They had a $6,000 note with an individual, payable each year at $1,000 plus 4%. Settlement date for the property was set at March 27, after which time they tried to get as many people as possible to see the camp.
On Memorial Day, 1967, the first work day was called, and 343 people came to work. Another work day was called on July 4, and 215 came. Because of the tremendous work done, the Board decided to call the state in for inspection. The camp passed, received its license to operate, and was in business.
That first year, the latter part of July and first week of August, the camp operated two sessions – one for Juniors, and one for Seniors, serving a total of 180 people. The directors that first year were Tom Roberts from Camp Hill, Danny Boyd from the Cedars congregation in Wilmington, DE, and Don Garrett from College Chapel congregation, at NCJC.
The next hurdle the camp had to overcome was getting tax exempt status. The lawyer had advised that they would have little trouble getting the basic camp and operation tax exempt, but the caretaker’s house would be a different story. Although the camp operated as a non-profit organization, there was a controversy about having private dwellings on the property. Don and Jerry got an appointment with the Reading tax assessment board.
Jerry remembers, “We thought, ‘It will be a simple proce- dure; we’ll fill out some papers and make our appeal;’ but to our surprise, we were called into a conference room, and three men were up on an elevated platform behind a bench like judges, and we were down at the bottom looking up at them…they asked us to identify ourselves, and we did, and Don began to speak…he not only asked for an exemption for the camp operation, but he said, ‘This thing must not only be completely exempted, but we need contributions. The work we are doing and the blessing we are bringing to the community, you should be making contributions to this work.’”
“I remember looking up; the two large guys were on the outside, and the recording secretary was in the middle. He was sitting there with his pad and paper, and I could see him looking out the side of his glasses, first to one guy and then the other, without turning his head; he was reacting in a very strange way to Don’s request, but Don just charged right in and very sincerely asked them to consider making contributions to this work, in addition to giving us tax exempt status. Well, they dismissed us pretty quickly, and assured us they would give due consideration to our cause, and to our delight, a few days later we received a letter stating that the camp, which includes the caretaker’s house and all, would be tax exempt. So that was one big hurdle that we had overcome.”
The camp originally contained 22 cabins, a shower house, dining hall, recreation hall, canteen, craft house, caretaker’s cottage, and other small buildings. The caretaker’s house was built about 1750, and is stucco-covered brick, with a recently added enclosed porch. Rainwater comes off the hill above the house, down the road, and sometimes, into the little porch, flooding it, rather than following the gutterways built for the rain. Because of its extreme age and need of renovation, some Board members wanted to demolish it, but after extensive repairs, the house is now in excellent condition. First, Arlie Reece came in with help, and engineered the installation of new beams in the basement, supporting the basement, and setting the house level. Lawrence Bennie used his skill in masonry to work on the foundation.
The first caretaker, David Askey, his wife Sylvia, and their four children, had many interesting experiences while living in the old house for five years. One memorable event was soon after their arrival. David remembers, “During the first month, and at the height of our second worse snow storm, about 2:30 in the morning, my wife awoke exclaiming she smelled smoke. The Screw which fed coal to the furnace had broken and the electric motor had overheated and caught fire. We were safe, albeit cold. The outside air temp was about 10 F. and the inside was 52 and dropping. After much labor and some thinking, we managed to seal the plates back in (restoring the furnace to its original design) and got a fire started…putting a window fan in place to make the coal produce heat.” He ends by adding, “I would never trade a minute of the unpleasant times…Camp Manatawny forced me to grow in ways unimaginable to me.” Sylvia adds, “I felt I was a part of something much greater – the Lord’s work.”
Rhydonia Anderson remembers how she and Virgil came to be caretakers after the Askeys moved. Virgil had just been discharged from the Navy and they had no immediate plans, so the recommendation by Ray and Kathleen Bailey that they take the job sounded great. They arrived from sunny Florida in January, 1972, to cold, drizzly Pennsylvania. Jerry and Jean Reynolds invited the Andersons to stay with them until the couple could determine what house repairs were necessary.
Recalling Machiavelli’s advice to the Prince, “Do bad things all at once so people forget it soon,” we made a thorough list. A working fund of $1,000 was allotted; large expenses would need to be submitted for specific approval. I kept records of money and time spent and by the September board meeting, Wayne Miller commented that it is not often that dollars and hours will be equal. We had spent about 600 of each in eight months of work. Additional moneyh had been put into storm windows and kitchen cabinets. Bill Beeson, Byron Trammell, and Richard Norman were the building and grounds committee, and spent quite a few Saturdays working with us. Additional money was also allcoated for the septic system. One of the board members asked Virgil, as caretaker, which was more important, a swimming pool or a septic system. He said, “I guess it depends on which way the wind is blowing.” The toilet needed to be torn down to make way for the septic system. One day, while in the house, I heard the tractor. On looking out the window, I saw the toilet was being moved near the house. Virgil said it was too good to destroy. A few months later, during camp, the water was off a few hours. Several people were glad there was a “back-up” system.
Friendships begun at camp are still pleasant memories for us, though twenty years have passed since we left. Lou Murter and Jim Melvin were an encouragement to us and offered practical assistance when needed. Our two and one-half years at Camp Manatawny were a very influential part of our lives, and we are privileged to have shared that experience with many wonderful people.
Behind the porch wall of the caretaker’s house was a stone structure, identified by one man as an oven. No one could find its opening, until one night when Virgil Anderson was caretaker. He noticed a loose panel behind the room, and moved it. Behind it was another panel. When he reached back, one of the boards fell, and exposed an opening. He thought it should be to the outside, but it wasn’t. It was an opening into what was confirmed to be an old brick oven. In his excitement, he immediately called Don Garrett with the news, even though it was 2:30 in the morning. The oven has been opened up, but not fully restored. Its cast iron door has the name Colebrookdale Works, Frendlickh & Co. This company was in business only a few years in the mid- 1700′s, a time in history when houses like this one had brick ovens built in the back for baking bread.
One of the first areas of work in order to meet state inspection, was the kitchen. During the first camp session, Mr. Wasco, a state inspector, showed up to check out the kitchen, toilets, etc. He smiled and said, “I’m not going to look closely at a lot of this stuff, because I used to camp, but you’ve got a lot of things here that have to be fixed up and brought up to spec.” He was very patient with the Board during those early years, and they did work hard to improve the kitchen, bath facilities and toilets.
The water system was antiquated and needed improvement. It consisted of two deep wells, a submerged electric pump, and a water tank, all of which were exposed to weather and cold temperatures. A building was designed, and with a lot of help and advice from Arlie Reece, a group led by Byron Trammell constructed the building, enclosing the complete water system. New water lines were layed throughout the camp, and the system was upgraded with an iodonizer to bring it into compliance with local and state laws.
Paul Ebersol,a contractor and carpenter from the Camp Hill congregation, came to the second work session, July 4, 1967, and rebuilt the old wooden walk-in refrigerator, completely sealing all walls, sides, and floor. A second-hand freezer was purchased, and Bill Garrett, Jerry Liddick, and Everett Harwood installed it. It operated the first twenty years of camp, until a new one had to be installed.
A new electrical system was installed by board member Eugene Pattishall, in 1972, which due to his knowledge and contacts with Penn Electric, saved the camp approximately $9,000.
The next major project was a sewage system. The state complained that it did not operate successfully, so Bill Beasen and Byron Trammell, with the help of a contractor, installed a new one in 1973. It is still functional today and meets all the state regulations.
Another problem which had to be worked on periodically, was the roofs of the buildings. They were tar paper and pitch, and would constantly need repair. Bill Garrett remembers working on them, “Before we shingled them, we had applied a layer of tar on the old roof. Mr. Noe’s son and I painted ourselves into the problem of standing on the very top of the roof, with no way of getting down except to walk across the tar. The first step that was taken we slid off the roof and right to the ground.”
In 1972, a severe storm blew a lot of the roofs off, so the Board decided to try to re-roof all the buildings. Through contacts with CERTAIN-TEED, the camp was given shingles, if they would go to York, PA to get them. A large trailer was secured, and the project was launched. Different congregations came to the camp with work crews. Each group had a leader, and the job was accomplished quickly, and with good fun and fellowship.
After the new roofs were on the buildings, they noticed how badly the buildings needed painting. They were battleship gray with white trim, and the Board decided to keep them that color. Eunice Pickering recalls that she arranged with MAB Paint Company to sell some paint very cheaply to the camp. It was good paint that had been rejected after it had been mixed. Don quickly made a deal on it, and all were surprised to see the color – green. They used it anyway, as Don said you couldn’t argue with the price, and it’s called Garrett Green to this day.
Byron Trammell explains, “Don, Ralph and I painted the first time. A few years later, I painted all the buildings. I took two weeks of vacation…the cabins, rec hall, and restroom and hospital were painted the week before camping started. There was no family camp that year. During Senior High week, I finished the remaining buildings.” Byron recalls how he and Ralph Crume rented a spray gun to speed along the work. Ralph was the first to really experience Garrett Green, becoming completely covered with the paint except for his eyes. He was forever known as the Jolly Green Giant. Byron covered his hair and face with a scarf when he began painting, but he was still so covered with green that the campers began to call him the Manatawny Creek monster. His work was rewarded with a “Free Week Certificate” to Family Work and Worship Week for the following year.
Other early building projects included enclosing three open pavillions in Girls’ Town to make cabins. Another project was replacing the porch on the rec hall.
Through the years, many building projects have added to the camp’s ability to serve. In 1970, a fund was established to build a swimming pool. The state had outlawed swimming in the creek, due to a polio epidemic in the late 1950′s. This had led to the closing of the camp and its eventual sale by the Union. Eunice Pickering suggested the slogan SINK OR SWIM to kick off the pool fund, and children saved pennies and canteen monies, until the fund grew. Board member Noel Beale was in charge of the project. Sylvania Pool Company put the pool in, and a local Christian contractor virtually donated his time to put in reinforcements and fence, making it a beautiful pool. It was finished in 1974.
Next the multi-purpose building project was launched in 1978. The camp attendance was by that time reaching a minimum of 100 per week, and the need for a place for rainy-day activities was great.
It takes great faith to continually plan for the future and launch building projects when there is little or no cash on hand to work with, but Don Garrett has that kind of faith. His untiring faith and energy brought strong leadership and vision to the Board of Directors, and to the Camp as a whole. Byron Trammell recalls many times when the Board members sat around talking until after midnight, wondering how they would pay bills. It took great faith in God, and trust in fellow Christians that someone would come through with the money or help needed. The Lord always provided the resources needed.
Don has had the ability to determine the amount of payments needed to pay a debt in a certain length of time, then convince that number of families to commit themselves to pledges, breaking the total down into manageable amounts, so the camp could get out of debt quickly. By 1979, the original property mortgage, as well as the loan to build the swimming pool, were paid completely. That same year, at the 10th annual Booster Appreciation Dinner, the two mortgages were burned, and pledges were taken to pay for the multi-purpose building.
By 1986, the old freezer was so bad, that dry ice had to be used to get through the season. Noel Beale was contacted, and a new unit was purchased. When the workers removed the old freezer to install the new one, they discovered the roof and flooring were completely rotten, and the siding needed to be replaced as well. So, not only did they buy a new energy-efficient freezer/refrigerator unit, but had to rebuild the entire back of the kitchen, to install it. The floor was torn out and replaced, walls relocated, electric and water systems upgraded, and support beams replaced. Herb Tenant, Leo Miller, and Lloyd Peters worked during Junior High week, pouring a slab and putting up walls. The freezer was put on one side, with new food storage space on the other, and new food preparation equipment was installed.
Then, they realized that there were rotten boards in the other part of the kitchen floor. That winter, Byron Trammell and his Allentown group came and tore it out. They took out everything but the stoves and sink, which were on blocks. The tile had to be ordered from New Mexico, which took longer than expected. As spring came and the camp began to be readied for summer, a bar was put across the kitchen door to keep people from falling through the floor.
Carol Bailey and Lois Denton had a different perspective on the work. “We thought there were only two boards to be replaced, but then Byron and his Wrecking Crew from Allentown came in and tore up the whole place. One day Lynn Evans fell through a hole, and Chip Hartzell’s dog ran under the bar, and fell straight down into the dirt!”
Roger Hladky and his group from Tabernacle, New Jersey, installed the floor and put the kitchen back together. New sinks, including one for pots and pans, and the glass-door refrigerator were bought. Mike Farleman installed the wiring in the new kitchen. Caretakers Hill and Earlene Seaver, Bill and Debbie McGee, along with the Garretts, painted the kitchen just in time for camp to start the summer of 1987.
The bath houses at the pool, providing new restroom and shower facilities, as well as changing rooms, were finished in 1988, after a year of hard work. Byron and Don measured and staked off the location, then Dennis Grimm of Allentown drew up plans. Manny Martin, who had worked on putting in Don’s trailer, came and put in all the septic systems at the pool, prepared the foundation, and dug the footers for the bath houses. Peter Jacoby and a group from Glen Rock came and put blocks on the footers to build foundations for the buildings. Then, about 50 tons of fill dirt were dumped on the location, to raise the insides of the foundation blocks. Dennis dug trenches to install the drains. All the plumbing was installed in ground, then 4″ of crushed stone was poured over that, which was then covered with concrete slab. Dennis then built the concrete block buildings. Manny Martin used his truck and equipment to grade out a bank around the buildings, poured concrete entrances to the bath houses, and while he was at it, put in a stone driveway to the dumpster. Gary Shultz designed benches and partitions for locker rooms, while Dennis built cabinets for the sinks. The floor ventilation was designed by Lester Winnette, who then bought the materials and installed them. Family Camp workers painted the insides of the buildings. This is a perfect example of how the camp has managed to become such a successful and well-kept place: with the help of many people working together.
Plans were underway to build a new hospital, so several men got together and moved the old hospital to the end of Boys’ Town, to become an office. Richard Williams, then camp caretaker, prepared the ground for the office, by setting up pilings for footers on built up piers. Lloyd Peters had large jacks from railroad cars, which he brought out to use. Leonard Stoltzfus, a neighbor and good friend of the camp, brought over his tractor to use. Jerry Reynolds engineered the move, recalling, “We jacked up the building, put it on a skid, got the tractor, and pulled that thing diagonally across camp, then put it down at the end of Boys’ Town.” After it was moved, new siding and a porch were put on it. A group from Allentown came on a special day to finish it.
Lloyd Peters engineered the new hospital. Don had designed it, and Manny Martin dug the footers. Peter Jacoby and his gang put the foundations in. Lloyd moved his trailer to camp, so he could work on the hospital and finish it by summer. It was started in the fall of 1987. Jack Bradley and Eddie Edwards, ex-partners in the Bradley, Garrett & Roberts Construction Company, came to help put the roof on. Lloyd recalls how he was on one side, Ed on the other, and Jack was on the ground cutting, while they measured. By noon, they had the plywood up, and by 3:00, were done, tarpaper and all. They were then able to work on the inside, and different men would come to help with dry wall and finishing. Ted Marx and Don did the windows, and Lloyd did the plumbing.
Other additions and improvements have been made over the years. In the early 1970′s, an opportunity came to buy a 4-room house for use as a staff cabin. James and Eunice Pickering bought it, and it was moved to the camp, just below the men’s shower house, where it still sits. Lawrence Binnie built the Foundation for it, then installed a fireplace inside, and an incinerator outside.
In the mid-1970′s, Jim and Ann Melvin moved a trailer onto the camp property, to become additional caretakers for the camp. Jim was always involved in doing special things to make the camp beautiful. Even when his health began to fail, he would still drive around on his cart, as Bill Garrett remembers him once bringing a horse out to Bill while he was working diligently to build the corral.
Ezra Wood used his skill as a sculptor to carve the new totem pole, letting the campers help paint it.
Lester Winnette has been a man continually working there on one project after another, with the ability to figure out what was needed to get the job done, and the expertise to do it himself, sometimes with no help, and the willingness to pay for the materials himself. Herb Tennent rebuilt some of the dining tables, adding formica tops, with the help of Lloyd Peters. Gary Schultz, a carpenter, would call Don and ask what project was needed, then bring the special materials to do it.
Don Garrett relates how the large gazebo, a welcome addition, was added to camp:
Lloyd Peters engineered the construction of the large gazebo. He was ably assistged by Ted Marx, with others helping out from time to time.
Dr. Bob Currie was also a big help. Bob was no stranger to camp. He had helped with the addition to the utility shed, and he and his sons built the large deck on the back of the Garrett’s trailer. Bob had a good contact with the Carter Lumber Company in Lancaster, and he used his influence to get ther camp a good discount.
I asked Lloyd to make up the material list, not only for the gazebo, but also for new porches on the rec hall and canteen buildings. He asked me where I wanted the gazebo, then staked it out from the canteen. Dan Shirey, a Christian neighbor, brought over his tractor and post hole digger, and dug the holes. During the summer, the gazebo was built. That winter, working in his garage, Lloyd built a cupola for the top of the gazebo. Next spring, he brought it to camp and put it up. With the help of others, the “Manatawny” bell was installed in the cupola.
Lloyd then put new porches on the canteen and rec hall. Right after our trailer was moved to camp, Lloyd built the front porch for Ruth.
The small gazebo that had been there since the camp’s beginnings, was too rotten to fix, so Arlie Reece built a new one, with the help of Bill Denton and Carl Woods.
Delaware Valley Christian Camp, Inc. purposes are to conduct a camp; provide Bible teaching and facilities and opportunities for worship; to promote spiritual, mental, social and physical development of children and adults; to buy, sell, mortgage and lease real estate and personal property; and to do all other lawful acts in furtherance of said purpose…
(DVCC By-Laws, Sec. l)
From the beginning, some of the Board members could see the future necessity of buying more properties for expansion, and to build a buffer zone around the camp from encroaching population growth.
Four properties surrounded the camp:
1. The Brumbach property, approximately 30 acres, bordered the original camp site on the east, to the public road (Manatawny Rd.), with Manatawny Creek flowing through it.
2. The Fick property, approximately 30 acres, bordered on the west to the public road (Camp Rd.). It included a large 18th century stone house and several buildings. It included most of the wooded area on the hill behind the camp.
3. The Emery property, approximately 40 acres, borders the camp on the south to Rd. 562.
4. The Graham property, approximately 1 acre, lies directly north of the camp, within the borders of the original camp and the Fick property. It features a cabin, and includes right-of-way through the camp property.
Relations with the Brumbachs began soon after the camp had begun. Bob Williams would bring groups down during the off-season, sleeping by the fireplace in the rec hall, and waking up to freezing weather outside. During the day, they would go hiking in the surrounding woods. On such a hike, Bob met Edwin Brumbach, the grandfather, who still worked the old mill on Manatawny Creek. He was eighty years old when Bob took Don Garrett to meet him. Mr. Brumbach was very active, and enjoyed company, so many camp workers visited him. He was interested in the camp, and what it was doing for young people.
After five or six years, Edwin Brumbach arranged a meeting at his house between Don and Bob, and his three sons and daugh- ter. The focus of the visit was that he wanted the camp to have his property when he was gone. His son Clyde was a realtor, and could take care of the necessary arrangements. There was the 30 acres, the mill, and other buildings on the camp side of Manatawny Road, then 40 acres, and his log house, with other buildings, across the road. He thought a good price would be $50,000 for everything, to which Bob and Don agreed.
The camp board was informed of the meeting, but because there was no money, no action took place. Don and Bob continued to visit Mr. Brumbach until he died. They received a call from Clyde that they had first refusal on the property, but that the price was not $50,000, but $75,000. The camp could not act at that time, because there was still the mortgage on the original property, the $35,000 pool expense, and the $45,000 multi-purpose building.
The Brumbach property was to be sold at auction. Don, Fred Wheeler, and Ken Nichols went to the auction to find out who bought the property, and to see if there would be any way the camp could purchase the property nearest its border. Surprisingly, the property did not sell, because no one offered near the asking price.
Don kept in contact with Clyde, who subdivided the property, selling the house and all but 2 acres on the east side of Manatawny Rd. for $75,000. He wanted $45,000 for the more than 20 acres containing outbuildings and the mill, which bordered the camp property Clyde then subdivided again; three acres, including the old mill and buildings, were kept in the estate. One acre surrounding the old Spring Forge Lodge was sold to Russell Graham, cutting up the property on the back side of the hill behind the camp. Clyde wanted to sell lots along the creek, an idea which greatly disturbed Don and Byron Trammell.
Although the two men continually talked with Clyde and the camp board, they could find no middle ground for agreement. Finally, Byron decided to arrange to get the property for the camp. He and Don negotiated the price down to $30,000 for 20 acres. The camp board would only commit to $10,000. Byron put a package together with Brumbach holding a 3-year mortgage at 10% for the remaining $20,000. Two families said they each would give $5,000, and 10 families committed to giving $1,000 each, making up the total $20,000 needed. The two families donating $5,000, decided to give it immediately, in a large sum, and the other ten families began to do the same. Finally, in 1982, the Brumbach property was purchased, debt-free. As Don says, “The Lord will not do it for you, but oh! will He help you!”
The experience concerning the Emery property was a different matter. The part bordering the camp consists of 40 acres located between the camp and Rd. 562. The Emery family owned 60 acres, with approximately 20 acres used as a small mobile home park. On the other 40 acres, they decided to build townhouses. They were a prominent family in the community, and Mr. Emery was a town- ship supervisor.
A notice was sent out to all property owners in Earl Town- ship, stating that a meeting was to be held at the township fire hall on June 2, 1983, to change the ordinance on the Emery’s 40 acres from farm-restricted to commercial. Township secretary Joan Groff knew that no one was at Camp Manatawny to get the notice, since it was before camp sessions had begun. She also was aware that none of the Emery’s neighbors would get the not- ice, because they lived in Amity Township, which is divided from Earl Township by Rd. 562.
So, Joan Groff called Don Garrett and asked him to come to the township office. She gave him the notice of the hearing, and ran off copies for him to distribute to the neighbors living across the road from the Emery property.
Don went to all the neighbors, and they assured him they would attend the meeting and oppose the ordinance change.
The meeting fell during Family Camp. Don tried to get as many as possible to go to the hearing with him, since he was afraid and didn’t know what to expect. On Monday, Janis Turczyn suggested he call her husband, Tom, to go with him. At this point, Don did not know Tom Turczyn, having only seen him during that work session up on a roof doing carpentry work.
Since he was desperate for company, however, he called, and Tom said he’d let him know on Tuesday, the day of the meeting. That Tuesday, Bob Williams called that he would come down from Harrisburg to go with Don, and later, Tom called saying he had “good news and bad news.” The bad news was that his son Tad had come home from Family Camp sick, and been diagnosed with mononucleosis, so Don should warn all the families that their children had been exposed. The good news was, Tom would be coming to the meeting, although late. Don was grateful, and all at camp prayed about the out-come of the hearing.
When Don and Bob arrived that night, the fire hall was packed. They were in the back of the room, Bob standing, while Don perched on a stool. All of the township supervisors were there except for Mr. Emery. He had removed himself from the meeting, however, a lawyer was there with witnesses for Emery’s point of view. The township solicitor started the meeting. The attorney called one witness after another. Don and other members of the audience tried to make comments, but were told to keep quiet, that they were out of order. This went on with no let-up for about 30 minutes.
Finally, Don saw Tom at the door up in front, trying to find him. He waved, and Tom went outside to come around to the back door. Don remembers being impressed with Tom’s appearance, “He was dressed in a good looking business suit, a London Fogg top coat, and carrying a brief case.” Tom asked what had taken place, and Don gave him his notes. They went inside the back of he hall, where Tom listened for about 10 minutes, then suddenly raised his hand and called to the solicitor, “Point of Order.” The solicitor told him to keep quiet, that he was out of order, but Tom began to push his way to the front of the hall, continuing to speak as he went. By the time he got to the front, he had everyone’s attention. They had quite an exchange, and finally the solicitor asked, “Who are you, anyway?”
Tom shocked everyone, especially Don Garrett, when he re- plied, “I am an attorney of law representing Delaware Valley Christian Camp, Incorporated.”
Don remembers that he almost fell off the stool. He had no idea that Tom was an attorney!
The Emery’s lawyer shouted at Tom, “I did not even know you were going to be here!”
Tom just smiled at him and replied, “Counselor, I did not know you were going to be here, either.”
The solicitor asked Tom what he wanted, and he said he wanted to question all the witnesses. The solicitor replied that was impossible, because they had already testified, and been dismissed. Tom asked if anyone other than the Emery’s attorney had questioned them for the record. The solicitor replied that they had not. Tom repeated that he wanted to question them, and have their testimony on record. Again, the solicitor refused. Tom walked over to him and said, “Either you will permit it now, or at another meeting after I get a court order.”
A recess was called. Don talked with Tom and told him some background information about the camp. After the meeting continued, the Emery’s lawyer called more witnesses, and Tom was allowed to question them. Tom called every witness back and questioned them, until it was after midnight, yet no one had left the meeting.
Finally, the solicitor asked if Tom had any witnesses to call, and he said, “Absolutely! Don Garrett, Chairman of the Board of Delaware Valley Christian Camp.” While Don was making his way to the front, the supervisors called a recess, met with the two lawyers, and set up another meeting for a month later.
It was pouring rain when they left the meeting. Don, Tom, and Bob returned to camp, to find all the adults in the dining room waiting and praying. Don told them what God had done
through Tom. What a joyous time they had then, eating and fellowshipping until late in the night.
Tom decided it would be extremely important to get an expert witness for the next township meeting. They were able to get Glen K. Neuhs, author of the Township Comprehensive Plan, to testify against the proposed ordinance change. Mr. Neuhs had worked for the company that developed the plan for the township years earlier. He was able to show that the township had ample space set aside for commercial use and multi-family dwellings, and therefore did not need more. Further, he testified that the ordinance change would adversely affect water table, farm land, and other environmental concerns. His testimony was very impressive, and the supervisors took it under consideration, delaying any decision that night.
Don Garrett testified for the Camp, after receiving excellent coaching by Tom Turczyn on the important things to emphasize.
Although the Board had expected it would be quite expensive to hire such an expert witness as Mr. Neuhs, in the end he only charged them $200.00.
The supervisors eventually made a decision against the ordinance change.
One important outcome of the case, was the deepening relationship between the camp and Tom Turczyn, whose help and encouragement have proven so important in subsequent years.
One last note about the Emerys. Their property went up for sale in 1988, but the asking price was $875,000, and the camp did not make an offer. One of the Emery sons built houses on a 3 acre lot on Rd. 562, and another built on a 3 acre lot on Camp Rd. The Garretts now enjoy a friendly relationship with the family on Camp Road, and any old wounds have long ago healed. In 1983, the Fick property became available. At the Booster Dinner, Don stated, “I feel confident, just like I did when we bought the camp, that God will raise up the people to get the job done if it is His will.” This faith certainly became important, because the Fick property was not bought without struggle, yet turned out to great advantage for the camp.
Don had met Earl Fick in the spring of 1967. After exploring the mountainside, Don had been disturbed to learn that the camp did not own all the wooded area, and he realized it would be necessary to purchase some or all of the Fick property to protect the camp from future building. Don asked Mr. Fick if the camp could use his woods for hiking and picnics. He agreed, and took Don through his orchard to the top of the hill. He was very friendly, and quite interested in what the camp was doing for young people.
Over the years, Don and Earl Fick became friends, and in August of 1970, Don asked him what he planned to do with his property when he could no longer take care of it. His wife was dead, and he had no heir, except a woman he and his wife had befriended, who lived in the house. He told Don that he had planned to leave his property to a fraternal lodge, but he would want Ann Gechter to live in the house as long as she wanted. Don asked him if he would consider leaving his property to the camp, and assured him that there would be no problem with allowing Mrs. Gechter to remain in the house. He agreed, and they shook hands on the deal. Mr. Fick said he would contact his lawyer and get the necessary papers arranged. Don asked if he could help in any way, but Mr. Fick said he would take care of it. Three weeks later, Don called him, but he still had not made the arrangements. Two weeks later, Don called, but there was no answer. He continued to call off and on for two more weeks, with the same results–no answer. Finally, he went over to the house, and found out that Mr. Fick had died in September. There were no arrangements made for the camp, so the property was put in trust with the American Bank and Trust Company, in Reading. Don called the bank, and made an appointment with the trust officer, Richard Reed. Mr. Reed told him that Mrs. Gechter would continue to live in the house, and the bank would pay all bills and maintain the property, using money from the trust fund, until it became necessary to sell the property to pay the debts. Don requested, and received, a letter giving the camp first refusal whenever it became necessary to sell the property.
For the next ten years, Don kept close contact with the bank, meeting each trust officer as they assumed authority of the trust. In 1983, trust officer Tom McCarthy called to inform Don that the property was to be sold. The asking price was $126,000 for approximately 32 acres, divided into two parcels. Don received pictures, plot plan, and written description of the property, then held an open house at the property, inviting all camp members to come inspect it. The conclusion was for the camp to try to purchase it, and for Don to work out the details with the bank.
Over the next two months, Don met with four different contractors to ascertain things that needed to be repaired on the farm. Each time he would relay the findings to the bank, and the trust officer (Tom McCarthy) would agree to lower the price to cover the cost. Mr. McCarthy was anxious to sell the property and get it behind him, while the camp was trying to prolong settlement because they had no money. Finally, the trust officer told Don to make an offer on the property just as it was. The board decided to get it appraised, at a cost of $200. The appraisal was $115,000, which the camp offered, and Tom McCarthy accepted, sending a letter of agreement, which was to signed and returned to the bank.
Don had asked for, and received, a settlement date 90 days after the agreement was signed. This was to give more time for the camp to raise the money needed. However, the letter from the bank, which had been sent to Tom Turczyn’s office for review, remained unsigned too long, and Mr. McCarthy called with the news that a realtor had found out the Fick property was for sale. When he found out that the bank did not have a signed agreement, the realtor offered the bank $130,000 for it. Tom McCarthy checked with his bank’s legal department, and was told that it was his responsibility as trust officer, to get as much as possible for the property. Don immediately called Tom Turczyn, who told him to come get the letter and take it to the bank. Jerry Reynolds and Don dashed to Allentown to Tom’s office, got the signed agreement and rushed it to the bank in Reading, to Tom McCarthy’s office. However, the bank’s legal department was adamant that the camp must submit a higher bid if they wanted to buy the property. After seeking legal counsel, they were forced to make a bid of $136,000.
Upon meeting with the realtor, Don found that he wanted to buy the farm house for his daughter and her family. The camp agreed to sell him the house, if he would allow them to buy the property, but he refused.
The bank decided the only way to settle the matter was to hold an auction. It was to be an open bid session, in the bank’s conference room, at 10:00 A.M. Don and Tom Turczyn represented the camp. At 10:05, the realtor still had not arrived, so Don suggested to the trust officer that they had waited long enough. The bank officers agreed, and asked if the camp’s bid was still $136,600. They replied it was, but that they would pursue an Equity Action Suit, since they had a letter accepting their prior bid of $115,000. The bank agreed, and the agreement was signed. Just after Don had signed the check, the realtor and his group came in. They were told by the bank that the camp won the bid for the property. The realtor was so angry that the bank representatives left to get advise from their legal department. They returned quickly with confirmation that the property belonged to the camp. The realtor and his group were in an uproar. Don asked if they were finished, and he and Tom quickly left. They could still hear the angry group yelling, even down the hall.
The camp had only a short time to prepare for settlement, so Bill Garrett worked out a loan because of his business contacts with the Dauphen Bank in Harrisburg. The Fick property settlement was completed at the bank in Reading, but the Equity Action Suit was yet to begin.
The camp debt was a problem which had to be dealt with quickly. The total outstanding was $190,000, including the Fick property. Money was coming in from contributions, but not at the rate needed to carry a mortgage. Charles Gerhis at the National Bank of Boyertown, gave the camp a floater loan at prime rate, reducing each time they made a payment. They paid off the Dauphen Bank loan, leaving everything consolidated in the one loan at Boyertown Bank. Still, they paid almost $1,000 a month in interest.
It became obvious that they would need to sell the Fick house and 3 acres surrounding the outbuildings. On January 1, 1985, the board made application for a variance for a subdivision, and Joan Groff, the township secretary was very helpful, so that they could have a hearing at the next supervisors’ meeting. There was no problem, but the camp was required to have the property surveyed, and the plans submitted to the township. John Ashton, a surveyor, was contacted in February, but because of bad weather, it took him two months to get the land surveyed. By that time, the camp had reduced the bank loan to approximately $100,000.
On June 20, Tom Turczyn, Bill Garrett, Byron Trammell, Don Bollinger, Jerry Reynolds, and Don Garrett met with the Earl Township supervisors. The variance was approved, as well as the applications to build a new camp hospital, two bath houses at the pool, and move a mobile home onto the camp property. With the issuing of these new permits, the camp felt secure that the leadership in the township were at last friends of the camp.
The township meeting was on a Thursday night. The next day, Family Camp began, and the board had a special meeting, sharing with their fellow workers the blessings the Lord had provided in the successful results of their labors.
Realtor Clyde Brumbach listed the Fick property of 3 acres and buildings for sale. He suggested an asking price of $105,000. At the end of six months, however, they reduced the price to $99,900, then $95,900. Although five different buyers had come along, none were able to get financing. Six months later, they reduced the price further, to $86,900, then finally, $79,
000. All were relieved when it sold for that amount, to Mr. & Mrs. William Currie. The camp did fix up necessary areas, spending a total of $9,000 on the house and buildings, but when they went to settlement on April 11, 1986, they were able to come out completely debt-free.
During the year that the Fick property was on sale, the National Bank of Boyertown had worked with the camp in unusual ways, to secure the financing needed. For the first three months, the camp held a demand note, which required an extension every three months. In six months’ time, the loan had been reduced to $91,500. On October 28, they received another extension, and had reduced the demand note to $60,000. The bank did not pressure them to take out a mortgage, but agreed to give extensions up to April, 1986. That took them to the property settlement date.
Mr. Fick was a collector of bells, with 11 on his property, on buildings, and on poles around the buildings. Two of the bells were brass bells, supposedly off locomotives from the old Reading Railroad. One bell had “Manatawny” molded in it, and another, “Tall Timbers.” The camp kept the Manatawny bell, and placed it in a cupola on top of the new gazebo.
On February 25, 1985, Jerry Reynolds brought his friend George Bickel, owner of a welding shop, to camp. They picked up Don Garrett and went to the Fick property. Mr. Bickel removed the bells and brackets, then burned off all the poles at ground level. Richard Williams, and camp caretaker Al Rotenberry, went after the bells, and carried them to the camp. The only bell left on the farm was the one on top of the garage.
At the Camp Booster Dinner on March 30, Larry Norsworthy acted as auctioneer to sell the bells as a fund-raiser. It was very exciting as prices rose into the hundreds and thousands. Virgil Smith was the high bidder on the Tall Timber brass bell, outbidding Byron Trammell with a bid of $3,200. Virgil also bought another bell for $300. Others who bought bells that night were Byron Trammell, John Arnold, Ben Hancock, and Don Garrett, raising a total of $5,675 for the camp.
During this time period, the Equity Action Suit had begun to take place. On April 9, Tom McCarthy, Kenneth Sands, Tom Turczyn, Don Garrett, and Judge Lieberman met for a conference. The Judge suggested, after hearing both sides, that they settle out of court. The bank and the camp agreed to a 50/50 split of the difference of $21,600, which was the amount between what the camp first offered for the Fick property, and what they had to pay after the second party’s contract was accepted. Therefore, the camp’s share of the cost would be $10,800.
The camp board was willing to agree to the terms. In May, however, they received notice that the legal department of the bank advised the bank not to go 50/50, but to return to the camp only the difference between what they had paid and what the other party had offered: $6,500.
Don Garrett was not impressed with this offer, and asked Tom Turczyn to talk to the camp board about it. They all realized that the least they could lose was $6,500, while they might possibly gain $21,600, if they won the suit. So, they decided to go ahead with court action.
After much consultation, the judge called both parties to a Pre-Trial Conference, on October 29. Tom advised Don that because of the judge’s Jewish religious background, any pleas for the camp should be based on community service, not on Christian service. The judge was favorable toward the camp, however, advising the bank to think carefully of their actions before they went to trial.
On December 20, 1985, Don Garrett received a call while in Tennessee, from Byron Trammell, then vice-president of the board, that Tom Turczyn said the bank would settle 50/50. That was certainly good news to all of the board.
At the Camp Booster Dinner, March 8, 1986, at the George Washington Motor Lodge, Tom Turczyn presented Don Garrett with the check for the settlement. It totaled $12,200, including accumulated interest. The successful outcome of this affair was another example of God’s care and providence over the camp.
The purchase of the Brumbach and Fick properties brought the camp’s total property up to approximately 85 acres. The Board finally felt secure that the camp had a buffer zone that would protect it from further development, and enable it to keep the quiet, serene atmosphere necessary for a Christian camp.
“Manatawny means ‘here we drank.’ According to legend, the Lenape Indians stopped at Manatawny Creek to quench physical thirst. Scriptural motto of the camp is ‘an inner spring welling up always for eternal life.’ (John 4:14 NEB)
Camp Manatawny provides a place for young people to receive spiritual refreshment and drink of ‘living waters.’” …Don Garrett
From the first year’s two week session, the camp grew, adding week by week, until all ages of children from 7 through high school were given the opportunity to come. By 1982, the camp had grown to over 1,000 people participating in sessions. In 1985, Don Garrett reported that the camp had served 45 congregations of Churches of Christ in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Delaware and Maryland. It has been estimated that there are 86 congregations within the area.
Notable events through the years have left lasting memories on many people. Here are but a few: Dwight and Barby Smith remember when the Senior High campers held a friendship circle around the new pool, at night, holding candles which reflected in the water.
Gayle Crow remembers one week when Don learned that a calf was about to be born at the farm just behind Boys’ Town. Scrapping the schedule for the day, he took the entire camp to see the birth, realizing the memory would be something the campers would always treasure.
Many Junior and Senior High directors speak of baptisms over the years, that have changed lives with far-reaching effects. Peter Jacoby baptized the friend of a friend, while he was a teen-ager at camp, little knowing he would one day marry her. Peter was the first camper alumnus to become a member of the Board.
Ron McFarland had a unique opportunity to make a lasting memory for the campers in the summer of 1991, when one of his counselors arranged for an Army helicopter to land on the open space in front of the pool. This created much excitement among campers and staff alike, as they were invited on board for a tour.
In addition to the strong spiritual emphasis and Bible classes during each session, camp is filled with many fun activities. Older groups enjoy Stunt/Talent Night. Elementary II week has had a Carnival Night for the past several years, that has become a big hit. Many sessions close the week with Kangaroo Court, a unique way to “settle scores” by having fun. And, what would camp be without Campfire, with its silly songs, and even weird stories. There are always several versions of the Claw Car, the Pink or Yellow Glove, as well as the supposed sighting of Chief Manatawny rowing down the creek, holding a torch in the moonlight. Bill Garrett remembers Lou Murter dressing in Indian garb and telling Indian stories around the campfire.
Even though there are always organized sports, some campers find their own unique forms of entertainment. Bill Garrett, and Dwight Smith remembered when a big oak tree behind Boy’s cabins 1 and 2, was used for swinging, with a large rope tied to some very high branches. The only person who hated that swing was the camp nurse, as the campers swung higher and higher, even landing on the cabin roof. Late one night, in 1981, while Bill was directing Elementary week, he heard a terrible crashing and snapping noise. Jumping up, he ran outside, thinking some boys were slamming shutters. Then he saw the branches of the big oak tree,
as it crashed through the ceiling of Boys’ cabin 1, hitting the top bunk. Fortunately, no one was hurt! The staff felt that the Lord had taken care of the swing problem for them. The tree was cut into slices and sold in canteen as souvenirs.
Perry Kemplin remembers when Michael Oh brought enough locks to camp to lock all the girls in their cabins in the night. Then he placed the first of a set of clues at the front of the Director’s cabin that would allow him to locate the key to the locks.
Perry also remembers when Jim Wilson and some of his pals decided to put the Kemplins’ little Fiat convertible in the dining hall one night. He awoke and saw what they were doing, but decided it wasn’t a good idea, since the car might be too heavy for the dining hall floor.
Several times throughout the years, unusually wet weather has turned the grassy slopes into water slides, sometimes with muddy results, but enjoyed by the campers.
Campers are not alone in their pranks. The staff, including Directors, have been known to “pull” a few. Bill Garrett remembers being in charge of the Chain Gang – a group of teen-aged workers – one year during Intermediate II week. The group was responsible for cleaning bathrooms, washing dishes, and general camp maintenance. One member of the Chain Gang created many problems, so Bill decided to teach him a lesson. There were several sports lockers in the cabins to hang their clothes in. While the boy was sleeping, Bill and other members of the group laid one of the lockers on the floor, then picked up the boy, in his sleeping bag, and dropped him into it. Closing the locker door, they carried it down to the girls’ bathroom, stood it up-
right, and returned to bed. The boys thought they had done something quite unique, but the Director and Co-Director – Fred Wheeler and Jerry Reynolds, as well Bill’s dad, Don Garrett, were sitting in the dark watching the whole thing, and let the screaming boy out.
Thelma Kemplin remembers one extremely hot and dry week, before there was a swimming pool, the staff allowed the campers to have water balloon fights, and spray each other with water hoses. As she sat watching in her favorite recliner, on the staff porch, Lane Melton and Don Garrett slipped up and picked her up, chair and all, and carried her right into the middle of the spraying water hoses, completely ruining her clothes and new hair-do. She kept her cool, though, and didn’t even get upset.
Dwight Smith remembers when Don Garrett and Jerry Reynolds took the moose head from the rec hall, tied it to the nurse’s cart, covered the cart with a blanket, and pushed the thing up to the cooks’ cabin, in the middle of the night, then blew on a moose horn, all of which awoke the cooks in quite a state of fright.
Don Garrett, as Junior High Director, recalls one night around 11:45, when the camp was quiet (a director’s dream), and supposedly everyone was in bed, he saw a light on in the dining room. He found John Barton and Larry Bills, with their books, studying and talking. Don joined in, and for over an hour, they discussed and solved all the camp problems, the college problems, the church problems, and were starting in on world affairs, when Larry decided it would be a good idea to announce to all the camp, over the PA system, that Tokyo Rose was reporting in from Japan. Now, if you never heard Larry’s impersonation, you are missing something. It is hilarious, but of course, Don would not permit such a thing. Larry and John then went into the kitchen to see what else they could do. They decided to cut the bottom out of two empty gallon bleach bottles and make horns. Don suggested quite strongly that they all three go to bed, but he could see that those two guys were going to get into trouble. He went into the dining room, where he saw John’s glasses laying on a table. He picked them up, then went back into the kitchen and told John and Larry that he was going to bed, and they should do the same.
Don went outside and stood in the shadows, watching, as John and Larry went sneaking around the cabins, blowing the horns between giggles. Some of the staff yelled, “You kids get back in your cabins!” Mary Barton opened the cabin door and yelled, “You guys stop that noise and get back in your cabin.” After a while they tired of this, and went back to the kitchen, returning to the flag pole with towels and aprons. After tying them to the rope, they ran them up the flag pole.
After these shenanigans, the two went back to the dining room, and Don heard John asking Larry if he’d seen his glasses. They looked for them without success, then John concluded he must have left them in his cabin. Finally, they each went back to their own cabin. After a while, Don took everything down from the flag pole, took it back to the kitchen, put it away, and went to bed.
Early in the morning, Don went to the office, and talked to Dorothy Martin, his office worker. He told her about John and Larry’s activities, and asked her to cooperate with him at breakfast. She readily agreed. When they got to the dining room for breakfast, many told about what they heard in camp that night. Mary Barton was quite upset. Don told them that he knew about it. Don realized he had played a great joke on John and Larry, as he watched them checking things out in the kitchen, particularly the towels and aprons. Finally, as Don was making the announcements for the day, Dorothy Martin came up and told him about the two guys running around the camp, carrying on and making noise during the night. She said she knew who one of them was, and that the other one had dropped his glasses. At this, she held up the glasses Don had taken from John the night before. Now everyone believed Dorothy, because she was the wife of J. T. Martin, an elder at Cedars. He was also the first Family Camp director. Dorothy had a more serious nature, and was very convincing. It was obvious to everyone that if Don and Dorothy knew who the glasses belonged to, the two culprits would be known. Don asked, “Does anyone know who these glasses belong to?” Don was looking right at John Barton, who was sitting there with a sheepish, silly grin on his face. John said, “Don, they belong to Mary,” and Mary yelled, “John, was that you?!” to which the place was filled at laughter. Needless to say, at a special Kangaroo Court session these two were dealt with swift, righteous justice, but Don says he doesn’t remember any mercy. All of this was done to the extreme delight of the campers, and Don admits to getting a little satisfaction out of it himself. However, it certainly appears that the adage is true that “Camp Makes A Difference” – one is now a Ph.D. and a college professor, the other a college president.
Thelma Kemplin remembers cabin inspection once, when Roger Hladky and his cabin put everything into the trunk of his car, leaving the cabin almost spotlessly clean. Thelma wrote “checked out, gone home” on her report. The next morning, the same cabin stacked everything into a pyramid in the middle of the floor. So, she counted off because, “shoes and luggage were not neatly arranged under the bed.”
Bill Garrett remembers how Jerry Reynolds tipped the scales on the side of the judge in Kangaroo Court. The judge would sit on a high seat looking down on the people on trial, who would sit together on a large bench. He would say if they were guilty, to please stand up. Jerry rigged up a little hand-driven generator that was wired to the seat of the bench. When the question was asked, he would start cranking the generator, and up would jump all the kids, pleading guilty.
Each Director, and each session has its own memories which could fill a book. Each memory creates a special feeling of warmth and love, and a longing for those days to return. Out of the mouths of campers come some of the best expressions. Here are a few:
Jordan Miller, son of camper alumni Cheryl Focht and Jeff Miller, of Dover, Delaware, in answer to his 4th grade public school teacher, Evelyn McFarland, when she asked regarding traditions, “What is something you would like to pass on to the next generation?” replied, “Camp Manatawny!” Deseree Smith, 6 years old, kept telling her grandmother, Barby Smith, all the things she had done this summer at “my camp,” finally asking, “Do you know about my camp?” Her grandmother assured her, that she did indeed! Eunice Pickering’s granddaughters, Mindy and Crystal Pickering, went to Camp Manatawny from Texas. When asked if they had enjoyed it, Mindy replied, “I just hope Heaven is this great!”
Camp sessions have grown and changed over the years, as various needs have arisen. This flexibility has increased the ability to truly serve the church and community.
In the early days, Memorial Day was a work day, which by 1970 was combined with a lectureship. In 1974, it was changed into what was later known as Family Camp. Manatawny Family Camp was patterned after the successful work camp held each year at Camp Ganderbrook, Maine. By 1979, it had become a session lasting from Friday to Wednesday, around the first part of June. The past few years, it has been called Work and Worship week.
In addition to getting the camp ready for summer sessions, Work & Worship week is an opportunity for entire families to enjoy Christian fellowship and Bible study. J. T. Martin was the first director. Other directors have been Byron Trammell, Fred Wheeler, John Barton, Tony Mowrer, Jim Wilson, and Chip Hartzell. Jim Bailey coordinated work details. In 1989, there were 150 in attendance.
In the early 1980′s, a new tradition was started at Family Camp. Andrea Duzan, from Newark, Delaware, originated a Ladies’ Shopping Spree to the Reading Outlets. This tradition has continued, becoming an object of much anticipation by the ladies, if not their husbands.
In 1973, a Music Camp was held for Senior high students. Staff was composed of Northeastern Christian College members, with the college A Cappella Chorus serving as counselors. This later developed into a retreat for students of music and drama from NCJC.
In 1974, the camp had a unique opportunity to reach children from Inner City Philadelphia. This was the first of Inner City week, which continued through 1980. The following year, Long Island week was held, which offered a similar experience to children from Long Island, New York. It was coordinated and conducted by Jerry Hill, and continued through 1981.
A report from the King of Prussia congregation, sponsoring church for the Inner City camp, relates that the camp was staffed with NCJC students and members of the King of Prussia Church of Christ, with their minister, Robert Henry as director. It was a controlled environment, where the children saw Christian principles lived on a day-to-day basis. This changed lives, since it was something they were not accustomed to seeing. Some cried at the end of the week, and did not want to go home. Jim Wilson, Jr. remembers the challenge to staff working with such children:
About 15 years ago Paul Graefe, III and I were asked to work Inner City camp. Both Paul and I were from the suburbs of Philadelphia, middle class families. We had naturally visited the city on many occasions, but had not lived with ‘city’ children, and certainly not with inner city children.
The first few days of Inner City camp were tough. When I walked into my cabin, the boys looked at me and asked if I was their counselor. I replied, ‘Yes,’ and they began to laugh and ‘buss’ me. I came to learn later that this term meant to verbally abuse me.
Everywhere you looked there were fights between campers. A far cry from the normal sessions at Manatawny. Everyone had to out-do the other in athletics, bussin, or whatever was the activity at the time.
Night time was different. When it got dark, the boys were scared, but did not want to admit it. For most of my campers, this was the first time for them to be in the woods, not to mention at night time.
Paul and I had a difficult time those first few days. However, by the time Wednesday rolled around, we were beginning to make some friends. We began to get close to the boys, and they to us. We had been put through the fire by the boys, now it was time to have some fun with them!
The boys said they were not scared of the woods, darkness, or anything, for that matter. One night, Paul brought his boys into my cabin, and he left to take a shower. I told the boys a story about some kind of monster that only comes to camp every hundred years or so. Of course, that night happened to be the precise time for the monster’s return. This monster reached through the roof of the old camp cabins (100 years ago) and carried away all the bad campers. Needless to say, the boys were scared. They were really scared when they heard scratching on the roof of our cabin! It was Paul, but they were convinced it was the monster.
Later that night, during a thunderstorm,I woke up and noticed one of the younger boys had crawled into bed with me, and the rest of the cabin was in bed with one another! The next morning, they said they were not scared, but lonely.
When these two weeks had ended, we all had learned a lot. We learned a lot about each other, and grew to be friends. I’ve seen some of those campers since our time together that summer, and we rejoice with one another, especially about the good time we had at camp – a camp with Christian ideals.
This “Camp with Christian Ideals” began reaching further into the Christian community, providing a good place for a group to enjoy the company of fellow Christians and participate in many opportunities for growth. It began by touching Singles in 1980, whose retreat quickly developed into two retreats, one in Fall, one in Spring. Retreats for Senior and Junior High students were soon added in Spring. Ladies and Men had their own retreats as well.
Since one of the Board’s goals has been to serve the community as a vehicle for making contact, promoting the gospel, and giving the church a good name, it is not surprising that it has taken advantage of opportunities to assist outside organizations.
In 1983, Boy Scouts held a Fall camp, and rented it in subsequent years, as did Girl Scouts.
In 1985, the Pennsylvania State Police asked to rent the camp for their cadet program. Don Garrett reported to the Board that he had met with State Trooper Trait, grandson of Edwin Brumbach, to inspect the camp to see if it was suitable for their needs. The trooper was impressed with the facilities, and so began the relationship which has resulted in good community relations and outreach. The cadet camp session is held each August after regular sessions. After the two-week session, (one for boys, one for girls) closing ceremonies are held.
Jerry Reynolds relates, “I was there when some of the dignitaries were assembled, and here came some guys from parachutes, and boom! they landed right on the athletic fields. They bring in the diplomas by special delivery air mail…things like that catch a lot of community attention…Ruth Garrett is always considered the nurse, and Don Garrett is a chaplain for these events, and in some of the ceremonies there are so many dignitaries and officials that it is not possible to seat them all in the rec hall. If the weather is good and we are out in the open, then fine, if the weather is bad, many of them just do not get seats. They can’t even cram into the multi-purpose building. We couldn’t buy the publicity that all this gives.”
The State Police have been very involved with improving camp facilities, particularly the rifle range, and now a new timed balance beam course. The Metropolitan-Edison Electric Company did the work on the balance beam course, while the police paid for it, They have told Don to let them know whatever is needed at the camp, and they will get it.
By 1992, the schedule included two Youth retreats, two Singles retreats, a men’s retreat, a women’s retreat, family camp, six sessions for children (through high school), in addition to the rental by outside agencies.
“Nothing that we have done collectively has done more for our children or for the advancement of better fellowship among the congregations.” …Don Garrett
Truly, Camp Manatawny has touched many diverse lives, and brought together Churches of Christ in the Northeast in a way nothing else could. Members of congregations from the 5-state region have been involved from the beginning, in working on the camp facilities, teaching or counseling at camp, or just as campers.
Jerry Reynolds relates: “Some of the children that I knew as campers when they were 12 or 14 years old have called me as they finish high school, with their problems…one young lady in particular told me about a very serious problem she had, and I asked her, ‘ When did I first meet you?’ and she said, “Oh, it was at camp.” This one thing that imprinted on her mind was the values we try to instill at camp, and that made a difference in her life later…”
Camp not only touches the campers in a special way, but the staff people, too. An example of such an experience comes from Loren Green of Frenchville, Pennsylvania:
In the Spring of 1987, while I was worshipping with the Camp Hill church, Brother Don Garrett gave a presentation on Camp Manatawny. I was going to have two of my granddaughters attend Junior High week that summer. However, I was a bit uneasy about them attending a camp that I knew very little about. Consequently, after Brother Don’s presentation, I approached him as to whether or not he needed additional help during that week. He said he was uncertain about what, if any, help was needed, but would let me know.
Shortly after our conversation, I received notification that a pots & pans man was needed for Junior High week. I agreed to take the job.
My two granddaughters and I arrived Saturday morning at the designated time. The girls registered, and went to their cabin. I made my way to the mess hall. I learned very quickly all about washing pots and pans. It is hours of hot, hard work!
However, the experience was so rewarding, the feeling of doing good and working with those wonderful Christian people–the Garretts, the Bowens, the Fitzgeralds, the Dentons, the Baileys, Dru, and all the fine counselors, and Leo & Ted the maintenance men–I’ll be there again in 1990 to do pots and pans, Lord willing.
That experience has been repeated often, by people in different jobs at the camp. Lives are touched by the fellowship of Christians sharing work and worship, and committed toward the same goal of blessing the lives of children.
Some of these workers have gone on to the Lord, now, but their influence lives on. One such life was Dottie Graefe, remembered by Jim Wilson, Jr:
The summer following 7th grade was the first time that I attended Camp Manatawny. Don Garrett was the director, who made me feel very welcomed. After receiving my cabin assignment, my parents took me to meet my counselor.
My counselor ‘s name was Paul, who turned out to be about my father’s age. When I walked into the cabin, it was a surprise to realize that one of the campers I had seen before–at school! We went to the same school, yet had never been in the same classes, and had never met. We lived in the same area, but went to different congregations. What a surprise to see a familiar face!
While standing in line for the evening meal, a petite, red haired woman ‘pulled’ me out of line, exclaiming, “You go to Interboro?” (the name of my school system) It was great for all of us to know that another member of the church went to the same school. This was the first time I met Dottie Graefe.
Over the next twenty years this relationship would grow. Dottie would become like a second mother to me, her son & I would go on to be roommates in college.
Dottie served Camp Manatawny from the beginning. She was an office worker, chief cook, worked in the kitchen crew, Bible class teacher & a number one supporter of the camp. Later, with me, she would serve in a very special capacity. In 1987, I would go on to direct the Intermediate I camping session. Dottie and her husband, Paul, were some of the first staff members I recruited. Paul continues to work with this session.
Over the next three years, Dottie would work at intermediate I. She had a serious kidney problem, which required her to leave camp twice during the session for dialysis. She also had a heart condition. Under these difficult circumstances, she worked in the office and canteen. She would have to stop and rest when she went from the dining hall to the office, but in her special way, she worked harder than any staff member at camp. Always a kind word, smile, and usually a joke to share. Dottie was dedicated to Christ, His Church, and to anything that would help young people know Him better. Camp Manatawny was very high on her list on great works.
Dottie passed away in the Fall of 1989. One of the most difficult things for me to do was to remove her name from the staff list for 1990. She had already committed to working at Camp Manatawny the following season.
Dottie’s parents Victor and Violet Blank were also great workers for the camp, and some of its strongest financial supporters in the early years. After their deaths, it was learned that they had left money to the camp. They are the only family, to date, to remember the camp in their Will. A living memorial is a wonderful way to remember loved ones.
Another great supporter of the camp who passed on in 1989 was Paul A. Jacoby, Sr. Paul related many times that he knew the camp instilled a special love for God in children’s hearts and minds, and this caused him to work hard to recruit campers. His own children and many foster children enjoyed camp because of his generosity.
Such lives embody the Christian love and spirit that inspire all workers to continue working at the camp.
In 1990, while at NCJC, Don met The Sojourners, a group of retired citizens, originating in Texas, who travel around the country working in Vacation Bible Schools, outreach programs for congregations, or physical labor for churches. Along with Bill McGee and Hill Seaver, caretakers for the camp, Don talked to the group about coming to camp to work. Since they travel in motor homes, it was necessary to install electric service for them. A generator was installed by the hospital, and electric line run down to six pedestals beside the Athletic Field, making hook-ups for 12 motor homes. A new water line was also put in. The So- journers arrived before Family Camp, and stayed through Senior High camp, and were a tremendous help. They helped clear rocks from the Athletic Field, as well as helping the State Police rebuild the rifle range, and many other jobs. One of the fami- lies, Bill and Lois Denton, were from West Chester, Pennsylvania, and agreed to stay all summer. Lois worked in the kitchen, and Bill worked in maintenance.
Contributions to the camp take many forms. Talents of many have contributed in lasting ways. Jean Reynolds’ musical talent provided the camp song. After writing the first verse right away, she added the second verse for the 10th year anniversary, and the third verse for the 20th anniversary. She remembers when Don asked her to write the third verse. She was at a loss for words, until one camp session when she worked as the secretary. One morning she got up early and walked down to the mailbox. As she walked, she meditated on the camp and its mission, and the campers’ response to that mission. The third verse of the song began to take shape in her mind.
Doug Edwards, then Art Professor at NCJC, drew Chief Manatawny, which became the camp’s logo and mascot. He and Jon Browning were on the first Publicity Committee for the camp. Jon wrote the first advertising brochure, and Doug did the art work. Sara Bills, publicity director for NCJC, did brochure lay-out, and wrote articles.
Gayle Crowe used his photography talent to make publicity films for the camp, and then Doug Polling of CBS news, used his ability as a narrator, to narrate those films. Such professional talent, donated by many, has greatly helped the camp’s status and growth.
John Arnold, camp board member and former Delaware State Senator, made it possible for the camp to have a large American flag. Delaware’s United States Senator, William Roth, Jr., had the flag flown over the U.S. Capitol on September 15, 1986, and sent it with a letter of certification to the camp. The flag is proudly flown every day during camp sessions.
From the beginning, it has been a top priority with Don and members of the Board, to honor those who contribute to the camp.
The first Life Members were Mr. & Mrs. William McNett. Monetary contributions, so necessary for the camp’s survival, brought many levels of awards, and a growing number of people as solid boost-ers of the camp.
The annual Booster Dinner started as an Appreciation Dinner, sponsored and paid for by the directors to show appreciation for supporters of the camp. The first Dinner was held in 1969 at an apartment complex, with very few attending. Organized by Noel and Jenny Beale, it grew yearly, until by the 1987 dinner it had changed locations six times.
Don Garrett has always been the chief fund-raiser for the camp. The professional caliber of the films, Don’s persuasive talk, and his personal appeal to approximately 25 congregations a year, has kept the interest and support for the camp high.
Don’s keen ability to visualize how to get results have been essential to bringing the camp where it is today, and it was with real sorrow that the Board accepted his resignation as a director of the Board in 1990, a position he had held since the beginning of the camp. When it became known that Don would not seek re-election to the camp board, Dick Baker remembers discussing it in a group at the NCJC County Fair. Dr. Beverly Niehls well expressed the feelings of the group when she said, “There will be others to do what Don does, but no one will take his place. There is only one Don Garrett.”
A poignant farewell by Don Garrett:
For over 45 years, I have lived with a chronic respiratory problem. Through the years with each change, I have learned to live within my limitations. I also had to make many adjustments in my life style. The time has come when I do not know of any more adjustments to make that seem to improve my health. I do not know if my health would have been worse if I spent the winter in the north. I do know being in Florida has not made much improvement. Because of this fact, I choose not to seek re-election as a director to the camp board. All of you know how I feel about the importance of leadership. To me, it is performance, not a position. I can no longer perform to my satisfaction. The camp needs our very best. I want to thank you for the privilege to serve, for your prayers, your tremendous support, and for your many acts of kindness and expressions of love. We cannot stop time, we can only save memories. I thank all of you for giving Ruth and me many, many wonderful memories.
Ruth, like Don, embodies all that the camp stands for. She has served as camp nurse since its beginning, and before that, as nurse for the Day Camp at the college, then at Pennsylvania Christian Camp, both in Stillwater, and at Blue Knob. Her own children grew up with camp as their second home. Barby Smith remembers keeping Donna as a pre-camper. Ruth’s grandchildren are growing up the same way. Carol’s daughter Allison came to camp before she was 2 months old. She slept inside the door of the hospital, and her mother cared for her as needed. Ruth’s gentle ways have endeared her to campers and parents alike. She is always recognized by campers, years after they have been in her charge. She has always had a real knack for reaching even the most bashful child, as is demonstrated in this story she remembers:
Several years ago, there were three very bashful little boys in camp. One night, after dinner, they all stood outside the dining room looking glum. I asked them if they would like to walk down to the creek. They nodded, and we began to walk. As we walked, I began to talk to them about the leaves, and the frogs in the creek, and they soon began to talk to each other. They sat down by the water, and really began to make friends. That’s what camp is all about!
Ruth has had many interesting experiences as camp nurse. At times, she has had to practice creative nursing, as she remembers, “One year there were two brothers – one really hyper, the other quiet – and they both got sick with a fever, but neither would drink liquid. I got a big bowl of watermelon from the kitchen, and made them eat it all night. In the morning, both of them felt better, and their fever was gone. They still remember that, and mention it whenever I see them.”
She remembers the game of Australian Pursuit as being one of the most harrowing experiences of camp, and it was largely due to her protests, that the game was discontinued. One year, a girl ran so hard in the game, that she was too exhausted to revive, so Ruth made her breathe with her, until she recovered enough to breathe on her own. That was the first year of the new hospital, which thankfully, had air conditioning, and that helped cool the girl down.
Ruth recounts another near-crisis:
The last week of camp, 1991, there was an experience I’ll not soon forget. The elementary boy campers were involved in an athletic event called the “Hill Run”. The starting line was down by the caretaker’s house, and the finish line was at the first aid center. Different groups would be timed as they ran up the hill, starting at different intervals. At the starting line, also, a camper found a dry bee hive on the ground, and threw a rock onto it. Immediately, the boys that were there got stung by a swarm of bees. They all headed up the hill, screaming and crying. The two nurses, Helen Uszties and Ruth Garrett, put water and meat tenderizer all over the stings. In two hours’ time, you would not have known the boys had been stung. One camper, who was really crying, was asked where he got stung. He said he did not get stung, but was in one of the earlier groups running up the hill, when he was run over by the boys who had been stung.
There have been few serious injuries over the years. Perhaps the worst was when a boy was knocked unconscious during a night game, and had to stay in a local hospital for two nights.
The new camp hospital was a real blessing to the camp, and something Ruth had dreamed of for years. The old hospital had no bathroom or hot water. Since there was little room for beds, it was a rare child who had to come to the camp hospital for the night. Ruth would check on them in their cabins, and only bring them up if they were really ill. The girls would stay in the hospital with her, while the boys stayed in the Director’s cabin, with Don.
Ruth and Don want to see the camp continue to grow and reach even more people for Christ in the years ahead.
It is interesting to note the involvement of the Garrett children and grandchildren. Bill and Donna Garrett worked hard for the camp. Bill served on the board, including the office of vice-president, and served as a summer session director until he moved to Florida. David and Brenda Garrett are activity directors. David now serves as chairman of the camp board. He took over as vice-president when Byron Trammell moved away, and then was elected to replace Don when he resigned. David worked with his father in Junior High Week for five years, as his assistant, and athletic director. He has since directed that session for the past four years. Carol Garrett Bailey worked as a chief cook for Junior High Week during the years Don directed that session, and she still works with that week. Jim Bailey took over as secretary for the board when Jerry Reynolds moved away. He and Carol serve on the camp board as well. Donna Garrett served as chief cook until she moved to Tennessee. The grandchildren continue as campers, even coming in from Florida and Tennessee. The older ones are now serving as staff. The training they have received all their lives gives much potential for leadership.
Dana Garrett, daughter of Bill and Donna, writes from Florida to express her feelings about camp:
I am devoted to Manatawny for life. Camp is a part of me. Camp is where I grew up, and I would never change one memory I have of Manatawny. Never have I had a friend closer than the friendships I made while at Camp Manatawny. I can look back from being a pre-camper all the way through Elementary weeks, Intermediate weeks, Junior High, Senior High, Family Camp, Retreats–I have been through it all. Many times I scheduled my life, my summer, and even my whole year around those one or two weeks at camp. It has always been hard to tell people why Camp Manatawny is so much fuin and so different from other camps. I tried and tried, but then realized it was something that one needs to experience for oneself. So, I started taking friends to camp with me. One of my most treasured memories at camp is when my best friend, Jodi Rittenhouse, was baptized. Not only was Jodi baptized there, but I was, too! My dad and family drove up to camp, and that night he baptized me, and right after, another of my brest friends, Jesse Schlegel, was baptized. It was like we were born together, and we will always have at least that one special bond.
I have experienced so many fun times, it is hard to relate just a few. I have played almost every role there is to be played at that camp, except director and Board member (which hopefully, the future holds!). I have been dishwasher (for 250 Senior High Week alone–Thanks, Roger!), athletic director, lifeguard, dining hall, canteen, cabin inspector, campfire leader, helped with horses, done maintenance, helped with crafts, helped cook, been a Bible teacher; all of those were a blast, but my two favorites were, of course, camping and counseling. I love sharing with others the joy of being at Manatawny, the way it has been shared with me over the years. I was lucky enough to be a camper for a good fifteen years.
Being close to Don and Ruth Garrett means you are close to everyone. I thank God that I have parents wonderful enough that they have made it possible for me to return to camp every summer, without letting the distance interfere. Not only can I thank my parents, but also my grandparents. I love them very much for all they have given not only me, but all the people I love at Manatawny. Grandad never quits plugging–his heart, soul, mind and strength have always been geared toward young people, Christian love and Camp Manatawny.
To all of you who aren’t sure what Manatawny means to you yet, let me give you a hint. My college roommate, I met at camp. Many people have met their husbands or wives at camp. The friends you meet at Manatawny WILL have an impact on your life forever. If the people don’t, the memories will!
Such a testimonial shows the future of the Garrett family and Camp Manatawny will continue to be intertwined for many years to come.
Fund-raising has always been a necessity, and ingenious ways have developed over the years. The latest one, introduced in 1987, was the auctioning off Chief Drinking Water, and later, his sister Princess Living Water, to be adopted by a family or congregation for the year. The first successful bidder for the Chief, was the Tom Turczyn family. The going price was $525.00. In 1988, when the Princess was added, the Allentown group was high-bidder, for $1,100.00. In 1989, Eunice Pickering won the bid at $1,200.00. She gave the puppets to Don Garrett, who was sick in the hospital, and unable to attend the Booster Dinner. The last bidder was Byron Trammell, in 1990, who gave them back to the camp. They are now retired, and may be placed in the camp office as a good reminder of the special place camp has in the hearts of children.
“Camp Manatawny has a good relationship with all, and is at peace… The camp’s credit is good and all outstanding bills are paid. Our camp continues to have a good report from within and without.”
…Don Garrett (1990 President’s Report)
Just as dreams brought the camp into existence, so they propel it toward the future. Several new and on-going projects are mentioned in the Board’s 1983 Five Phase Plan for Camp Development, among them, development of the waterfront area.
Contrary to the state of affairs when the camp was first opened, the creek is now cleaned up, and stocked annually with trout by the state. There are still restrictions on swimming, but tubing, canoeing, stream hikes and fishing are allowed, and have been used as limited activities. It would be possible to take part of the old mill race, scoop out a pond, and flood areas to the side of the creek. It could be at least a two-acre lake, which would be excellent for canoeing in summer, and ice skating in winter.
Bob Williams and Perry Kemplin shared this vision of what could be done with the creek. They and the campers built a pontoon bridge across the creek, made with sealed barrels, ropes and boards. They liked to hike up the high hills on the far side of the creek, following the highline wires, which gave a great view of the area. They also built a dam, of large rocks, which flooded the creek into a lake deep enough to canoe, and use for baptisms. The dam was taken out by a hurricane, which hit late one night, and required a quick trip to the creek to save the canoes. After that, the dam was not rebuilt, but the campers went to the Daniel Boone Homestead Pond for canoeing, and a water safety course called “Tipping the canoes till they all fall out.”
In 1990, the new athletic field, “Trammell Field,” named for Mr. & Mrs. Byron Trammell, was begun. Jack Kibblehouse brought out three huge bulldozers and two earth movers to excavate the field. Although it was estimated to cost $14,000 to do, because of the large amount of dirt to be moved, Jack said he would charge $6,000 to do the 425′ x 425′ area. The bulldozers continually got stuck, but gradually, a pile of dirt began to grow into a huge hill. Leonard Stoltzfus said he would cultivate and plant grass seed, but quickly they found out the field was not level. Jack checked and found a 15″ difference. He brought in his bulldozer and worked it again. He found millions of stones, which seemed impossible to take out.
Then Hill Seaver went on vacation to Vermont, and saw a machine called a Rock Picker. He immediately called Don. There was an outlet for this machine in Doylestown, and the dealer said that if the camp would do a demonstration of its abilities, they could use the machine free. Leonard got a number of farmers and nurserymen from the area together to watch. The augur on the bottom of the Rock Picker hauls stones from 2″ to approximately 2′ up to a screen, which then sifts out the dirt, and puts the stones on a conveyor belt to a dump truck. Hill Seaver worked with this machine for three days, in spite of continued hydraulic line breakage on the truck. Leonard raked and disced the field, turning up large stones. The Sojourners went around picking up the large stones and putting them in a trailer to be carried away.
The county extension agent had told Don they would need about 1,000 pounds of grass seed to sow in the field. Due to a State Police contact, Hidden Valley Golf Club, by Hamburg, donated 500 pounds. The other 500 pounds was bought from F.M. Brown Seed Co., in Birdsboro. Because of the lateness of the growing season, Don and Leonard mixed two kinds of seed together, and put it in the seed drill. Hill drilled seed into the ground, then they hauled tons of hay to cover it. They finished by Work & Worship week, 1991, although spring rains washed some away. There are so many rocks in the soil that even by summer, 1991, gullies formed from rain, making the field rough. Dan Rusanowsky used some of the rocks to rebuild the bank beside the lane. In spite of the roughness of the ground, the field was used in 1991 for archery, and many future activities will be held there.
The backstop at the new field cost $2200.00. Camp neighbor and friend, Dan Shirey, came and dug holes for the poles. Every stone had to be moved to do that. It took three hours to dig five holes, because of the stones. Dan Shirey had dug holes for the camp before, having put in the poles for the corral.
Some of the 1,000 trees planted during Family Camp one year, were transplanted to the field by Dennis Grim and a work crew. They were planted along the lane on both sides, enhancing the beauty of the camp entrance.
Winterized facilities have long been a dream of the Board, which the project Garrett Lodge promises to fulfill. It will be self-sustaining, offering housing for groups of 100 or more, and activities year-round. Don sees it as a place for community activities, as well as church activities. Ruth was recently visited by two elderly ladies who attended the camp 40 years ago, when the Union owned it. They wanted to know if there was any facility for Senior Citizens. An enclosed lodge such as this one, could be used for Senior Citizen gatherings. Several times, camp alumni have mentioned to Don that they wished there was a place to meet during the winter, when college students are home, or a large place where many could meet for the weekend, regardless of weather. This beautiful log and rock building, with fireplaces and dining hall and dorm, would fulfill many needs. This project was announced in 1990, and funds immediately began to be raised for it.
The camp sits in a historical area, which could be used to advantage to teach children about both Indian and pioneer backgrounds. One dream has been to build an authentic Indian village in the woods, which would offer primitive camping, and studies of Indian lore. At one time, there was a tepee, sewn by Beth Williams, which could sleep eight. It was set up on the field in front of the staff cabin by Girl’s Town, and used by campers to experience a touch of Indian life.
As mentioned earlier, the caretakers’ house has been dated as 18th Century, a period coinciding with the birth of Daniel Boone, whose homestead is only a few miles away. The caretaker’s house has many similar features to the Boone homestead, and could be used as a means of teaching pioneer life to campers.
The Board sees the camp as having the potential of being a permanent year-round center of Christian activity, involving both young and old. Step-by-step, these dreams can become reality, even as the ones before them, because the Board members continue to be people of faith, with the ability to see visions of the future, while keeping their feet on the solid rock of Truth.
The Dream continues…
by Jerry Reynolds
Two hundred and fifty years ago, when four boys from as diverse backgrounds as possible met for the first time on what is now “Camp Manatawny,” they felt something very special. Their encounter was too brief to form any lasting friendships, but young people today find their time at Camp Manatawny most fulfilling.
Wild animals found in the area today are mostly rabbits, squirrels, ground hogs, and a few deer. Most bears, wildcats, and other animals have moved to the north and west. The fishing is still good, and birds fill the air with their beautiful music. Fierce, deadly wild animals and snakes live only in the campfire stories told in camp sessions.
Time spent in Bible classes, in crafts, in athletic contests, in the dining hall, and around the campfire forms friendships and memories and establishes a value system that will live on and on.
Sometime, when you are in Berks County, Pennsylvania, take Route 562 from Boyertown toward Reading, and stop for a while at Camp Manatawny. You may be able to hear the young Indian boys laugh and play – or the frontier children playing their games. It’s all still there – in the creek, the trees, and the hills.