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Y-Camp reunion set for next week

Preparing for the All-Alumni Y Camp reunion was, for Nancy Smith, like taking a swim in camp waters. Instead of dipping her toes in the pool of memories, the Lake Nebagamon resident chose to dive in.

Preparing for the All-Alumni Y Camp reunion was, for Nancy Smith, like taking a swim in camp waters. Instead of dipping her toes in the pool of memories, the Lake Nebagamon resident chose to dive in.

"No matter what the turn-out is, it's been rewarding digging into the history," she said.

Smith conducted many interviews in preparation for the event, slated for Aug. 3-5. One of the most interesting was with a 94-year-old woman who claims to be the YMCA Camp's first paid director.

Now residing in California, Dorthea "Sis" Buros Thomsen attended the camp on the shores of Lake Nebagamon yearly throughout the 1920s and into the early 1930s. In 1935, she was hired as camp director by then-YMCA Director R. F. Koby. She lived on site and, at the end of the season, collected her pay for the summer -- $10.

Thomsen recalled swimming contests, singing, nightly campfires and softball games.

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"I spent many summers at the camp and enjoyed every minute," she told Smith.

The Nebagamon woman also recorded an interview with Merrill Thompson, former band director and administrator for the Superior School District. Thompson, 90, attended camp at the age of 10. His clip will be played at the reunion, Smith said.

Reunion research resulted in a flood of photographs, some featuring prominent local citizens. In a 1934 picture, Bob Downs Sr. of Downs Funeral Home, Bruce Campbell Jr. and Rod Campbell, both of Campbell Lumber, and Koby's son, Bud, stand together with other campers.

Smith said the feedback she has received during her search shows what a positive impact the overnight camp experience had on the lives of counselors and campers.

Campers and counselors from the decades of the 30s, 50s, 60s and 70s as well as some from 1981, just before the residential camp program was discontinued, have already sent in their registrations. They will converge on the area from as far away as Washington D.C. and the Cayman Islands. As many as 60 people are expected at each meal.

Those who attend will be immersed in nostalgia, from the raising of the flag each morning to evening campfires. Meals will consist of camp staples like "bug juice" and pizza burgers. Planned activities include canoeing, swimming, archery and crafts during the day. Evening events will include s'mores, singalongs and a closing torchlight and candle floating ceremony on the lakeshore. Some alumni even plan to stay at the camp.

T-shirts designed for the event will give former campers a chance to test their music trivia. Carol Hanchett Card, a graphic artist from Michigan, combined letters of the Y Camp Reunion with drawings representing 21 camp songs. A contest to see who can identify the most songs is planned.

While people are encouraged to come whenever they are able during the weekend, their best chance to reunite with fellow campers is during scheduled mealtimes at 8 a.m., noon and 5:30 p.m., Smith said. Cost is $20 per day to cover meals.

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Registrations are still being taken on the Web at www.friendsoftheycamp.com in the alumni section or by calling Smith at (715) 374-3357, Laurie at (7150 392-4646 or Mary at (715) 392-7276.

Smith said that drop-ins are also welcome, but a call ahead for meal planning is appreciated.

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