Kamp Kiwanis Nostaglia
When the cost of Kamp Kiwanis was just 25¢ per day
This information is from an article written by a past Rome resident to former Rome Sentinel editor, Fritz Updike. Mr. Updike was a well recognized author and historian who wrote a delightful weekly newspaper article that primarily focused on local area history and other items of interest. The excerpt which follows is from one of his articles. It references a letter received in regard to an earlier article concerning J. Ward Brown, described as "a one-time staffer at the Rome YMCA".
A quote from Mr. Updike's article:
"Reading your column about J. Ward Brown, my thoughts travel back to those days I remember, standing on the corner of Levitt and W. Dominick with a blanket roll and a quarter waiting for Carl Clippinger (secretary of the Y), driving an old police patrol wagon and picking up boys for an overnight stay at the Kiwanis Camp. We got our supper, swim in a mud lake, games and usually nature study under H. Ward Brown, then breakfast in the morning and back home. All for 25 cents."
"I recall my sorrow when the old house (at the camp) was demolished. It was designed to hide Negro slaves headed for Canada on the Underground Railroad (pre Civil War days). We would crawl around the hidden chamber in the center of the house."
Well, for certain, the days when Kamp Kiwanis only cost 25¢ a day are long gone as is the old house. The cost has risen considerably and house was replaced by the new administration building and dedicated to the same Carl Clippinger mentioned in the article.
Kamp Kiwanis Used as Santa's Toy Land
For a number of years the Lake Delta Kiwanis Club used the Kamp Kiwanis facilities to hold their annual Christmas party for 25 needy families from the Rome, Taberg, and the Lee Center areas. For several years the Rome Police Department assisted by providing transportation of the families and children to the camp. During the party the Kiwanians hosted the visitors in the dining hall. This was the first time the fireplace has been used during the winter. After hot chocolate and cookies the children were transported to Santa Claus's cabin deep in the woods on snowmobiles where they received toys acquired through the "Trooper Toys for Tots" Program. Before leaving, each family received a Christmas food basket bought by the Lake Delta Methodist Church and the Kiwanians.
Ralph Rosenblatt, a member of the Riverdale Kiwanis Club in the Bronx-Westchester Division has even written a song about Kamp Kiwanis. And while you have to hear him sing it to believe it, the fact is that this one song alone shows how much Kiwanians support their Kamp Kiwanis program, in words and deeds. The song goes as follows:
And there's swimming in the lake
In upper New York State
That you can't beat anything in sight
A camp that teems with jollity
Oh, it makes no difference where you go
It keeps you full of pep and vim
Our camp, it takes the cake
it makes you feel so great
Kiwanites always doing what is right
For its out in the wild country -e-e
Oh Kiwanis, Dear Kiwanis
For its out in the wild country
Hip hooray! You're the camp that takes the stand
And there's baseball and there's tennis
May your glory shine forever K-A-M-P Kiwanis Kamp!
An old Carl Clippinger article pointed out that Kiwanians feel that:
"Character and personality pay large dividends in a commercial way. A city with boys who are growing normally and happy and developing into good citizens is a city destined to be good in commerce, industry, as well as the cultural relations of life. The slogan of the Kiwanis who own the property and are the sponsoring organization of camp activities is 'We Build'. (It further states that) A good citizen means the builder of bridges, bridges that link all races and creeds ... to build bridges so that we may have a united citizenship in the development of the community for all people."
These goals are still our goals today.