Blog

Camp Nebagamon Names Next Director

Watch our announcement video where you can hear all of Camp’s full-time staff talk about this transition in their own words. Read the Board of Director’s letter to the Camp Family HERE Read Adam and Steph’s letter to the Camp Family HERE Read Noah’s letter to the Camp Family HERE As part of its latest…

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We’re in this together

BY NOAH STEIN Yesterday I spent some time bouncing from village to village, checking in with all of our campers and staff. Meandering between villages, I witnessed something pretty special. A counselor, headed out on time off, noticed a camper sitting by himself. The counselor changed direction mid-step and headed towards the isolated camper. It…

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Off and running!!

Greetings from Camp! Without a doubt, we are off to a great start here.  Yesterday, our first full day of camp, was a picture perfect day.  The boys spent the first period travelling to both the waterfront and to our CNOC (wilderness skills program) to get learn about safety policies and ranks that can be…

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Joyful Noise…

There can be little doubt that during the month of May, when Louis, Briggs, Andy Joe, Noah and I were up at camp without anyone else around, it is a particularly beautiful and refreshing place.  Long isolated walks through the camp are a highlight of that time of year and we all truly enjoy them. But we all…

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Keep your eyes peeled!

Happy summer all! Check out this page to read all about the summer up at Nebagamon. Every other day we will share some of the happenings to give you all a taste of what Camp feels like this summer. We are very excited!!! Look for the first post on Tuesday evening, June 18. All is…

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More Than a House

by Adam Kaplan

There are, I believe, two particular places in camp that serve myriad purposes. One is the Rec Hall, which is a dining hall, a talent showcase, a rainy day respite, a repository of history, etc. The other is the Big House, which actually has served as all of that over the years, too, as well as an office, a home, a project site, a gathering place, a museum of sorts, even a kind of beacon on a hill. In other words, to call it simply a big house is to sell it short.

First, consider its age. It was built in 1898. That’s the year the Spanish-American War began and ended. The first American-built automobile was sold. Baseball’s 12 big league teams had names like the Cleveland Spiders, the Brooklyn Bridegrooms, the Boston Beaneaters. Vladimir Lenin and Annie Oakley and Teddy Roosevelt and H.G. Wells (The War of the Worlds) were making impacts.

1931

It was built to be a home – for John Phillip Weyerhaeuser, who oversaw construction of a white, frame, Palladian structure. Three stories. Eight bedrooms. Five fireplaces. When the property of the Lake Nebagamon Lumber Company became the site of Camp Nebagamon for Boys, the house served various purposes. It was a summer home for the Lorber family, but it also was… a dining hall (during the first few years, campers ate in shifts in the dining room), an infirmary (in the early days, this could be found in what became known as the “phone room” outside the first-floor bathroom), a stage (the earliest Follies took place on the front porch), a winter camp for boys (once, in 1940), even a wedding site (Nardie Stein and Sally Lorber in 1955). It was also, I might add, a model – for the replica Boathouse, built in 1902, that dominated the Waterfront until 1944.

As I write this, the Big House is a 125-year-old structure. The floors creak and the beds squeak (as do the occasional varmints who find their way in), but it remains remarkably sturdy and bustling with activity. Campers in the living room and the kitchen. Administrators in the office. Staff members sitting around the dining room table. Residents trudging up and down the two stairways.

Sometimes, there is activity on the third floor. That’s where you might find a counselor rummaging through THE COSTUME CLOSET (see story). To my mind, that goofy collection of unfashionable fashions combines two primary elements of the Big House – as a center of activity and also a sort of living history museum. Most folks who set foot in the Big House don’t quite realize how much history resides in the building, not only simply through the institutional memory of the place, but also (quite literally) in the form of artifacts too numerous to recount in full. But we’ve managed to explore quite a few, and you can take a tour in the BIG HOUSE TREASURE HUNT story. And in the DID YOU KNOW tale, you can learn more secrets of the Big House, as gleaned from the memories of Sally Lorber Stein, who spent much of her childhood living there and much of her adulthood working there.

So sure, it’s a big house. But its impact on camp and its role in camp history loom much larger.

Big House Treasure Hunt

by Brad Herzog

Back in 1980, when I was a Logger camper, a fellow named Tom Schweich (a member of the trip staff that summer) found buried treasure. In front of the Big House. Using a metal detector. He found a bunch of old coins, some old keys, even a tiny old pistol. Those treasures now sit behind a glass case inside the Big House. But they do not sit alone.

This past summer, I had the opportunity to spend some time living in that old Weyerhaeuser mansion. So I decided to look around. I mean, really look around. The Big House is generally so busy that visitors don’t have a chance to explore the countless quirky artifacts that populate what is essentially a hodgepodge historical museum. But I had time. I had opportunity. I had curiosity.

So I explored.

And the narrative that I found in the Big House collection tells the story of a place — historically, humorously, randomly. There are artifacts both profound and silly, familiar and mysterious, obvious and esoteric. But all harbor memories. So here’s a Big House tour that few have experienced — as told by the treasures discovered there.

What did I find? Well…

An American flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol Building in honor of Camp Nebagamon — at the request of then U.S. Senate page Joel Sircus in 2008.

A novel called The Golden Star of Halich that was gifted to Camp Nebagamon by Charles Hirsch (of the Chuck Hirsch Shrine) in 1937.

A framed wool jacket that once was worn often by Muggs Lorber’s old fishing buddy, Alan “Hoss” Mayer, who was a camper in Nebagamon’s very first summer of 1929.

A framed collection of Camp Nebagamon postcards (gathered over the years by Michael Weinberg III and Nardie Stein), dating from 1910 to 2000.

A pile of hand-crafted cribbage boards, one in the shape of a whale, another featuring Lake Nebagamon, and a third treasure that features the names of counselor cribbage tourney winners dating back more than 70 years.

A trophy honoring the winners of the now-defunct counselors doubles horseshoe pitching tournament.

A couple of framed drawings of Muggs Lorber and Herb Hollinger, sketched by Nebagamon alumnus Nelson “Bud” Pollak, Jr. And another by Bud Pollak, a large painting of Muggs Lorber daydreaming about the summer camp he and Janet imagined up.

An album recording the planning, construction, and dedication of the Paul Bunyan statue in 1969, including a page of sketched designs

A wooden-covered book celebrating the Camp Nebagamon 1960 Political Convention, including speeches in support of the likes of John Kennedy, Richard Nixon, and Adlai Stevenson.

An album about the construction (by many Nebagamon youths) and 1957 dedication of Camp Bovey (also known as Camp Hodag) eight miles outside of Gordon, Wisconsin.

A set of diaries from the 1973 Camp Scandia trip to Scandinavia.

A guest book signed by visitors to the Big House from 1972 through 1976: John Baum – Montgomery, AL… Jeff Kaine – Franklin, MI… Ruth + Bill Caro – Evanston, IL… Bud + Mary Jane Bezark – Highland Park, IL…

Photo albums from the 25th and 60th camp anniversary celebrations, the former including a spread showing Muggs Lorber… teaching the campers how to properly shower.

Alongside some modern technology, an antique telephone from the American Electric Telephone Company, which went out of business nearly a century ago.

A metal wastebasket bearing the visages of every U.S. president up to the date it was created… meaning that it ends with Lyndon Johnson.

Bound volumes of National Geographic Magazine dating back to 1915.

A classic photo of Muggs Lorber quarterbacking the 1926 Indiana University football team.

A massive photo of Muggs and Paul, hanging above the dining room table.

A needlepoint of Paul Bunyan, created by Janet Lorber on the occasion of camp’s 50th anniversary. And another Nebaga-creation by Janet, from six years earlier.

A very old fly fishing rod purchased by Muggs Lorber in the 1930s, used by him and others for more than 50 years, and carefully restored by Joe Ruwitch from St. Louis.

A replica of a typical logging train — Locomotive #7 of the Hawthorne, Nebagamon, and Superior Railroad — built by longtime camper and counselor John Altshool in 1979. (And another, Locomotive #12, that he built seven years later).

A gathering of antique books about Paul Bunyan, fronted by a Paul-and-Babe whiskey bottle celebrating the centennial of Brainerd, Minnesota, in 1971.

A collection of old hardcover books about camping — with titles like Spark from a Thousand Campfires, Summer Magic and simply Boys’ Camp.

A collection of classic board games — from Clue to Candy Land, Sorry to Scrabble. And an even larger collection of not-so-classic board games. Evolution? Cranium Conga? The Allowance Game?

A couple of model boats, neither of which likely skimmed the waters of Lake Nebagamon.

A made-in-the-art-shop loon, created and donated by Guy Sachs.

A depiction of “Charming Lake Nebagamon: The home of the pines and the sparkling waters, and lair of the gamey bass.” At least a century old, it depicts what is now camp property as simply “lumber yards.”

A depiction of the Patrick-Duluth Club’s property in August 1917.

A large framed U.S. map showing the hometowns of campers and counselors from camp’s first season through 1961, when it was presented to Muggs and Janet by the campers of Axeman 7.

A collection of ancient arrowheads.

A deer head wondering why it’s surrounded by a couple of old helmets from the camp fire brigade, a pair of wooden snow shoes, and a single wooden ski.

A photo, autographed by the subject to Muggs Lorber, of Ralph Gates, Governor of Indiana from 1945-49.

A photo from the “Camp Nebagamon New York World’s Fair Tour” in 1939.

Framed staff photos dating from 1929 to the present day.

A collection of trophies — some big (i.e. the Northwoods Invitational Tennis Tournament) and many small (prizes from the Lake Nebagamon Dragin Tail Run).

A half-log carved with the names of Trails Forward speakers from the first decade of the program.

A short-lived (and slightly faded) trophy of sorts from the 1990s — the Associate Director’s Pre and Post Camp Eating Award.

A replica Paul Bunyan, replica totem pole, and wholly original George Washington head, the latter having been constructed to honor the 1976 American Bicentennial.

An old sermonette box, a tomahawk from the rained-out 1986 Pow Wow Day, an axe from the 1994 Paul Bunyan Day, the 1942 Camp Goat badge, a baseball signed by a pre-camp team that played a competitive game at Washburn in the early 1990s, a plate celebrating peach pie, and a box of Milk-Bone dog biscuits featuring former camp dog Sadie Stein.

Birchbark snuff boxes made and used by 19th-century lumberjacks. An antique camera that belonged to Muggs Lorber. Part of a narrow gauge railroad track from the old Lake Nebagamon lumber yards. A Chinese water pipe given to Muggs by John Horvath after WWII. Kokesi dolls from Japan. The fragment of a 4000-year-old stone axe. Tom Schweich’s buried treasures.

The quirkiest Big House artifact? How about the unwashed granola-and-yogurt bowl used by John Dunsmore (former drummer for The Doors) when he visited camp in 2005.

And finally, the beloved C/N logo near the entrance to the Big House, just to remind everyone where they are.

Did You Know…

A 125-year-old house has lots of secrets, particularly a house that has served countless purposes over the years—a family home, a summer living quarters, a camp office, a porch meeting place, a living room hangout, a kitchen project period, and on and on.

But if you want to learn something you didn’t know about the Big House, there’s no better person to turn to than Sally Lorber Stein, who spent her very first summer at camp (as a baby in 1934) sleeping in the house’s second-floor fireplace room… and sometimes napping in a makeshift arrangement placed on the roof of the porch, just outside the room.

So we asked Sally to reveal some information about the mansion on the hill, things only she might know. For instance…

The original furniture: Original Big House pieces (dating back more than a century) include the dining room table, the tall chairs around the table, the cabinet in the hallway near the front entrance, and the black easy chairs in the living room. The rolltop desk in the office, currently used by Adam Kaplan? Not original. The Steins bought it for about $20 in the 1960s… from a Finnish language newspaper in Superior.

The pocket doors: It’s likely that many don’t realize that there are three “pocket doors” installed in the Big House by the Weyerhaeuser—sliding doors that, with a press of a button and a pull of a handle, could open and close the space between… 1) the office and the hallway, 2) the living room and the hallway, and 3) the office and the dining room. Many alumni will remember the dining room was closed off to the office… and the hallway was open. Says Sally, “It took us years to realize we’d get more done if we closed the office off and people had to walk around to access it.”

Maggie’s Room: The second-floor room in the right corner (as you climb the main stairs) is currently used by Steph Hanson as an office. It used to be Maggie Rolfe’s bedroom. Sally’s grandmother (Janet Lorber’s mother) was a fixture at camp for most of its first three decades. If a button fell off a camper’s shirt or pants, he would visit Maggie, who would sew it back on. Then she would give the kid a treat—a peanut from a peanut dispenser. During the first summer when Maggie wasn’t there, the kids would come to Sally instead, so she offered a clinic on the Big House front steps… on how to sew on their own buttons.

The Queen of the Upstairs Linen Closet: That’s how Sally remembers Maggie, who used to count out all the linens for campers and counselors from other countries, bundle them up, and place them on the window seat as you walk up the stairs. These days, the window seat is often adorned with staff members patiently waiting for a paycheck.

The Nursery: The second-floor room right next to the bathroom has long been known as the Nursery. Why? Because a baby Weyerhaeuser was born in that room. Years later, after the property was reimagined as Camp Nebagamon, he came back to visit the room he’d been born in.

The laundry chute: Across from the second-floor bathroom is a laundry chute that runs down to the first-floor alcove outside the bathroom and then the basement. In the 1960s, a few girls — daughters of full-time staffers — figured out how to climb up and down the chute. There used to be a payphone in that first-floor alcove, and an occasional counselor would get a surprise interruption.

The Clawfoot tub: That second-floor bathroom originally featured a clawfoot tub, located where the current shower is. The old one now serves as a flower bed in the Lumberjack Village.

Calling the Commander in Chief: In the mid-‘70s, during the brief Gerald Ford Administration, a camp parent who was an attorney for the Warren Commission visited as a Trails Forward speaker. He received a call on the camp phone—from the president’s office. He was asked to call back a specific number, and he did so from that alcove payphone. Always enterprising and mischievous, Nardie Stein hid in the bathroom to overhear the call. According to Sally, all Nardie heard was a lot of… “Yes, Mr. President… No, Mr. President… Yes, Mr. President…”

The party line: During camp’s infancy in the ‘30s and ‘40s, there was only a party line phone (two rings for Camp Nebagamon—and much later, Larry Cartwright turned it into the original camp intercom system). The party line was operated by a Mrs. Christie, who was the local gas station owner’s wife… and who was known to listen in on the calls. Once, while Muggs Lorber was talking to someone, he interrupted himself and said, “Isn’t that right, Mrs. Christie.” She responded, “Yes.”

The Costume Closet

In early July each summer, before chosen Boss Loggers are introduced to the camp in anticipation of Paul Bunyan Day, those four young men make a trek to the third floor of the Big House. To the costume closet. They’re looking for odd outfits in their colors — red, yellow, green, or blue. And really, are there anything but oddities in there?

Walking into the costume closet is a bit like stepping through the lookingglass. It is part thrift store — garish jackets and vests and gowns repurposed into something occasionally useful. It is part psychedelic scene — a rather hallucinatory collection of colors (every one of them) and smells (every kind of mothball). And it is part historical collection. Each goofy coat and silly hat has a story behind it — certainly in its original incarnation and usually regarding how it made its way to that sweltering third floor room.

And, of course, the stories continue to be told because those costumes often make their way into a Nebagamon summer narrative. Campers and staff trek there to find the perfect outfit of absurdity to complement announcements, GTC acts, Chef’s Cap judging, Council fire skits, Cruiser Day themes.

Need a group of yellow sport coats? Got it. A faux fur monstrosity? It’s hanging there. Something resembling a letterman’s jacket? OK. A couple of cheesehead hats? Check. A bright pink wig? Yup.

The costume closet is to high fashion what a camper outfit on laundry day is to high fashion. But if the clothes make the person, the quirks in the closet create the perfect make-believe person. They are ready-to-wear silliness — eccentric, eclectic, perfectly peculiar when the need arises.

So here’s a photo homage to that third floor treasure trove.

Footsteps

As these campers roam the 77 acres of Camp Nebagamon this summer, they’ll be following in ancestral footsteps:

Jude Alderman (Tulsa) – father Jeff Alderman

Zander Aronoff (Englewood, CO) – father Joel Aronoff

Athens Aschaffenburg (Dallas) – father Darren Aschaffenburg

Darren & Zach Bell (Denver) – grandfather Fred Joseph

Maxwell Block (Pepper Pike, OH) – father Brian Block

Mattias Braude (St. Paul) – father Peter Braude

Daniel Brick (Kansas City) – father David Brick

Aaron & Max Brine (Boulder, CO) – grandfather Jon Colman

Ace Burvall (San Diego) – mother Amber Burvall

Jack Chait (East Hampton, NY) – father Daniel Chait

Asher Corndorf (Minneapolis) – father Eric Corndorf

Zach Daskal-Koss (Washingoton, DC) – mother Jen Daskal

Josh Desenberg (Arlington, VA) – father Jon Desenberg

Francisco Fawcett (Queensland, AU) – father Jon Fawcett

Nate Feldman (Chevy Chase, MD) – father Dan Feldman

Jack Fink (Kailua, HI) – father Kenny Fink

Ari Foxman (Dallas) – father Brad Foxman

Evan Friedman (Chicago) – grandfather Bud Friedman

Max & Will Goldfarb (Bellaire, TX) – father David Goldfarb

Jonah & Joshua Goldstein (Springfield, IL) – father Jeff Goldstein

Charlie Goshko (Washington, D.C.) – father Matt Goshko

Benjamin Green (Northbrook, IL) – father Howard Green

Ari Held (Silver Spring, MD) – father Larry Held

Eli Hoffman (Lexington, KY) – father Mark Hoffman

Reuben Katz (Bellaire, TX) – father Ben Katz

Simon Kessler (Washington, D.C.) – father Eric Kessler

Stanley & Stafford Klein (Northbrook, IL) – father Spencer Klein

Henry Knutson (Hugo, MN) – mother Aimee Doyle Knutson

Chase Kornblet (Glenview, IL) – father Ben Kornblet

Max & Sam Kotin (Chicago) – father Josh Kotin

Forrest Kramer (Midland, MI) – father John Kramer, grandfather Eric Kramer

Benjamin Laytin (Chicago) – father Dan Laytin, grandfather Bill Laytin

David Levick (Chicago) – father Michael Levick

Benjamin and Ethan Mack (Washington, D.C.) – father Andy Mack, grandfather Alan Mack

Ryan Mack (Bedford Hills, NY) – father Ken Mack, grandfather Alan Mack

Avi Maidenberg (Oakland, CA) – father Daniel Maidenberg, grandfather Mike Maidenberg

Ezra Maidenberg (Oakland, CA) – father Joe Maidenberg, grandfather Mike Maidenberg

Daniel Portillo (Coppell, TX) – father Raul Portillo

Bokai Portis (Evanston, IL) – father Charlie Portis

Jacob Rolfe (Highland Park, IL) – father Jim Rolfe, grandfather Mike Rolfe

Graham Rontal (Portland, OR) – father Andrew Rontal

Myles Rontal (Birmingham, MI) – father Dan Rontal

Sebastian Rorsted (Pöcking, Germany) – father Kasper Rorsted, grandfather Bendt Rorsted

Micah Rosenbloom (Nashville) – father Trent Rosenbloom

Sydney & Lazer Rosenbloom (Brooklyn, NY) — father Brice Rosenbloom

Nate Rothman (Los Angeles) – father Jacob Rothman

Walt Schiffer (Denver) – father Elliot Schiffer

Danny Schottenstein (Tiburon, CA) – father Jeff Schottenstein

Sam Schwartz (Minneapolis) – grandfather Jon Harris

Dylan & Spencer Scissors (St. Louis) – father Irl Scissors

Logan Segal (Edina, MN) – father Mark Segal

Brett Sholiton (San Antonio, TX) – father Mike Sholiton

Sagiv Siegel (Stamford, CT) – father Michael Siegel

Finn Simon (Devner) – grandfather Kenneth Simon

Benji & Jacob Solomon (New York City) – father Josh Solomon

Henry Sonneland (St. Louis, MO) – grandfather Daniel Hochman

Seth Starhill (Arlington, MA) – father Jon Star, grandfather Frank Star

Max Strasberg (Memphis, TN) – father Jay Strasberg

Nathan Strauss (Albany, OR) – father Joseph Strauss

Asher & Tanner Toback (Chicago) – mother Keri Rosenbloom

Jonah & Elliot Tone – (Cabin John, MD) – grandfather Joel M. Salon, great grandfather Joel W. Salon.

Owen Walker (Snoqualmie, WA) – mother Sarah Walker

Jake Wallenstein (Issaquah, WA) – father Chet Wallenstein, grandparents Roger & Judy Wallenstein

Dax Winegarden (Ann Arbor, MI) – father Jay Winegarden, mother Lisa Markman

Grayson Wyler (Chicago, IL) – father Tom Wyler

Charlie Zeeck (Oklahoma City) – father Andy Zeeck