By the beginning of the 1960s Camp Namanu had grown to be one of the largest Camp
Fire camps in the United States. Many campers were second-generation--daughters of campers--and girls returned
summer after summer, enjoying the rich traditions and history of Camp Namanu. Some of the rules and customs were:
|Finishing up dreamboats|
"Dead cows should be put on their backs when empty with mouths open so they wouldn’t explode when burned in the
fireplace. Crushed table fairies came back as mosquitoes. There were gangplanks, flag poles, table decorations.
Don’t break up a marriage, have frogeyes or muddy feet. Pass right to left taking with the opposite hand,
switching hands, and delivering on the other side with the opposite hand. Wawatassee would put out your light bulb
if you shone the flashlight during campfire or when you weren’t supposed to. Humyak sat on the top of the flagpole
and gave out goose bumps. The giant will trip you if you run down Robin Hill. Go around Wishing Rock three times,
then sit down and make a wish."
-Pam Hembree Bierly
In 1960 Camp Fire Girls celebrated their Golden Jubilee. At camp a birthday party was held each week and many
campers brought small presents for Namanu. Miss Ginny Denton tallied the gifts and included a list in the
summer-end report. The gifts, in part, read: "460 dish towels, 621 potholders, 11 pencils, 13 Chore Girls, 10
clothespins and 1 kitten."
"Another observance of the Golden Jubilee was the use of gold colored leather for the session tokens which each
girl received at the closing Council Fire. It is hoped that these session tokens, different in color, though
identical in pattern, from any other Namanu tokens ever given will long remind the girls who received them of this
special year and we hope of the special session at camp."
-1960 camp report
During these years, singing continued to be a defining characteristic of a session at camp, with a wealth of songs
written by and for Camp Namanu campers. Pam Hembree Bierly remembers:
"All the time there was singing. We sang on the bus. We sang at all of the meals. The counselors sang to us before
we ate. We sang at morning sing. We sang at campfires. The songs we learned were divided into day songs and night
songs - rowdy and calm. A large hunk of the songs were about our camp and told us how beautiful it was, how we
loved it, how it was the best, how we were the best and how we behaved as Camp Fire Girls and campers. I learned
to love the sound of hundreds of women all singing together in 70-part harmony. OK, probably not that many, but
lots. We never learned songs at meal times; there were no song leaders either. People would just suggest songs to
the counselors and they would tap their cups with a knife and then start singing. Then Miss Ginny would ring her
bell, give announcements, then sing one of two closing songs, both of which ended "knives, forks, spoons..."
A favorite night song was:
Peace I ask of thee oh river
Peace, peace, peace.
When I learn to live serenely
Cares will cease.
From the hills I gather courage
Visions of the days to be.
Strength to lead and faith to follow
All are given onto me.
Peace I ask of thee oh river
Peace, peace, peace.
The CIT program had been growing steadily. They still lived in tents at the edge of the meadow and were greatly in
need of a lodge for meetings and get togethers. In the spring of 1962 the new lodge was completed and named
Tawanka, meaning "willing to try." The building, designed by Ralph Appleman, was a unique A-frame style and
included desks for the CITs, a loft with pull-down stairs, and a back porch with a view of the Sandy River far
"The lodge was built by Camp Fire fathers during their leisure time on work parties held at Namanu last fall and
this spring. Materials for construction of the building were earned by Blue Birds and Camp Fire Girls selling
candy during the annual candy sale. The services of Mr. Appleman, supervising contractor Philip Laughlan and
Clayton Olson of the Forest Service also were contributed."
-The Oregonian, June 8, 1962
Over time, the Work and Health trees had been taken down, but the split Love tree still stood over the meadow in the
summer of 1962.
Ginny Denton recalls:
"Once the flagpole rope had gotten tangled, so we had to unbolt the thing and take it down, which is a big job. We
were trying to put it back up again after we got it threaded. It was after dinner in the evening and the sun was
going down. This little girl was going by and saw the cluster of counselors out there and we heard her voice
halfway down the meadow, ‘Hey, you guys, look at the love bush!’ The sun had just dropped behind the trees and the
Love tree was all aglow, silhouetted, and it looked like it was on fire."
The fall of 1962 brought an event that would change the meadow skyline. It was October 12, 1962:
"We were in Raker registering people and these girls came in and said trees were falling and we said, ‘Oh, sure, go
back to your cabins.’ They said, ‘No, really.’
"And we realized that something serious was going on. We went out on the hill and we could hear crack, crash,
crack, crash. It was pretty frightening hearing all those crashes and not knowing where they were going to land.
The wind was coming across the tops of the trees.
"Sue [Carlton] and I were going around camp looking for buildings that would be safe for the kids. We walked up on
the porch of Blue Wing and I was being smart and said the Love tree is gone. And as I shone my flashlight up the
trunk, it was gone! It had landed right down alongside the Gypsy Trail."
-Darlene "Teddy" Tethrow
Two Horizon girls were struck by falling trees and had minor concussions. Dr. Levitt, from the town of Sandy,
climbed over countless trees across the road to reach the girls and treat them. Ginny Denton arrived from Portland
to find ambulance and fire personnel in the process of cutting their way into camp with chain saws. The campers
and Camp Namanu were lucky to have weathered the storm with so little damage. Volunteers came out to camp and
picked up an uncountable number of limbs off the ground and cleared blocked trails.
In the fall of 1962, Ginny Denton became Executive Director of Portland Area Camp Fire, and Virginia Ramsay was
hired as Camp Director. She had come from the Corvallis area and had worked for the police department before
coming to Camp Namanu. Her camp name was "Miss Ginger."
The camp fee for 1963 was $20.00 including transportation, insurance and physical inspection. Physicals were held
in the basement of Westminster Presbyterian Church three days before the beginning of each session. Camp Namanu
continued to be a place where memories were made:
"One year I was at camp on the fourth of July and we had a special dinner that night. The counselors had formed
themselves into a choir and practiced every afternoon during our free time and sang several patriotic songs for
us. One was the poem written on the Statue of Liberty, ‘Give me your tired, your poor...’ I had never heard it and
I put it right in there in my memory banks with ‘No man is an island, no man stands alone.’ Is it any wonder that
I grew up believing that all people should be treated equally, that you should appreciate nature, that you should
cherish each moment, and be cheerful and kind to everyone? Anyone who doubts the potential impact of a week (or in
my case seven) of summer camp on a person’s life has not been to a really good camp. There is a reason why Namanu
people seek each other out, speak to perfect strangers with Namanu shirts and keep half-melted birthday candles in
their sock drawer far into adulthood."
-Pam Hembree Bierly
Camp brochures in the 1960s included this message: "Hey, dads! To keep our camp safe for our girls, to make
exciting program possible, and to keep the cost of camping within reach of more girls, we need dads to help. Work
parties will be held at Namanu each weekend in May. Say yes when called, or better yet, call the Camp Fire office
and let us know which weekend you and your family plan to do your share."
In the spring of 1965, volunteers helped to tear down the old craft house, Robin Hood’s Barn, and build a new one.
It was built on the same site as the old one, at the edge of the meadow, next to the Weavery. Volunteer carpenters
and plumbers also helped to improve the sanitary system at Camp Namanu during this decade, building the Royal
Flush in 1961, the Balagan Suzie in 1963, the Blue Wing Suzie in 1965 and the Pioneer Suzie in 1966.
People on the work weekends cleaned and readied the swimming pool, swept out cabins, repaired leaky roofs and
cleared hiking trails. Without their help, Namanu could not have been the special place that it was for campers:
"The first time I went to Namanu as a camper I was eight years old; it was 1965. I remember the walk from the
buses and how I wanted to be the first one in. As we campers came down the hill past the House of Health, the bell
rang at Raker to announce our arrival. I remember running from the sunshine into Uncle Toby’s, looking for the
sign for Blue Wing that I was supposed to go sit beside. We sang and sang until finally all the counselors got up
and sang ‘We’re up at Namanu, the camp of our dreams...’ Then we got assigned to counselors. My counselor that
week was Miss Shan and our cabin was Queen Bee.
"We went on an overnight to Fairy Dell. We walked down the Gypsy Trail and then up the logging road, so I thought
we were miles away from Blue Wing. I was surprised a few years later to find that we were just out beyond Piglet
"I loved everything about that week, my counselor, the other girls and all the fun things that we did. Being at
Camp Namanu gave me a new perspective on how people acted and lived and treated one another.
"My house was often not an easy place to live. During the winter, when things got bad, I would look for my
sleeping bag. The flannel lining always smelled like damp ground and wood smoke, my favorite smell in the whole
world. I would sit in the dark and smell that and think, ‘Summer will come again and I can go back to Camp Namanu.’ That’s what got me through sometimes and the smell of wood smoke in flannel still takes me back to Namanu.”
You may think, my dear,
When you’ve grown quite old,
That you’ve left camp days behind.
But I know the scent of wood smoke
Will always bring to mind
Little paths at twilight,
And trails you used to find.
You may think someday
You are quite grown up
And feel so worldly wise,
But suddenly, from out of the past
A vision will arise
Of merry folk with bare brown knees
And laughter in their eyes.
You may live in a house built to your taste
In the nicest part of town.
But some day you’ll change your latest gown
And trade it for a balsam bed,
Where stars all night look down.
You may find yourself grown wealthy,
Have all that gold could buy,
But you’d toss aside a fortune
For days ’neath an open sky,
With sunlight on blue waters
And white clouds floating high.
For once you have been a camper,
Then something has come to stay,
Deep in your heart forever,
That nothing can take away.
And heaven can only be heaven
With a camp in which to play.
-Mary S. Edgar
In the spring of 1967 Mary Lou See was hired as the new Director of Camping. She was a graduate of Whitworth
College with a degree in physical education. Miss Mary Lou had been a camper at Namanu in Blue Wing, Sherwood and
Robin Hill and a counselor there for six summers and so was well qualified for leadership.
Anyone who was on staff during the 1960s will remember the camp dietician, Rosa Burrell, known as Mrs. B.
"I was a packer for the first part of the summer, not being the minimum age of 19 to qualify as a cabin counselor.
Mrs. B ruled the kitchen, along with her gray poodle, Mr. B. As a packer, I filled requisitions for cabin groups
going on hikes and cookouts. One-and-a-half pieces of bacon per camper, four squares of Hershey chocolate,
one-quarter pound of ground beef--Mrs. B had things portioned out exactly. Government surplus butter, cheese,
peanut butter, raisins, rice and mystery meat filled the pantry, and many menus were planned around these items to
stretch the food budget. Mystery meat--this squishy pinkish stuff came in large cans and made its appearance in
the form of ground sandwich spread, or was mixed with ground beef to make meatloaf. It made Spam look good."
-Joclyn Kirrie Thornburg
Ginny Denton remembers Mrs. B also:
"Rosa was a fixture at camp for many years. She knew how to run a kitchen and she knew how to squeeze a dollar.
Our food expenses were pretty much under control when she was there. The counselors made a game out of trying to
outwit her when they ordered food for cookouts. We all knew that."
A program that became very popular in the 1960s was the Leftover program. High school girls would be hired to wash
dishes at Camp Namanu for two weeks and would receive in payment one free week of camp. The Leftovers lived in
Backwoods, which was the upstairs loft on the meadow side of Uncle Toby’s. In addition to washing the dishes,
Leftovers helped to clean Raker Lodge, serve the food, and empty the elephants, No.10 cans, that the leftover food
was scraped into after each meal. The Leftovers were often out in front of everyone, and younger campers looked
forward to the time when they could wash dishes at camp:
"I remember the Leftovers always had the best Forest Echoes on Banquet night. My favorite one involved the cocoa
pots in Raker Lodge. Hot cocoa in the dining hall was served in tin pitchers and you could put different amounts
of water in the pitchers and they would play different notes when sprayed with the water nozzle in the dish room.
A Leftover opened the dish room window, announced ‘Constance and her Singing Cocoa Pots,’ and Connie Johnson
played all of ‘Taps’ on the tin pitchers."
In 1968, Portland Camp Fire opened a new camp for 8th grade through high school girls, Camp Kwoneesum. At this time
the Tepee Unit was discontinued.
While the United States was again at war, Camp Namanu remained a place apart in many ways:
"Namanu in the late ’60s was a peaceful retreat in comparison to the rest of the world. Most of us had friends or
relatives serving in Vietnam, and war protests were ongoing. Meanwhile, the biggest enemy we had to fear at camp
was the six-inch slug that had crawled on our sleeping bag overnight. We were not entirely isolated from the
events of our times. Songs about war and peace mingled with traditional camp songs. The theme for that summer
(1969) was ‘No Man is an Island.’ We watched the first man walk on the moon on a little black and white TV up in
Spruce Lodge, and marveled at the stars through a telescope in the Star Gazer."
-Joclyn Kirrie Thornburg
"I had a lot of free time, once the orders were packed, and my favorite place to hang out was the Weavery. It was
a particularly rainy summer, and Gogo, who was the Weavery counselor, always kept a fire going in there. The
constant clatter of the looms and the warmth of the fire made it a very inviting place. Robin Hood’s Barn was fun
too, with all kinds of crafts. Elderberry rings were big at that time, with a large pithy center that could be
carved out enough to make a ring for you finger. Tiny glass beads were woven into daisy chain necklaces and rings,
fitting the hippie style."
Camp fees in 1969 were $25.50 for main camp and $39.00 for Ranch. As the decade came to a close, campers on the last
night of the last session sat around the Council Fire and sang:
Have you ever watched a campfire
When the wood has fallen low,
And the ashes start to whiten
’Neath the embers’ crimson glow.
With the night sounds all around you
Making silence doubly sweet,
And the full moon high above you
Just to make the spell complete.
Tell me were you ever nearer
To the land of heart’s desire,
Then when you sat there dreaming
With your friends around the fire.
Full-unabridged text of this chapter is available in the 75th Anniversary Book which is for sale at the
Camp Fire USA Portland Metro Council's office in Portland.
©1998 Reprinting only with written permission of Camp Fire USA Portland Metro Council.