The 1970s brought changes big and small to Camp Namanu, beginning with a new
address. Parents and friends now addressed letters to Camp Namanu, Route 3 Box 680, Sandy, Ore. 97055. The camping
season in 1970 was nine weeks long with two double (two-week) sessions offered. Camp Fire Girls still sold candy
in order to raise money for Namanu improvements and to earn campships for themselves. Miss Mary Lou continued as
Director of Camping from 1970 to 1972. She says:
|Robin Hill campers, 1971|
"I have a lasting fondness for Namanu--some of my favorite times as a counselor were on the hikes throughout the
camp property. As Director and in later years I have found it rewarding to see the lasting benefits of the camp
experience--as I watched ‘my campers’ become counselors and Camp Fire leaders with children attending Camp Namanu."
Skriggleboggle was still on the job in the ’70s. He lived in the Guardian Fir, the tallest tree on the hillside
above Spruce Lodge. At the base of the tree was Skrig’s mail box, and campers would deposit in it questions
concerning Camp Namanu and its inhabitants. Sometimes they would linger to sing a song to the shy elf, or stand
quietly looking up into the branches, hoping to get a glimpse of him. The girls would return the next day to find
an answer to their question, neatly typed and waiting for them. A common question was, "How many pine cones are
there in Camp Namanu?" Campers were surprised to hear that the answer was none, there are only fir cones at Camp
In 1972 a large warehouse was built beside the parking lot up the hill from the caretaker’s house. It was added in
order to house the extra supplies from Camp Kwoneesum, but it rapidly became a repository for any stray and unused
equipment in camp.
Camp Namanu in the early ’70s still had some regimental traditions, such as bugle calls, formal flag raising and
lowering ceremonies, and the "no fraternization" rule. Under this dictum, senior unit campers were not allowed to
talk to CITs, CITs were not allowed to talk to Leftovers and so on. Sheelah Doherty recalls:
"After ‘Taps,’ we’d be sneaking across the meadow in the shadows on our bellies. There was that no fraternization
rule, so as Leftovers we couldn’t talk to the CITs, period. So after lights-out we’d all meet over by the Weavery,
but we had to watch out for Clancy and Shanks and their safari lights. They had these huge spotlights that could
light up half of the meadow at a time!"
In the fall of 1972 Mary Lou See resigned and Karen House was hired as Director of Camping. She was a graduate of
California State in Sacramento and was doing post-graduate work at the University of Oregon after spending some
time in Europe. She had also worked for Camp Fire Girls in Sacramento and had heard about Camp Namanu from Phyllis
Ford, a U of O professor and Karen’s mentor and friend. Karen began her ten-year stint as Camp Director in January
"I liked the whole atmosphere at Namanu once camp got started. I just liked being there. There were always ups and
downs, like the summer we had to fire all three cooks. For a couple of days it was me, Marianne, Cricket and
whoever else was interested doing all the cooking. We look back on those things now and just laugh about them!"
-Karen "Sierra" House
Jan Dubuar Barkhurst, a counselor at Namanu in the ’70s, recalls her experience:
"My favorite memory of Namanu happened during sixth session, summer of 1973. Another counselor, Dandelion, and I
fixed a sleep-in breakfast for the CITs. We were cooking at one of the nine fire rings in the meadow because we’d
been on fire ban all summer. Everyone else in camp was up at Raker. We could hear the ‘after breakfast singing’
coming from the open doors and windows. The campers were all eating while we continued to cook bacon and French
toast. We looked up and saw two deer in the meadow down by the pool. They just walked along, pretending to ignore
us. It was truly magical!"
1974 was a memorable year for Camp Namanu in many ways. A new building stood above the meadow across the road from
Uncle Toby’s. It was built to house the Camp Director and her Assistant Director and was aptly named "The Loft"
because of its lofty view. The Loft had a living room, bedroom, bathroom and kitchen facilities, also a large
front porch from which the Camp Director could survey the meadow area.
During the summer of 1974, Camp Namanu celebrated its 50th anniversary of camping on the Sandy River. An open
house was held at camp on Sunday, August 4. Old campers, staff and volunteers boarded buses in Portland and headed
for Namanu, singing all the way just as campers had for fifty summers. Several visitors donned their black
bloomers and white middies for the day. There were photographs and historical displays set up in Robin Hood’s
Barn, and everyone was encouraged to add colored ribbons to their nametags representing their different
connections to Camp Namanu. After camp tours and a barbecue in the meadow, visitors boarded the buses for Portland
with renewed friendships and recalled memories.
When you dream of camp in years to be
Above all else you’ll prize
Those friendships formed in camping days
Beneath the open skies.
For comrades of the waterway,
Of sky, trail and glowing fire,
Relive glad days, retell old tales
Of which they may never tire.
You have shared so much in sun and rain
Foolish things and wise.
And ’neath the candid gaze of the stars
Have woven no cheap disguise.
You have known the peace of silent hills,
Have learned what’er betide
Though paths of life turn east or west
Camp friends can never divide.
On August 8, 1974, the outside world again intruded briefly into camp life:
"I remember when Nixon resigned the Presidency. I was up at camp, it was banquet night and we were all listening
to it on the radio as we got ready. Later Karen announced it at banquet and there was quite a round of applause."
-Debbie Peterson Janes
Camp fees for 1974 were $33.00 for Camp Fire Girls and $38.00 for non-members. Ranch costs were $49.50 for a week
and first-year CIT training was $72.50. Holly Hamilton Maunu, a CIT during this time remembers:
"My ‘first’ favorite memories of Namanu are the two summers that I was a CIT. I hadn’t been to Namanu since I was
in Kiwanis, so I truly did not know what to expect. I came to be a CIT because my best friend from Camp Kwoneesum,
Nancy Nord, convinced me that it was a great thing to do. I think my mother and the rest of my family thought I
was a bit ‘touched in the head’ to want to spend so much of the summer at camp! Little did they know that my
tenure at Namanu was to be a long and loyal one.
"Here I was accepted for myself. I didn’t have to be someone that anyone else wanted me to be or expected me to
be. I was freed from the worry that no one would like me if I liked to read children’s books or keep Winnie-the-Pooh
on my bed or dress in jeans and flannel shirts or sing camp songs.
"One of the most precious memories of being a CIT is the traditional after-Council Fire serenading. Even though
there were only six or seven of us, we loved to sing Camp Namanu to sleep. I loved to sing all the songs, but the
rounds were the most fun. We must have sung all the rounds known to Namanu every Friday night. We sang our
mini-concerts to each unit and sang and sang and sang. Songs brought us together as a CIT group. Songs bring all
Namanuites together. Singing is the magic of Namanu."
An event happened the last week of August, 1974 that saddened many old-time Namanu campers. Counselors at the
Ranch had just finished cleaning up after the last week of camp, and had headed home. Teddy Tethrow remembers that
"The counselors had all gone home. Doris and I were down in main camp, when we got a phone call from the neighbors
that said, ‘You’d better come up, your Ranch is on fire!’ As we were going out Elsner Road, we could see the
smoke, then we got closer and the whole thing was engulfed. It was such a hot fire that it was blue, a blue flame.
The fire department was having trouble with the propane tank being so close and the wires had burned through so
there was no water pump. We really held our breath while they disconnected that tank--they were keeping water on
it. The whole Ranch House burned, except for the shed and bunkhouse. After it all died down we went back to main
camp. The next day we went back up to look at it and the shed and bunkhouse were gone! The fire had restarted
during the night, but the man up the road had kept the fire engine and had put it out. That was a real shock,
going up there expecting to see the buildings that survived, and they were gone!"
Camp Namanu Ranchers will always miss the old Ranch House full of memories of happy times. Camp Namanu was lucky
that the fire had been contained to just the house and outbuildings, and had not reached the surrounding forest.
Plans were started immediately for a new Ranch House, and by the time that the 1975 camping season began, the new
building was in place. The modern two-story structure included kitchen facilities, a large eating and meeting
room, an upstairs bedroom and back porch area for outdoor meals. The cost of the new Ranch House was approximately
$35,000. Also built at that time were three bunkhouses, separate from the main house. They ringed an outdoor
fireplace behind the Ranch House.
In 1975 the National Council of Camp Fire Girls voted on and passed changes in the organization that, among other
things, made it coed. The program was called "New Day" and with its implementation Camp Fire Girls became Camp
Hiking the trails at Camp Namanu continued to be a popular activity in the ’70s. Holly "Deneb" Hamilton Maunu, a
Robin Hill counselor in 1976, recalls:
"I remember an all-unit hike to Haunted House after the Ranch rodeo. There were only two counselors and the Unit
Director and fifty some kids. We had a sack dinner there, after our sack lunch at the Ranch (there’s variety for
you!). Then one kid named Keisha started screaming and writhing, ostensibly in pain, inside the Haunted House. We
all ran like mad into the building...well, to make a long story short, she had a hernia and we had to carry her
all the way back to main camp from Haunted House. She, of course, was one of the bigger kids and as you can guess,
not easy to carry down skinny trails in the dark with no flashlight. She had to go home, but her legacy lived on
in the staff Forest Echo."
Also a subject of Forest Echoes during the summer of 1976 was the new camp address. The U S Post Office informed
Camp Fire that letters would now need to be addressed to 10300 SE Camp Namanu Road, Sandy, OR 97055. Jokes
abounded such as where is NE Camp Namanu Road? A new radio station was invented, call number ten three-hundred
During much of Camp Namanu’s history, there has been a staff position called Handy Boy or Chore Boy. This teenaged
boy, often the only male non-adult in camp, lived in a small house called The Pit that was located on the trail
between the back of Raker Lodge and Kiwanis Lodge. Having a teenaged boy in camp sometimes created difficulties:
"In Kiwanis as Unit Director, I got to see and be with all the kids. I didn’t have the little hassles anymore, but
I got the big ones. One group of kids decided late one evening after going to the Suzie that they had seen men with
knives coming into camp. That’s where I came into the story. Apparently it started when a camper saw the Handy Boy
coming up from Raker back to the caretaker’s place. The one group of campers had spread this dastardly rumor to
all the cabins in Kiwanis and there were 42 kids in the lodge screaming and refusing to sleep in their cabins.
That took a while to remedy, but after a few hours of singing and telling some pleasant Namanu legends, everyone
had an uneventful rest of the evening."
-Holly "Deneb" Hamilton Maunu
Handy Boys through the years included Henry Bauer, Dick Smith, Vinson Perry, Robert Seal, Jerry Goff, Irvin Golden,
Bruce Morehouse, Pete Manning, Robert Houck, Bruce Kolb, John Frick, Ed DeKoning, William Morcom,Ted McKercher,
Joel Niemi, David Larimer and Tim Jaureguy.
The swimming pool, while safer than the Sandy River, was still very cold when filled with Walker Creek spring
water. Many a Blue Wing camper came away from a swimming session with blue-tinged lips. In the spring of 1978, new
solar panels were installed just behind the pool, raising the water temperature from the high 50s to the low 70s.
Throughout the ’70s, many different special programs were offered to older campers at Camp Namanu. In 1972 and
1973 girls in Balagan could go on a five-day backpacking trip into the Cascade Mountains. In 1974, the backpacking
was offered to Pioneer campers and Balaganites could sign up for a session of river rafting. In 1977, Balagan had
a session of advanced river rafting, and in 1978 basic rock climbing was offered to the older campers. Girls who
attended these sessions had many special memories of new skills learned and fun adventures together.
The 1979 camp brochure announced a big change for Camp Namanu that started in a small way. For the first time in
its history boys were allowed as Namanu campers. Two short sentences in the brochure state:
"This summer for the first time Namanu will open two sessions to third-grade (fall 1979) Blue Jays. Registered
Blue Jays (male Blue Birds) may register for either Session 2 or Session 7."
Camp signs that said "Camp Fire Girls" were taken down and song lyrics were changed from girls to kids.
As the decade came to a close, the fee for a one-week regular session had risen to $55.50 in main camp and $72.00
Campers were still touched by the beautiful dreamcake ceremony at the end of Banquet. Raker Lodge was lit by
hundreds of tiny candles as the campers and staff sang:
Dear Camp Namanu take this little token,
To show we love you, tho’ we’re far away.
A lighted candle drifting o’er the waves
Is but a wish for the coming day.
And when you’re dreaming
of the fun you’ve had here,
And when you’re dreaming
of your friends so true
Just take this token close to your heart
And you’ll remember that
your wish will come to you.
Holly "Deneb" Hamilton Maunu sums up what is so special to her about Camp Namanu:
"Camp Namanu reaches out far past the boundaries of camp itself. Another long-time friend whose mom was dying in the hospital put out the word that Auntie Em, as she was known to all her Camp Fire kids, was leaving us. A group of us gathered at her bedside and as the night grew to morning, we sang camp songs by the hour. That was the last music Auntie Em heard, but it touched my heart that, even in that circumstance, the songs and the love from Camp Namanu transcend time and place.
"There are so many memories I have of Camp Namanu: sitting by the river at night watching the birds fly over,
skipping rocks from the beach into the river, dancing in the meadow dew imitating Namanu fairies, knowing and
trying to remember to follow all the rules in the dining hall. The yearly Water Show and Bloom Day in Robin Hill,
holding hands with the campers in my cabin and skipping down the road singing and laughing, cooking over a fire
and eating overcooked and underdone everything, rolling up my sleeping bag in a horseshoe to carry it on an
overnight along with a wire basket full of wood to Hidden Canyon. Sleeping at Gypsy in the sand, catching campers
coming down Sliding Rock, thousands of wishes at Wishing Rock, scavenger hunts on warm evenings, Counselor Hunts,
weaving, rainy and stormy days and weeks, the phenomenon of the Great Sleep and Midnight Banquet, dressing in
whites for banquet. All the crazy and sweet Forest Echoes, putting poems to music, playing the guitar, going on a
Sammy trip, IOAPF, Council Fire ceremonies, dreamcake at Banquet, and the beautiful dreamboat ceremony at the
river. I could go on for many more pages, but I guess the most enduring thing about Camp Namanu is that for all of
us who have been there, we carry a little bit of it in our hearts always. Good friends and wonderful days and
lessons learned and growing up in such a magical place are the legacy of the past and the hope for the future."
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.