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  »The 1920s
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  »Elaine Gorham
  »The 1950s
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  »The 1970s
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  »The 1980s
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  »The 1990s
  »Samuel Cobb
  »The 2000s
After almost 70 summers, Camp Namanu entered the 1990s going strong with a large following of returning campers and staff.

"Kid-oriented fun, new adventures, new friends, and opportunities for personal growth, all add up to camp in the traditional Camp Fire sense--for members and non-members alike.

"Camp Fire has been offering the ultimate camping experience in safe settings to kids of school age for 66 years. We are committed to our tradition of quality--accredited through the American Camping Association, and in compliance with standards of Camp Fire Inc. and the Oregon State Department of Health.

"We invite you to visit Camp Namanu during our traditional Family Day open house, to be held June 23. See how we celebrate summer!"
-1990 camp brochure

1990 was B’Goshes last summer as director:
"I feel very good about the fact that when I started at camp we were serving 1800 kids and by the time I left we were serving close to 2500 and having at least 100 children on the waiting list. I also worked very hard in helping to replace cabins, enhance the camp, help with the vision of Ginny’s Lodge, help get over 300 children to camp on scholarships and keep up a great safety record."

In 1991, Kathy "Kb" Buss was hired as Camp Director. Kb had been a camper at Namanu from Blue Wing through Balagan. She attended Portland State University and had a degree in biology. Kb returned to camp in 1979 as Robin Hill Unit Director and in 1985 as Assistant Camp Director. She held the position of Camp Director from 1991 to 1993. Her favorite things about camp were the kids and the staff. In the early ’90s several programs were started in order to make the Camp Namanu experience available to more people. These included parent/child weekends, teen weekends and alumni reunions for past campers, staff and volunteers. Work weekends continued to attract many eager helpers through 1992, after which they were discontinued.

The Star House, long a landmark in the meadow area, was aging in the weather. So in the spring of 1990, a crew of volunteer carpenters, led by Kevin Roses, dismantled this old structure, duplicated each piece, and rebuilt a "new" Star House. The woodcarvings were restored and repainted by Nancy Jaureguy at that time.

The youngest campers at Namanu got a special surprise in 1991. Lisa "Woodstock" Jaureguy, with the help of Darsa "Pooh" Patterson and Karen "Jasmine" Jost painted a new mural of Winnie the Pooh characters to hang in Blue Wing Lodge.

The percentage of boy campers at Namanu continued to increase:
"I started as a camper in Blue Wing in 1987 in Piglet cabin. At first I had female counselors, but as I got into older units I had male counselors. Some of the best I remember over the years are Zonkers, Dribble, Hampton, The Kid, Rolling Rock and Cricket.

"I like the poem that Skyler used to read at Council Fire:
SundayDear mom; It’s raining and cabin leaks and a kid in my cabin talks in her sleep. Can I come home?
MondayDear mom; I had K.P. and dropped the plates and lost my toothbrush. Can I come home?
TuesdayDear mom; My counselor tells great stories. My hot dog fell in the fire. I got a ‘clean suitcase’ award. The pool is cold. I still can’t find my toothbrush. I might want to come home.
WednesdayDear mom; We went on an over-night. I lit the fire. I saw a deer in the meadow. I’m still looking for my toothbrush.
ThursdayDear mom; I passed my swimming test. The sun’s out! I made a new best friend. I think my toothbrush is gone for good. Can I stay another week?
 By Linda S. Morgan
"My favorite memory of being a camper happened when I was a Silver Spoon (formerly Leftover). There was a cross-meadow rivalry going on between us and the Outpost kids sleeping in the A-frame. They had toilet-papered us Silver Spoons up in Backwoods. So we waited until they were all gone one night. We went into the A-frame, got all their stuff and put it into the canoes that were being stored over there. We pulled the canoes across the meadow and launched them into the duckpond, along with all the paddles. When they got back, they were so mad!

"Later that week we had a beach party campfire with Bilby and some of the Okihis. We had chocolate fondue--it was great."
-Andy C. Keegan

The Leftover/Silver Spoon program was offered through the summer of 1995.

As the number of campers at Namanu increased through the late ’80s and early ’90s, professional staff and volunteers felt the need for another large multi-use building. They envisioned a lodge that could house some summer staff and be used for Robin Hill and Sherwood Unit activities, and also be totally winterized for year-round use.

On July 8, 1993, The Oregonian announced the culmination of this vision:
"A new 50' x 50' lodge built mostly by volunteers is greeting the waves of youngsters at Camp Namanu.

"Ginny’s Lodge, the new one-story multipurpose building, is named for Virginia Denton, Camping Director for the Portland Area Council of Camp Fire from 1953 to 1962 and the Executive Director from 1962 to 1989. Construction started in the spring of 1991 and finished in May [1993]. Camp Fire dedicated it June 26.

"‘We saved probably $70,000 in labor by building it ourselves,’ said David Hesselman of Corbett, one of six men who did substantial work on the lodge over the last two years. ‘The only work we contracted out was the foundation work and the drainfield.’

"Hesselman said he had spent weekends, days off and some evenings on the project ‘because I just feel it is something I should do.’

"Ed Swanda of Portland, who also spent countless hours on the lodge, said he had worked at the camp for years and probably would keep on working there because ‘I feel it’s a part of me by now.’

"Swanda and Hesselman are two of the six volunteers who worked evenings and weekends on the lodge for two years. The others are Hesselman’s father, Bill; Ben Potter of Gresham; Jim Kirkland of Northeast Portland; and Arnold Shanks of Milwaukie. The building was designed by volunteer Tom Woodworth of Portland."

In the winter of 1994, Peter "Big Kahuna" Christnacht was hired as Camp Director of Camp Namanu. Peter had grown up in Montana and graduated from Gonzaga University in Spokane with a degree in history and psychology. He holds a master’s degree in outdoor curriculum and instruction from Northern Illinois University. His first resident camp experience was as a counselor at a Catholic Youth Organization camp near Seattle in 1979. After college, Peter worked in various camps and outdoor school programs and in December of 1993 his brother sent him an advertisement from The Oregonian concerning the job at Camp Namanu. He was hired in January of 1994.

Peter’s favorite things about Namanu:
"The kids are what make it great. It’s neat to see those that come back for multiple years, watching them grow, watching them change, watching them increase their self-confidence and self-esteem. That’s the neatest part for me.

"From the campers’ standpoint--overall--it’s when a smooth summer happens and everything is clicking, the kids are having a good time, the staff are having a good time. When everything is going right--it makes it all worthwhile."

In the summer of 1994, a regular one-week session in main camp was $185.00 and $240.00 for Ranch. The 1994 brochure says:
"Camp Namanu is a place you can listen to the rain, play games in the meadow. The best part is meeting friends. Give Camp Namanu a rousing cheer for a good time." -Kelsey A. A Camp Namanu camper

"When I was a camper in Robin Hill, we hiked to Kiwanis Caves. We were playing around in the waterfall when one of my counselors stepped in a hole and hurt his ankle. Two campers helped him back to main camp. There was only one counselor left with us. His name was Cheese. He had only been on staff for one week, so he didn’t know his way around Kiwanis Caves very well. When we noticed he looked puzzled, me and another camper familiar to Kiwanis Caves offered to help lead back to main camp. We knew the trails so well that we made it back to camp with time to spare!"
-Amanda E. Kelly

Peter Christnacht talks about programming:
"We do an opening night campfire on Sunday night and program choices on Wednesdays and Thursdays. We do an all-camp event on Friday morning to continue building a sense of community. We’ve added Ranch for sixth and seventh graders. We’ve added windsurfing, and kayaking. We seem to be doing a good job retaining the older kids--which is exciting."

What is the focus of Camp Namanu today:
"A couple of things that Eathel [Moore Milthaler, Camp Director, 1924] mentioned I still think are true today--the impact the program had for the girls--increasing their self-esteem, allowing them to make good decisions. Having done this for so many years, I think the benefits are identical and the need is even greater now than in the past."
-Peter Christnacht

On May 16, 1998, 380 former and present Camp Namanu staff, campers and volunteers gathered to celebrate the camp’s rich legacy of history and traditions. It was the beginning of Namanu’s 75th summer of camping on the Sandy River.

The first event was a luncheon at the Multnomah Athletic Club in Portland. Under the guidance of toastmistress Barb Karnis and toastmaster Henry Bauer, those present took a sentimental journey. The program included a through-the-decades fashion show, the singing of old camp songs and speeches by Marionbeth Wolfenden and Gerry Frank. A special treat was the video greeting from Eathel Moore Milthaler, age 95, Namanu’s first Camp Director. There was also a social hour for old friends to find one another and reminisce. The afternoon ended with "The Call of the Fire" and then echo "Taps."

The next day, Sunday, May 17, was an open house held at Camp Namanu. From noon to 4 p.m., everyone had a chance to revisit their favorite places at camp, or just sit in Uncle Toby’s and talk. The rain stopped briefly at 2:30 for the flag-raising ceremony dedicating the 75th Anniversary flag to Helen "Spuddy" Hesselman. Camp Namanu 75th Anniversary souvenirs were available, including T-shirts, mugs, ink pens, bumper stickers and tattoos. In spite of the damp day, everyone enjoyed their return to Namanu.

It is not an exaggeration to say that I have always felt destined to write the history of Namanu. Camp has been such an important place to me and so many others. It has been wonderful to listen to the collective memories of years and years of Namanu people. In the end, the similarities between the generations far outweighed the differences.

I need to thank my husband, Jerry, who did the computer work and much of the historical research. Thanks also to Zale Chadwick, Holly Hamilton Maunu, Joclyn Thornburg, Loriann Thye and Karin Wandtke for their help in writing and proofing. I received invaluable information and encouragement from Eathel Moore Milthaler and Ginny Denton. Lastly, the book could not exist without all those who contributed their personal photographs and memories. Thank you all.
Nancy Nord King
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.

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