Posted on November 30, 2010 by spreston

Recently, while we were visiting a camp, the directors proudly showed us a large collection of superb photos of campers and staff in action, with the old facilities in the background. They were taken in 1958 by a nationally renowned Canadian photographer, whose children were campers that summer. There was not a caption in sight.

Who were these children and staff? Where did they come from? Why did they come to this camp? How many were there? How long did they stay? What were the activities we saw in the photos? What was the camp’s philosophy and purpose? What were their rituals and traditions? Have some of them endured through the years? How and when were those rather primitive buildings and activity areas replaced by the high quality facilities we saw around us?

The original sponsoring organization is no longer involved.. Maybe they have kept some records. Apart from that, there are only the 52 year old recollections of a wonderful lady who was actually the director at that time.

In those days few people thought much about “archiving” camp records in case they might be useful or interesting sometime in the future. Last year’s files would be stored in the back of a closet until someone decided to get rid of all that old stuff.

Now we are learning and appreciating the value of all that old stuff. As Mary L. Northway said: “Knowledge of the past enlightens our understanding of the present.”

If you have not been “archiving” your old camp records, now is the time to begin.

Our individual and collective memories can be selective and fickle. Electronic data can disappear with the mistaken touch of one key or degrade all by itself; and in the long run, regular electronic technology upgrades may result in your older information being completely inaccessible.

Collect all your important data in hard copy, and put it in an envelope or binder labelled “Camp Archives 2010”.

You already have to keep all your financial, legal and property records.  Keep the fun stuff too!

What else is important?

1. Make a hard copy of what is on your website.
2. Add copies of all your essential forms.
3. Include your staff manual.
4. Put in your schedules, menus, camper and staff lists.
Finally, think of other things that might be interesting or useful later on:
– camp rituals
– special events
– trip reports
– photos (labelled with names, date and occasion)
– your notes for staff training sessions.

Next year, 5 years from now, 10 years from now, or when you are planning anniversary celebrations, you will be glad that you have this package of memories from 2010.

Then do it again in 2011 and 2012 and 2013…!

If you want more information or assistance, contact us.
Peter and Barb Gilbert, 613-475-1689 or