Here’s another story from my old “Hilo Days” website, an excerpt from the limited edition book I made for my family.YMCA Summer Camp
Practically every kid has been to summer camp at least once. I went to mine in 1957. For some reason, I didn’t say no when Dad asked if I wanted to go to the YMCA summer camp, but when it came time to go, I was sure that I’d only stay the one week I’d signed up for, then would return home for a normal summer vacation.
I ended up staying the full six weeks. God, it was fun. Every Friday I’d call up Dad and ask him if I could stay another week. During my fifth week, they made me a Junior Counselor so I got to stay the last week free.
There was this neat bus that made its run into the YMCA headquarters on Saturday, dropping off the previous week’s campers and picking up the new ones to join us veterans who were still there.
Just like in the movies, the camp bus was a rickety old thing that rattled, wheezed and puffed up to the campground, which was along the way to Hawaii Volcanos National Park, about a half-mile from the volcano road store and post office. You could easily miss the campground if you didn’t know exactly where to turn.
The campground complex consisted of a main building, a small cabin, a large front yard, and a flagpole.
|The former YMCA Camp Main Building|
The main building was a two-story job. The camp director’s office and bunk, a dining hall and kitchen, and the counselor’s bunks were on the top floor. The bottom floor, which was on ground level, consisted of the showers and toilets, and a bunk-room for the campers.
The slightly older male campers slept in the small cabin, on double-decker bunks. I stayed in the main building for three weeks, then transferred to the small cabin for the last three weeks.
We split into teams, each headed by a counselor and an assistant (the aforementioned junior counselors). Our team was called the Kilauea Lumberjacks (“We’re the Kilauea Lumberjacks; man, we’re gone! We ain’t got brains, but we got brawn!”) and we were always challenging the other groups to wrestling.
We hardly ever won, but after all, we ain’t got brains …
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(Note: The summer camp site, built in 1938 was sold in 1986 and converted to the Kilauea Lodge and Restaurant. a bed and breakfast inn.)