Saturday, April 22, 2017

In Search Of Camp Corbin

Today we were out and about.  We went on a little adventure around Marquette county looking for Barn Quilt blocks.  I don't know if they are popular in other parts of the United States, but here in Wisconsin we have a lot of them.  Large quilt designs are painted on exterior wood squares and are hung on barns or other buildings.  Some are quite simple and others are elaborate.  Shawano county in Wisconsin has over 300 barn quilts and is a tourist destination. This will be a future adventure.  Some are so beautiful.  There are even geocaching games involving Barn quilts.

This was a simple basket pattern

This pattern is called the Lone Star.  It is pretty fancy.

Working our way back home we took a little detour through the back roads.  We found ourselves on a road that we were quite familiar with.  It sparked a memory from 1973.  We hadn't thought about it for years, but 44 years ago my husband and I managed a summer church camp.  My husband was a teacher.  Teachers never made a ton of money.  In fact, he started teaching in 1969 for $5,000 a year.  Even then that was a pretty small wage, so he always worked at a summer job.  We never took vacations because he always worked.  He cooked cans of peas at the canning factory, worked on a summer maintenance crew for years and did whatever crappy job he could find, although he did pass on selling encyclopedias.  In 1973 we applied to manage a Presbyterian Church Camp between Packwaukee and Montello Wisconsin.  It was called Camp Corbin.  We got the job and moved into a very old trailer home in the woods with our oldest daughter, who was only 19 months old at the time, and our dog.  Our job was to do repairs, mow, provide firewood, collect money from families using the campground, take campers and canoes to a nearby stream and provide groceries for the church groups and their counselors.  Every week a new group of young people would come from churches all around the state.  It was a very rustic tent camping situation and all their meals were cooked outdoors.  Each day we would bring them the groceries necessary to make their meals.  We had to travel to Portage, Wisconsin every week to purchase a huge amount of food.  We went to a special meat market in Montello that sold Brakebush chickens.  These were the days before the Brakebush name was well known.  We even had to travel to Princeton to get surplus commodities like cheese and flour which were provided by the state for this type of camp.  Who would have thought that 30 years later, we would live in Princeton, WI.  We didn't like the town that much back then, but it has grown on us. 

The area has changed a lot and the camp is long gone.  While trying to find the entrance into the old camp, we came across a hiking trail.  We pulled in to check out the map.  There was a short trail to the Page Creek Marsh.  On the map we saw that it lead to lakes on the camp property.   In 1986 we went back to find Camp Corbin and were able to drive back to the lake and saw some of the old campsites.  At that time we even saw the rusty old trailer we lived in.  At 26 feet long the trailer was smaller than many of today's campers.  It was sitting in the woods abandoned for many years.

This is the trailer we lived in during the summer of 1973.  This picture was taken 13 years later.

Wanting to see how close we could get to familiar land, we grabbed our water and my camera and headed down the trail.

The three lakes on this map were part of the camp.

We could tell that the path was not well traveled and was need of maintenance.  There were a lot of downed trees and over growth, but it was easy enough to maneuver.  It was so calm and beautiful.  There is a smell of earth, leaves and sweetness in the Spring woods that I can't really describe.  It just soothes the soul.

A lot of birch trees

No leaves yet so we could easily see the squirrels nest.

The marker posts which marked the trail had fallen over.

When we finally reached the creek, we saw that the bridge was out, and we couldn't go any further.  It was disappointing but hopefully some day the bridge will be repaired and we will be able to cross the water.

We returned to the car and headed home.  We stopped for gas in Montello, and I noticed two ticks crawling on my husbands shirt.  Fortunately we always carry a roll of duct tape in the car.  I tore off a piece and entombed the ticks in duct tape.  I have no problem ending the life of those little critters.  We got home and took a hot shower just in case there were more and then washed all our clothes.

I notice on the map that there may be an alternative route on the other side of the creek.  Some day we will spray up with repellent and try the secondary trail.  This trail looks like it goes to the larger lake in which we swam.  Yes, 44 years ago I actually wore a swimming suit and wore shorts.  That was probably the last time.  I don't know if the old camp is part of this conservancy or if it is privately owned.  Wouldn't it be something if we would find that old trailer again?


  1. My family and I stayed at camp Corbin for years. I am sad to see that it’s gone.

  2. I was one of those countless kids you provided lifelong memories for- thank you so much for all your hard work! I also would love to see the lake again and the campsites. So many good memories. Thank you again!