In Summer 2020 we will be celebrating our 100 year anniversary. To honor our history, our boys, and reflect back to how it all began, we lead up to summer #100 with this blog series. We pay homage to all of those campers, leaders, families, and supporters of camp and thank them for paving the way now for the beginning for another 100 years of helping boys be the best versions of themselves for years to come. On Red Arrow!
How it all began
So began the 1930 Red Arrow Camp brochure written in a folksy, familiar voice, presumably that of the man who brought Red Arrow to life, Clarence H. Rasmussen. At the time “Razz” (as he was called by everyone who knew him) was a history teacher and football coach at the Milwaukee Country Day School where he also later became athletic director and head of the junior school. With his summers relatively “free” he sought to offer boys a summer experience that would get them out into the wilderness and give them the proper physical and moral training to set them on the road to manhood.
As the story goes, Razz, came out of the service shortly after World War I determined to start a boy’s summer camp. He had two war buddies who were interested in going in with him: Mike Knapp and John Caupsie. The men founded a camp in Crandon, Wisconsin, and operated it for just one year. They were intent on finding a more ideal location further north and it was in 1920 that Razz hit on the present Red Arrow site at Trout Lake. But his partners apparently lost interest in the idea. Razz mustered all his financial resources and bought the property on his own. The property was ideal. Situated on the shores of Trout Lake (a particularly spectacular lake in Vilas County because much of the shoreline is owned by the state and hence undeveloped even today) the site commanded a stunning view of the water, islands and tall pines.
Did you know? The Trout Lake site has an interesting history predating camp. Historical records show that the current location, being close to the Trout River, was heavily trafficked by various tribes of the Chippewa Indian nation during the 18th and 19th centuries (and perhaps before), and by fur traders in the frontier days. Indian burial mounds were found on the property as well as remnants of two Indian villages, one located near the Trout River, and one located where the baseball diamond is today.
The Wright Lumber Company, based in Merrill, WI obtained rights to log the Trout Lake area probably around the 1870’s and chose to build their logging camp on this same location. the the loggers spared the trees on the camp property, they cleared most every other strand of virgin pines around the rest of Trout Lake. The Wright Camp was one of the very prosperous camps in the region. Perhaps that explains the rather un-lumberjack like luxury of the accommodations the company built. Both the Mess Hall and the Rec Hall are examples of superior craftsmanship in log buildings for that era! The present day infirmary and nature cabin are also two of the original buildings that date back to the logging days. In the early 1900’s the logging camp closed and operated briefly as “Williams Resort” before it became Red Arrow Camp.