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The Boesel Legacy

Red Arrow Camp The Boesel Legacy

When the opportunity arose for Paul Waterman to sell Red Arrow Camp to Charlie Boesel, Paul was happy to do it. At that point, the camp needed an infusion of money for things like new equipment and cabin repairs, and Charlie had the wherewithal to make it happen. So in 1953, Charles M. Boesel became the new director of Red Arrow Camp, bringing to the role new leadership and personality, but the same level of dedication and commitment.

Charlie had two things Red Arrow needed. The first: money. Charlie’s mother came from the Manegold family, whose fortune was in cement. When she died, he inherited a significant sum and dedicated his rehabilitation of Red Arrow Camp to her memory. His second wife, Clara, came from the wealthy Mayer family, who owned a shoe factory in downtown Milwaukee. Her family money helped fund the camp as well.

But money wasn’t the only thing Charlie contributed to Red Arrow. Far from it, in fact. He also brought to the role of director an undeniable and long-standing love for the camp. Though Charlie had never been a camper at Red Arrow, he had spent several summers as a counselor. He was also a Milwaukee Country Day man — a student under Razz and PWW. After graduating from college, he returned to the school in 1932 to teach mathematics to the sixth and seventh “forms,” and later became headmaster of the junior school. He resigned from the school when he bought Red Arrow, believing the camp would require his full time attention.

Charlie had tons of energy and personality all his own. Excerpts from a 1936 MCD faculty description say this: “Every school has its handy man, and in this case, Chuck is the jack of all trades… is especially interested in everything… willing to help out in anything… drives around town in a flashy new car… intends to spend the summer looking for competition in tennis and golf… greatest ambition: to get good turf on his lawn… the owner of engaging personality which inevitably captivates those upon whom it works its charms.” Clearly, he was a character.

Charlie is also remembered as a “very conscientious, hard working counselor.” One day, former counselor Ken Hall caught Charlie with a huge smile on his face and asked him, “Chuck, why the big smile?” Charlie said, “I’m reading How to Win Friends and Influence People — they say you should smile a lot.” Jim Williams was also a counselor with Charlie. He remembers: “Charlie’s big thing was photography. He had his own developing studio at the camp. He also loved to fish and to stay up late at night playing cards. Then he’d go down and sleep on the pier and wake up at 4:30 or 5:00 and go fishing.” Jim suspects he did the same thing while he was director. Rollie Reinhardt, who was a camper when Boesel took over, says “Charlie was more outgoing than Paul Waterman. He was a live wire. He only slept for about six hours a night, and then he’d go full speed all day.”

Charlie went on to lead Red Arrow until 1967. He is still very much a part of the camp’s spirit, and our Charles M. Boesel Scholarship Program is appropriately named in his honor and memory.

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