Boys Will Be Boys
Sometimes it seems there is no end to the lengths to which young men will go to have fun at Maine's summer camps, even if it means paddling half a canoe on a track to nowhere. When a tree fell on this wood-and-canvas Old Town Guide's Model in late August back in 1934, these seven counselors at Camp Ettowah on Lower Kimball Pond in Fryeburg decided the proud green ship needed a proper send-off before landing in the burn pile. A set of railroad tracks, recovered from the nearby Bridgton and Saco River Narrow Gauge Railroad and used to haul docks from the water, provided the perfect means for getting the questionable craft into the drink.
Photographer Fraser Forgie, who regularly escaped from scorching Boston summers to the cool of western Maine, was happy to capture Perry O'Dell, at left with a bullhorn; Bob "Benny" Mattoon, standing with a starter pistol; Carl Stevens, at right wearing spectacles; and four buddies from Wesleyan University who had spent the summer working at Ettowah. Forgie found that humorous photographs such as this one sold well among the sixty campers and their parents, all of whom apparently appreciated knowing that the counselors never took themselves too seriously.
That wasn't a problem at Ettowah, for counselors or campers. In addition to marksmanship (responsible campers might have gotten to try Mattoon's Luger look-alike pistol), hiking, and swimming, boys learned
practical skills such as woodworking and farming at Ettowah. "During the war, with rationing it was tough to get food for sixty kids, so we raised hogs and steers and we used three acres on a farm down the road to raise vegetables," explains Andrew Holmes, whose father started Ettowah in 1927 and who ran the camp himself before selling it in 1975. Holmes says the cabin in the background of this photograph, known as the "skunk" cabin, originally belonged to his parents but, along with many other structures on the 140-acre property, was later expanded by counselors and campers.
Holmes, who like his father worked as a headmaster during the school year, says summers at Ettowah taught both counselors and campers more than any private school curriculum could. "I believe that we did more valuable education at camp than we ever did at school," Holmes says.
Judging by the expressions on these young men, the experience of spending the summer at a Maine camp was not the only thing about to sink in.