History of Camp Mishawaka
Mishawaka continued to grow during the early decades, attracting young men from across the nation. Early camp life was simple and relied upon a military model of organization. Doc stressed physical and moral development of the campers, achieved through rigorous exercise and activity. From the early years, campers were exposed to the hardships of the wilderness, both in camp and on out-of-camp trips.
Upon the death of Doc Green, Leonard (Pop) Schneller assumed the leadership of Mishawaka. The 1930’s also saw the addition of Vilhelm (Skipper) Larsen and Kent Curtis. A high school teacher and coach from Minneapolis, Skipper Larsen directed the construction of most of the camp buildings that remain today. He also initiated the tradition of the Shields & Feathers, casting the Indian head and feathers in metal and crafting the shield out of wood. Kent Curtis expanded the tripping program, leading boys into the area now known as the BWCA and Quetico. In addition, Kent was responsible for bringing sailing to Mishawaka. An author and musician, Kent is also responsible for many of the tribal songs and traditions.
Theodore (Cap) Cavins joined the Mishawaka staff in 1932 and would spend the next 43 years at Camp. He assumed an ownership role in 1941, along with Messrs. Curtis and Larsen. Under the leadership of Cap Cavins, Mishawaka continued to expand. Like his predecessors, Cap was able to attract and retain a first-rate staff. It was these men who set Mishawaka apart from other camps, and who helped attract and retain campers from their home areas.
The early 1980’s was a difficult time for independent traditional camps. The Larsen and Erickson families were able to guide Mishawaka through this difficult period. In 1988 the two camps were consolidated. The Girls Camp was moved to its present site and the two camps began to share many facilities and programs. Throughout this time, Mishawaka remained true to its heritage, and preserved the traditions of a residential summer camp.
Jon Erickson worked alongside his father, Norm, during these years as the winter recruiter and program director. He took over the reigns as the Boy’s Camp Director in 1985. The Girls camp remained under the direction of Sonia Larsen until 1985 when she moved to the office to serve as the Office Manager until her retirement in 2010.
From 1986 to present the Girl’s Camp has been under the direction of Bobbie Oggletree, Holly Wilson, Katie Scott, Phyllis Strobl, Kari Lottes and, beginning in 1995, Mary Jane Curran.
Adapting Camp Mishawaka to meet the changing needs of campers and their families, while still upholding many of the founding principles from 1910 will allow the camp to thrive for the next 100 years.