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You can now purchase everything you need for camp online.  Visit our online camp store to purchase packing list items for your camper's stay with us this summer and purchase your Lake Wenatchee YMCA Camp logowear items.  As an added bonus, by shoping here you'll be supporting camp programs in that 5% of all packing list items and 10% of all logowear items are donated back to camp!  Free shiiping on all purchases over $99!

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Volunteer Work Weekends!

Join us October 26-27 as we host our annual autumn Make a Difference Day weekend!  Stay at camp for free while volunteering your time and talents towards getting camp ready for winter. 

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In the summer of 1947, the YMCA Board of Directors made a decision that would change the course of the Wenatchee YMCA forever.  The decision was the hiring of Larry Handy as General Secretary of the YMCA.  Handy came from the Tulare County YMCA in California and had an extensive background in camping programs and was a past president of the Pacific Federation of American Camping Associations.  It took little time for Handy to put that experience to use.  

In the fall of 1947, a camp committee was formed and Elmer and Effie Smith were hired as caretakers of the Lake Wenatchee YMCA Camp.  They lived on-site and were instrumental in preparing camp for the upcoming summer.  The newly formed Y’s Men’s service club assisted them and a water system was installed with a chlorinator donated by the druggists of Wenatchee.  Other preparations included renovation of donated boats, further draining of the meadow so that it could be used for games and rifle and archery ranges, and repairs to the dining hall.  Elmer Smith developed a DDT fog machine, which he drove around on the back of his jeep, to take care of the mosquitoes.  On May 15, 1948, five boys became the first to register for the first organized summer camping program at the Lake Wenatchee YMCA Camp in over a decade.  By the time the first of two 10-day session opened in late July, 1948, participants were registered from as far away as Moses Lake.  Forty-seven boys attended the first session with forty-five attending the second.  A Wenatchee World editorial, dated August 1, 1948 celebrated the reopening this way:

“With the reopening of the YMCA camp this week for the first time in 10 years, another opportunity is being offered for our young folks to have one of the most enduring and worthwhile experiences that can come to a person.  Attending an organized camp…is a far different thing from just camping alone.  It offers training in the best type of human relations, in spiritual and in moral values, as well as giving the finest kind of outdoor vacation.” 

The progress on camp continued into 1949.  Elmer Smith constructed a homemade sawmill near Fish Lake, and along with his wife, produced numerous two by four’s from discarded lodgepole pine. The siding was then used in the construction of new cabins at the camp.  By June 1949, a cook’s quarters and the first cabin, named Azwell Lodge, had been completed.  Owl cabin, funded by John Watson and Clay Rule would soon follow.  Joe Wood was responsible for the cabin design. 

The summer of 1949 featured a week long Presbyterian youth camp, the first ever YMCA girls’ camp session and two sessions of boys’ camp.  A highlight of the summer was the addition of a 32 foot rubber pontoon raft, donated by KPQ radio.  It had been used to hold up the radio transmitter during the flood of 1947, but was enjoyed by many at camp during the swimming and boating programs. 

Joe B. Wood, architect, was responsible for the cabin and lodge designs.  Overall, twelve cabins and various other structures were completed during the 1950s: 

-1950 –Y’s Men’s Cabin, Cashmere Cabin, Evergreen Cabin, the craft hut and the caretaker’s cabin
-1951 -  Muirhead Cabin, a boathouse (from a converted hut), bulkhead dock added at the waterfront area by Exchange Club of Wenatchee
-1952 – Tertsagian Cabin, Whiteman Cabin and Rotary Cabin
-1953 – Taylor Cabin and the pump house and water main
-1958 – Meikle Cabin and Miller Cabin
-1959 – Mary Woods Cabin and the Rotary Bell Tower (bell from the Methodist Church of Wenatchee)

In 1954 excavation work was begun on the ground floor of the lodge.  The ground floor was completed in 1957 and included flush toilets, showers, a modern kitchen and an indoor dining area. The first camp group utilized the lodge in July of that year, but work on the remainder of the lodge was temporarily halted for the rest of the decade due to lack of funds.  Attendance at camp continued to rise and by 1958, ten years after camp reopened, nearly 400 campers attended a session of Y camp with nearly 600 more using the facility in association with churches and other community groups.  With such growth over ten short years the YMCA tried to keep its mission in focus, as stated by Larry Handy:

“The interest and aim of the YMCA in developing the camping program is based on the conviction that character growth and character training takes place in a camp setting to much higher degrees than in any other setting.”

In 1960 Isenhart and Leslie D. Lewis cabins were completed and a bridge was built over the ravine.  The Wenatchee Lions Club contributed a new swim float in 1960 and a new dock in 1961.  The Kiwanis Health Hut was completed in 1966, but by far the greatest construction accomplishment was the completion of the main lodge.  Four carpenters, led by Carl Syring, began work on the structure on April 15, 1964 and completed the rough framing by August 13.  They were aided by a parade of volunteers and work parties who helped with a variety of tasks – including cleaning yards of salvaged brick that later became the lodge fireplace.  The brick, as well as the boards for the lodge floor, came from the old Wenatchee High School / H.B. Ellison Junior High building and were donated by Clair Vandivort.  Finishing work continued until December of that year when it was halted due to weather.  Construction began again in May 1965 and the lodge was occupied for the first time on July 15, 1965.  

The 1960’s saw a vast increase in the number of people using the camp.  Summer camp enrollment increased from 289 campers in 1960 to over 400 midway through the decade.  Other programs, besides summer camp also experienced success.  In 1961 Cashmere schools held the first 5-day outdoor education program at the camp.  By 1969 there would be 8 full weeks of outdoor education held at the camp.  Rental groups (churches and other non-profit organizations) increased from 7 per year to 26 by the end of the decade. 

None of the growth the YMCA experienced would have been possible without strong leadership.  For nearly 20 years, Larry Handy had been the vision for the Wenatchee YMCA.  When he left for a new career in Seattle in 1966, his legacy was recognized by having the camp lodge he fought so hard to complete named in his honor.