Northwood's distinctive Walt Williamson Lodge

This is just a sketch -- please send along details, memories, and opinions. 

Bill Grogg Sr.probably had a key role back in 1959 or before.

The land was obtained first.  Then came the Lodge.  The first year of campers was 1960.  The was the council's "far" camp and was meant to be a challenge and adventure for older Scouts and Explorers. 

There was no dining hall--troops were on their own for Troop or Patrol cooking.  There were remote campsites around all of the lakes.  On the shores of Clearwater were sites that were walkable for the Scouts participating in camp "program".  Around 1974, the Clearwater sites were showing signs of overuse and were closed.  During 1975 and 1976 the staff conducted grass seeding and other remediation efforts to try and stabilize these fine campsites among the Hemlock and Cedar.  In their place, 8 campsites were built in the middle of a maple stand off of each side of the camp road.

Early on, the Charles G. Smith Explorer Canoe Base was established as the outfitter and support arm for those Council units that chose to spend their adventure canoeing around the UP and Northern Wisconsin Region.  The Council ran a successful High Adventure operation that competed in some ways with the Region 7 Canoe Base just 35 miles SW in Boulder Jct, WI.

The camp had property surrounding four lakes on the NE end of the Cisco Chain.  Record, Big Africa, Little Africa Lakes were completely encompassed as well as about 2/3'rd of Clearwater Lake. 

Various Photos

Photos From
Around Camp

Northwoods incorporated into their culture some of the tone and detail of the training that was going on at Region 7 Canoe Base.  By that I mean each year new Northwoods staff members, who would be teaching camping and canoeing skills, would begin their year by attending the R7CB and receive "Voyageur Training".  This 4 day training course was difficult, packed with activity, and effective.  The "Drill Sergeant" tone of the instructor always stunned  new Voyageurs.  But it got their attention for four days of intense training on Camping and Canoeing skills and how to teach them to Scouts.  This training stressed low impact on the land and low impact on equipment so that camp equipment would last for years.

For those units who came to the Charles G. Smith Explorer Canoe Base portion of Northwoods intending to spend a week on the trail, the Northwoods staff would give the unit a rush of training in one day much like Voyageur Training to make sure the unit was ready for the trail.  A staff member would go out on the trail only with those units needing an on-scene expert.

Some groups would stay on the Cisco Chain for their entire canoe trip, but most would tackle the famed Palmer Portage and proceed down the Manitowish River system into Northern Wisconsin.  At the end of their trip, they would be picked up by van and canoe-trailer and returned to Northwoods.

Over the years, full program, with an emphasis on Aquatics, was offered.  The camp ran three waterfronts--one for swimming, one for canoeing, rowing, and sailing, and one for motor boating and water-skiing.  Not many council camps offered water-skiing.  To be sure, not many completed merit badges for sailing, motor boating, and water-skiing, but they were available.

Opening and Closing campfires and Order of the Arrow Ordeal Tap-out and Induction ceremonies were a staple for many years in a row.  A few Brotherhood ceremonies were held as well.  Many packed summers occurred in the middle 70's.  By the late 70's, attendance numbers were decreasing yet costs only increased.  In 1978 and 1979, the council felt that it could offer camping opportunities to the councils Scouts at Camp Lowden and Northwoods best by utilizing the same staff at each camp for five weeks of campers each and a mid-season shift northward.

Finally, it was decided to cease operations at Northwoods for the 1980 summer.  There was not an immediate selling pressure of this fine asset but summer operations were a losing venture.  Individual units continued to use the property providing their own food and program but utilized a small stable of canoes that remained at the lodge.  Other uses of the property were entertained in the interim.  Wayne State University's Natural Sciences Dept operated a research station (under Professor Gangwere) in 80, 81, and 82.  Selling the property loomed as the only course of action.  Friendly purchasers were sought--even former staffers.   With the impending sale looming, Bob Knox organized one final year of canoe trip operations   Eventually, the entire property was sold to a single buyer who was not a developer.  He  continues to use the property as a retreat for his entire extended family.  So, Northwoods is now private property and deserves respect for that status.

1973.  The camp owned the island and the house on it.  A doctor from the council area was invited to set up residence for 3-4 weeks at a time with his family.  By being the camp Doctor, he had free use of the cabin.  It was rustic and had plenty of bats.  Doc Klink and his daughter Mary were the residents in 1970 and 1971.  The council decided to burn the cabin and boathouse down in the winter of 1974.  It was a 30's style retreat featuring overstuffed chairs, and lots of wood trim, and old books and national geo's.  The boathouse stored an old navy motorized whaleboat in the winter.  There were two real bear rugs--one complete with head.  Also, lots of bats--just like the Lodge.

Dr. W. Duane Dodd and son Dennis
67, 68, and 69

Dr. Seward