Summertime Memories

Jul 29, 2010 | 3 comments

Camp Sherwood Forest at Leadbetter Point, c. 1930

     Summer brings not only visiting relatives and friends, but also strangers looking to fill in the gaps in their fading memories.  People stop me after Sunday Vespers asking about a boarding house (the Heckes Inn) that was here in their childhood or wondering whatever happened to the other Wachsmuth cabin on School Street where they once stayed.
     Yesterday I received a call from Jean at the Oysterville Store asking if I knew anything about a place called “Camp Willapa Bay out at Leadbetter Point.”
     “Well, kind of,” was my reply.  “It was called ‘Camp Sherwood Forest,’ it was before my time, and it was owned by Dorothy Elliot who also owned Camp Willapa at the bay end of Joe Johns Road.”
     At that point, Jean handed over the phone to a woman who, it turned out, had gone to Camp Willapa in 1947 or 1948 – two of the nine years that I also was attending ‘camp.’  I told her a bit about the location of the camp she went to and invited her to stop by our house; I wanted to give her a recent issue of the Sou’wester that I wrote – actually a double issue, devoted entirely to Dorothy Elliot’s camps.
     In those years that we both attended Camp Willapa, one of our overnight trips each summer was to Leadbetter Point where we always took time to explore the remains of the tree houses that had been built in 1926.  ‘Miss Elliot’ or ‘Chief’ as she was sometimes called, had begun a camp for girls in 1920.  It was located on bay front acreage she had purchased a little north of Nahcotta.  So successful was the camp that parents of the girls urged her to include their sons as well.
     Miss Elliot, a woman with rather strict Victorian principals, located Camp Sherwood Forest about ten miles north – well away from the girls camp.  Rather than the tent cabins provided for the girls, she had tree houses built for the boys and, in the early years the girls and boys actually got to trade camp sites for a night or two – no doubt in answer to the envious pleading of the girls.  Both the boys and the girls, however, agreed that the tree houses were a bit scary as they swayed not-always-so-gently in the wind while the tree branches creaked and groaned around them.
     After World War II, in deference to changing times, Camp Sherwood Forest moved out of the trees and was relocated adjacent to Camp Willapa.  The remains of the abandoned tree houses at Leadbetter were visible for decades.  In the seventies my mother was told in all seriousness by a relative newcomer to the peninsula that during WWII the Japanese had established a secret base at the Point and that they had lived in those houses in the trees.  Such is the stuff rumors are made of – especially if it happens to be the information provided to visitors asking questions!  YIKES!  

3 Comments

  1. Stephanie Frieze

    How fascinating, Sydney! I had no idea that there had been camps up your way! The tree houses look charming and I’ll bet that children tried to play in them when camp wasn’t in session!

    Reply
  2. Lois Sampson

    Oh I love rumors….when I was growing up, I was told that it was a nudist camp!

    Reply
    • Sydney

      Miss Elliot would have been horrified!

      Reply

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