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A Look into Lodge’s Past

Father Jim Nall and Marge Downey

Starting this article has brought back some wonderful memories from the past.  It seems time at Camp always makes great memories.

I have been associated with Camp since the 1957-1958 school year.  That’s when I started at Camp St. Phillip, Ondessonk‘s ancient predecessor. 

Camp St. Phillip had seven units:  Goupil, Brebeuf, LaLemont, Chabanel, Garnier, LaLande, and Daniel.  Sound familiar?  It was located in Pere Marquette State Park at the site of a former Girl Scout camp. 

The cabins were screened, and I think even had electricity.  Swimming was at the pool at the park.  I remember hiking on paved roads through the park and stopping at the Lodge for sodas.  We did horseback riding at the park stables.  It was at Pere Marquette that lifetime friendships were formed and carried through to Camp Ondessonk as it later opened.

Once, during a severe thunderstorm, one of the cabins across the way started calling out, “Neighbor – neighbor, can you close our shutters.”  It seems the occupants were afraid of the lightning.  Not being afraid of storms, I got out of bed and went over to close their shutters.  That’s how I met one of my dearest friends, Betty Driscoll.  Betty and I were campmates and best of friends until her passing.

Camp St. Phillip had the Lodges.  Marlene Beaze, Maryann Glauber, and Jane Wolf were Princesses.  I was inducted into the Lodge at Camp St. Phillip.  I remember waking up from the overnight looking up into the lovely eyes of a cow.  It seems we did our overnight in a pasture where a farmer grazed his cattle.  Wonderful memory.  I have always distrusted cows since then.

The ceremonies have always been magical, and though they have changed over the years, the loyalty and devotion to Camp and one another has remained the same.

When Camp Ondessonk in Ozark opened, I was hired as stable crew during girl’s season.  Lodge of Ondessonk had less than 30 girls in it for the first few years at Camp Ondessonk.  We sold Camp Yearbooks as fundraisers,  had one formal dinner a year with the Lodge members  (one year the guest speaker was a world-renowned psychic named Jean Dixon), and we would do special projects for Camp throughout the year.

I have always known that attending Camp has been a privilege and being a Lodge member has been a very special privilege.  I encourage everyone to support the Lodge and Camp in any way you possibly can.  Ondessonk gives such special memories to all those who come.

Marge Downey, One of the oldest Living Princesses

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