Ahatsistari is the big number one…Second to none…No doubt about It…You’ll hear us shout it…Ahatsistari’s number one…

Ahatsistari is the big number one…Second to none…No doubt about It…You’ll hear us shout it…Ahatsistari’s number one…

By Pati Egan

Ahatsistari 1 Camp Ondessonk

As I watched the majestic Clydesdales enter Busch Stadium Thursday, this long-forgotten cheer entered my mind.  Ahatsistari did exist as a tent unit in 1965.  When the unit made its debut is not listed in the 50th Anniversary book.  I do recall seeing the unit my second year as a camper as we walked from LaLande to Goupil.  I confirmed with Marge (Vail) Downey that my memory was correct.  Ahatsistari was a tent unit located between LaLande and Goupil.  The tent in the picture below is like what the campers and staff used.

Ahatsistari 2 Camp Ondessonk History

Ahatsistari found a new home when Lake Echon was completed.  Its new home was between Goupil and Chabanel. 

Ahatsistari was not really an “on the rocks” unit like old Daniel, nor was it a flat “on the ground” unit like Brebeuf.  It was sort of on a slope.  Camp’s lake road ran behind these cabins but the cabins were at least 10 feet higher than the road.

One unique feature of Ahatsistari and a fascinating urban legend is why it was the only unit to have seven camper cabins and no staff cabin.  I have tried to get verification on this story but for now it remains an Ondessonk Urban Legend.

The Urban Legend:

When the volunteers came down to build Ahatsistari there was some sort of challenge that the lumber would all be donated if the unit could be built in a day.  The group got so excited to meet this challenge that they accidently built seven camper cabins and no staff cabin.  They would not reach their goal if they stopped to correct the problem.  The seven camper cabins stood for approximately 35 years before the unit was closed in 1989.

This shows how small the inside of the old cabins were – imagine four or more staff trying to get ready for the day in this small space.  When four staff would be trying to get ready for the day a lot of “excuse me” was heard by staff rushing around to get dressed.

Ahatsistarit Camp Ondessonk Interior Cabin Photo

This photo shows an Ahatsistari camper cabin.  Notice how close it is to the edge.    

Ahatsistari had very little shade.  It sat on grass and rock.  It could get very warm in the daytime.  In today’s vernacular we would say it did not have a “wow factor”.  What it did have was fantastic staff, campers, and Unit Leaders.  The staff knew that for some of the campers this was not their first choice. It wasn’t caves or tree houses, no great lake view, just cabins.  Most campers loved it by the end of the week and for some it became their unit of choice in subsequent years.

The cabins were torn down sometime in the 1990’s.  For a while Woods Skills was taught here.  Now the site has been repurposed as a tent camping area.  It has wooden tent platforms, a picnic table, a fire pit, and is close to a water spigot and an outhouse. 

Ahatsistari Camp Ondessonk Prmitive Camping Site

This photo shows the tent camping area.  Since Ahatsistari did not have many trees the conversion to tent camping made sense.  The area is still named Ahatsistari.

I wonder if the scout groups or others who camp here are aware that for 35 years 36 campers a week for twelve weeks would be spending the time of their lives in this very spot.  The unit may be gone but the voices of thousands of campers can still be felt in this unit site.  The rabbit is the spirit animal for Ahatsistari and the color is brown.  They still are the BIG NUMBER ONE and Second to none!  No doubt about it Ahatsistari is NUMBER ONE!

Click here to learn more about Camp Ondessonk’s history.

Click here to learn more about Ahatsistari.


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