Archives Room in Transition!
By Judy Blase Woodruff
Where can you find a letter dated February 25, 1959, to Mrs. Belle Brubaker of Robinson Illinois, thanking her for donating a parcel of land that was to become Camp Ondessonk? Where can you see staff and camper pictures from all the way back to 1959? Where can you find unit shirts that span six decades of Camp? Where, you ask? In the Camp Ondessonk Archives Room located in the lower level of St. Noel.
About 14 years ago, Ann (Davinroy) Lintzenich and Judy (Blase) Woodruff volunteered during summer camp and decided to help clean out a section of paper files in Central. What they found was the history of Camp Ondessonk back to its very beginning. After meticulously going through each file and piece of paper, they boxed the files and paperwork to be saved.
What to do with the treasure trove of information that was found? They asked to use the former Chapel in the lower level of St. Noel to create an Archives Room where Camp’s history would be preserved for future generations.
Judy and her husband, Mike, spent a weekend about 12 years ago cleaning the carpet and painting the former Chapel that would become the Camp Ondessonk Archives Room. In addition, display boards were secured to the walls in order to exhibit a variety of unit shirts, and other items from the past. Thus was the beginning of an Archives Room.
Over the years, items appeared in the room that weren’t necessarily “archival.” Every so often, staff would use the room as storage for yearbooks and other overflow items. It was truly packed to the gills! Wanting to create a true place to store our history, Pati Egan and Judy recently began sorting through everything that was left in the room by well-meaning friends. After two full days, Pati and Judy identified documents and artifacts that were meaningful to Camp’s history that needed to be preserved, and they repurposed items that could be used for staff and memorabilia auctions, and the like.
Once the archival materials were boxed and labeled, the transformation of the room could take place. During the first week of summer camp 2022, Dave Jansen and Dan Jansen went to work ripping up the old, worn-out carpeting. New vinyl flooring was purchased along with new LED lighting fixtures.
Week three of summer camp 2022 brought more volunteers to continue the renovation. Dan Zofkie and Mike Woodruff installed the new light fixtures, which made a huge difference in creating a bright, cheery room. They worked the rest of the week installing a beautiful vinyl floor. Baseboards and door frames were painted and re-installed. The room is ready to have items placed in special display cases and on wall hangings.
The need now is to purchase display cases that will house items that should not be handled, along with file cabinets to organize staff and camper pictures and yearbooks. There is a large number of pictures from former staff that will be looked through to determine which are meaningful to the history of Camp, and thus displayed in the room.
As you can imagine, this undertaking will not happen overnight. The Archives Room is currently closed to accomplish this renovation, and will probably be unavailable until October of this year
We are still looking for specific items, if you would like to donate something you have. We are looking for complete staff uniforms from the earliest years of Camp, along with staff uniforms from the 1990s and 2000s, as well as unit shirts or volunteer shirts from 1960 through the late 1990s. In addition, if you have an original credit card from the 1960s or any unit photos from any year prior to 1980, we would like to include those items in the collection. If you do have an item to donate, please contact Judy Blase Woodruff at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 618-791-5655 to be sure your item is not a duplicate that we already have. Please do NOT send or take your item to Camp until it is identified as needed. We appreciate your help in preserving our rich history!