The Little Building That Could!

The Little Building That Could!

The Little Building That Could Camp Ondessonk DG

By Pati Egan

Tucked away between Central Supply and the Dorms is a building that had very humble beginnings in 1968 or so, but has grown in importance throughout the years. Originally called the BOQ (Bachelor Officer Quarters), Steve Rheinecker recalls that it was built when his Uncle Ralph was Ranger. It was not unusual for groups of men from various parishes to work on building projects at Camp and spend the weekend in this building. Ralph would always reward their hard work with some cold beers. These empties ended up being the attic insulation for the BOQ. Rumor has it that they are still in that attic!

The above sketch of the original BOQ is not to scale. The entrance faced Central Supply.  

At first, this building was only used in the summer. Around 1983, it was determined to upgrade the summer staff residences for senior seasonal staff. Eventually, it was decided to add on to the old BOQ and rename it the DeGaspari Lodge. Camp might not have existed without the help of the man for which this Lodge is named. “Monsignor Robert DeGasperi headed an effort to procure leases for land in Johnson County, Ill., that would soon become Camp Ondessonk.” (Camp 50th Anniversary Book).

 The building would be for staff over 21 in leadership positions. The original residents were Pati Egan (Program Director), Jay Hall (Assistant Maintenance Director), Susan Gillituk (Food Service Director), Kim Wilhelm (Trading Post Manager), Steve Hutsch (Equestrian Director), and Mary Kay Marcquenski (Frontier Director). 

The Old BOQ

In 1986, Gene Canavan, the new Camp Director, wanted to expand “off season” programming. This meant hiring more full-time staff. It became very apparent that housing was needed for this more professional staff. The males stayed in the DeGasperi Lodge (now known as the “DG”) and the two females stayed in the Frontier Dorm. The DG had no heat or insulation and kerosene heaters kept the staff somewhat warm. 

Copy of Copy of The Little Building that could DG Camp Ondessonk 6 (800 x 500 px) Old BOQ

The same room in the DeGasperi Lodge

This view of the DG from the Frontier Dorm shows the lack of bottom insulation.

Showers were finally added to the DG but the females needed to go to Shower House C in the parking lot. The DG is still male-staff-only housing. The females now use the Cook’s Cottage.

Camp wants to attract the best staff for its Outdoor Education Program, and adequate housing is a must-have in order to accomplish this. It is felt that the mighty DG has run its course. The Pete Korte Lodge will replace the DG. The mighty DG will finally get to rest. A new generation of Outdoor Education Staff will hear many tales of living in the DG. Some will be factual – some will pass on to Urban Legend. As an original resident of the DG, it’s a little sad, but it is time to start new legends and lore out of Pete Korte Lodge. Heepwah, DG, you served us well!


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