History of the Use of Villages at Camp Fitch

Since at least 1927, Camp Fitch has been dividing campers into villages based on age or other criteria to allow for specific programming for a targeted section of campers with the goal of improving their overall experience.[1] During the inaugural year, 1914, there were only 32 campers and there was probably no need for separate programming.[2] By the time camp moved to North Springfield, age segregation was achieved through specific camping periods per age group. For example, in 1924 Camp Fitch operated four camping periods. June 23 to July 3 was for boys 10 to 11. The second period, July 7 to July 21, was for boys 12 and 13. July 21 to August 4 was reserved for boys 13 to 15. The final period of regular camp ran August 4 to August 18. It was for boys 14 to 18.[3] The first known division of campers during a single period occurred in 1927. Paul B. Davies announced that the 15 tents would be divided into three groups of five. Each would be their own Indian Village.[1] By 1935, the village idea has been solidified and Curly Johnson announced their would be four villages. Windy City was designated for boys from 10 to 11 years old. Chickagami Village was for boys 12 to 14. Tsungani Village was exclusive to boys 15 and over, and Ot Yo Kwa Village was for boys staying 4 weeks or longer so allow for a specialized long term program.[4] Wi-yush-kin Village was added in 1936. This village was not age specific, but was instead targeted towards campers who would spend part of their day practicing their musical instruments. The campers performed in the camp band.[5]

By Camp Fitch's Silver Jubilee in 1939, the five villages have been narrowed down to four. The village for campers staying four weeks or longer has been disbanded. Tsungani Village, the village for boys 15-18 has been renamed Ot Yo Kwa Village.[6] No evidence is available to explain the name switch, but there was probably a desire to keep the name Ot-Yo-Kwa active in the argot of Camp Fitch since that was the original name on the Little Beaver Creek. This division of campers proved satisfactory and remained unchanged for over a decade, though at some point in time Wi-Yush-Kin was disbanded. When the girls first arrived in the 1950s for their separate camping periods, they adopted the pre-existing village names from the boys [7]. However, new names were needed as the transition to simultaneous co-ed camping approached in 1957. The transition probably occurred in 1956 and 1957. Bob Kohn has done some excellent digging and found that by 1957 the six villages (three per sex) were assigned colors as names. In 1957, campers voted within their village to adopt new Native American Tribe names. The oldest boys stayed in Red Village at the start of 1957. They chose the name Apache Village (Clippers of the Point). The other villages followed suit. Green Village became Inca Village (Sloops of the Hook). Yellow Village became Aztec Village (Schooners of the Landing). White became Cherokee Village (Clippers of the Square) and Blue becomes Shawnee Village (Schooners of the Cove). More information is needed regarding the Sioux Village (Sloops of the Line) transition. This arrangement remained in effect for 50 years. Pre-camp was introduced in 1996 for younger children who only attended a partial week. Pre-camp adopted the name Potawatomi Village to align itself with the other six villages. Similarly, Special Populations soon adopted the name Navajo Village. Tsungani Village was temporarily reintroduced in 2012. Aztec Village (Schooners of the Landing) had become too large and needed to be divided for effective programming.

See Also


1. a, b Youngstown Vindicator, June 11, 1927. Big Enrollment for Camp Fitch. Vindicator Printing Company.
2. a Tear, Phil, 1964. Camp Fitch Golden Anniversary. Allied Printing, pp.1-35.
3. a Carson, Charles B., June 15, 1924. Camp Fitch, much improved, to open soon. Vindicator Printing Company.
4. a Youngstown Vindicator, June 4, 1935. Plan Opening of Camp Fitch. Vindicator Printing Company.
5. a Youngstown Vindicator, August 9, 1936. Attendance at Camp Fitch Sets New Record. Vindicator Printing Company.
6. a Camp Fitch, 1939. Silver Jubilee. Youngstown YMCA, pp.1-13.
7. a Youngstown Vindicator, June 13, 1954. Directors, Leaders Announced for Camp Fitch Girl's Programs. Vindicator Printing Company.