McCleary Lodge

This Lodge was built in 1930 simutaneously with the Kane Lodge. It is named after YMCA Trustee Elmer McCleary. It was designed to be an indoor recreation lodge for foul weather days. Like Kane Lodge, it was built from local materials found on site.[1] [2] Raymond Curly Johnson was camp director at the time.

A Vindicator article from May 17, 1930 describes it this way:

“A stage for plays and pageants, a camp office, a leaders' locker room, a first-aid room, and a nature museum wil be features of the new lodge. The lodge is expected to be completed before July 6 when the first camp period begins.”[3]

The building was dedicated on September 8th, 1930. Paul B. Davies spoke during the ceremony and stressed the need for places like Camp Fitch when “The modern world is shell shocked with movies, flying machines, radios, and such things.” The architect, Wilbert Shaffer of Schelbel and Shaffer, was present for the ceremony. Thomas H. Kane who died in 1926 and Elmer T. McCleary who died earlier that year were memorialized. Bronze plaques were hung in their honor in the respective lodges. James L. Wick, Chairman of the building committee and Curly Johnson were there to officially accept the new buildings for Camp Fitch[4]

The building also featured ping pong and shuffleboard by 1933. At this time camps activities included tennis courts, boats, an archery range, nature paths, a volleyball court, a baseball field, a garden, one pony, nature study, swimming at Lake Erie, and candlelight services

The tennis courts, archery range, volleyball court, and baseball diamond are not the ones we think about today. They were all previous structures at different locations in camp.

Improvements

In the 1960's the Eddie Farrell Memorial Telescope was moved East, off its mounting near McCleary, near the present Chicagami Cross. Growing trees had obstructed the view of the stars

Under the leadership of Bill Lyder, a five year funding campaign in the 1970s allowed for the winterization of McCleary Lodge, new additions, and a new cement floor to replace the deteriorating wood floor. This same funding drive allowed for the winterization of Kane Lodge, the building of a new horse barn, maintainence shed, and the McPhee Pool.

It was repaired again in the 1980s as part of a 5 year $565,000 capital campaign chaired by Thomas Cleary. This campaign also helped repair Agler Lodge, Kane Lodge, and built Glenn Oaks Lodge.

Dave Lasota installed the indoor climbing gym. It featured a difficult wall that inclined outward that is now removed. It was also used to teach lead climbing. Temporary zip lines were also installed.

In 2003, new living quarters were added to the north end, Harrison Lodge.

References

1. a Phil Tear, 1964. Camp Fitch Golden Anniversary. Allied Printing, pp.11.
2. a The Vindicator, April 28, 1989. Programs, Actitivies Grow to Match Expansion. Youngstown Vindicator, pp.2-3.
3. a The Vindicator, May 17, 1930. Regular Feller ready for Camp Fitch to Open. Youngstown Vindicator, pp.4.
4. a The Vindicator, September 8, 1930. Dedicate Fitch Memorials. Youngstown Vindicator, pp.4.
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