Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Camp Ascension, 1910

Tispaquin Pond has long been a site for camps, including hunting camps and summer camps for children.  One of the earliest summer camps was Camp Ascension, sponsored by the Church of the Ascension of Boston, which operated for a few years beginning in 1908.  Though conducted by the church, it was operated in accordance with the principles of the Y. M. C. A., and its directors were trained at the "Springfield training school", now Springfield College in western Massachusetts.  In 1910, local newspaper correspondent James Creedon left the following description of the camp:

One of the most successful lines of church work is the summer camp, and the one which the church of the Ascension of Boston has established here is giving the greatest satisfaction and proving of real worth in many ways.

The camp is past the experimental stage.  The church has conducted summer camps for the boys for the past 15 years, and the one located in Middleboro is now in its third year. Dr. S. E. Abbott, a director of camp work of marked ability, has charge of the camp here, and is assisted by Dr. Oscar Murdock.

It is known as "Ascension camp," and is located on the westerly shore of Tispaquin pond, a beautiful sheet of water, three miles south of the Center.  It is on a bluff rising by easy grades, about 20 feet from the water.  Under spreading pines the camp is pitched, two tents, each accommodating eight boys in berths, and another camp tent for the director and his assistants.  There is a substantial cook house and another tent, without sides, which in dry weather is used for a messroom.

Plank floors are supplied in the tents and the berths are made of wooden frames, with canvas stretched across.

This hot weather of late the boys have slept with the sides of the tents rolled up, getting the full benefit of the breezes from the lake.  The tempest Monday night provided lots of rain, but did no harm.  The lightning as it was reflected in the lake made a beautiful sight.

Of the camp Dr. Abbott says: "The camp idea is a phase of the summer activity of a church, as is the gymnasium in the winter.  At this camp we welcome the boys who attend our Sunday school, or who belong to the different church clubs.  It is not a charitable institution in any way, but merely maintained for the boys of the church.  All are eligible.

"Ten days is the visiting period, and each period we receive 16 boys.  It is remarkable to see how the average pale city boy thrives under the changed conditions and goes home browned and healthy.  One boy gained eight pounds in 10 days, and all gained something.  The smaller boys are taken early in the season, and toward September the older ones come down.

"Our daily program provides for lots of fun.  Arising at 7, every one take a dip in the lake, and then the camp is cleaned up, with breakfast at 8.  The boys then do squad duty, fixing up the camp, getting wood, etc., and baseball or other sports follow till 11.  Another swim comes then, and dinner is served at 12.30.  Rest and then more games or tramps in the woods follow, and another swim is in order at 4.  Supper is served at 6, and in the evening there is a campfire, and stories are related till bunking time at 9.

"Anxious mothers may feel sure their sons are not going to be drowned when they come to a camp.  The boys come to us with the understanding that they are to obey orders.  We have simple little camp rules, which must be conformed with. If a boy violates them he is sent home on the first train.  For instance, swimming comes at such a time, as does boating.  No boy can go in swimming without our permission, and he must come out when told to do so.  There is an ample number of watchers around when the boys are in the water, to protect."

The boys who are at the camp now are John Miller, George Monroe, Ernest Monroe, Roy Tripp, James Moore, Herbert Cameron, Leon Booth, Oswold Olsen, F. Channell, T, Channell and William Hoard.

Dr. Abbott and Dr. Murdock are graduates of the Springfield training school, and are now students in Tufts medical school.  They have entertained at the camp this week Dr. O. Martin and Dr. E. S. Elliott, both Tufts men.

The boys dress comfortably around the camp, and have a great time in the water and at their games, and the camp fire in the evening is an extremely attractive feature.

Tispaquin lake, where the camp is located, takes its name from Indian days, and there are numerous traditions of the days of the redskin which make interesting stories for the boys.  The camp, while being handy to trolley lines, is still removed from the street, and is a place of quiet and pleasure.

This post is part of an on-going project to document the history and landscape surrounding Tispaquin Pond. One of two great ponds in Middleborough not designated for use as a municipal water supply (the other is Wood’s Pond), Tispaquin Pond is an important cultural and ecological resource. Readers who wish to share stories, history or photographs of Tispaquin are encouraged to contact me by clicking on the “contact me” link in the right sidebar.

Camp Ascension, Middleborough, MA, 1910, unidentified newspaper clipping, Middleborough Public Library.


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