Red Oak Camp has sought to help generations of campers and other guests experience nature, and now the Kirtland-based organization is planning to celebrate 75 years as it prepares for new programs and facilities.
In order to mark the occasion and introduce friends of the camp to its new property, Lantern Court Estate, Red Oak will hold a ticketed anniversary celebration on Sept. 9. Executive Director David Faulstich said that the event will include tours of the camp and its new garden, as well as a silent auction. Proceeds will go toward its scholarship fund. More information can be found at redoakcamp. org/donate .
Faulstich explained that Red Oak’s Red Barn Summer Camp for Boys started in 1947 after Frank Dimpsey, a teacher from Hawken School, invited boys from the school to Kirtland for outdoor summer programming. The campers met at a red barn near Corning Lake, in what is now Holden Arboretum.
By 1952, the program began overnight programming for older students. And in 1957, Alison “Sunny” Jones started Chincapin Summer Camp for Girls, with a special focus on horseback riding in addition to other camp activities.
“I really enjoy being involved with this particular camp because of its history and because, primarily because of the people, because I think we do a really good job of leading these experiences and, as the mission states, developing their inner character through outdoor experiences and exploration, ” said Winnie Jones Nordell, Jones’ daughter and the president associated with Red Oak’s board of directors.
Faulstich attended Red Oak as a kid. For him, one of the most impactful experiences was the opportunity to end the summer with a wilderness backpacking trip.
“I couldn’t wait to come back the next year, ” he said.
Faulstich was involved with Red Walnut in various counseling and leadership roles until 2011. He returned in 2015 to take his current position.
Director of Development and Communication David Baxter came to the camp like a kid as well. After college and a role in business and finance, he asked Faulstich, his old camp counselor, about work opportunities at Red-colored Oak.
“I’ve always, like, been into nature, but I think Red Oak really, like, planted that seed for me, ” he stated.
The camp’s history was visible in its lodge building, which Faulstich said was built in the 1920s and served being a country home before becoming part of the camp. Award boards list all the winners of the camp’s competitions dating in order to its founding. They also demonstrate changes in the activities the camp has offered over time.
“Although new activities get introduced and we add things like zip lines plus high ropes courses and those sorts of things, the kind of fundamental experience of camp remains very much the same, ” he said. “It’s about being with other people in nature, having kind of shared experiences and learning about yourself, learning about others and the world around you. ”
According to Faulstich, Reddish Oak provides two summer day camps for children entering grades one through seven — Red Barn for boys and Chincapin for girls. These week-long camps teach kids skills such as starting a fire, outdoor cooking, archery, kayaking, fishing, rock climbing and swimming.
Campers at Chincapin also participate in horseback riding. Activities are tailored to a child’s age, with older campers being given more freedom to plan their schedules according to their interests.
“As our campers get older we have a leadership program, so then we’re teaching them some of those leadership skills and how to work with a group and work with younger campers, so you get that kind of, that organic interaction between the 6-year-old and the 13-year-old, ” Faulstich said.
Other amenities at the camp include tennis and basketball courts, an archery range, an outdoor climbing tower, a high ropes course and a science center with fish tanks plus terrariums. Faulstich said that there are six insulated, heated cabins dating from the 1950s, each of which can hold eight travelers.
In addition to these types of summer camps, he noted that Red Oak offers a leadership experience for outdoorsmen entering grades eight via 10 and wilderness trips for campers entering grades six through 10.
Red Oak offered overnight residential programming this year for campers entering marks five through seven, though Baxter said that the age range may expand next year.
He added that will past 10th grade, individuals can serve as camp counselors.
Buses still pick campers up from Pepper Pike throughout the summer, reflecting the camp’s historical ties to families from Hawken School. Recently, Faulstich said, more campers have come from Lake and Geauga counties.
The particular camp also partners with outside organizations, he explained. It worked with the Footpath Foundation in summer 2022 to bring children to the get away from underserved areas inside Cleveland. Red Oak furthermore works throughout the year with schools, businesses, religious organizations, scout troops and more.
Baxter said that the camping serves around 150 campers a week during its summer programming, and accounting with regard to campers who return regarding multiple weeks, hosts around 600 total campers each summer.
Faulstich added that the camp engages around 2, 500 in order to 3, 000 people each year.
In addition to the main camp grounds, he mentioned that Red Oak offers programming at Tannerwood Farm, just down Kirtland-Chardon Road in Chardon Township. Chincapin campers make use of the facility, and Red Oak also offers riding classes there for members of the public ages 8 or older. Jones still rides horses there, 65 years after she founded Chincapin.
While Red Oak’s leaders are celebrating the history, they is also planning for future growth. Faulstich noted that the camp recently acquired the 27-acre Lantern Court Estate property from Holden Arboretum, which includes a historic home and nine acres associated with maintained garden. He added that the facility is climate-controlled and offers more parking plus indoor space than existing camp facilities.
Starting in the middle of September, Crimson Oak will offer more public programs at the new property.
The estate also includes a large field, called Sunny’s Field, which Faulstich believes will be useful for camp activities.
“We’re about connecting along with nature and the world close to us, and there’s so much opportunity to do that here with this property, ” he stated.
Individuals who wish to learn more about Red Oak Camp and the programs it offers can visit redoakcamp. org . The camp is located at 9057 Kirtland Chardon Road, Kirtland.