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Fresh Air Camp (1925) shows boys and
girls in the fresh air camp with the teachers behind them. P10.38
The picture was taken by P. T. Alfonsi, Niles Photographer
Fresh Air Camp in Niles, Ohio
Project Proves Highly Successful; Boys and Girls of
County Show Marked Improvement in Health
By Harry L. Cook
The major activity of local Kiwanis is aid for underprivileged
children. Their outstanding project is the Trumbull County Kiwanis
Fresh Air Camp, which had gained the reputation of being one of
the most successful and most beneficial projects ever attempted
by any club anywhere.
In 1925, Niles Kiwanis, wishing to
start a fresh air camp, got in touch with Warren, Girard, Hubbard,
and Newton Falls clubs, and arranged to open a camp.
A photo of the Niles Kiwanis Fresh-Air
camp, sponsored for the benefit of children who were under a certain
income level, on the basis that if they had a healthy summer, they
wouldn't get so sick in the winter. The camp was located in Cadwallader
Gulch, just off the Niles-Cortland road.
Niles industrial leader
Maintenance men working at the Kiwanis Fresh-Air
Camp located on Mines Road in Howland Twp. in the 1930's and 1940's.
KIWANIS FRESH AIR CAMP
Niles Kiwanis Club was formed in 1922. In 1924,
Mr. John Wilder, Niles industrial leader, was president
of the Niles Kiwanis Club. He was largely responsible for involving
all Trumbull County Kiwanis clubs in this new venture. They set
up a Fresh Air Camp for special children.
Dr. C. B. King was appointed chairman of the
camp committee, and through the efforts of the joint committee,
the camp closed its first season, already a decided success.
In 1926, Al Engle was chairman for the Niles
committee, and due to objections of the State Board of Health
which claimed the camp site was damp, a new and beautiful site
on A four-acre wooded campsite on the north side of Mines Road,
about a half mile east of the Niles-Cortland Road was purchased
for $2,400 and a stock company formed. The mess hall was moved
from the old site to the new, and a new dormitory was erected.
The camp has been operated at the Mines road site continuously
since that time. At this time, the Hubbard and Newton Falls clubs
dropped out, preferring to follow their own local activity.
The camp was established to provide a healthy
atmosphere for children from 6-12 years old who needed dental
work, had nutritional deficiency, or might be susceptible to tuberculosis
infection. They were chosen by Ann Llewellyn, the county
public health nurse and they stayed at the camp from six to eight
A 80 foot deep well, equipped with an automatic
electric pump, supplied plenty of pure water. There was a mess
hall, and a dorm that housed the boys at one end and the girls
at the other end. The office and personal quarters of the supervisor
were in the center of the building. There were four paid supervisors
and three volunteer staff who helped teach the children to be
kind, helpful and thoughtful at all times. Volunteers guided the
children in playing games, doing art work, caring for the pets
of the camp, and also they told stories around the camp fire.
The recreational equipment was donated by business and individuals.
There was a tree house built in 1933 and rested on three sturdy
tree trunks about 30 feet in the air. The long sloping stairway
beckoned the youngsters to visit this adventurous area.
The Fresh Air Camp did wonders for every one of its young campers.
Every child gained weight, was stronger and had a much healthier
body at the end of the season. Their strict daily routine was
a very important factor in making this project uniquely successful.
By 7:30 every morning they had brushed their teeth, washed their
face and put their clothes on and were ready for breakfast, which
consisted of cooked cereal, fruit, bread and milk. Lunch was a
full dinner and the evening meal consisted of soup, sandwich,
fruit and milk. Mary Lukick was the camp cook for many
years and served very healthy meals.
One of the first improvements included recreational
equipment --seesaws, swings, slides and sandbox. Another year
the camp acquired a new bathhouse made of stone block and contained
a hot water heater. Also WPA-designed toilets were installed.
Of course, the campgrounds would not have been
complete without a tree house. In 1933, one was built which rested
on three sturdy tree trunks and it was about 30 feet up in the
air. A long sloping staircase beckoned the youngsters to visit
this adventurous area and the young campers anxiously awaited
their turn to sleep over night in the tree house.
Over the years the children readily adopted pets,
including, “Laddie” the camp mascot and a pony named
“Blossom”. For many of the children, this was the
first time any had made contact with a live animal. It must have
taken a great deal of patience on the part of some staff to train
the children to love and share the pets as well as taking care
of their daily needs. Laddie was a big friendly Shepherd dog.
He made the camp his home by choice and he came to mean a lot
to the kiddies and to the staff. Each night he took his position
at the door of the dormitory building as sentinel and guardian.
When the alarm rang in the morning, Laddie made it his duty to
see that all the children got up. He made the rounds and pulled
the covers off of anyone who remained asleep and barked at them
until his efforts took effect.
Over the years, many people volunteered and gave
financial assistance. By 1940 the camp could accommodate 72 children.
Soon however, World War II broke out and that program, like many
other community projects had to be put on hold. Now, all that
remains are memories and a picture that hangs on the wall in the
Westenfield Room at the Niles Historical Society Ward-Thomas
Chairmen of the Niles committee for the camp
since 1926 have been: Walter F. MacQueen, 1927; Jack
Stafford, 1928; John Wilder, 1929; Dr. G. A.
Woodworth, 1930 and ’31; P. T. Alfonsi, 1932,
Camp officers for this year were Harry L. Cook of Niles,
president; C. E. Inman of Warren, secretary and treasurer.
Camp committee for 1934 from the three clubs participating were
Warren: C. E. Inman, chairman, William
Atkins, W. B. Craig, A. L. Oakes, William McFarland,
and P. G. Laughlin.
Girard: Dr. Thomas K. Jones, chairman,
Dr. D. R. Williams, Dr. H. E. Chalker, Dr.
Joseph F. Nagle, Dr. G. L. Moore, and George Davis.
Niles: P. T. Alfonsi, chairman, H. T.
Eaton, Dr. J. R. Hoffman, W. E. Jones, H. L. Cook, and F.
The new camp, while covering only a few acres,
is a choice beautify spot and centrally located. Beautiful, large
shade trees cover the entire premises, allowing just the right
amount of sun and shade. This results in the children developing
a healthy coat of sun tan without any painful sunburn.
There are two main buildings. One is the dormitory
building which is divided in the middle, one side for the boys
and the other for the girls. The other building housed the kitchen
and dining room. Both of these places are kept spotlessly clean
and absolutely free from all flies and insects at all times.
A small shelter in the yard covers a unique shower
system. The water is heated by means of a coal stove attached
to a hot water storage tank, the kind used in homes.
An abundance of fresh, cool, pure water is supplied
by an 80 foot well equipped with an automatic electric pump. The
water and milk are tested weekly in a Warren laboratory.
Recreation equipment includes seesaws, swings,
slides, and a sand box.
Accommodates 36 Children
A total of 36 children are accommodated for a period of 9 weeks
during each summer. Of this total, 8 children are from Niles,
8 from Girard, 8 from Warren, and 12 from the county. It was in
1932 through the cooperation of the Trumbull County Health League
that 10 children from the county at large were selected in addition
to the regular quota from the three clubs. In 1933, the health
league continued this policy and in 1934 the number from the county
at large was increased to 12, in addition to the quota from each
club. The purpose is to benefit the undernourished and underprivileged
children of the county, to improve their health, and build up
their resistance against disease.
Naturally one would think that children of this age (12 years
is the age limit) would be homesick when kept away from their
families for so long. However, after the first week, there are
never any cases of homesickness, and when the kiddies are asked
if they would like to go home, a loud chorus of “noes”
is their emphatic answer.
The effect on the children each year has been
outstanding. Not only does each child gain weight, but they take
on a sturdy, healthy look, and their resistance is built up to
help them in future months and future years.
Fresh Air Campers (unknown date).
P10.37 The picture was taken by P. T. Alfonsi,
Kiwanis Camp with open air tents and
wooden shower/kitchen area. PO2.372
Fresh Air Camp (1931) with boys and
girls in front of shower and camp kitchen building.
The picture was taken by P. T. Alfonsi,
A Christmas party for the campers
from the "Fresh Air" camp sponsored by the Niles Kiwanis
Club in 1954. Dinner is being served at "Ma Perkins" Chicken
Inn on Route 422 in McKinley Heights.
A formal portrait of the members of
the Niles Kiwanis Club posed in front of the McKinley Memorial on
Grand Army of the Republic
Day, May 28, 1924.PO1.760
A Christmas party for the campers
from the "Fresh Air" camp sponsored by the Niles Kiwanis
Club in 1954.
Dinner is being served at "Ma
Perkins" Chicken Inn on Route 422 in McKinley Heights.
Some of the people at the head table
L to R: Harry Cook, Pastor Kenneth Wilt (Trinity Lutheran
Church), unknown, R. B. Hughes, unknown, and Rev. Robert
Anderson,(First United Methodist Church)
The 1955 Kiwanis razor blade sales campaign, "Look
Sharp". Leonard Holloway (right) selling blades to
Mayor Lenney (left) PO2.614