Camp Yonahnoka, part II

We have really enjoyed reading the comments and emails we’ve received in response to my last post about Linville’s Camp Yonahnoka. Most of the campers we’ve heard from attended in later years than are represented in the Morton collection (his images date primarily from the 1940s and early 1950s, with a few into the early ’60s). One of our commenters even mentioned that his grandmother, Mrs. Juanita Forbes, worked at the camp for many years. I do believe this is her on the left below, in 1956. Does anyone know the other two ladies?

I finally took a look at the camp brochures we have here in the North Carolina Collection, and they are fascinating! From these I learned that the camp was started in 1925 and (at least as of 1954) was operated continuously by the same directors, Mr. and Mrs. Charles V. Tompkins of Episcopal High School in Alexandria, VA. Anyone know how long it lasted?

Yonahnoka offered an amazing variety of activities, from photography, sports (including swimming, golf, tennis, archery, and riflery), “Indian craft,” horseback riding and horse shows, art, music and dramatics. According to the brochure,

The object of Camp Yonahnoka is to make the summer one of happiness and wholesome development for each camper. Good character and self-reliance are the keys to a useful and happy life… Camp activities are planned to encourage each boy to express himself and to discover hidden talents. This calls for a varied program. Music is just as important as baseball. Instruction in sports is stressed rather than competition. Work contributed to the welfare of the whole group is just as rewarding as play.

It should be noted that Yonahnoka was by no means a camp for low-income or underprivileged boys. A camp application form included in the 1952 brochure lists registration plan fees from $430 to $480, which, according to one inflation calculator, equals about $3700 in 2007 dollars. Ouch.

To take an academic view, it seems there would be a lot to explore here about how summer camps like Yonahoka reflected larger societal views of nature, class, race, gender, child development, and all that good stuff during this pivotal period in U.S. history. But I see that only a few scholars have seriously addressed the topic (see Children’s Nature: The Rise of the American Summer Camp by Leslie Paris, and A Manufactured Wilderness by Abigail Van Slyck). Just one example of the huge research potential of the Morton photographs!

Who Am I?–Camp Yonahnoka Edition

"Professor" Hugh Morton and photography student at Camp Yonahnoka, early 1940s

A few weeks back, we heard from someone who was a photography student of Hugh Morton’s at Camp Yonahnoka in the early 1940s. He said in his email, “if you have any photographs taken prior to Morton’s WWII service, especially those with young boys in them, I might be able to help identify some people and places.”

Well, yes—we do have a few of those. A few HUNDRED, that is! Here’s just a small sampling. We’d love to hear from our email correspondent, as well as from anyone who attended Yonahnoka and may have memories or identifications to share.

Is this, as I suspect, an image of the darkroom at Camp Yonahnoka?

Boy developing prints in Camp Yonahnoka darkroom?, early 1940s

Of course, no camp is complete without a campfire. I’d love to know what’s going on in the first image below . . .

Campfire scene at Camp Yonahnoka, early 1940s

Marshmallow roast at Camp Yonahnoka, early 1940s

The image below looks like something from “Survivor.” (It was in an envelope labeled “Canoe Tilt”).

"Canoe Tilt," Camp Yonahnoka, early 1940s

And finally, it appears the boys were encouraged to develop their artistic as well as athletic abilities. In case you can’t make them out, the sign above the mic in the first image reads “NAZI,” and the sheet music on the piano in the bottom image is for a Glenn Miller tune called “Moonlight Cocktail,” a big hit in 1942— listen to it here! (Judging from the reaction of the boy at the piano, perhaps this particular performance left something to be desired).

Boy performing in skit at Camp Yonahnoka, early 1940s

Band performance at Camp Yonahnoka, early 1940s

Amazing trick photography!

Trick photo, croppedThis is one of the more amusing shots I’ve come across so far in the Morton collection (I cropped the version at left for maximum effect). The picture was taken sometime during Hugh’s days at Camp Yonahnoka, where he took his first photography course in 1934 and served the following five summers as the camp’s photography instructor. It’s a good example of Morton’s appreciation for visual humor, something I’ve noticed throughout the collection.

See below for the uncropped version, which shows how this mind-blowing “feat” of perspective was achieved. (Zing!) Just goes to show that some things—including puns—will never stop being funny.

Trick photo, full view