Camp moves into the future while honoring past 75 years

(Above) In its earliest years tents had a hospital cot, orange crate night stand, straw mattresses and grass floors.  Kerosene lamps provided night time path light. -Submitted photos

by Marianne Gasaway

“Changing, ever growing, yet somehow still the same.”  

When Cindy Findley wrote those words to a song 35 years ago it was in honor of Camp Tanglefoot’s 40th anniversary.   “It was an homage to those who had the vision of what was needed and built it for those who would come,” said the camper, turned counselor, turned camp director, and now retired camp director. 

The sentiment still holds true today, according to Camp Director Julia Mannes. 

Mannes is in her 39th year of Scouting and 14th at the helm of the Girl Scout Camp located on Clear Lake’s south shore.  This summer, as the camp celebrates its 75th year, Mannes says it is fun to look back on the past and the traditions that still exist, but she is excited for former staff, friends and the general public to see all that is new. 

Four-hundred girls attended camp during its first summer.  That number grew to as many as 2,000 in 1990. Today, camp attendance is still rebuilding from the more than 1,000 girls who attended pre-pandemic. The camp was closed in 2020 due to the pandemic and last year numbers were restricted to groups of 12 in an abundance of safety.   This year, Mannes says about 700 will spend anywhere from a few days to weeks experiencing all that camp offers.

“We were hearing last year that people were really ready to get back to camp and we are seeing numbers quickly rebound,” said Mannes.  “It’s a very supportive culture at camp and when you get here and experience it you know what it’s all about.”

That’s just the thing founders had in mind when they pooled their money, and with a vision supplied by Gertrude Fick, bought nine acres on the south shore of Clear Lake so that their daughters would have a camp to attend. Fick was the camp’s first director and served until retiring in 1984.

Before 1946 Clear Lake Girl Scouts camped on Woodford Island.  Regional Girl Scouts camped at Camp Roosevelt in Ventura, which was a Boy Scout Camp.  In 1946, two fathers began looking for land for a permanent Girl Scout camp to ensure their daughters would have outdoor opportunities. An investor group was formed and purchased 9.5 acres of 

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