Camp Campbell Gard
The camp was dedicated to the memory of a World War I airman, Campbell Gard, by his father Homer Gard in 1927, six years after the Campbell's death. The dedication on Friday, July 1, 1927 featuring remarks by former Ohio governors, James M. Cox and Charles P. Taft II, son of William Howard Taft.
When it opened in 1927, the new camp had 20 buildings, including a 20-foot (6.1 m) by 80-foot (24 m) dining hall with electric stoves and refrigeration; five cabins (quickly expanded to ten), each housing 11 campers and a leader; a recreational building "for rainy days"; an informal playground for games; and a guest house "equipped with hot and cold shower baths." As specified by Homer Gard, the camp also featured facilities for “crippled children” to make the facility accessible to the handicapped. Today the camp has expanded to 600 acres (2.4 km2) and features heating and air conditioning.
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Camp Tall Tales
Since its founding, the camp has been inhabited by “The Green-Nosed Harpie.” I attended Camp Campbell Gard for several years during the 1970's. My memories are so fond and very profound. But I will say that the stories I heard and retold to my children about Green Nosed Harpie have stuck with our family for the last 35+ yrs. I am sure that the story has been told and retold in many iterations, but this is what I know about Green Nosed Harpie. He was an electrician working on high voltage lines along the train tracks that we all know lead to and from ARMCO Steel nearby to the camp. An accident occurred and he was shocked across the face with a live electrical cable. As we all know oxidized copper is green, hence an old penny or the Statue of Liberty. So Harpie fell from his working platform near the train tracks and rolled off into the woods down into a creek bed. Now disfigured from the arc flash and barely conscious he was unable to call for help. The blast from the electricity took away one eye, half of his cheek and all of his left ear. Most of his nose was left, but it retained the green patina of an old copper penny. As he slowly regained consciousness, he was thankful for the creek water that was available, cool and refreshing, but he realized something was different about him. His hunger forced him to grasp at crawdads, tadpoles, toads and any other slow animals available to him to survive. As he regained his strength and his need to survive was all he understood anymore, he had become more animal than human. At this point Ohio State and Butler County rescuers had given up their search for him. The terrible start of the story begins here. Green Nosed Harpie began to feed on any flesh that he could find. Unfortunately for the campers at Camp Campbell Gard, he was right next door. The young, innocent campers who trekked through the woods hiking near the Great Miami River and the train tracks would sometimes mysteriously disappear.
This is the baseline story that scared the sh*t out of us when I was ten. I'm sure it's been told and retold many different ways since the origination of the camp. The legend belongs to Camp Campbell Gard as do my fond memories.
Noted Counselors and Directors
David P. Smith and his brother Tony Smith are Camp Campbell Gard Alum. David P. Smith's name still is proudly displayed on Errol's Archer's #11. Plaque is still displayed today.
- Jim Blount, Hamilton Journal-News, Sunday, June 16, 1991