Red Arrow Camp

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Red Arrow Camp is a boys camp on Trout Lake in northern Wisconsin. Founded in 1920, RAC has run a single seven-week session ever since. The name for camp derived from the 32nd, or Red Arrow, division of the Wisconsin Infantry during World War I, in which the camp's founder "Razz" served. From 1968 until 2012, Bob and Sue Krohns owned and operated camp, providing a very compatible, happy and ideal marriage of tradition, experience, education and energy. In 2012, the Krohns sold camp to the Red Arrow Camp Foundation to ensure that the camp and its traditions would continue into the next generation. Notable alumni include Tommy Bartlett, Chris Farley and Scott Foley.

View of Trout Lake From Red Arrow Camp

Activities[edit]

The seven weeks of camp are divided into 3 sessions, and campers have the opportunity to select 8 different activities per session.

Archery Basketball Boardsailing Canoeing Drama/Choral Football
Nature Lacrosse Rifle Riding Ropes Course Sailing
SCUBA Soccer Softball Swimming Tennis Track & Field
Trapshooting Weights & Fitness Waterskiing Wakeboarding Woodworking Wrestling

Special Events[edit]

Besides the regular program of activities, special events are also an integral part of camp life at RAC. Special events include a 4th of July celebration complete with lumberjack games, a large fireworks display, and a dance with one of the neighboring girls' camps. On Aquagatta the campers are divided into 4 Native American tribes, and compete in a large treasure hunt followed by various unique waterfront contests. The girls from various other camps come to RAC for Carnival to enjoy the fun carnival-themed booths that each cabin designs for the day. On the final weekend of camp, there is RAC's version of the Olympics, as well as a flag-football extravaganza called Salad Bowl. Perhaps the highlight of camp is the Camp Play, an original work created especially for camp each year. Over 75% of the campers voluntarily participate in this energetic production, and dazzle the family, friends and alumni who pack the house each year.

Trips[edit]

Over the course of the summer, each cabin goes on two, 3-day trips. Tripping has been an integral part of camp since its founding, and remains such to this day. Popular tripping destinations include canoeing on the Manitowish River, Tomahawk River, & Flambeau Flowage, and hiking in the Porcuipine Mountains & North Country Trail. Two of the older cabins have the opportunity to spend 4 days hiking the magnificent Pictured Rock National Lakeshore. The oldest boys experience an eight-day canoe, fishing and wilderness trip on whitewater in Northern Ontario and the second oldest group spends five or six days hiking the beautiful Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior.

Facilities[edit]

View of Red Arrow Camp Quad

Red Arrow Camp is situated under a canopy of virgin Norway and white pines on the shore of Trout Lake. The Mess Hall, Rec Hall and Infirmary are magnificent log-cabin buildings which date back to the days of the original logging camp in the mid-19th century. Nearby are 12 unique log cabins built by Finnish lumberjacks in the 1920s which continue to house 8 campers and 2 counselors per year. Camp has 1200 feet of spectacular shoreline for its large waterfront program, full size fields for soccer, softball, lacrosse and football, 3 tennis courts, 2 basketball courts, separate archery, rifle and trap ranges, a high ropes course, and a horse stables.

Prehistory[edit]

Williams Resort, on the site that would soon become RAC

Records show that RAC’s current location was the site of an established Indian village well before the 19th century. There was a plentiful supply of fish from lake and hunting in the woods provided a meat supply. The site was excellent for gardening because the relative warmth of Trout Lake and the Trout River (Red Arrow’s southern boundary) protected the corn and potato crops from early frosts. Wild rice was harvested in the Trout River in the fall months. The many authentic arrowheads, which to this day are still found by campers at Red Arrow, further attest to the early presence of the Indian village. In that same era, traders came to this lake site and established a Hudson Bay Trading Post located within a stone’s throw of the village site. Rocks from the foundation of this trading post are still visible between the Mess Hall and the lake shore at Red Arrow. The middle 1850s saw the boom of the logging business and around the 1870s, the Courtney-Wright lumber company of Merrill, Wisconsin obtained rights to log the Trout Lake area and established their camp on the future site of Red Arrow. This was a very prosperous company and they built some true “luxury” accommodations for their lumberjacks. Five of these beautiful full log buildings are still a part of RAC today including the camp’s Mess Hall, Rec Hall, and Infirmary. Additionally, in the early 20th century between the lumberjack era and the founding of Red Arrow Camp, these buildings were the basis of a fine resort called Williams Resort.

History[edit]

In 1920, a history teacher and coach from Country Day School in Milwaukee named Clarence “Razz” Rasmussen fulfilled his dreams and started a boys’ camp on this former Indian village-lumber company-resort site on Trout Lake. Razz was a very popular man at his school and many of his students’ parents offered to back him financially in this venture. Because of this he was able to have Finnish lumberjacks from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan come in and construct the beautiful log cabins that still house Red Arrow campers and their counselors today. Razz had served with the 32nd, or Red Arrow Division, of the Wisconsin Infantry during World War I and no doubt that is where he got the name for camp. In order to provide the perfect summer experience for his boys, Razz enlisted the help of two key men. They were Paul Waterman (”P.W.W.” as he was known) who was the business manager and a math teacher at Milwaukee Country Day and Rollie Williams, a recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin who was the school’s first nine-letter athlete. Rollie later became Head Basketball Coach at the University of Iowa. These two men became assistant directors and they helped forge the future of RAC. Between the three of them they recruited a staff of talented, gifted athletes to provide the needed outdoor experiences Razz felt was so important in the lives of his boys. Razz was the director and inspirational leader of the camp, PWW was the practical business manager (rumored to have been somewhat “tightfisted” with the money) and Rollie not only taught and coached sports at camp but also attracted many prominent college athletes to the staff. The mission was to build boys with good solid characters.

Razz also recruited several other men who were to be very instrumental to Red Arrow for many years. Dutch Reinhart who was Rollie Williams’ young brother-in-law first appeared as a camp boy flunky in 1924 and then stayed on for the next 65 years first as a counselor and then the tripping director at camp. Cal Cooper taught manual arts at Country Day and came to RAC in 1928 to teach the campers woodworking for the next 47 years! The fabled “Red Hauer” who was the cook for the lumberjacks, returned as the original camp cook and later became the maintenance man at Red Arrow until 1956.

Razz got married in 1937, and soon thereafter both he and Rollie reported for war duty, which left PWW to run camp, which he did until 1953, having officially purchased it from Razz in 1948. In 1953, Charlie Boesel, a former student under Razz at MCD and former counselor at Red Arrow, purchased camp from PWW. Charlie had two things camp needed: money and a long-standing love for Red Arrow. For the third time camp had changed hands and the new owner/director was dedicated to making major improvements as well as to continuing the traditions of camp. Charlie had a fine sense of humor and was famous for the “games” he played with staff trying to catch them coming in late or taking an extra night out! One of the mainstays of Charlie’s staff was a man named John Runkel who first came to camp in the early 1950s as a Cabin A counselor and was later to become program director through much of the Boesel era. “Runk,” as he became known, was most famous for his ballet number during Counselor Stunt Night each year. He is still active in the camp office today.

In the mid-sixties, Charlies’ health began to fail and he initiated a search to find someone new to take over his beloved Red Arrow. In 1967 fate brought him a young couple, Bob and Sue Krohn, both of whom were teachers and had extensive camping experience as well. They agreed to come to RAC that summer with an option to buy if they were so inclined. Charlie died of a sudden heart attack soon after camp that year and the decision was made. From 1968 until 2012, Bob and Sue owned and operated camp, providing a very compatible, happy and ideal marriage of tradition, experience, education and energy. In 2012, the Krohns sold camp to the Red Arrow Camp Foundation to ensure that the camp and its traditions would continue into the next generation.

Fun facts[edit]

Chris Farley performing at RAC
  • Legend has it that famed gangster John Dillinger stopped at Red Arrow to refuel his car on his way up Highway 51 to the Little Bohemia Resort where he would get into a bloody shootout with federal agents.
  • In the early days, RAC was known as the "beer camp" because boys from most of Milwaukee's big brewery families attended camp. This included the Millers, Uihleins (Schlitz), Pabsts, Gettlemans and Blatz boys. In addition, the Davidson boys (from Harley-Davidson) attended Red Arrow.
  • Comedian Chris Farley attended RAC as a camper and later as a counselor, where he honed his budding comedian skills in the yearly Counselor Stunt Night.
  • Actor Scott Foley attended RAC as a camper in 1984.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 46°02′13″N 89°42′08″W / 46.036956°N 89.702339°W / 46.036956; -89.702339