We are taking some time this summer to take a look back at the history of Camp Foley. With 95 years of Camp under our belt, Camp has inevitably changed with the times. We are very proud of how far it has come and all the history we have accumulated. We have recently created an archive of historical pictures and records dating back to the 30s!
Today we are taking a look back at the Swim Dock! And swimming specifically.
Camp Foley has always been blessed to sit right on the shore of Whitefish Lake. And for as long as Camp has been operating, campers have been swimming in its waters. The fun of it all is to see how the practices and activities at the swim dock have changed over the years. I think you’ll be surprised!
Let’s journey through the past together and go back to the beginning…
The camp was established just a few years prior to 1924. And from the pictures, we can see the boys (it was started as an all-boys camp) enjoying Whitefish, with much less dock than we are normally used to. We can see in the distance a very old version of the diving tower.
Things don’t change too drastically as we head into the 40s. We have our first pictures of swim lessons happening down at the swim dock. Swim class was not an optional class for campers who did not pass their swim check, but an activity all the boys participated in while at Camp. You can also see in the picture on top, the docks form a rectangle, which is a much different dock formation than we have now down at the Swim Dock.
With the 50s come big changes to Camp! Bob and Vi Schmid take over Camp Foley from Father Foley. This is the time where we see the first mention of the “checkboard” and buddy system. There is also the start of an “Alert Squad of Lifeguards” that are stationed down at the swim dock. We also get our first shots of the kids playing water basketball, which is still a popular activity today! On the left, you can see the boys standing on the old version of the diving tower, and doing some diving that would not fly at a diving class today haha! In 1951, swim classes became optional for campers who had passed their swim check.
Finally reaching the 80s is very exciting! As you can see we have now entered the realm of color pictures! These pictures are special because of how blue and beautiful the lake looks, a side effect of the camera used at the time. It’s not hard to imagine how special it would feel to be a camper during this time. We have our first pictures of the campers playing “Grease Watermelon”, a hilarious game with the aim of chasing a greased up watermelon around in the water and something kids still love to do today!
The 90s show camp becoming more and more like it looks now. We also see some kids in red Kayaks, a fun past time for kids and something that would soon the Kayaks would become a part of “Paddlemania”. It is also very fun to see how far the cameras have come since the 80s when it comes to developing color, as these pictures look much more realistic and not quite so tropical.
We have entered the 21st century! The early 2000s is when things we know and love really become established at camp. In 2002 Camp purchased 12 paddleboards and paddles. This combined with the Kayaks create Paddlemania! When it first hit Camp Foley in 2002, it was an activity you could sign up for, but has evolved into something kids do now during Morning Fun, Free Swim, and for evening program. The log was added in 2005 and in 2009 camp purchases the famous Saturn!
We’ve arrived at the present day! The newest decade sees the arrival of the water mats, a brand new floating diving tower, and the water Swing. The Log and Saturn have been retired, but the kids can still enjoy the classic paddleboards and kayaks along with the new equipment. The Water Mat comes to camp in 2011, and another water mat appears after a terrible storm right by the docks! After trying to track down the original owners, the camp embraced this new edition as well. The latest editions were in 2018 with the Crocles and in 2019 water yoga mats were added to the Swim Dock.