Camping in the Seventies & 1980

The seventies was a decade of great change for Camp Chief Hector. In 1970 a separate branch was created. The Camping and Outdoor Education Branch opened new opportunities for Camp Chief Hector and a greatly expanded set of other camping and outdoor education activities. Camp usage in the “off” season increased greatly.

Gerry Cragg became Program Executive.

The Stoney Indian Band indicated that they wished to regain the Camp Chief Hector site to allow them to move into new program areas and activities. With sadness and reluctance a new site was sought.

In 1972 the Diamond Cross Guest Ranch was acquired. This site had all the requirements for quality camping and the potential for a much-expanded operation. Being in the same area as the old site it offered much of the “Western Romance” spoken of by Cecil Brown so many years before. The Y.M.C.A. then embarked upon a capital fund drive to finance the new development.

Other major changes occurred in this transition-building period. After extensive study and consultation, Camp Chief Hector decided to provide camping for girls. In a sense this was not something new. While Hector had been a boys camp since its inception, many women had played important roles in its operation. Nurses such as Gail Carleton, Beth Hanson, Sarah Milligan, Marg Hind, Vicki Beaver and many others were integral parts of camp. Cooks such as Mrs. Loucks and her daughter Noreen, Mrs. Dick, Lila Bishop and others had done their parts. Murray Faulkner’s wife filled in as horseperson one year. Merle Didrickson had been craft director in the fifties. These women did far more than their specific jobs. They were essential to camp morale and offered much in the way of leadership. Camp directors wives had often played major roles right back to Mrs. Frank Hall who handled “Piffles” in the early years. Thus providing quality camping to girls became a logical decision.

Susan Joblonski became the first Camp Director for Camp Chief Hector Girls. This camp opened in 1972 on the Diamond Cross site. Hector boys, now under Gary Luthy, continued on the old site. Camp prepared for its move while operating in its normal manner.

Staff morale remained high. A 1972 musical entitled, Oh Coyote involving Pete Gardner, Bob Bailey, Brian Donnely, Craig Anderson, Bob Kelly, with Arthur Mac Williams on the keyboards set a new standard in camp entertainment.

That year the “Last Grand Council” was held to bid adieu to the old site.

Pete Gardner and Bob Bailly lead a song at the Last Grand Council, August 1972

Construction delays stopped the planned move and Camp Chief Hector operated for a further year 1973 on Bowfort Lake.

In 1974 the move occurred and Camp Chief Hector Boys and Girls Camps operated together on the new site. This summer is remembered as “The Summer of the Forty-Two Day Picnic”. Hector New Site CertificateDelays in completing the new lodge forced campers to take the majority of their meals outdoors in the field by the lodge. Certificates were given to staff and campers who braved the hardships of being “pioneers in a new land”.

Many Hectorites felt saddened by the change in site. Memories abound of the old lodge, the worn-down trails with their exposed roots, the remains of whitewashed rocks, the lake, the creek, the old place. It remained for Frank Hall, the first Camp Director to put the events into perspective. Unable to attend the Last Grand Council on the Stoney Reserve, Frank wrote some thoughts for all to consider.

We should remember with gratitude the men and women, white and Indian, who made their own distinctive contributions to the founding, organization, and development of Camp Chief Hector.

We should bear in mind the leadership and support given to the camp by successive generations of laymen – ‘Y’ directors and camp committee people – and by Calgary business and professional people.  

We should pay tribute to those professional and lay leaders who, over a period of forty-three years gave of their talents and energies in providing leadership and counsel to thousands of campers who thereby absorbed the spirit and philosophy of Camp Chief Hector.  

We should pay homage to those who have passed on – to those who in their day left the imprint of their leadership and devotion on the camp.  

And to those leaders and campers who volunteered for service in World War II. We should remember them with proud and grateful hearts.  

We should also recall with just due that for every camper who reaped the benefits of the “Hector Experience” – there were concerned and devoted parents who made financial sacrifices.  

For the future we should take hope and be reassured that the long and honorable career of Camp Chief Hector on the original site is but the prelude to greater achievements on the new site.

In this day and age, good character and good citizenship are needed more than they ever were. The purpose and the program of Camp Chief Hector in the future call for dedication, resolution … and an unerring sense of direction.   

Finally in the light of all these things, let us look to the past with pride and the future with hope.”

(Frank Hall, 1972)

Camp Chief Hector isn’t just a place. It’s people, learning and experiencing. The new site is as much Camp Chief Hector as the old one was. Some things change but many of the important things don’t.

The transition was made in the true Hector spirit. Leaders like Larry Austman, Camp Director from 1976 through 1979, Pete Gardner, Rich Harding, Kim Cairns, Susan Joblonski, Jay Totten, Bob Bailey, Beth Hanson, have carried the Hector tradition through the seventies.

Gerry Cragg and Gary Luthy have facilitated through the times of great change so that today we have Yamnuska Centre with its expanded programs, and opportunities, all built on the Camp Chief Hector tradition.

Camping in 1980

It goes on, the leaders of today carrying the responsibility, the joy, and having the fun. The campers learning, experiencing and having the fun.

Camp Chief Hector is so many things to so many people. It wasn’t always fun, there have been hard times, tough experiences. But we learned and still we learn.

Cheer! Cheer! for Chief Hector Camp

It’s always sunshine, its never damp

We go there to hike and ride

Indian teepees are our pride Rah! Rah! Rah!

We never falter, we never fall

While climbing mountains stiff as a wall

And when summer comes again

At Chief Hector Camp we’ll be. Rah! Rah! Rah!


Ah! If it could be so for us again.
The End

<< Camping in the Sixties

Go to 50th Anniversary Song Book:

Go to 50th Anniversary News Clipping:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *