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PDT Staff Writer

If you haven’t been out to see the facilities at Camp Oyo, on Ohio 125 lately, you just might want to attend the 2012 Camp Oyo Open House and Reunion, Saturday, Sept. 22 beginning at noon.

The event is sponsored by the Camp Oyo Staff and Alumni Association which was established in 1993. Anyone who has ever been associated with Camp Oyo or has ever been to Camp Oyo, or even people who have never been there but want to see it and help, are invited to the Open House and Reunion.

“The camp had gotten into bad shape and one of the members, Tom Lightenheimer, organized at that time, previous staff members to come out and work,” Schwamberger said. “Later it was determined he didn’t have enough people. So they opened it up to anybody who was a camper out there - anybody associated with camp.”

“When you go through camp, there is the totem pole. The Alumni Assocation re-did that,” Bill Schwamberger of the Camp Oyo Staff and Alumni Association said. “We put a new roof on the gate. The next cabin is the Blockhouse and we have put new windows upstairs and downstairs in that; the fireplace was in a dangerous condition - we did that. We actually had Bodmer and Hannah help us out on that. Then there was the ranger’s house. When our ranger took over, the house was terrible. We spent six months repairing that house.

“We actually put two porches on Dan Beard cabin. Last year our project was the dining hall. We actually put a new metal roof on that, and two years ago, we put a concrete porch all around it. Every cabin has new doors. We put a new porch and a new roof on park cabin last year. We had a donation from somebody to re-do the flagpole. So they paid for that. The Association didn’t pay for it. But we did the work for it.”

Help came from other parts of the state.

“There was a guy from Sandusky who gave us the money for the flagpole in honor of his scoutmaster,” Carl Clark of the Alumni Associations said. “He was from New Boston. People need to know, any money collected stays for use at Camp Oyo only for restoration only. It stays right there for re-build and keeping the cabins going.”

Last year Friends of the NRA (National Rifle Assocation) gave the Assocation a grant, which it used to build a new fence and a new target area at the shooting range.

Schwamberger said the association sends out newsletters to members and asks for donations. That money is used strictly to restore the camp. Her said there is a work day for anyone wishing to help on the third Saturday of every month.

“There are people that go out more often than that, and we just take projects, and restore what needs to be restored and repair what needs to be repaired,” Schwamberger said. “We go out there in the fall and we turn the water off and we help (park manager) Matt (Seifert). We’ve got people who rake. We’ve got people who paint. Some people are skilled. Some people aren’t skilled.”

Schwamberger said there is a reason he spends so much time at Camp Oyo.

“I was out at Cub Day Camp. There were 200 kids out there, and I don’t think I have ever seen 200 kids have that much fun every day for a week,” Schwamberger said. “You just love watching them. It’s something that needs to be preserved for the kids of southern Ohio.”

Schwamberger said during the Open House and Reunion, there will be tours of the camp, a flag-raising ceremony, Indian dances; and speakers including Bob Leeth from Ironton. There will be a light dinner and awards will be handed out.

“We had our 100th Anniversary Open House two years ago, and we drew a lot of people who had never been to Camp Oyo,” Vicky Hatcher of the Simon Kenton Counci said. “That’s what we’re hoping this will do.”

The Association is a non-profit organization, and anyone wishing to make a financial donation may do so by sending it to the Camp Oyo Staff and Alumni Assocation, P.O. Box 1746, Portsmouth, Ohio 45662.Checks should be made out to Camp Oyo Staff and Alumni Assocation.

Everyone who sends a donation receives a thank you card with a photo of one of the buildings on it.

The gate will open at noon and there will be a meal served at 4:30 p.m.

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at flewis@heartlandpublications.com

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