Friday, July 24, 2009

Camp Tosebo (part 1)

This has been such a great “ride” for me. I have reestablished contact with some of my family and have opened a can of worms in the process. My 88-year-old aunt (dad’s younger sister) lives at an assisted living facility in Wisconsin. She writes their monthly newsletter called The Chamomile Chatter. Her August newletter will be about Camp Tosebo. Although the family lived at Todd School during the school year, that was academia… Camp was where the fun happened. Since my Aunt Micky’s family always lived close enough to Camp to visit every summer, their connection remained long after Dad and his older sister had grown and moved away.

There is a lot of information and more family memories for me to dig through here. It may take the form of a couple of different posts.

the summer home of TOdd SEminary for BOys

The second part of the pre-story history revolves around the place where my dad spent his summers. Again, his father was part of the running of this institution. My grandfather was referred to as “General Johnson.”
This is General Johnson fishing in the channel that connects Portage Lake and Lake Michigan.

Founded by Noble Hill, Camp Tosebo was established in 1912 as a private summer camp for the Todd Seminary for Boys in Woodstock, Illinois. The camp attracted boys from all over the country, and even though the Todd School was closed in 1953, the summer camp carried on with its eight-week summer program for another twenty-four years.

It is/was nestled in 56 acres of woods on the south shore of Portage Lake near Manistee, Michigan. Camp Tosebo was established in 1912 by Mr. Noble Hill who was at that time Headmaster of Todd School for Boys. From the old name of the school, Todd Seminary for Boys, was adopted the name TOSEBO. Orson Welles attended the camp during the early 1930's. [yup, there’s that name again… bet Dad was just thrilled.]

Today, long after the last campers have gone, Tosebo Inn retains their memories with camp photos on the walls and the camp credo, "There is nothing so kingly as kindness", painted on the large stone fireplace. If you look closely, you can see it carved in the mantle. These young men are watching a game of chess which was taking place in front of the great fireplace. It might have been a rainy day.

In the 1996 renovation of the Inn (formerly known as the Club House), details were carefully restored and as a result the entire camp was listed on the Michigan State Register of Historic Sites. The Inn now boasts eight guest rooms along with several sitting areas including a large living room, a library, a game room, a dining hall and two sitting porches, all lovingly decorated with camp furnishings. Comfort, privacy, relaxation and wide open spaces both inside and out, are what make Tosebo a unique B&B. The Old Camp Tosebo Inn - Bed and Breakfast - offers its guests the best in indoor comfort and outdoor pleasures in a romantic and historical setting...

These 2 pictures show part of the renovations taking place at Camp Tosebo. On the left is the old building called the Club House. On the right is the renovated Club House, now known as the Inn at Camp Tosebo.

The Clubhouse at Tosebo contained the most important rooms at camp - the kitchen and dining room. The food at Tosebo was good and wholesome. You could be sure that when you came in after a morning or afternoon of vigorous activity you would be able to put plenty of it away. The food was served family style by the counselor to the five boys sitting at his table. The clubhouse also housed the infirmary, the library and game room where you could play or sit inside by the fire and read stories on rainy days.

So that is a very brief introduction to Camp Tosebo. I have more to show you in my next post.

Thanks for stopping by…


  1. How fun and it's great that it was converted into a B&B. It lives on and that's a great thing.

    Thanks for sharing such an interesting part of your families history. Will await additional posts.

    Have a terrific day and weekend Carol. :)

  2. Looks like a great place for lucky boys to spend a good part of their summer!

    Orson Welles again, eh?!?

    Looking forward to hearing more about Camp Tosebo!

  3. A wonderful family story. Summer camps provide such great memories. I look forward to more. This was mine during a few summers.

    Hume Lake

  4. 生活的趣味,在於享受生活的樂趣與學習~這些希望您會喜歡^^


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