The Selling of Camp Martin Johnson- Part Two

When the Hyde Park YMCA suggested that the reason for closing Camp Martin Johnson was that it had gotten too expensive to operate then why not sell lakefront plots on both Little Bass Lake and Bluegill Lake to continue to be able to operate the camp? The main camp is largely located near Big Bass Lake so why not sell other less used areas to keep the main camp alive? I have outlined the areas that could have been sold on the map.

Did the Hyde Park YMCA make every effort to try and sell the camp to another YMCA, perhaps in Michigan, or even a Boys Club of America? Perhaps the Detroit Boys Clubs might have been interested? I would like to know how diligent the Hyde Park staff were in trying to keep the camp with another youth organization? Or what steps were taken by the Chicago Metro YMCA to connect with other youth organizations?

Camp Mishawaka, where I served as a counselor, is celebrating its centennial this year and they sent me an invitation to come to Grand Rapids, Minnesota, to join in the celebration. However I saw it as a massive fund raiser as events related to that very thing were taking place every day of the three day event. I wonder if that camp is also in financial distress?

Why not also raise campers fees to attend camp or add a gasoline fee? I do believe that if Hyde Park had tried to just sell parcels of land on Little Bass and Bluegill Lakes they could have kept operating Camp Martin Johnson for several more years if not much longer.

I also don’t buy that dwindling attendance argument as in 1976 the camp was full of over 500 campers for their 50 year anniversary. And, what about Martin Johnson’s will? It was his vision for this property to remain a camp for kids even if those kids were no longer from the Hyde Park YMCA.

No, I think the Hyde Park YMCA took the easy way out and destroyed not only a man’s dream but also the dreams of countless campers that could have enjoyed this camp for decades to come. Now the area is full of residential mansions and even the boulder over Martin Johnson’s grave has no marker to it. One would think that something could be done about that for a man with such a vision as Martin Johnson.

2 thoughts on “The Selling of Camp Martin Johnson- Part Two

  1. How sad to hear about this. I grew up near Camp Martin Johnson and attended one of the local schools. In 1976, my class got to spend a week there. It was beautiful and we had a wonderful time there. I often wondered what had happened to the camp as I stopped hearing its name mentioned. I have been planning on driving out there to see if it was still there so I googled it just to be sure. I am so disappointed to learn that the vision that this man had is no longer tangible, it only perseveres in the memories of those who got to experience the camp so many years ago. I remember touring his house and being in awe of his studio. Even though I only spent one week there in my childhood, it left a lasting imprint on me.

  2. Martin Johnson’s home has been somewhat preserved and moved to Irons, Michigan, where it serves as a museum.

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