Lois Baker (S1954, S1956-1990)
Hometown: Canton, South Dakota
Current Town: Edina, Minnesota
Education: Education Degree, University of Northern Iowa, 1953
Occupation: Retired 1st Grade School Teacher
Lois Baker is and always will be, one of Camp Lake Hubert’s most well-known figures. Lois began her camping career on the shores of Lake Hubert in 1954, and was a fixture at CLH for 35 years. During our interview, Lois recalled several fond memories from her summers at Camp Lake Hubert. “There are so many memories. A girl from Iowa and South Dakota would really think the waterfront was great – from early morning until late at night. The stars, swimming, the sailboats, hearing the whistle at free swim. That’s what I think about most. And the view of the beautiful lake, those memories really stand out,” Lois said.
Lois first came to Camp Lake Hubert in 1954 as head counselor with the youngest campers (seven and eight-year-olds) in what was then called Birch Abode (which is now the Wrens cabin, Happy Hollow had not yet been built). At the time, she was teaching in Mason City, Iowa, and thought you always worked during the summer months. “I applied to 10 camps. Chuck Everett (S1926-1970) came through from Chicago and interviewed me, and that was that,” said Lois. She skipped the following summer to take summer courses at the University of Northern Iowa, in Cedar Falls, and returned in 1956 and each summer thereafter, until 1990. Lois held various positions from Prep Director, Junior Director and Assistant Director at CLH. “I would leave the day school was out and go to camp- it was the natural thing to do each summer. It was great, it was just perfect,” Lois recalls. Children have always been a part of Lois’ life. Her teaching career began in Iowa where she taught second grade for three years, before moving to Edina, MN, where she taught first grade for 40 years. “Fred V. Rogers (S1926-2001) knew the Superintendent in Edina, and he recommended me for the job,” Lois said. “I was always grateful and the Rogers were always so supportive.” Lois enjoyed school as a student, loves teaching, and continues to take continuing education classes at the University of Minnesota. “I always thought that my camping work meshed with my school work and vice versa. I eventually knew about all ages which made such a difference in understanding the children’s needs and wants,” Lois recalled. “I knew I liked what I was doing, and that it was enjoyable and worthwhile.”
Please tell us a little bit about where you grew up. I was born in Canton, South Dakota, which is 25 miles south of Sioux Falls, where I lived until I was 12 years old. My family and I then moved to Le Mars, Iowa. I also went to college in Iowa, at the University of Northern Iowa, where I received my teaching degree.
Where were you living at the time you first came to camp? My first year at camp I came from Mason City, Iowa, where I had taught my first year out of college. In successive years I came from Edina, MN, where I was a first grade teacher for 40 years, and made that community my home.
How did you first learn about Camp Lincoln/Camp Lake Hubert? In the Iowa Education Journal I came across a listing of camps looking for counselors and followed up on it. There were several camps to choose from, and I chose what appeared to be the best, which was of course, Camp Lake Hubert.
What memories stand out the most for you while you were a staff member? One of the features of CLH that kept me coming back and continues to be a good memory is the expertise of the initial four leaders: Mrs. Rogers (S1927-1969), her son Fred Rogers, Brownie Cote (S1919-1990) and Chuck Everett. Also included in those good memories are Ted and Donie Greer (S1969-1976), Sam Cote (1951-1958, S1960, 1962, 1968, 1969-2013) and Bill Jones (1959, 1960, S1961-1966, 1970-2013). I also recall one night around 11 p.m. or so, all of the sudden then was a terrific voice on the waterfront. The counselors had gotten their children out of bed to view the most gorgeous Aurora Borealis. I haven’t seen one like this since. The colors were all the way down into the lake. This really was a once in a lifetime experience.
What is your favorite camp quote? I can still picture this quote above the fireplace in Mrs. Rogers’ cabin (which later became Bill Jones’ cabin and is currently Laura Nolan’s cabin): “Come ye apart and rest awhile”. Jean (Duncan) Wright (S 1950-1958, 1960-1961, 1963) from St. Joseph, Missouri, who was the Riding Director at the time, painted the quote herself on the mantle. It is about five inches high. Jean was very special to Mrs. Rogers.
What was your favorite camp food while at camp? Nels the baker’s dinner rolls were far and away my favorite, but a close second was Evelyn Young’s Red Velvet Cake.
What is your biggest take-away from Camp Lake Hubert? Memories and warm feelings. I have such wonderful deep feelings for camp, which just added to my life. All the different people from CLH made me more understanding. Not everyone is the same, individuals have different needs and wants. Community is very important. Adjusting and making changes.
How do you remember your overall camp experience? The fact that I returned to camp for 35 summers speaks for itself.
Do you have a mentor or a creed you live by? I try to live by what is fair to everyone. It is easy for me to be cheerful. I have always tried to be honest. I have had such a full life with a lot of wonderful people in it from school and camp.
Please tell us about what you are up to now? Have your experiences at camp been able to spill into your “after camp” life? I stay active with a variety of classes, attend concerts and plays, and spend as much time outdoors as possible. I brush up on golf in the spring at Braemar Golf Course in Edina, and still love to play every day during the warmer months if I am up for it. I also enjoy bird watching and regularly visit the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Minneapolis. I spend the month of December with my brother and his extended family in Indiana and most of the summer at his lake place on Big Lake near Bemidji, where I play golf and enjoy time with my great nieces and nephews who have all attended Camp Lincoln and Camp Lake Hubert.
Tell us about your family members that attended Camp Lincoln and Camp Lake Hubert. My niece, Sarah (Baker) Solano (1972-1975, 1977, 1978) and nephew, Chris Baker (1969, 1970, 1972-1974) attended camp for several summers. Sarah’s three sons have attended camp and the youngest will attend CL for eight-weeks this summer. Chris’ daughter was a camper too. What fun it is for me to hear their enthusiastic comments about their experiences at camp. In a very real sense, it’s life coming full circle. Sarah makes collages of pictures of her sons at camp with all of the activities. I love hearing camp stories through my family!
What would you say were the most important lessons you learned while at camp? Being at camp, I learned that I could be around children night and day and still enjoy them. I also learned that because of all the exercise, I could eat as much as I wanted of the delicious food and still lose the ten pounds I’d gained the winter before.
What do you think is the largest benefit to being a staff member? Being a staff member is an opportunity to hone people skills in all areas of life.
Over the years what changes did you witness about camp? Computers have made programming the activities of the campers amazingly efficient and ensure that campers are involved in the activities of their choice.
While you were on staff who were the directors, and what do you remember most about them? Mrs. Rogers will always stand out as a special person in my memories. Her first name was Grace, which to me was so appropriate because I think of grace as being her main trait. I have known Sam Cote and Bill Jones since they were eleven-year-old campers. Later when they were CIT’s and would come to CLH on errands. Mrs. Rogers would say, “What fine young gentlemen they are.” Through the years, I have always found this to be so. I also appreciated the leadership of the Greer’s and continue to value their friendship. Laura Nolan, the current director of CLH was a camper and then a counselor during my tenure. Familiar as she is with camp traditions, she has revitalized interest in traditional camp songs. The umbrella over the camps is significant. The strengths of all the people from Mrs. Rogers to present day are remarkable. Camp Lincoln and Camp Lake Hubert are well run and there is a spirit of goodwill like no other.
What do you think makes Camp Lake Hubert so unique and special? Up front, the camp’s glorious setting makes it a special place. Add to this the campers and their parents, the staff and the wide range of activities, and you have a camp deserving of its fine reputation.
What benefits do you see children receive as campers? Campers develop practical and interpersonal skills that will help them throughout their lives.
Is there anything you would like to conclude the interview with? Since my retirement, I have thought about many interesting things. Camp Lake Hubert will always be with me.