Work continues on former 4-H camp



LAKE PLEASANT -- Thanks to an article published in this newspaper, the mural at the former 4-H Camp Sacandaga on Page Street here has been restored to its rightful place.

Donald and Caroline Naysmith of Charlotte, N.C. and Whitaker Lake in Speculator bought the former 4-H camp and are restoring it into a Christian camp for ministering to special needs children and their families, Camp Tekoa. They also plan to include a week of girls camp in the program.

The former Civilian Conservation Corps Camp S-90 was established in 1933; five original buildings remain. Camp S-90 closed in 1942 and became a 4-H camp for over 60 years, until closing after the 2004 season.

Its contents were sold, and the Naysmiths had no idea what had happened to the mural depicting CCC men at work that once hung in the lodge.

But Kent Busman, executive director of Camp Fowler Retreat Center here, knew where it was, and after reading an article in this newspaper about the Naysmiths' project he knew where it belonged.

Busman showed up one day, Don Naysmith says, and said, 'I have something that belongs to you.' He explained that when the camp's contents were sold Camp Fowler paid $1,000 for the mural.

The Naysmiths bought it back and it is once again hanging in its rightful place on the east wall of the lodge.


The Naysmiths focused on the kitchen and dining room last year and the lodge this year.

About 25 feet of the main carrier beam was missing under the lodge floor and others were rotting in the dirt, Donald Naysmith said. The floor had to be brought up about 10 inches.

To tackle the job about 75 percent of the flooring was removed. The Naysmiths found three layers of flooring.

The top layer of floorboards was saved and reused, although some of the boards had to be replaced. The Naysmiths turned the challenge into an opportunity to create a design in the floor, which will be sanded and refinished in the spring.

They made new chandeliers for the lodge with white birch from their woods and have started decorating.

They have also begun working on restoring the adjoining camp store, and have replaced and insulated the ceiling in the Infirmary.

The Naysmiths are not doing all the work themselves. They have help from local electrician Bill McGuire and Jeremy Verrill and Aaron Rulison from Adirondack Bible Center Ministry Center, who are doing carpentry and general construction labor as volunteers.


Don Naysmith pointed out some other improvements since last fall: new porches on the Dining Hall and the Director's Cabin; new roofs on all buildings except the sleeping cabins and the Girl's Room (bathroom); new plumbing and appliances for the kitchen; a new drilled well for the Director's Cabin and more.

In the boy's bathroom the walls were bowed out and some ceiling beams were split. Concerned the building would not survive another winter, the Naysmiths had them fixed in mid-winter last year. The plumbing -- old galvanized pipes clogged with rust -- will be replaced next year.

"We hope to have camp next summer," Don Naysmith said. "Hopefully late July through August. We want to get the pool in first."

The pool will be between the Dining Hall and the Lodge, where "The Swamp" staff cabin used to be.

Sheri Naysmith (Aug. 30, 1971 - Dec. 25, 2013), the Naysmiths' daughter, was the inspiration for Camp Tekoa and its ministry to special needs individuals.