Memories of Shady Trails


A Shady Trails mailing list was started by an alumnus, Russ Hicks. The list is open to former campers, staff, and others associated with Shady Trails Camp. To learn more about the Shady Trails group, please visit .

Shady Trails was a "Speech Improvement Camp of the University of Michigan." Mimeographed material from 1962 stated the following:

In the summer of 1932, Mr. John M. started Camp Shady Trails for boys with speech problems. The idea of a camp for speech correction came to Mr. Clancy, who had learned to handle his own stuttering problem. Mrs. Clancy was also very interested in the camp. She has been the Camp Mother and the Dietitian since the camp first opened.

The location chosen for the camp was a wooded area on Grand Traverse Bay, just a few miles north of the present camp. All the activities took place in and around a small hotel and a few cottages.

There were only four boys at Shady Trails that first summer. The second year, six boys attended the camp. By the third year, 1934, the number of campers had grown to fifteen. After 15 years, the camp was bursting at the seams, and a move was made.

The present camp opened in 1947. Shady Trails now consists of 19 buildings. The Park Avenue, Roost, Neophytes, Wolverines, Cave, and the University Club are the names of the cabins in which the campers live. The women staff members live in the Hen House; Mr. and Mrs. Clancy have a cabin. There is also an infirmary, a language training room, a remedial reading room, and a cleft palate room. You may know the names of some of the other buildings. And of course you are familiar with the Lodge -- the building we use for meals, mifflers, variety shows, movies and Sunday morning assembly.

In 1949, the Kresge Foundation made it possible for the University of Michigan to take over the camp.

The purpose of Shady Trails Camp has been to present speech training and to provide situations in which boys can use what they are learning.

About 1200 boys between the ages of 8 and 26 have attended Shady Trails. At camp this summer, there are 91 boys from 19 different states and Venezuela and Canada. You will be learning, living and playing with these boys.

Following the 1994 season, the Board of Regents discontinued the camp activities at Shady Trails. Although people testified to try to keep Shady Trails open , the camp was officially closed on March 17, 1995. The University of Michigan Regents approved sale of 'U' property in 1996.

The University Board of Regents approved the sale of two pieces of University property Friday, former sites of Shady Trails Camp and Camp Filbert Roth.

Shady Trails Update, 2002 by Judy Kuster

The current Shady Trails Camp website includes an interesting, brief History of the Camp.

John Clancy - 1899-1969

Grace Clancy

Pictures, Directories, Correspondence and a film of Shady Trails Campers and Staff

Below is the beginning of a collection of camp directories and correspondence from Shady Trails


Below is a collection of the currently available annual camp pictures of campers and staff from Shady Trails from 1932 (when it opened) to 1995 (when it closed). The pictures are in different sizes. You can enlarge them or make them smaller in your browser although the clarity may be compromised.

In the summer of 2014, Tom and Judy Kuster visited the Bentley Historical Library in Ann Arbor, Michigan for two days, going through two boxes labeled "Shady Trails" phographing pictures from the Shady Trails camp in preparation for a powerpoint presentation at the 2014 Shady Trails reunion. I had been given permission to create a PPT slide show of these copyrighted items to show at the Shady Trails 2014 reunion, with the agreement that the PPT or individuals pictures that came from the library were not to be reproduced elsewhere without getting permission in writing for each picture from the Bentley library. The campers at the reunion signed a petition requesting that all the pictures could be shared online, and gratefully, permission was granted and the PPTs have now been added to the Shady Trails website with the permission in writing from the Bentley Library.

Additional pictures included are from several Shady Trails Campers and Staff who have shared their pictures (Russ Hicks, Bernie Weiner, Chuck Heitsch, Dave Weidman, LeRoy Cyphers, Bruce Raczynski, and others, including several on the Shady Trails mailing list archive of pictures and several at the first Shady Trails reunion in 2012 who brought pictures. A PPT from the first Shady Trails reunion in 2012) are also included.


Shady Trails — 1930's-1990's
a trip down memory lane

Shady Trail Directors over the years

Three camper reunions

A few additional pictures from Shady Trails sent from former campers

Judy Kuster's section of Four Residential Summer Programs Designed for Children and Teens Who Stutter , ASHA 2015 presentation by Judith Kuster, Taro Alexander, Kristin Chmela, and Patricia Zebrowski.


The video originally placed on Vimeo is no longer available there.

Open Shady Trails 1952 to view the video on YouTube

A ten and a half minute film narrated by Charles Sims, former camper and online with permission of Lee Doyle, Director, Communications Policy and Administration Director, University of Michigan Film Office Chief Freedom of Information Officer. The original is located in the archives of the Bentley Historical Library listed as [851831-F-41] Shady Trails Speech Camp - Original: 16mm film, silent, 00:10:38, 1952 Silent footage of activities at the UM Speech Camp. Includes footage of individual and group speech therapy sessions, recreational activities, facilities, and a talent show.

Sims created this treasure in 2013, after retiring from a successful teaching and research career

Charles Sims passed away October 23, 2017. See his obituary


Shady Trails Camp Directors

According to the History of Shady Trails the camp began in 1932. The following were camp directors



Remembering Those Who Have Passed Away



Some Memories of Former Campers and Staff

Memories of Shady Trails are provided below by those who were there, either as campers or staff members. Those individuals who have provided an email link, would love to hear from other campers. If you were at Shady Trails and wish to add your memories, please email Judy Kuster.

Tim Carter - Shady Trails Trivia Game developed for the 2012 Shady Trails Camp Reunion.

Shady Trails Songs copied at Kinko's from an original. The songs were from the Clancy era.

The Stories of Bloomer Snipe - The Doctors of Brainless Surgery and The Drama (staff of Shady Trails) made up these stories. They are reproduced here from a faded paper booklet.

Steve Hood posted to stutt-l 12/29/98

Shady Trails was used by the University of Michigan as a 'summer speech improvement camp." One of the early people who did much for it was John N. Clancy. In it's early days, it was largely designed for kids/adolescents who stuttered, although in the later years there were kids with other problems such as severe/profound hearing loss, cerebral palsy, brain damage, etc. I'm not sure if Mr. Clancy helped financially, but I think in the early days, he might have been camp director. Later, Dr. David Prins, a person named Fields, Dave Daly and Gary Rentschler were camp directors.

Back in about 1971 I visited the camp a couple of times. In the early 1980's, I was one of the "distinguished clinicians" who spent a week at the camp.

Bernie Weiner posted to Stutt-L - 12/29/98 and 1/2/99

I spent 2 summers at Shady Trails in 1965 and 1966. I was already in my late teens when I attended the camp. Many of the things which I learned there, still stick with me today. I think that the camp was pretty progressive in that it focused not only on the mechanical techniques but also focused on changing the way that people who stutter thought about themselves. It was a great experience, and the memories still are with me today. Maybe, they didn't really cover the mental aspects of stuttering, it just seemed that way. All I know is that when I left camp each summer, i felt 100% better about myself, and I was ready to take on the world. Unfortunately, support groups and the NSP were not around to continue any progress made at the camp. Yes, regression usually came about two weeks after returning to the real world.

By the way, I was a Caveman and a University Club man. And we had a speech language pathologist who we nicknamed, "turn-pike Jeannie" for obvious reasons. :-))

I know that Russ Hicks was also a camper there, but I have not been able to locate one person from my days at camp. If you know of anybody who was there in 1965 or 1966 let me know. I have practically exhausted all the avenues I know.

Bernie added the following to stutt-l on June 13, 1999: Last month, my wife and I had a wedding to go to in Traverse City, Michigan. While we were there, we took a drive to see if I could find the former Shady Trails camp. I found the property. It was kind of sad seeing the frame for the Shady Trails sign, but no sign hanging there. By the way, the mailbox across the road still says Shady Trails Camp.

There were scary looking signs posted that no trespassers were allowed and the place was electronically guarded. I debated about a half hour whether to go down the main path to the cabins anyway. I had this awful picture of me spending the night in the Northport pokey or paying some huge fine for trespassing. The people next door to the property told us that we could go down their beach and get in through the back way, but by then it was time to go back to the hotel and get ready for the wedding. Yes, I really regret getting so close and not seeing the lodge and the cabins one more time. Someday, I just might go back and find some way to revisit the site. What a disappointment not to be able to even show my wife the cabins or the grounds. Just seeing the tennis courts at the foot of the drive, and the place where the sign use to hang brought back some powerful memories. The people who own the resort next door, tell me that Tim Allen is a great neighbor, real friendly. Unfortunately, he has had some stuff stolen from the property, thus the extra protection.

It really is too bad that other kids will not have the opportunity to experience being in a totally non-threatening environment, where stuttering is not something to hide. Also, I don't know if kids today could spend 8 weeks in a camp without television, computers, or cars without going bonkers.

And by the way, the mansion on GULL Island is still there, as foreboding as ever. "Ruthie" was the cook at Shady Trails when I was there? I think I gained about 20 pounds each summer that I went there.

Russ Hicks - posted to Stutt-L - 1/1/99

Yes indeed, I was there - in spades! Shady Trails is near and dear to my heart. I hardly know where to begin... I spent four - count 'em, 4! - summers at Shady Trails back in the prehistoric times: 1950 Park Avenue (the youngest group), 1951 the Neophytes, 1954 the Wolverines, and 1957 the University Club (the oldest group). I think I'm one of the few people ever to have gone through the whole gamut of cabins there, even though I missed the Roost and the Cavemen. (That only means something to other Shady Trailers.) BTW, the sessions were 8 weeks long in those days. Two months, almost an entire summer. I think they were compressed to 2 weeks later in the 80's.

I really grew up there. I think the camp itself started in the mid 40's (maybe earlier?) and I knew one other fellow, Rocky Duke, who was there in about 1948. They had very simple tee-shirts in those days, a brown circle with "Shady Trails" in it. In 1950 they adopted the blue University of Michigan seal with "Shady Trails" around it. You could tell the real old guys who had the brown tee shirts. :-)

The director in those days was John Clancy. He and his wife. During the daily mail call, he could spin/throw envelopes to the far corners of the huge dining hall. That was so cool. He was the director every summer I was there. I thought he invented the place. (My/our friend Gary Rentschler was the director in later years, and it's fun to reminisce with him.)

Bernie said, " I think that the camp was pretty progressive in that it focused not only on the mechanical techniques but also focused on changing the way that people who stutter thought about themselves." I didn't experience this renaissance thinking. They were entirely mechanical in those days and we never once discussed openness and acceptance. It was a primitive fluency shaping system with no regard for any of the psychological aspects of stuttering. They just didn't know any of that in prehistoric times. Bernie, I think they may have started that by the time you got there. Speech-wise I was no better off when I left there in 1957 than I was when I started in 1950. But the seeds were planted.

However life itself was really spectacular up there. My swimming coach, Ron Gora, won a silver medal (free style) in the Helsinki Olympics in the early 50's. He could outrace a shark. (ed. note, JAK - I received the following from Ron Gora, July 27, 2000 - "My son, came across Russ Hicks' account of Shady Trails where he mentioned me as his swimming coach when I worked there in the summer of 1951. I remember what great times we had at the camp, but I was not 2nd. in the games. I was 8th. in the finals of the men's 100 meter free. Ron Gora"). One of my "speech correctionists" as we called them back then, was Jeannie Blatchford, who took a week out of camp to become Miss Pennsylvania in the Miss America contest. (And she was only the "third best looking" speech correctionist there according to informal poll of the hormone-filled teen age boys there! - And that tradition carries on to this day where modern day SLPs are the most beautiful women in the world!)

We had absolutely world class people there. A counselor from Sweden introduced us to soccer before anyone had ever heard of the game over here. A paraplegic counselor (both legs amputated but arms like Arnold Swartzeneger) could climb a rope like a rocket. One of the cooks, Bob Benson, was a concert pianist. These kinds of people were everywhere. Talk about inspirational!

We had campers there with every kind of speech disorder. Stuttering, articulation, cerebral palsy, deaf, you name it, we had it. One of the CP guys could throw a baseball out of the park! Handicapped? Yeah, right. I never thought of myself as "alone" because I knew there were stutterers everywhere long before the NSP came up with "If you stutter, you're not alone." I didn't realize how lucky I was.

Memories abound... Sleeping Bear sand dunes, Petoski stones, Gull Island (where we could never go!), hikes to Northport where we picked apples along the way, cold water in the icy springs and the smell of mint that went with it (I freeze to this day every time I smell mint!), taking my senior lifesaving test in a veritable hurricane from the off-shore raft in ice water, the rocks in the bay which required slow torture to get into the ice water, trips to the Interlochen Music Camp long before we even knew what a world-class facility that was, snipe hunts in the dead of night, "announcements" in the dining hall, round robins (early Toastmasters?) every week... Wow, as I said, I really grew up there.

One of my major disappointments in later life is that I never, not once, met any of my fellow campers on the outside world that I knew during any of my summers there. Where did they all go? Phil Ryan, Dennis Stalzer, Cunliff MacBee from Mississippi, Amile Crete (a real Cajun from Louisiana), many, many others whose names fade from memory. I've met several people who've gone to Shady Trails (Bernie Weiner, Pat Feeney, Rocky Duke, Gary Rentschler, who else?), but none of them were there when I was there. I thought surely in the NSP and on Stutt-L I'd meet one of these people, but no, not a one...

My wife and I visited Shady Trails one time in the mid 70's I think when it wasn't in session, and it still looked the same. But there was nobody home. What a shame... Gull Island and the mansion on it were still there though. I thought about renting a boat to go out there, but never did...

I thought many times how little I learned about stuttering at Shady Trails. Yes, I learned about LIFE there, but my fluency never lasted more than a couple of weeks after returning home. It wasn't until I joined the NSP in the mid 80's that a lot of what I learned about stuttering at Shady Trails started to come back to me. The seeds finally began to grow after nearly three decades of dormancy. I learned about being open with my stuttering from Dr. Joe Sheehan at Purdue in the early 60's and coupled that with learning how to "control" my speech at Shady Trails and the support of the NSP... That's when everything finally began to all come together. Yes, stuttering takes a lifetime to understand, control, accept, and pass what I've learned on to others. It's been quite a trip.

Russ and Bernie co-authored a paper about Shady Trails for the ISAD2001 Online Stuttering Conference. It is available online: Shady Trailers Hats off to thee.... by Russ Hicks from Texas, USA - summers of 1950, 1951, 1954, and 1957, and Bernie Weiner from Michigan, USA- summer of 1965.

Michael the Levite Connecticut River Valley, MA - posted to stutt-l 1/3/1999

My memories of Shady Trails are not good ones (generally). While I enjoyed the physical activities, the rest of the camp did nothing for me. I attended the camp for one summer (1969, the University Club). Being quite uncomfortable around women, I did not like having females at the camp. Further, as a shy, quiet person I did not talk much to anyone or socialize. I recall having to give a talk before the whole camp. Public speaking was very frightening for me then (thanks to Toastmasters it is less so now). So to have to speak to everyone while standing in a military attention type pose, only served to make me so tense that my stuttering became worse.

Finally, when my parents came to pick me up they quickly noticed that I was not totally fluent. Shady Trails, afterall, is that great camp run by that great university U-M. So they should be able to get any stutterer who does the work to become 100% fluent in one summer. The result was that on the long drive home from Michigan's pinky to Oakland County (near Detroit), my parents lashed out at me --yelling and chastising -- for being lazy, not doing the work, wasting a summer, wasting their money.

So, while I did win the limbo contest that summer, it seemed (at the time anyway) that I failed at getting over my stuttering.

added April 20, 1999

Rod Abbott - posted to stutt-l 6/10/1999

In 1995 Shady Trails Camp closed it's doors after over 60 years of speech therapy due to financial difficulties. Tim Allen, popular comedian and star of the TV show Home Improvement, had a summer home next to the camp property. When the camp was put up for sale, Tim Allen bought the property. Last night I saw a rerun, although it was a recent show, of Home Improvement. On that show Tim's character brought his family to northern Michigan and showed them some land and a cottage that he wanted to buy and move into. That land and cottage was Shady Trails Camp. The "cottage" on the show was the "lodge" where 60 years of stutterers ate their meals, participated in talent shows, and gave their Round Robin speeches. The bell that everyone woke up to in the morning and told when meals were was also shown on Home Improvement.

I first went to Shady Trails the summer of 1993 as a camper. In 1994 I was a camper in the Fluency Camp, then a Counselor-In-Training for Youth Camp, which was for hearing impaired and down syndrome children. I was supposed to be a full-fledged counselor in the summer of 1995, but the camp was officially closed on March 17, 1995.

Seeing the camp on television brought back a lot of memories and I don't want those memories to die.

added July 15, 1999

PC from Luxembourg (Summer of 1977 and 1978)

My experience of Shady Trails was from the kitchen working with Ruthy Flees. It was probably the best summer of my life. My uncle, David Daly, had asked me to help out, I was a bit reluctant at first, but it did not take long to discover the magic that was there. Between meals, we would take old SCUBA equipment and diving in front of the camp. To our surprise we found the remains of an old wreck and various artifacts. Now mind you this no Spanish galleon, but for me and my cousins (who were also working in kitchen) this was pure excitement. All the memories are so pure. A very simple life. New Games with the campers in our spare time, Frisbee golf, watch the falling stars while lying in the middle of the sports field during mid August.

I just find it a shame that no one will ever be able to have his same experience. I was only a kitchen hand, but you could not avoid the magic. Something was clear-cut when they let Shady Trails go, and erosion is imminent.

Remember Ruthy

added November 15, 1999

Steve Rosen personal email

This is Steve Rosen, age 44, lifelong stutterer and resident of Evanston, IL. I've been married to Dorothy for 19 years. We have two children, Max 12 and Emma 9, who thankfully are healthy and have never shown any signs of stuttering .My memories of Shady Trails are mostly those filled with great pleasure and fun. I was a camper at ages 10 and 11 back in 64 and 65, during the Dr. Prins era. I don't remember great details about the camp. I do remember little things that will always be with me - never go swimming without a buddy. never go swimming without a buddy tag, when you eat cherries for dinner,put the pits in your spoon to discard them;

Speaking of cherries, one of my most favorite activities was picking cherries at the nearby orchards. Used to love that. -- I guess I'm not alone, when I say that I didn't much like having to stand in front of 99 other campers and staff to give impromptu speeches. The one which still stands out -- talking for 1 minute on the importance of your average salt shaker. Those were the tough times, even though you knew you weren't alone and you had great support. Public speaking was not and still is not warmly received. I'm looking at my camp picture from 1965. I'm the good looking kid, second row up,first on the left. From reading the other letters, I am saddened to learn that the camp no longer is around. Whatever negatives people came away with are minimal as to the support we all received as a whole. I came upon this web site while searching the net for an overnight camp for Max - a normal camp. I'm not bitter nor angry that I stutter. I go on with my life as if I never stuttered. I don't let my speech get in the way of my life. I do anything any non-stutterer would do. I've been active on local YMCA boards and various fund raising efforts. Stuttering is only one small part of Steve Rosen. I believe that to be the most important lesson learned from Shady Trails. Regards to all.

added January 28, 2000

Brad B personal email

In the summer of 1979, my parents let me know that I would be going to an overnight camp in northern Michigan soon. I can't remember what my reaction was at the time, however, I'm sure I never would have thought that the time spent at Shady Trails would change my life forever. A little about myself at the time, I was a chubby little 13-year-old who spent my summers usually watching TV. I had/have dyslexia (but not a speech problem).

When I arrived at Shady Trails the first thing that hit me was the beauty of the place. You do understand very quickly why it's called "Shady" Trails. The lush grounds kept all us kids (and counselors) cool on long hot summer days. The other thing I realized after a very short time at Shady Trails is that this maybe the hardest six weeks of my life! As a boy, the counselors worked you both mentally and physically. We had calisthenics two to three times a day (if I am recalling correctly) they bounced quarters off our beds and if that damn quarter didn't bounce, the bed was stripped down and you started again. Looking back, I guess the point of all the work was to build character and self esteem (especially for the kids who stuttered).

Other memories I have of my summer:

A woman (Speech pathologist) who befriended me while I was horribly homesick

Late night skinny-dips in the bay.

Being able (for the only time in my life so far) to do chin-ups

I had my first "girlfriend" (Shady Trails was co-ed in 1979) Her nickname was Ladybug. I don't remember much else about her.

I am 34 years old and feel things are starting to unfold in my life at the moment. Whatever happens to me in the future, I know that the leadership skills I learned at Shady Trails will be part of what assists me in succeeding. I was sad to read the camp has been sold and that Tim (Toolman) Allen owns the land. I was hoping to get back to northern Michigan in the near future and visit the old grounds (I currently live in Saint Paul, MN). I will always have the memories of a little camp in the woods that helped turn this chubby little TV watcher into a young man!

added July 4, 2000

Howard K. Hodges personal email

I'm in shock. I can't tell you how seeing that camp logo from my childhood in this website rocked me back in my seat (I will at least print out the logo and post it somewhere for a while before it goes back into a scrapbook). I had come to this website when I spotted Michigan's coast as a "top travel site." When I spotted Northport on a web map...I began zooming in to see if I could spot Shady Trails. Then I thought, "What the heck, I'll check for a Shady Trails web site"; that's when I found out (March 2001) it no longer existed as a camp: it was like a death in the family! I had planned a visit in the next year or I don't know what to do although I WILL still drive up there(is there ANY possibility with an advance letter that the current owner will allow a visit? -- although without the camp, it won't ever be the same).

You see, I had always planned on revisiting Shady Trails speech camp. I had gone two summers (Park Avenue and the Wolverine cabins -- 1955 and 1962). I thought I might offer a last "round robin" by speaking in the dining facility, as alumni occasionally did, to let the campers see that one of "them" had actually used his speaking ability as a key component for most of his work life. I'm living proof of the camp's success: I not only spent over 12 years as a corporate salesman making "speech" presentations but more convincingly, perhaps, I was the NARRATOR for the US Army Parachute Team, the Golden Knights from 1970-'73 (as the Army's official roving ambassadors we toured worldwide, often with the USN Blue Angels & USAF Thunderbirds). I not only announced their half-hour aerial exhibitions in front of crowds averaging 30,000 people (90,000 was my largest LIVE audience) but much of it was ad-libbed depending on what happened in the air. Along with microphone duty, I also had public relations responsibilities, speaking in over 110 different cities and towns to countless numbers of businessmen's groups, schools, radio/TV, newspaper reporters, and other public formats.

Maybe because I was an Army brat who constantly moved as a kid, it's more difficult to discover that this one "constant" -- the camp that I held so close to my heart and kept in my thoughts (and mentioned whenever I met a stutterer) -- is no longer. I suspect it might be a tougher blow for me than for others who had a more geographically stable childhood.

When I look back fondly at Shady Trails, I think of not only my fellow campers (esp. in the Wolverine Cabin) but all the wonderful experiences & times. This WAS MORE than just a speech therapy camp. It built you up individually as well. We had therapy in the morning and physical stuff in the afternoon. I was lucky in that I had weight lifting with one of the PE majors from the Univ. of Michigan, a bodybuilder, to improve my self-image (which needed it at the time). Then there were the caring therapists (I remember you, Lew Shupe!) who taught us about BYOC ("Be Your Own Clinician", when you returned home). I also recall the trips to Sleeping Bear Dunes...rubbing Petoskey stones outside our cabins...swimming at the shore...the nurse who had "homesick medicine" (pink lemonade dropped on sugar cubes)...the "Marines" in Park Avenue ("on land and sea" a.k.a. Bedwetters -- I was one) ...the Shady Trail version of "knife/paper/stone" to win extra desserts at another table (involved counting all the fingers held out by those in the bidding group..then counting to the winning camper)...the singing in the dining hall...learning to play tennis and racquet ball...the big sports field day...the talent show...the embarrassing "medical check" well as the adolescent "de-pants-ing" that took place in front of the dining lodge...dealing with the death of an older camper (illness)...the camper honor society -- they'd flap their bent arms, bark like seals and yell "Fish, fish"...the "speech trips" to the nearby town of Franklin and then Traverse City, where we'd talk up the clerks and others in the stores, using our speech "techniques". Of course on all those bus rides both the Univ. of Michigan and Michigan State student staff would urge us on to sing THEIR alma mater songs. Then there's the WOODS, ROADS, FIELDS, BUILDINGS & LAKE that were part of the camp! (I could go on if I didn't have to end this email at some point).

The therapy we had included: Tallying (learning to count your speech blocks so you would be aware of them and could then use techniques); "vowel prolongation or sliding" and "bouncing" (repeating the blocked sound until you got through it -- I hated that since I felt it made my stuttering that more evident to the listener)...and the difficulty I had of the concept of 'once a stutterer, always a stutterer'.

To this day I STILL have my old Shady Trails notebook with the lists of all the campers of that era, letters from the "cabin" to home, plus all the speech notes [which I will send to the webmaster of this site]. So yes..Shady Trails is and will continue to be part of me after all these years.

Heck, in odd moments over the years, part of that old camp song would pop into my head and I would find myself quietly singing to myself the few bars that I could still remember: "Shady Trailers hats off to thee...shout, shout, shout with plenty of glee...shout to the hills, the rocks and the rills..." (does anyone remember the rest?).

Sorry for this bit of nostalgia...but I'm still in mourning. Thanks for all at Shady Trails who gave back to me: the cabin counselors, speech therapists and fellow campers...the nursing, dining hall and other staff at this VERY SPECIAL camp (I will always remember Dad Clancy tossing those letters for mail call all over the dining lodge to my fellow campers -- funny how things like that stand out). I have attended scout camps in two different states and two foreign countries; later in my twenties, I worked at 3 scout camps in two other states as both an Aquatics Director and a Camp Director: NONE could match the special experience that was SHADY TRAILS. I still can't believe it's no longer (except in our hearts and memories).

If there was ever a lesson about not delaying doing what you want in life, this site reminded me again of the old adage: "carpe diem". Time waits for no one. If there's someone you want to see/speak/write to...or something that you always wanted to do -- NOW is the time. The demise of Shady Trails proves that we never know how long ANYTHING will be around ... no matter how permanent it may appear or how significant a part of our lives it is.

Thanks Shady Trails...for the childhood memories. You live on in the hearts & minds of those that were fortunate enough to experience you!

added March 19, 2001

Darrell "Hud" Gregory, '71 personal email

At noon today I ran a Yahoo search on "Shady Trails" hoping to find an address. I have now spent 3+ hours here, reading the recollections of some of my compatriots. I am heart-broken to hear of its demise. (I guess I am 7 years late). I was a 14-year-old camper in 1971 -- eventually, the best summer of my life. At first, I was homesick, I didn't want to stay, I attempted to run away, I was nervous around other people who stuttered like me. By the end of the summer...I didn't want my parents to pick me up. I could barely say good-bye to the place.

Fifteen years ago I wrote the camp, hoping that David Fields was still the director and that I could purchase a Shady Trails sweatshirt (I outgrew my old one 30 years ago). Mr.Fields was no longer there, but the current Director offered to send me one if I donated a few hundred $$ to a fund. I could not do that then. I would gladly do it now!

My life as a stutterer pushed me into writing, where I became a newspaper columnist for a dozen years. As a young boy I would write my feelings in journals because I could not "talk."

I accidentally discovered this e-chain of letters!!...not sure if it is still current. My first crush was on one of the female counselors ..Carol Muldauer from New Jersey. I recall Mr.Polzen, Oxley and Fields...the rest is all a haze. But a very pleasant haze. Tonight in my dreams I will go back to Shady Trails and think of how I can ever get back into that old sweatshirt. Thank you all for the memories. I have a tear in my eye. I still have the two 8x10 photos, one of campers, and one of staff. From over 30 years ago.

That plot of land is hallowed ground for those of us who lived it. And for today, at least, I was back there once again. Thank you.

Some of my Shady Trails memories: I was uncomfortable at first. Leaving Rockford, Illinois at 14, to go away for two months to a "stuttering" camp was scary to me. I was never very social and the sight of all those people made me nervous. Due to my own ignorance. This was all new to me.

I just didn't know exactly what classification of "human being" I was. Some of these boys were slightly disfigured, some stuttered far worse than I. One boy in my cabin, by the name of Bruce, God love him, was the survivor of a car accident. He did not stutter. He just sat in our group with a blank look on his face. He never said a word. We couldn't tell if he was listening. But the therapists and counselors consoled him as they did the rest of us. A terrible scar was visible on his forehead. I was 14 and confused, I didn't know what to think. I thought I had fairly hidden my stuttering from people (of course, I had not). Why was I sent to this place?

So I wasted my first couple of weeks wanting to go home, wanting to run away.

I was taught the b-bouncing and the sliiiiding techniques. And I cared little for either. I bounced enough by myself without bbbouncing on purpose My preferrred method was the, shall I say, "rhythm" method...or the run and gun method. I could tap my foot and bob my head (hopefully unnoticed) until I could say a word fluently. Sometimes my foot would be playing "Wipe Out" on the floor for 60 seconds before I could blast out my name. If you know the song to which I are at least as old as I. Soft Contact Method made some sense to me for awhile. It was relaxing when it worked. But "soft contact" did not always mesh with my run&gun; style. My main concern (to this day, I confess) was in covering up my stuttering. Sometimes successfully, sometimes not so. I remember our camp assignments to go into a store and "bounce" out a couple of words on purpose horrified me. At that age and point in my life, I thought: why would I want to do such an obvious thing? I understand the concept now, but I still don't embrace it.

After those first tough two weeks of camp....the place began to take hold of me. Summer of '71! I never approved of the rule that all our out-going letters had to be read first by the staff, but I mostly dealt with it. On a bus ride into Traverse City, Mr. Fields warned all of us (50?-60?) not to mail any letters in town. He was looking at me. I was rocking the boat on which I never asked to be. I had a letter hidden in my shoe, and I pulled a nifty maneuver to drop it into a big blue mailbox on the street. To my parents -wanting them to pick me up. Mr. Fields asked me about it later and I denied mailing it. I kept mailing letters whenever we went to town...

At the end of the summer, my parents were given a 3-day window in which to pick me up at the end of camp. I lied to them and told them it had to be the 3rd day. I did not want to go home, back where people could see that I stuttered. No one in camp noticed any hidden flaws in my fluency. In fact, due to the relaxed pressure-free atmosphere at Shady Trails, I was almost totally "fluent" during my stay. Amazing. I claimed to my counselors and therapists that I was CURED. I stood up in the dining hall and recited verse after verse with perfect fluency. But the staff knew more than I did. They nodded at me knowingly...and told me that I would always have to work on it. Or, rather, work WITH it. I was not cured...and a week after I returned home, I began to stutter as badly as I ever had. My mother asked me, "I thought that camp would help you??"

But I realized deep inside that I would always stutter.

There is a bond between Shady Trailers, Trailees? Trailites? Once a brother, always a brother. Those cold morning swims will go with me to my grave. And those Trails will always be there. No matter if Tim Allen or Seinfeld or whoever lives there. Maybe in the next Millennium all of OUR ghosts will meet on those trails and have one heck of a Fluent Round Robin.

added February 5, 2002 and March 6, 2002

Doug Henning, 67, 68 personal email
5318 Golf Course Dr Jacksonville, FL 32277

I stumbled across this info tonight when I started thinking about Shady Trails and wondered if there was any information about it.. I came across your site and letters and discovered the news about the camp closing. Like many sleep away camps of that era, the costs couldn't cover its operation.

I attended the camp two summers from 67-68.. I think I was a Wolverine both summers as I was 14-15 years old.. My older brother had attended a few years earlier (64-65) when he was college age to help him..

I don't remember all the details of my summers but things that stick to me are the shows (we did Music Man and Sound of Music I seem to remember), the trips out of camp to talk to people(contacts), cherries (I got my love for cherries and cherry pie at camp) and some of the guys... The first summer really helped me and the second summer was a reinforcement since when I got to camp the second summer, I had almost no blocks and folks wondered why I was there...

The other thing memorable for me was the second year I flew from New York City to Northport by myself..( the first summer, my older brother brought me ).. First time I had done that... I had been to Europe and could get my way around the London subways as well as the NY subways by myself, so getting to Northport wasn't a big deal!!!

added May 27, 2002

Tom Blake, 1950, '51, and '53 personal email 847-256-3684
736 Tenth St.
Wilmette, Illinois 60091

In 1950, I started my camping experience in the Roost and went back in 1951 (Neophytes) and again in 1953 (Cavemen), the last of 3 years that I attended the camp. I am the ugly kid with the big smile second from the right in the row next to the top in the 1950 campers picture. Shady Trails was an important part of my life and continues to affect me in many ways. A whole lot of growing up and coming to grips with our own problems happened during those brief summer adventures. Everyone was changed, the campers, the counselors and the Clancy's.

In the beginning, I was quite disgusted by the fact that I had been singled out for such a demeaning experience, and I fought going with all the gusto of an 11 year old. However, upon arrival, I found out some very important things, beginning with the fact that I was not alone.

Shady Trails and the Clancy's and the Counselors became one of the best things that happened to me at that stage of my life. The camp helped me gain confidence in myself, become a leader, become a better athlete, and learn to address my speech impediment in a whole new way. Nofe that I put speech last. Yes, learning techniques was critical and very helpful, but learning about yourself was even more important.

I think I got to know the Clancys best because my father insisted that I was a good Irish Catholic boy. Little did he know! I remember many Sundays where we all kneeled in prayer with the priest performing mass in the Clancy cabin on their concrete floor. Total agony!!! Finally, one of the campers, I don't remember who, passed out and cracked his head open on the floor. We still held mass in the Clancy cabin. That's the way John was.

I have spent the rest of my life challenging myself in the speech arena as an officer in the Navy, as a salesman and sales manager for IBM, as a President of several startup high-tech companies and as Chairman of a biotech company I remember coming back with my wife Natalie many, many years after my camping experience with our children and spending time with the Clancy's during the waning years of their tutelage. It was a wonderful experience! I haven't seen so many tears from a grown man before or since. I was asked to speak to the campers -- oh, how hard it was once upon a time and so easy when asked again. Getting up to talk with all the campers was a great experience that I will always remember -- but not as much as the Clancy's did.

Unlike the other missives, I had a counselor "speech correctionist" in the Neophytes?, Wolverines, and Cavemen, of course, the prettiest one of all who approached speech from a psychological as well as mechanical point of view. She was the best -- I had a terrible crush on her. As I remember, her name was Dorothy Swenson. My counselors that year in the Cave were the best, with the most exceptional being the Kromerys, John Fox and Bob Wallace . Dorothy is sitting next to John Clancy on his left in the 1953 counselor picture. At this stage of life, I wonder why. I think I know.

Our last miffler was titled "Sureblock Bones." What a hoot!

My favorite and most difficult Northport moment was being told to go and get a haircut -- allow the barber to get half way through, and tell him that I had somewhere else to go immediately and leave without paying. That was hard!

Many stories to tell about campers, mifflers, round robins, snipe hunts, counselors, and especially my good friends, the Clancys.

We need Shady Trails back again!

I'd like to hear from and other campers from that era.

added July 3, 2003

Garner Merrick ('39 and '41) - personal email

I arrived at Shady Trails with no sense of self worth. I was a shy little 8 yr-old kid who talked low with his head down and no eye contact whatsoever. I was "different". I stuttered. I was always up-tight when speaking. At Shady Trails I was no longer "different". I became more relaxed when I spoke. They taught me how to breathe and I practiced and practiced. I lost my shyness through "public speaking" and acting in skits. I still can't believe they taught an 8 yr-old how to meditate, but they did. Impacts: Acted in school plays from the fourth grade through my sophomore year in college. President of the student council in high school. Fighter pilot in Korea with an ego you couldn't imagine. And, at 84,I still breath out heavily when I speak. When out in public, my wife is always saying " Shush, not so loud".

I learned a poem at Shady Trails: "Antonio". I taught it to all my kids, grand kids, great grand kids, nieces, nephews, and all of the neighbor kids. That one poem instilled in them a thirst for poetry. The other day my great grand daughter told me that the other kids thought that she was a "weirdo" for reading poetry. She read "Antonio" to them and they wanted her to read more!! That poem is one of the best things that I got from Shady Trails.

added March 30, 2015

Jim Parliament from Indiana. Camper: Wolverine '68; Cave '70; counselor: Roost '71 '72 '76. (posted to ShadyTrails yahoogroup, May 22, 2018)

Prins, Field, and Daly were the kings. Best summers ever. Work hard, play harder. Below are some random thoughts to stir some memories.

The camp song was to the Ohio State fight song.

I was there when Ballantine beer changed over to the aluminum cans and the dxxx things would float up under the toilet tank float... "Mr Parliament the toilet broke again." "Don't worry boys. Go back to your room." There was always a round of single coughs as the pop tops were then opened at 10 P.M..

I learned all the obscene hand signs from the deaf kids.

I got really good at fly catching during outdoor group speech sessions -- the secret is that they always jump straight up.

When half the staff got food poisoned at the Grey Gables, they figured out it was the vegetables because I didn't get sick. (No 3 bite rule on off days!) has nothing on that place for making marriages -- I'm still married to the camp nurse, Anne, and fellow victim Bob North pointed out that there were 6 couples from one season.

We campers terrorized the housewives of Frankfurt when 2 dozen stutterers descended on their front doors.

I have had lifetime immunity to Purple Ear Disease.

Never put the bedwetter on the top bunk.

I failed to dive down to anchor the raft when the surface water was 58 degrees. Was glad I was later able to have kids. Mr. Nederlander (entertainment mogul) was a camper who hated swimming in the bay and had a standing offer of $10,000 to build the camp a heated pool. Poison ivy on our beach led to some rashes in interesting places after late night "meteor watching". Once we found lots of wine bottles washed up on shore -- we told the little skinny dippers they were from pirates.

The visiting girls from Interlochen and "The Camp For Wayward Girls" always looked like they feared being attacked -- at least the kitchen staff got used to it.

Only time I ever polka danced was with the somewhat short and round Chief Cook Ruthie -- "Just hold on tight!". Ruthie saw who rolled in at dawn after off days -- we treated her with great respect.

The food was quite good. After the plates were cleared, we had the "Messy eater award" at my table -- It was almost always me, and never the kid with cerebral palsy.

When I was at Ash Bishop's table, he kept giving me assignments for announcements like "The water in the ocean in San Diego is 72 degrees in February" -- I didn't realize I was an accomplice in the Miss Morgan courtship. Glad to see they made the previous reunions; he was a wonderful leader.

Four hours of ten year olds tackling you on Sleeping Bear leads to some interesting sand dislocations.

Peshawbetown went from the poorest place I'd ever seen to very nice -- just took the white man's gambling money.

We were asked to leave Bill's Dills in T.C. because of our Hokey Pokey performance. Is "That's what it's all about?"

I found a bucket full of Petoskey stones at Christmas Cove. We put them on the beach at my Dad's lake for the kids to find.

When canoeing at the Platte River, get in the cargo boat if you want to stay dry.

Esteemed stuttering visitor Dr. Van Riper wrote some great stories about growing up in the U.P. under the pseudonym Cully Gage.

I was no great athlete, but as captain of the Screaming Chickens, I learned how to intimidate the innocent and unsuspecting.

My letter home predicted my adult weight (to be 25# ago.)

I brought a portable record player. I remember playing the new "Stairway To Heaven " song for Georgeanne Potter before the song hit the radio. We'd put it in the Roost window near home plate on Sundays. The kids liked Beach Boys and we played a lot of Dylan hits 1 and 2.

My mom was proud of me that I wrote home all summer about Bill Hill and never mentioned that he was black.

I hope this ramble brings a smile or a memory. Hope to see some of you at the reunion. Remember...The older I get, the better I was. And that camp was a special and wonderful place.

added June 10, 2018

Jeanne (Loomis) Frey, Camp secretary, 1951-1954

added January 2, 2008

James Emery, Camper, late 50's and early 60's

David Field

Francis Smith

added June 8, 2018

James Nink

added September 6, 2018

added 2009
last updated and added to June 2, 2023