In 1900, through the leadership of Pop Tibbitts, Camp Iroquois, located on the shores of Lake George, became Camp-of –the-Woods on the shores of Lake Pleasant in Speculator, NY. In 1929 Dad Kunz went to Pop Tibbitts and asked if he could recommend a location for Deerfoot Lodge, a boy’s camp he would like to begin the next summer. Pop recommended he talk with Cal Wilbur and his wife who had a hunting Lodge on the Kunjamuk River, 8 miles into the forest from Speculator.
Cal Wilbur’s wife told Dad Kunz about the murder of Eulie Davis in 1925 – at Whitaker Lake. Dad Kunz found the lake on a U.S. Geological Survey Map and hiked from the Kunjamuk over Dug Mountain and wrote “my first glimpse of beautiful Whitaker Lake, sparkling like a jewel in the sun”. At the end of summer 1932, DL moved to its present location.
Gordon Purdy became the Director of Camp-of-the-Woods in 1948, and it continued to develop as an excellent conference center. Deerfoot Lodge began, and has remained, a rather small wilderness boy’s camp. Camp-of-the-Woods has about as many staff as DL has campers!
Deerfoot did not have telephones, staff laundry, beautiful beach, or girls. Camp-of-The-Woods had all of these! If you were a guy living in the woods and had a day off, nothing to do in camp, no available car, and an available 12 speed bike – where would you go?
When DL staff went to Camp-of-the-Woods, it was not uncommon for them to:
- Use every available pay phone for their weekly call to girl friends…and yes, to families. The staff also used the phones when working out the details of their plans for fall – be they school, work, or leisure.
- Use every available pay washing machine that Camp-of-the-Woods provided for their guests. And not all of the DL staff clothes that went into the washing machines were only slightly soiled…nor did they always leave the laundry looking as they had found it.
- Try to talk with every available, attractive girl – whether they were on the staff of Camp-of-the-Woods or of their girl’s camp, Tapawingo. It was not uncommon for a DL staff member to plan to meet a particular girl on their next day off.
When I received the written invitation from Gordon Purdy to stop by his office, I knew it would not be an easy visit!
On my next trip to Speculator, I went to Gordon’s office. I am sure we exchanged pleasantries, but deep down I knew what was coming. And it did! Very gently, but yet very forcefully, he told me he did not appreciate Deerfoot Lodge staff arriving in groups several days a week, and the resulting situation with the phones, laundry, and girls. He noted that the Camp-of-the-Woods guys were not happy to see the Deerfoot Lodge staff come either. I said I would see what could be done about these problems. We both knew there was no easy solution.
He went on to tell me that he knew DL needed more campers and thought he could help in that department. He would like to provide Deerfoot five minutes one morning each week during chapel to show slides and tell about Deerfoot Lodge. He also encouraged us to put a permanent Deerfoot display in an area where guests passed each day. He then offered to put a Deerfoot “advertisement” in the annual Camp of the Woods brochure.
Camp-of-the-Woods people were the ideal market. These were primarily Christian families who chose to spend a week or more in the Adirondacks. Tapawingo, the girl’s camp located on an island in Lake Pleasant, was a good camp for their daughters. Now, with the endorsement of Camp of the Woods, these families were encouraged to have their sons have fun while growing through the experiences available at Deerfoot Lodge.
“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus” — Romans 15:5