Remembering Camp Pilgrim Haven, 1958-1962

These photos were taken from the years 1958 through 1962 at Camp Pilgrim Haven. Pilgrim Haven was operated by the Michigan Congregational Church. Later by the United Church of Christ. It was located on the eastern shores of Lake Michigan several miles below the city of South Haven.

The Krabach family (Melvin, Suzanne, me, Susan, Larry, Jon) were family campers starting , at least by 1952 (only because of the age of my youngest brother in the video clip), through the early 1960's. I was one of the handymen for 4 years from 1959 through 1962. Two of the handymen before me were Jim Williams and Lloyd MacTavish. I am not sure how many years they worked there. The handyman after me was Jim Keesler, who's daugher has set up the Facebook site “Remembering Pilgrim Haven”. I worked 1959 with Norm Patrick, then in 1960-61 with John Nelson. In 1962 I was the only handyman, but Rev. Matters had hired Mr. Poindexter who was retired but could do almost anything. He lived in the gate house with his wife during the summer. I believe he was the person who build the bridge from the old campground to the new area on the north side of the the creek.

The summer camping season was a full 12 weeks long and ended on Labor Day. The season consisted of several family camps, junior high camps, senior youth camps, and a women's conference. The camps each lasted a week, arriving on Sunday and leaving on Saturday. So my summer schedule started after the last day of final exams, I got home for a day or two, was driven across Michigan over to Pilgrim Haven by Dad, worked for 12 weeks, driven home for a day, then back to U. of Michigan to start the next school year. The working week was 6 ½ days, and I think the pay came to about 50 cents/hr with board and room. This earned me about $300 for the summer. The combined cost of University of Michigan in-State tuition and off campus housing, cost me (my family) about $1200 per year in 1961 dollars. For a comparison, starting engineering salaries were in the $6,000/year range.

Rev William T. Matters (or Bill to most of us) ran the camp. His wife Ada, and two daughters, Cory and Lois (Kitty to her school friends) lived in the farmhouse on the north side of the creek. The other staffers, two cooks with 6 or 7 kitchen girls, and the two handymen lived in the dorms above the main (new at that time) dining hall. The cooks were Gertie (the head pastry cook at East Lansing High School, I think) and Mrs. Trainor, called Mrs. T. Needless to say we had excellent pastry on Thursday baking day.

The kitchen girls were mostly from Olivet College. In my last two years my sister Susan from Michigan State was one of the kitchen girls and another Michigan State girl, Dee Beard, worked as a combination kitchen girl and the camp lifeguard. In the last two years I doubled as the backup lifeguard. Cory Matters was one of the kitchen girls in 1962 in my last year, I believe. Needless to say, it was like living with a large extended family. And college pranks were part of the fun. Those were grand years, for the summer at least. A break from tough classes at the University of Michigan Engineering School earning my Bachelors Degree.

Cameras were not as common or as cheap as they are now, so there were less photos taken by me than I would have liked. The photos from the family camping in 1958 were with a 35mm camera borrowed from my Dad. In 1960 I purchased a Minolta double lens reflex camera (uses 120 b/w or ektachrome film) so I could take more photos. But film was expensive and developing the b/w film was done later at home in Port Huron. I may have had some done in South Haven but I can't remember. Slide film (2 ¼ x 2 ¼ ) which I have yet to scan, cost per slide, relative to today, about $1.60 per photo. So you did not waste many shots, and took only carefully chosen photos.

Because I did not date the negative holders (for these b/w photos) I am not sure of the dates. Some of the 1960-62 photos may have got mixed but are grouped and labeled the best I can remember. If you have information on the photos, please contact me. I am especially interested in names of the campers in the photos that I have not identified.


Maps now and then.

Family Camp 1958

Senior Youth Camp

Guest Family

Camp Staff 1959

Camp Staff, 1960-62

Camp Goats

Lifeguard duty

Sand Dunes

Failed Breakwater

Dad signs up for family camping at Pilgrim Haven in 1952. Mrs. Marks greets us. The kids have a parade in this clip.

Family camping at Pilgrim Haven in 1958. Very short building clips, but you can see the old dining hall.
Rev. June 26, 2010