Peter has kindly allowed me to post the photos he sent me, and I have done so below. What prompted this current excitement was being contacted by one of Sarah's camp mates, the former Cecily "Cecy" Swabb, featured prominently in a couple of Sarah's photos. She discovered the blog through another former Camp Ai-Yuk-Pa alumnus, Mimi Wilmont, also pictured. Cecy supplied me with much background info on the camp (including the fact that many of the girls had "camp" names, and that Sarah's was "Skinny") and she updated me on the lives of several of the girls in the photos, many of whom hailed from Hazleton. Most are gone now, some seventy-five to eighty years since the summers in Forks, at Camp Ai-Yuk-Pa, Indian for "The Place Where Happiness is Found."
Camp Ai-Yuk-Pa was founded in 1925 by two unmarried schoolteachers from Sunbury, Sarah K. Brosious and Elva C. Foye, known affectionately as Aunt Sally and Aunt Til. According to contemporary newspaper accounts the two women "owned and operated" the camp each summer for a period of six weeks. Advertisements for the camp appeared in numerous local Pennsylvania newspapers and girls from towns as scattered as Shamokin, Hazleton, Danville, Wilkes-Barre and Camp Hill attended. The camp promised to "promote a healthy, happy vacation for active girls," and featured tennis, basketball, baseball, swimming and, of course, horseback riding. The season usually began the second week of July (which puts into doubt Sarah's recollections of celebrating her July 3rd birthday there) and finished up in August. The site was open for inspection by parents the week prior to the semester. The cost for this little bit of paradise was $12.50 a week.
In the early 1940's (probably 1943) Aunt's Sally and Till were forced to sell the place, and did so to The Salvation Army, who continued to operate the camp under the same name. They renovated the main lodge by adding indoor plumbing and a modern kitchen, and the focus of the camp was changed, as one might imagine, to a more religious discipline, including Bible study, music and leadership skills. Ai-Yuk-Pa remained in operation until the early 1960's, when it was sold and no longer used as a girls' camp. According to Peter the main building was heavily damaged by a flood and taken down. From the contemporary photos he sent me there is little evidence that Camp Ai-Yuk-Pa ever existed.
|Elva Foye, "Aunt Til," from her 1918 Bloomsburg State College yearbook|
(Right) Probably taken at the same time the previous photo, this view is looking south-west and shows the back of the building where the dining area was. The lodge blocks the view of the covered bridge crossing Fishing Creek.
After Sarah and her family moved to Washington, DC in 1941, she put together a scrapbook containing much of her saved memorabilia. This included several pieces of Camp Ai-Yuk-Pa remnants, which I have photographed and included below. There were also letters, postcards and even a "last will and testament," (written in her teens) indicating that she kept in contact with several camp compatriots long after she was too old to attend, including Sally Wilmont and the older (by three years) Marion Drasher ("Drash").