North Star Camp for Boys

Friday, September 20, 2019

Our Next Big Project

After the VICtory Fieldhouse was completed in 2016, we started thinking about what was next. Obviously there will be additions and renovations to camp every year, but it's always fun to think about what would be the next big project at camp. One obvious candidate was the building that housed the Heath Center, Trip Shack, Program Office and Arts and Crafts, which was in need of some real attention. Over the past several years, our maintenance crew worked hard to keep the building in great shape. However, with  the repairs necessary as well as some real needs that we have for camp, 2020 will see a new big new addition to the NSC landscape as the building comes down and is replaced.

Before we talk about the building project, it's worth spending some time on the history of the building that, for the sake of this article, we'll call the Arm and Hammer. Since North Star's beginning in 1945, this space has taken many different shapes and evolved immensely. A big thanks to Linda Rosenbloom, Frank Wintroub, Jim Silbermann, Bugsy Berger and several others who helped fill some gaps on the building's history.

The barn in the background on the Arm & Hammer Site
When camp opened in 1945, none of the Arm and Hammer building existed at all. In fact, there was a two story barn on the site. This barn was used for arts and crafts, boat storage and other purposes. Some time in the mid to late 1950s, the barn was replaced in its entirety. A one story building was built that would become the first part of the Arm and Hammer building. Within the photo album below is a picture that looks very similar to the Arts and Crafts, because this was what was built, starting at the lakeside edge. The initial building was about 1/2 the size and footprint of the Arm and Hammer Building, ending midway through the trip shack.

The building would receive three additions over the years. One would extend the building towards the athletic fields (but not all the way through what became known as the Handler Health Center) and another would add on Denny's Den. The Arts and Crafts itself was pretty constant in its use. Besides the trip shack, the building had additional functions. It would house the staff lounge, the Siren (camp newspaper) office, rocketry, and ultimately the map room. The room to the north of the trip shack was a games room that housed ping pong and knock hockey tables. Denny's Den, in addition to being the home of the camp program director was also used as the mail room. 
Game room that would become the Handler Health Center

In the early 1990s, the building got its final major change. An addition was put onto the north of the building, and the Handler Health Center came to be. The games room would be replaced with the health center's waiting room, exam room and parts of the inpatient rooms. The addition would make up the remaining inpatient rooms and bathroom. Prior to the Handler Health Center, sick campers and staff headed up to the Asper-Inn, the infirmary, which was located in some of the rooms above the lodge. 

Now replacing a building isn't that easy. It takes a lot of planning and we've had a lot of fun working with Bill, our architect on the building design. He's been out to camp, had meetings with lots of different staff. We want it to be a great space for trips, arts and crafts, our health center and our program office, so Bill has met with our health team, trip leadership, and lots of other folks. 

Moving out of the building was a lot of work. There's a lot of stuff in there, so starting during post camp, we had crews beginning to empty the Arts and Crafts and Trip shack. By the end of August, we had all those spaces emptied out, as well as Denny's Den and the Health Center. We also wanted to recycle and reuse as much as possible, so Todd, Donovan and our maintenance crew removed windows, fixtures, cabinets, they even made sure to remove some of the beams and paneling so that we could add some of the sentimentality from the old building into the new one. Bushes were also transplanted to other areas of camp.

On Tuesday September 4th the building came down. By the end of the day, very little was standing. You can check out a full album of photos and video of the building demolition. Modern machinery made quick of the building.

Work began quickly on the new building with the foundation, and we will have more pics and video to come. The building will be replaced with something of a similar footprint but two stories, similar to the original barn. The building will house the Arts and Crafts, Denny's Den, Trip Shack and Handler Health Center. We're excited about improvements to all of those spaces and our program will see real benefits with those improvements. The 2nd story will see the addition of some new staff housing space.

We'll make sure to keep everyone updated with pictures of the building's progress.