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Three Camp Rangers Celebrate Silver Anniversaries

They're Our Camp Heroes

Phil Gruenhagen
Camp Ranger, Tomahawk Scout Reservation

I grew up across the lake on Gruenhagen Bay. After high school I went into the Marines. I traveled the country working in various places, logged in Montana, ran oil rig in Montana and North Dakota. I came back home and worked construction for several years.  Started working at camp in 1992.

What advice would you give yourself 25 years ago?
Do a better job keeping up with technology.

What is the most interesting thing that has happened at camp in the last 25 years?
The development of White Pine subcamp, it used to be a trail through a field and wooded area when I started working here.

How did you come to work at camp?
I was approached by Ranger Tom Randall, I had known him for several years. He had been the Ranger for 29 years.

If you could change anything about camp, what would it be and why?
I can't really think of anything.

If you had $5 million to spend at camp what would you do and why?
I would like to spend it on improving the roads. I would purchase updated heavy equipment such as a road grader, unlike the one we use which was made in 1958.

Scott Hollermann
Camp Ranger, Many Point Scout Camp

I started Scouting as a Tiger Cub when I was seven years old. Once I became a boy Scout my troop camped at Many Point Scout Camp and I knew I wanted to someday be on staff. I applied to be a CIT and from there was hired as an aquatics aid in 1992. Over the next 13 years I worked several different positions on staff mostly on the beach as an Aquatics Director and eventually as a Maintenance Assistant which lead to me applying for the Ranger position.

If I could give my 16 year old self advice 25 years ago what would it be?
I would have told myself to take the 15mph speed limit on camp property more seriously and maybe my 1974 Volkswagon Bug would have stayed out of the ditch and on the road better!

What is the most interesting thing that has happened at camp in the last 25 years?
I can’t say there is one particularly interesting thing that stands out of the last 25 years, but what is interesting to me is how much camp has changed overall since I started working here in 1992. Instead of horses, we have ATVs and jet skis. Instead of simple floaty rafts we have inflatable trampolines. (Which our Scouts love.)

How did you come to work at camp?
I came to work at camp, as a Ranger, from working here on Staff. It was something I knew I wanted to do at a fairly young age. I was allowed to work more with the Rangers by coming up early every spring to work pre-camp and help get camp ready for the staff to arrive. Becoming a Maintenance Assistant gave me the opportunity to work more closely with the Rangers during the summer so that when the Ranger job became available I felt that I had built a good resume here at camp and was ready to fit into that role.

If you could change anything about camp, what would it be and why?
I would go back in time and buy the entire lake instead of just ¾ of it. I think that a huge part of our Scouts' experience camping here is the setting. I think that the environment at Many Point, gives our staff, Scouts. and leaders the mind set to get the most out of their experience and it’s also what helps keep them coming back year after year. Having the whole lake to ourselves would just further the wilderness feeling we already have.

If you had $5 million to spend at camp what would you do and why?
$5,000,000! Upgrades everywhere. Get rid of the things that constantly break down that I fix over and over again. Update some of our older inefficient buildings and finally, I would put an air conditioner in the Shop!

David DenN

Camp Ranger, Kiwanis Scout Camp

Born and raised on the Eastside of St. Paul, joined Cub Scouts in 1964, Eagle Class of 1972, graduated from St. Paul Johnson and spent 4 years at the U of M. Met Julie while working at her father’s Arcade Hardware store and fell in love. Married after less than a year in 1979 and we began to build a life together. We bought and remodeled a dilapidated home in the Hazel Park area of St. Paul, but longed to be out in the Country.

What advice would you give to yourself 25 years ago?
Well, whether you work 40 hours or 70 or 80 hours, the work will never get done, and there will always be at least one more project waiting, so fish more (or at least some), and work less. Strive for balance.

What is one of the most interesting things that has happened at camp in the last 25 years?
There have been a number of interesting “one things”, but the overall change in the Kiwanis operation itself is likely the most remarkable. Going from a “poor stepchild”, although referred to as “Cub Med”, the future was uncertain in 1993 as we looked to open a brand new state of the art Cub facility at the then Cannon River Scout Camp. What would “be” Kiwanis? Would we keep it? Would it develop, or continue to deteriorate away due to its small size and compact footprint? Fortunately, thanks to the visions and hard work of many, and a “too successful” Camp Akela program, within a few years Cub Resident programming returned, and grew into a critical part of the Council overall program. Non-Scout usage became big, community usage grew with the establishment of the Tree of Life Wisdom School, and Pack Weekend Camping became more of a thing than ever dreamed possible. Fortunately, a lot of people contributed to the growth and success, people of vision and people of strong work ethic, John Andrews, Ron Phillippo, Jeff Sulzbach, Glen Domeier, Greg Nonweiler, Harlan Kopp to name a few. And others who were smart enough to give us our freedom to try new things, work outside the box in so many ways to achieve the success we have known.

If you are looking for a single individual thing, the success of our partnership with St. Paul Central High School. 25 years ago Central’s reputation was not very favorable, and when Jeff Sulzbach said, “work with them”, there was a lot of nervousness on our part. But that first Retreat was a success and has continued strong for all these 25 years, and in some way Kiwanis Scout Camp has contributed to the success that Central is today.

How did you come to work at camp?
Scouting had always been a family affair, and I was serving as a Scoutmaster and on the Council Camping Committee. I was running my own construction company with my brother-in law, and Julie and I had just purchased 7 acres in Afton and hoped to save enough to build a house on it, (needed $60,000 for materials at that time). Julie and I had talked about managing a resort or camp as a retirement job, so when I learned of the then part-time opportunity at Kiwanis we jumped on it, thinking if we did it for 2 years and didn’t have a house payment, we could build that house. About 14 months into it, we decided that there could be no better way to raise our family.

If you could change anything about camp, what would it be and why?
Be able to staff it with enough dedicated and engaged people on a year around basis to allow for the best possible experience for our guests, an exciting and energized program, while allowing our employees and seasonal staff to have balance to their lives and to enjoy it’s resources in a relaxed manner also.

If you had $5,000,000 to spend at camp what would you do with it and why?
We would develop our access to the west side property and create a trail center over there, providing temporary shelter and interpretive educational opportunities to users. Include a well and a sanitation center. The focus of the training would of course be the natural environment of the St. Croix Valley and man’s impact, both good and bad over his time there. Moving to main camp, we would undertake a massive remodeling campaign to update our facilities, 3 cabins, dormitory and of course a new shower house. We would move $1,000,000 into a Kiwanis specific endowment for Kiwanis Facility improvement, and another $500,000 into a Program Development initiative to support ongoing improvements and upkeep to both facilities and programs, thus allowing us to keep fees arbitrarily low and still show a shining fresh face in both areas. That should leave about $1,000,000 left, enough to buy either Dunrovin, for both program and space expansion, or the mansion down the road, which would make a great training and retreat center.

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