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Tosebo Reunion 2005

Tosebo alumni from sixteen states traveled a combined 34,000 miles to attend the first ever camp reunion on the weekend of June 10-12, 2005. From old to middle-aged, we were all young at heart again as we gathered at that special place we call Camp Tosebo.

The reunion started with a reception at the restored Boathouse with plenty of munchies and drink. The Boathouse was our first big project after the purchase of the Camp and we’re pleased that it continues to be a landmark on Portage Lake. Despite the warm weather, nearly everyone came to the Clubhouse at about 9:00 pm to watch the old 16mm camp movies that Ross Taylor had saved all these years. What a treat to spot ourselves from long ago! In between reels we were attentive to the stories told by John Dexter, who attended Tosebo from 1921-1931. Fortunately we captured his terrific memories on tape and will be able to share them with all who are interested. The movies and stories lasted until almost midnight, but we hardly noticed the time go by. Whether staying at Camp or nearby lodging, all were ready for sleep, but eagerly anticipating another day. 


On Saturday, I kept the schedule mostly open to let everyone explore and remember Camp and the nearby towns of Manistee and Onekama. Another great day of sunshine got many down to the Lake for a refreshing swim. At 6 p.m. all seventy-two of us had a banquet in the Clubhouse complete with souvenir totem poles and Tosebo labeled splits of champagne for everyone. The champagne was provided by former camper Bill Farnham, who works for a distributor in New York and “smuggled” it to Tosebo just for us. We sang the Pie Song with our desert and also Happy Birthday to Ross Taylor complete with a big cake. Plenty of deserts for all!! One of our friends in this adventure created a beautiful map of Tosebo and framed copies were presented to Ross & Doris Taylor, Jane Tonkins, and Caryl and Barbara Roskie.

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Ross Simpson and John Dexter

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Mark O'Reilly and Bob Hausser

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Murdoch Campbell

and James Larsen

Happy Birthday 

Ross Taylor!

After dinner we gathered at the Council Ring for what turned out to be a very moving and emotional moment for all of us – even the ones who didn’t go to Tosebo!! After explaining that the “magic” of the fire lighting was not going to be revealed or duplicated, I used a reliable kitchen match to start the fire. Steve Buckingham (53-72) then recounted the ceremonies as we did them long ago, describing how Coach Roskie, dressed as Chief White Cloud, would conduct the evening.

When Steve started telling how coals from the last fire of the previous year were symbolically added to the new fire, Andy Struebing (65-77 and the last Medicine Man) came into the Council Fire with the Turtle Shell that had the coals from 1977! Steve and Andy reenacted the tossing of the coals into the fire at the four points of the compass.

As Steve tossed the last coal and said “Ho to the North Wind” a sudden gust of wind came through the Council Ring as if to let us know that the spirits of Tosebo were watching. Steve continued to describe how Coach would warm the face of the drum with the fire so it would sound good and how he used a “talking feather” to signal us to stand, sit, or move. 

Now Jim Bergquist (57-64) joined Steve carrying a large cardboard tube. Jim described how he visited Tosebo in 1984 with his brother Joel (55-61 also attending) and they went in the Craft Shop where all the Indian costume items were kept. Reaching into the tube, Jim revealed what they had taken 20 years ago – it was the eagle feather “talking feather” that Coach had used at the Council Ring for so many years!!! A treasure returned to Tosebo.

With that I opened the evening up to others to express a memory or whatever. Many of us choked up a bit as we tried to express what Tosebo still means to us. Maybe it was the realization of what a special place filled our childhood and that perhaps it took a Reunion so many years later to finally sink in. Everyone left the Council Ring feeling they had seen something very special, and while we would like to have future reunions, this first one will be difficult to surpass. But isn’t that the way we felt about every summer at Tosebo?

Our goodbyes from the Reunion were as difficult as they had ever been at the end of a camp season, but we hoped the success of Reunion 2005 will encourage others to come back to the next one or just travel this way and come for a visit.


John Larsen, Mark O'Reilly, Jim Bergquist, James Larsen, Cass Friedberg

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