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Then & Now

See how much (and how little!) Tosebo has changed over the years. 

The Arch

The arch leading up to the Hill is seen here in a 1938 snapshot. With the “HO FOR TOSEBOLAND” sign hung from the arch, the trail led to the cabins and tents, land sports activities, crafts and the Council Ring. The arch was restored in memory of Hal Tonkins, owner and director of Camp Tosebo from 1963 until 1972.  The original sign was carefully repainted. Today the arch serves as a reminder of how we started our journey to many magical summers.


The Boathouse 

The Boathouse originally sat on cribs in Portage Lake and the Camp launch drove in from an entrance on the east side. The second floor was used for clothes changing and featured a slide that went right into the water. 

The Boathouse was moved onto land during the winter of 1938-39. Despite years of neglect, the Boathouse withstood the weather and became our first restoration project after our 2004 purchase. A new foundation, roof, floors and paint and the Boathouse is once again a landmark for the many boaters on Portage Lake.

Council Ring

The Council Ring

When Noble Hill wanted to incorporate a Native American theme into Camp Tosebo, he went to the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1934.  There, in the Demonstration Village, he met Chief Whirling Thunder of the Winnebago Tribe.  Whirling Thunder actually came to Camp and suggested that a separate area should be created and used only for the ceremonial dances.

In 2004 you could walk right past the Council Ring without realizing that it was there.  However, a few remnants of the old benches remained and after several hours of weeding and raking we were ready fo find the painted stones of the Ring.  They were mostly still in place, but buried under six inches of dirt.   

Today, the Council Ring is still considered the most sacred place of all at Tosebo and was carefully decorated for the Reunions of 2005 and 2009.

Clubhouse Fireplace

The Clubhouse Fireplace

The fireplace in the Clubhouse is the centerpiece of a room that has barely changed from 60 years ago.  The motto painted on the mantel is a constant reminder of the philosophy of Tosebo’s founder, Noble Hill.  That motto, “There is Nothing so Kingly as Kindness” is from a poem “Nobility” by Alice Cary (1820-1871). After a long day enjoying the waters or the woods of Camp Tosebo, there’s nothing like gathering in the Clubhouse to enjoy a blazing fire with friends and family.  With the game room on one side for children to try board games or puzzles, and the library on the other side with room to curl up with a good book, the words on the mantel still ring true. For more photos of the Clubhouse Fireplace, click here.


The Octagon


Located between the Clubhouse and the Welcome House, the Octagon was a gathering spot before entering the Dining Hall or waiting to leave on a trip in the Camp truck.  Back then, there were benches on six sides.

The benches are gone, but the Octagon continues to be a popular place for families to enjoy an outdoor meal or share a craft project with their children. It is also the choice spot for the master of the barbeque grill.


For more photos of Camp Tosebo, visit our galleries.

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