Cerro Gordo County Iowa
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Clear Lake, Iowa

Originally named Camp Gaywood, Camp Tanglefoot is located on 50 acres of woodlands, reconstructed prairie and lake access to Clear Lake at Tanglefoot Bay. The dining lodge was built in 1950. There are three platform tent units, two cabin units, the Craft House, a fleet of 32 boats and two year-round retreat buildings, Oaks and Meadowview.

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Globe Gazette
Mason City, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa, 1946

Girls' Camp Site Ideal:
Drive Is On to Finance Girl Scout Camp

PROPOSED GIRL SCOUT CAMP -- The proposed site of the Girl Scout camp at Clear Lake is shown outlined in white in the airplane view of Clear Lake's south shore. The camera was pointed almost due west when the picture was taken and Lane Tree poiint shown at the top, with the turn in the highway toward the west (left) at the bottom. The 9 1/2 acre Hroeffle tract including the house at the turn of the road will make up the main part of the camp and will be connected with the lake through an 80 foot wide strip as shown. Mrs. Willard Thrams, Girl Scout commissioner, said the property already is under contract of sale to the organization. (Locke photo).

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The drive to raise $19,500 to finance and develop a camp at Clear Lake for Mason city's 750 Girl Scouts and their successors got underway Monday in Mason City. Workers in the campaign include teams from Lions, Kiwanis, Rotary and B.P.W. clubs, the American Legion Auxiliary, the CIO, the Girl Scout council, the Girl Scout advisory committee and a large group of women.

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Globe Gazette
Mason City, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa, 1946

Story of Girls Scout Camp
is Told on KGLO

Mayor Howard E. Bruce and 2 Mason City Girl Scouts, Mary Strickland and Loraleee Pugh, discussed on the KGLO forum Friday evening the advantages of a girl scout camp at Tanglefoot as well as the plans to procure funds toward the $19,500 goal needed to purchase the 9-acre tract of land, the house and 4 adjacent lots.

Meanwhile a kickoff dinner was scheduled for Saturday evening and the date gets under way Monday. A number of community and civic organizations are to take part in the solicitation of funds.

Loralee Pugh explained to the mayor that the girl scouts - more than 700 strong in Mason City alone - need a camp to accommondate increasing numbers of girls scouts since that organization can use the Camp Roosevelt facilities only 3 weeks during the summer. During that period, it was pointed out, only 300 can be assured of camping at the scout camp.

Mary Strickland said that the Boy Scouts occupy the existing camp during the remainder of the summer season "and they really need it the whole summer, because their membership keeps getting bigger every year just like ours does."

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BUSINESSMEN who have inspected the proposed camp site of approximately 9 1/2 acres on Clear Lake's south shore are unanimous in saying that it is a bargain.

The beautifully wooded tract, every foot of it high and dry and perfect for camping, has an 80 foot lake frontage and is being offered to the Girl Scouts for $11,000. They have contracts to buy at that price.

They suggest that the public pass its own judgment on the site by visiting it as soon as possible.

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Globe Gazette
Mason City, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa, 1946

213 Cards Responsible for Total to Date
Is Report; 500 Still Out

Pledges totaling $12,790 toward the goal of $19,500 already has been received by the Girl Scouts for purchase and development of a Clear Lake camp site, it was revealed by Mrs. Willard Thrams, commissioner, and Mrs. Thor J. Jensen, campaign chairman, in a KGLO forum talk Wednesday evening.

The 213 donors responsible for the pledges to date have made possible the immediate acquisition of the 9 1/2 acre Broeffle farm at the entrance to Tanglefoot on Clear Lake's south shore, the speakers pointed out, a most important achievement since the option expires Sept. 28.

The farm plus 4 lots in a square which connect it with the lake and give an 80 foot shore frontage will cost $11,200 which will now be available.

The remaining $8,300 is for the development of the camp, Mrs. Tharms explained, since tents for the girls to sleep in, a lodge for group activities, boats for water activities and a dining hall with kitchen equipment are essential.

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TAKES TWO TO CANOE - Paddling a canoe is one of the skills girls learn at Camp Gaywood and, with boating and swimming, it provides a large part of the fun at camp. Here Linda Morrison of Mason City (back) and Rose Marie Peterson of Fertile (foreground) take the canoe out. Miss Morrison is in charge of boating at Camp Gaywood. ~ 1957
TASTES BETTER OUTDOORS - The rallying cry of the dummer dinner - it tastes better outdoors - is frequently heard at "Camp Gaywood," the Girl Scout Camp at Clear Lake. Here a group of campers get ready for some al fresco dining. Left to right are Pat Van Heel, Mary O'Fallon, Linda Meinecke and Diane Senneff.
~ 1957


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Globe Gazette
Mason City, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa
August 05, 2007
By Mary Pieper

Tanglefoot marks 60th anniversary

CLEAR LAKE — Diane Osier of Greene attended Camp Tanglefoot in 1954, when it was named Camp Gaywood.

“We slept in tents on the ground,” she said Saturday during the 60th anniversary celebration for the Girl Scout camp.

Things are quite different for her granddaughter, Larissa Osier, 13, and the other girls now attending Camp Tanglefoot.

For one thing, the campers now sleep indoors.

But it’s still a place for fun, friendship and singing around the campfire.

“She loves it,” Osier said.

Osier was one of several hundred former campers and staff who attended the anniversary celebration.

Guests ranged from counselors who worked at the camp when it first opened in the summer of 1947 to those who were at Camp Tanglefoot earlier this decade.

“It’s home,” said Amanda Warner, 25, Osage, who was a camp counselor from 1998-2001.

The celebration opened with an international flag ceremony conducted by the current camp staff.

The current staff, joined by former staff, then presented “Tanglefoot Through the Years,” a retrospective that included many well-loved camp songs about fighting giant mosquitoes and other Tanglefoot traditions.

Afterwards everyone was invited to participate in activities such as scrapbooking, archery and Frisbee golf.

Greene native Susan Maxson, 54, who now lives in Colorado, was 8 when she first came to Camp Tanglefoot in the early 1960s.

“And I kept coming back. I loved it,” she said.

She later became a counselor and eventually director of the Counselor-In-Training (CIT) program.

The day chosen for the celebration would have been the 98th birthday of the late Gertrude Walker Fick, the first director of Camp Tanglefoot. Cindy Findley, the current director, succeeded her in 1987.

Maxson said Fick was “a very inspirational person for me.”

Camp Tanglefoot reunions are held every few years.

Lynette Jennings, 43, a former camper and counselor who grew up in Greene and now lives in Nebraska, said the best part about the reunions is “the fact that we can come back and still be on the same level of friendship.”

Findley said she was pleased that rain didn’t spoil the celebration, and even more pleased to see everyone “so full of love and affection for this camp.”

The camp’s name was changed to “Tanglefoot” in 1995.

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Globe Gazette
Mason City, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa
March 10, 2012
By Mary Pieper

Girl Scouts celebrate 100 years of helping shape lives

Joan Eness of Clear Lake has been a Girl Scout for more than 70 years.

In 1939 leader Gertrude Fick pinned her Brownie wings on her, meaning she “flew up” from Brownie to Girl Scout.

Eness had rheumatic fever as a child. “I was kind of a sickly kid,” she said.

However, the other girls in the troop helped her so she could complete merit badges.

Eness was one of those who earned the Curved Bar, which was the highest honor in Girl Scouting at that time. As an adult she became a field manager for Girl Scouts in North Iowa.

Girl Scouts of the USA, which celebrates its 100th anniversary Monday, has been a life-changing experience for countless other girls over the years.

Diane Murphy of Mason City, regional director for Girl Scouts of Greater Iowa, said Scouting gives girls an opportunity to make lifelong friends and learn new skills.

“It makes you more confident about who you are and what you are capable of doing,” she said.

Juliette Gordon Low organized the first Girl Scout troop on March 12, 1912, in Savannah, Ga.

North Iowans weren’t far behind. Troops were formed in Mason City and Clear Lake during World War I.

The first North Iowa Girl Scouts assisted the Red Cross with the war effort by rolling bandages and selling red roses to raise funds. They also helped with war bond drives.

The North Iowa Girl Scout Council was formed to help Girl Scout troops in outlying towns such as Meservey and Lake Mills, according to Eness.

By having a central organization, troop leaders from all over the area could exchange ideas on how to help girls realize their full potential as individuals, become better citizens, be of service to others and make their community and their country a better place to live, she said.

Camping is an important part of Girl Scouting because in the outdoors “everyone is responsible for each other,” Eness said.

Camp Gaywood was established in 1947 near Clear Lake. Today it is called Camp Tanglefoot.

Halie Westendorf, 11, of Mason City, said going to Camp Tanglefoot is her favorite memory so far in her five years of Girl Scouting because “I got to meet new friends and learned many things. Also we got to sing lots of songs and did many activities.”

She now is looking forward to going on a Girl Scout trip to Washington, D.C.

Today the counties that made up the North Iowa Girl Scout Council are part of Girl Scouts of Greater Iowa, which serves girls in central and western Iowa, northeast Nebraska and southeast South Dakota.

Eness still corresponds with the people she met years ago through Girl Scouts.

“The friends you make in Scouting you keep forever,” she said. “You share this kind of sisterhood.”

Cindy Findley, of Clear Lake, the former director of Camp Tanglefoot who participated in Girl Scouting from elementary through high school, said the best part of Scouting was all the role models she had growing up, such as her troop leaders.

“They were graceful, gracious, perspective women, wonderful wives and mothers, and they were so strong and so willing to give of themselves,” she said.

Findley said some people see Girl Scouts as something old-fashioned and outdated when in fact the opposite is true.

The organization has always been a leader in social equality and social justice, according to Findley.

“It is more far-reaching than any other organization has ever been for women,” she said.

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Camp Tanglefoot expands and changes, but its traditions stay strong

What makes Camp Tanglefoot special?

“Everything,” said director Julia Cira, a native of Mason City who began attending the Girl Scout camp near Clear Lake after first grade. She later became a counselor there.

After graduating from the University of Northern Iowa in the spring of 2009 she began her first season as camp director.

Cira said the rest of the staff have similar stories to hers: they started coming to the camp as children and later became camp counselors to help pass on “the Tanglefoot magic.”

The counselors are very supportive of the campers and encourage them to try new things, she said.

This year, which marks the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouts, is also the 65th anniversary of Camp Tanglefoot.

The first camp director was the late Gertrude “Buzz” Fick, who was in charge from 1947 until 1985. She was succeeded by Cindy Findley, who retired in 2007.

Fick set the tone for the camp, according to Joan Eness of Clear Lake, who was on staff during the first season of what was then called Camp Gaywood.

“She was just a person that made everyone think they were special,” Eness said.

Before Camp Gaywood was established, Girl Scouts in the area used Camp Roosevelt, a Boy Scout camp in Ventura Heights, after the boys were finished with their summer sessions.

The fathers of several Girl Scouts formed a corporation to purchase 9.5 acres of land on the south shore of Clear Lake so the girls could have a camp of their own.

The camp got heavy use right away, with 400 campers attending during the first season.

The staff dragged army surplus tents to the units, carried iron Red Cross beds down the hills and filled the mattresses with straw, and dug latrine pits, according to Eness.

“We were pioneers, developing our own site,” she said.

Findley began attending Camp Tanglefoot in 1965 when she was a Girl Scout from Mason City.

“It filled a niche in my life,” said Findley, noting she looked forward all year round to going to camp.

Later on she became a camp counselor, and then assistant director. She became director when Fick retired.

She especially treasures her memories of working with and laughing with Fick, “a woman light years ahead of her time.”

Findley also loved the “smiling faces (and) wonderful songs.”

She enjoyed seeing the campers accomplish things they didn’t think they could, such as hitting a bull’s-eye in archery or figuring out a computer program.

The camp, which now covers 50 acres, has been expanded and improved continuously over the years, but some traditions remain the same as in the early days.

On the last night of camp, each girl still makes a small “wishing boat” with one wish for herself and another for the camp and launches it on the lake.

Findley, who lives just a mile from camp, still comes over during the summer to play guitar for the sing-a-longs around the campfire.

“It continues to be a powerful gift in my life, and I’m grateful,” she said.

NOTE: Camp Gaywood was renamed Camp Tanglefood in 1951.

Transcriptions by Sharon R. Becker, November of 2013



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