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Camp Brosius

Red and Elkhart

The youths play a rousing game of baseball at camp

This film, entitled "Red and Elkhart," opens with shots of flowers in a garden and promptly moves on to footage of Red, Wells' beloved dog, presumably named for his vibrant red Irish Setter fur. Wells films Red barking, running around, and playing with another small dog that appears to be a schnauzer. At 1:42 the footage of the dogs abruptly comes to an end, and footage of Camp Brosius begins.  

Located at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, Camp Brosius has a rich and unique history. Elkhart Lake is a kettle lake located in the eastern part of the state that formed when ice from the Wisconsian glacial period melted slowly after being buried under glacial debris. It is named for the elk that used to roam the woods there; sadly, today there are no longer any elk present in the area. During the nineteenth century it became a popular place to vacation, and hotels and cottages sprung up along the shore. One of these hotels and the surrounding land was purchased by the Normal College of the North American Gymnastics Union, housed in Indianapolis, in 1920 for use as a summer training facility.Thus began Camp Brosius. "Brosiuscomes from the name of the successful German-American gymnast and coach, George Brosius. 

The early years of the camp were quite successful. Normal College students earned course credit while having an enjoyable outdoor experience away from the distractions of city life, and the camp began offering children's camp sessions in 1937 that attracted many youth. However, the advent of the Second World War created financial difficulties for the College that prompted its administration to seek a partnership with Indiana University. President Wells facilitated a merger between the College and IU in 1941, and through this merger acquired Camp Brosius. Under the management of the University, the children's sessions continued and faculty were encouraged to spend their vacations there. Meetings of the Board of Trustees were held at the camp from time to time as well.  

One such board meeting is the depicted in this film. From July 2-5, 1942, the Board of Trustees held a meeting at the camp to inspect the newly acquired property, to observe camp activities, and to discuss the annual budget for Brosius. Among those in attendance were President Wells, W.W. Patty (Director of the Normal College of the American Gymnastics Union of Indiana University and Director of the Physical Welfare Training Department), and Ward G. Biddle (Secretary of the Board of Trustees and the IU Comptroller). The movie depicts them on a dock by the lake, presumably conducting their meeting. It then cuts to shots of the architectural details of the main building, and then to young men and women diving off of a high platform into the lake. This is followed by more footage of people of all ages having fun sailing, swimming, diving, and playing baseball. It appeared to be a fun and relaxing weekend for all. The next week's edition of the Brosius Bugle, the camp's equivalent of a newspaper, reported that the campers even performed a special campfire ceremony for the board members on Friday the 3rd. 

The camp stayed in possession of IU until in 1974, after another wave of financial difficulties, the IU Alumni Association purchased it. The children's sessions then ceased and the camp's primary focus became alumni and family camp sessions. The IUAA owned and managed the camp until 2003, when it was purchased by the IUPUI School of Physical Education and Tourism Management. Since then, Camp Brosius has continued to offer family and alumni camp sessions, and each May students of physical education and tourism management travel to camp to complete required coursework and to participate in teambuilding exercises. 

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Camp Brosius