Niles Kiwanis Club was formed in 1922. In 1924, Mr. John Wilder,
Niles industrial leader, was president of the Niles Kiwanis Club.
He was largely responsible for involving all Trumbull County Kiwanis
clubs in this new venture. They set up a Fresh Air Camp for special
children. In 1926 a stock company was formed. A four-acre wooded
campsite on the north side of Mines Road, about a half mile east
of the Niles-Cortland Road was purchased for $2,400.
The camp was established to provide a healthy atmosphere for children
from 6-12 years old who needed dental work, had nutritional deficiency,
or might be susceptible to tuberculosis infection. They were chosen
by Ann Llewellyn, the county public heath nurse and they
stayed at the camp from six to eight weeks.
A 80 foot deep well, equipped with an automatic electric pump, supplied
plenty of pure water. There was a mess hall, and a dorm that housed
the boys at one end and the girls at the other end. The office and
personal quarters of the supervisor were in the center of the building.
There were four paid supervisors and three volunteer staff who helped
teach the children to be kind, helpful and thoughtful at all times.
Volunteers guided the children in playing games, doing art work,
caring for the pets of the camp, and also they told stories around
the camp fire. The recreational equipment was donated by business
and individuals. There was a tree house built in 1933 and rested
on three sturdy tree trunks about 30 feet in the air. The long sloping
stairway beckoned the youngsters to visit this adventurous area.
The Fresh Air Camp did wonders for every one of its young campers.
Every child gained weight, was stronger and had a much healthier
body at the end of the season. Their strict daily routine was a
very important factor in making this project uniquely successful.
By 7:30 every morning they had brushed their teeth, washed their
face and put their clothes on and were ready for breakfast, which
consisted of cooked cereal, fruit, bread and milk. Lunch was a full
dinner and the evening meal consisted of soup, sandwich, fruit and
milk. Mary Lukick was the camp cook for many years and
served very healthy meals.
Over the years, many people volunteered and gave financial assistance.
By 1940 the camp could accommodate 72 children. However, in a few
short years, World War II broke out and that program, like many
other community projects had to be put on hold. Now, all that remains,
is memories and a picture that hangs on the wall in the Westenfield
Room at the Niles Historical Society museum.