Christmas, a Time to Come Home

12.21.2014 By Liz Baker

Seasons Greetings! The following excerpt comes from a letter we’ve sent out over the years describing how Clearwater Camp found its home on Tomahawk Lake and the traditions that have been held dear for over half a century. I’d like to share it with you this so that it can remind you to light your candle on Christmas Eve.

Christmas is traditionally celebrated each July at Clearwater, as generations of campers, counselors and parents may remember. Now, we’ll continue our tradition of remembering why this holiday season, as the same story is told and retold as it has been for years at Clearwater Camp.

 On Christmas Eve, amid the summer heat, campers hang their stockings from the edge of their bunks. The campers lie awake in their screened cabins hoping to glimpse Clearwater’s own mythical creature, the Tajar, delivering apples, oranges and perhaps other sweet treats in the moonlight. The following day, campers and counselors exchange handmade gifts and enjoy a Northwoods celebration as Santa visits and reads individual Christmas wishes for each person there.

 During this season, we are reminded why campers celebrated such a unique Clearwater holiday – one that also served to honor and hone those fine character qualities of generosity and gratitude. Campers celebrated Christmas in July because Clearwater Camp’s own history on Tomahawk Lake was forged on a Christmas Eve many years ago.

It was on that day, in 1932 that camp founders Dr. J.P. Sprague and his wife Sara “Halokwe” Sprague decided to create a new girls’ camp, and in the summer of 1933 Clearwater Camp was started on nearby Clear Lake. Just a few years later, in 1936, Clearwater was moved to its current location on our beloved Tomahawk Lake, which was near the boys’ Camp Minocqua at the time, although the boys’ camp has since closed.

Let us not forget our instructions from final Council Fire, to take our white candle given to us that night and light it in memory of our dear camp’s founding, which began on Christmas Eve. As you do, many Clearwater daughters will join you, united in friendship and the Clearwater trail.


(I took this picture at the 80th reunion. It represents Halokwe and Sunny. Personally I find this so special and it warms my heart).

Wishing you a blessed Christmas and a joyful New Year. May you be with friends and family laughing, enjoying a good meal and playing together. And, like we do at Council Fire, take a moment to be silent with your thoughts of and wishes for the season.

 Peace be with you.



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