Whatever Happened to Camp Otonka?

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Camp Otonka Dagsboro Delaware Southern Delaware Tourism

By Vicki Lathom

In 1949, I was sent to Camp Otonka on the Indian River in Delaware.  I think it probably is typical of nature-oriented camps in those days:  a bit foreboding looking and situated amongst tall, dark pine trees on the bank of a languid bay.

Like most parents, mine wanted to get rid of me for a bit of the summer, since nine year olds on summer vacations are kind of a pain.  I suffered an extreme case of home sickness and sent postcards almost daily, begging to go home.  To no avail.

Activities were structured and included a much unappreciated wake-up time around dawn, followed by arts and crafts and swimming.  For some reason, I’ll never forget the class where we made butterflies out of some bright, glue-y material that had a strong chemical smell.

Before bedtime, we did “plays,” little vignette’s that we made up and performed for everyone.  My play called for my falling backwards onto the floor.  I mean straight backwards, landing on my head, a stunt I’d seen in comic books.  What I thought was audience approval was actually the audible gasp of the young counselors who thought I had just killed myself.

It appears that Camp Otonka may not have weathered the years.  A trip by Google Earth reveals a stand of trees at the end of a cul-de-sac in Sandy Landing, Dagsboro.  

Here are some resources Vicki has found: 

1941 postcard from Camp Otonka  http://delmardustpan.blogspot.com/2010/10/camp-otonka.html

http://archives.delaware.gov/collections/guide/9000S/9027-1.shtml

current location of Otonka:  https://mapcarta.com/20629182

photo gallery:  https://www.flickr.com/search/?text=camp%20otonka

Vicki Allnutt Lathom would like to hear from other Camp Otonka alumni.  

She can be reached at [email protected] or 410 266 6959.

 

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