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Fonds AM1593 - Camp Deka fonds

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Camp Deka fonds

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  • Textual record
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  • 1958-1990, predominant 1961-1976 (Creation)
    Camp Deka
    Although the Camp Deka proprietorship wound up in 1989, May Brown used a Camp Deka financial ledger to record two entries (1989 and 1990) for Drewry Holdings Limited. Hence, the dates of creation of the fonds extend beyond the dates Camp Deka was active.

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Physical description

0.43 m of textual records
202 photographs
4 drawings

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Administrative history

Camp Deka was established by May Brown and Lorne Brown, who, in 1958, purchased undeveloped land located on the northwestern shore of Deka Lake in the southern Cariboo region of British Columbia with the intention of establishing a private camp for boys 8-14. The Browns spent the summers of 1959 and 1960 clearing the land and constructing the camp buildings, and Camp Deka received its first group of campers in July 1961.

The Camp Deka program was informed by the Browns' belief that boys, especially those raised in cities, needed time in nature in order to develop responsibility, physical fitness, emotional maturity, and respect for the natural environment, as well as to learn to interact constructively with their peers. Campers, grouped by age, slept in tents and cabins and ate meals prepared by the camp's kitchen staff. Activities included canoeing, horseback riding, swimming, and overnight hiking excursions, with outdoor skills being taught throughout by counsellors and counsellors-in-training. A Wilderness Camp for 15-year-old 'graduate' campers, located across the lake from the main camp, was introduced in 1964. Believing that a measure of discomfort was healthy for boys' development, the Browns designed the Wilderness Camp program to instill a sense of independence and leadership in campers, who dug their own pit latrines, planned and cooked their own meals, and learned advanced outdoor and survival skills. Unlike many camps of the era, Camp Deka was non-denominational, and encouraged individual spiritual growth through the inclusion of quiet, unstructured time for campers to reflect on the day's activities. Campers' achievements were recognized at end-of-session Recognition Nights, but no awards were given, in keeping with the camp's emphasis on personal growth and improvement for its own sake. Individual reports to parents assessed each boy's strengths and weaknesses as a camper and development throughout the session.

Camp Deka was held as a partnership between May Brown and Lorne Brown. In 1965, the Browns incorporated as Deka Camp Limited, with the company leasing the site from the partnership and operating the camp. Another company, Drewry Holdings Limited, was established in 1972 with the Browns' two children (then young adults) as 50/50 shareholders; Drewry Holdings Limited subsequently purchased the main camp and wilderness camp properties from the partnership. Following Lorne Brown's death in January 1976, Camp Deka became a sole proprietorship owned by May Brown, who ran the camp with her son Greg for the summer of 1976, then closed the camp. Deka Camp Limited ceased operations in 1978 but continued to exist as a registered corporation. In the 1980s, the Camp Deka site was rented to external organizations operating summer camps, also under the name Camp Deka. May Brown, through Drewry Holdings Limited, sold the main Camp Deka site to the Vancouver YMCA in 1989, dissolving the Camp Deka proprietorship.

Custodial history

The Camp Deka fonds was in the custody of May Brown until it was acquired by the Archives in 2011.

Scope and content

The fonds consists primarily of records documenting the operation of the Camp Deka boys' camp from 1961-1976. Records reflect the major functions and activities involved in running the camp, including program planning and delivery, management of staff and campers, internal and external communications, and financial management. Fonds also includes records documenting the partnership's, and, later, proprietorship's management of the Camp Deka site from its purchase in 1958 to its sale in 1989. Types of documentation include correspondence, financial ledgers and statements, contracts, photographs, logs, evaluation forms, and form letters. Due to the close-knit relationship between Camp Deka and Deka Camp Limited, the company through which May and Lorne Brown operated Camp Deka from 1965-1976, a small number of Deka Camp Limited records are present in the fonds.

The fonds is arranged into the following series: Business and site administration (1958-1989); Financial records (1959-1990); Personnel management records (1961-1976); Camper management records (1961-1976); Programming records (1961-1976); Communications materials (1961-1977); and Operational correspondence (1958-1977).

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Immediate source of acquisition

Donated by May Brown in 2011.


Prior to donation to the Archives, the fonds was used as research material by May and Greg Brown for the book "Camp Deka: Boys' Camp Memories 1961-1976" by Greg Brown (ISBN: 978-0-9811833-0-5). There is evidence that the fonds was re-arranged by May Brown during this period. The received order has largely been retained; correspondence files, which were grouped together, have been arranged with the appropriate series where possible based on their content.

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Access to some files in the Personnel management records, Camper management records, Programming records, and Operational correspondence series is restricted; see series and file descriptions for details.

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