Kane County History: Nationally Renowned Summer Camp Fun in St. Charles

Kane County History: Nationally Renowned Summer Camp Fun in St. Charles

With the summer season here, many parents have had to make the decision of what to do with their children. In the past, many parents looked to Miss Pike’s Progressive Camp in the Fox River Valley to keep their children active and entertained during the summer months.

Miss Pike’s Progressive Camp began in the 1930s and was located at Pinelands on Route 25, north of where Little Woods School is today.

The camp was directed by Dorcas and Stella Marie Pike, both graduates of the Pestalozzi-Froebel Teachers College on Chicago. Charles Pike, the brother of Docas and Stella also worked at the camp, serving as athletic supervisor for the boys’ sports and golf lessons. In addition, the camp had many counselors to offer guidance and give special attention to the needs of the campers.

Enrollment in Miss Pike’s Progressive Summer Camp typically lasted eight weeks and was available to boys and girls ages 3 to 15. The camp focused on developing the physical and social health of each individual child with activities such as horseback riding, tennis, golf, twice daily swimming lessons, hayrack parties, picnics, nature excursions, and after dinner movies.

Private tutoring was also available to students for an additional charge. To ensure the healthy development of campers, the Pikes kept daily records of camper’s weight and hired a University of Chicago clinic specialist to supervise their diets.

The Pikes also worked to strike a balance between relaxation and outdoor actives within their camp. They placed all the campers on a regular sleeping schedule which included naps for the younger campers.

Finally, the Pikes ensured that the children were surrounded with experienced councilors who provided supervision and friendship for the campers.

Progressive Fun

The regular summer season for Miss Pike’s Progressive Camp ran from June 20 to Aug. 16 and cost $240 per camper, but a $40 discount was offered if a camper was registered by the first of May. However, when the summer camp ended, many parents wished that their children could remain at Pinelands and continue their educations.

In 1932, aware of the demand Stella Pike and her husband bought a large house at the southeast corner of Main and Seventh Streets in St. Charles and opened the Miss Pikes’ Progressive School. The combined boarding and day school offered instruction for boys and girls in the elementary grades but soon began to offer high school level courses.

Overall, the Pikes strove to incorporate an academic curriculum with a home-like familiar atmosphere so children would become polite, well-rounded individuals.

Each year, the school would open the second week of September and closed around the first of June. Tuition was approximately $950 and included everything but piano and voice lessons.

As more students entered the school, the Pikes felt the need for more space and decide to build an addition to their house in the late 1940s. The school continued at this location up until the late 1960s, when Stella and her husband retired.

At the time of the closure, the school was nationally renowned and had housed children from across the country.

Home Front: Echoes of the Great War Fall Exhibit Opening

5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Aug. 24, 2018

High above the trenches, soldiers witnessed the beginning of military aviation, that would forever alter the shape of modern combat and made World War I unlike any other conflict in human history.

November 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. Despite this landmark occasion, the “War to End All Wars,” as it was called at the time, has received very little attention.

Many of the St. Charles soldiers trained at Camp Grant in Rockford, though some were transferred closer to the east coast. Trainee George Vanderhoof wrote to his family in Wasco from Camp Merritt in New Jersey and claimed to be in the best health and mood of his life. This positivity exemplifies the experience of many men during their stateside training.

St. Charles men and women played a large part in the war effort both in Europe and at home, and this exhibit aims to bring their accomplishments and difficulties to light.

Focusing on the local experience of this global tragedy, the St. Charles History Museum’s fall exhibition is curated by  Amelia Deering (Summer Intern). Home Front: Echoes of the Great War will bring home the reality of a war often forgotten and overshadowed by the many conflicts of the later 20th century.

Read The Kane County History Series!