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Camp Totem and the Fancher Campus

Camp Totem and the Fancher Campus

Students  juggling at Camp Totem in the 1950sA little juggling session at Camp Totem in the 1950s.

In the expansion after WWII the college developed its first academic specialty - Health and Physical Education. Part of this program involved the teaching of various outdoor activities and access to a camp was desired. At first the college had access to a camp north of Toronto, but then in 1952 Dr. Tower was able to announce that, with help from the Gannett Foundation and the Susan Lee estate, the college had purchased a private camp in the western Adirondacks. Located on the Oswegatchie River, the camp was about 100 acres and included ample housing. Operated as a camp, on the same "learn by doing" theory as the campus school, the camp accepted children 10 to 16 for two to eight week sessions. The campers were taught by students from the college taking PE 211, camping and administration, under the guidance of Martin Rogers, director, and other Brockport faculty. Although a great success, the camp was a long drive from Brockport, and in the early 1960s Totem was sold and a new facility purchased.

On the lawn at the  Fancher campus

On the lawn at the Fancher Campus circa 1967.

In 1963 the college purchased what came to be known as the Fancher Campus, located not unsurprisingly enough in the town of Fancher in Orleans County, just 9 miles west of the college. James Gillette was the director of the site, which at purchase was some 500 acres, including a 10 acre pond, and a farmhouse and barn. A 65'x100' rustic lodge was built, a ski tow set up, floating dock put in, and a beach laid in. Much of the land itself was left as field and woodlot, and was extensively used by members of the then large botany program at Brockport. In addition to supporting curricular needs the campus was used for a wide variety of extra-curricular recreational activities, and the lodge was the setting for a number of weddings!

Zoology student on McCargo Lake

Michael Brlean, masters candidate in zoology, 1970.At the Fancher Campus pond known as McCargo Lake, the Biological Sciences Department sponsored a wide range of activity, including a major grant funded water research study, partly by the use of the pontoon houseboat shown above.

Changing curricular needs, and the retrenchments of the early 1980s, eliminated the need for the Fancher campus. The Facuty Student Association, which owned the campus, tried to operate it as a banquet and conference center but failed to break even and in 1983 the campus was sold.

Last Updated 6/23/10

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