Camping In a Castle

 

by Gertrude Taylor
Passaic County Historical Society Newsletter – Fall 1985

The following is a reminiscence written by Miss Gertrude Taylor,  who was a counselor at Camp Christmas Seal in 1927.

camp

Gertrude Taylor and campers at Lambert Castle

Impossible you say!  But believe it or not, Camp Christmas Seal began in Lambert Castle in 1927.  Sponsored by the Passaic County  Tuberculosis and Health Association, and deriving its name from the Christmas Seals which helped finance it, the camp was in session for nine summer weeks.  This gave 100 underweight, needy children from Paterson and environs with a potential for Tuberculosis, a much-needed vacation.

We sang in the music room, folk danced in the Italian gardens and held fierce jacks contests on the marble floor of the main (ballroom).  In 1929 the ceiling was three stories up, so campers slept in various rooms of the upper levels.  My small campers and I slept on the sleeping porch (since removed) beyond which was a billiard room holding 40 beds.

We were in the main room, taking turns supervising the campers, while the other counselors ate peacefully in the “Jade” room (breakfast room) to the right.

There were showers set up on the front lawns so we could cool off on hot afternoons.  All campers had a schedule of sports, music, crafts, and dancing.  Usually, they stayed for three weeks, boys first then girls.

Camping in the castle was surely unusual but fun, and there was unity in all being under one roof.  A bit spooky at times, noisy most times, and holding a charm of its own, Lambert Castle served us well.