Local Author to Publish New Book on Camp Hollis, Delivering Comprehensive History of 75 Years of Summer Fun – Oswego County Today

Camp Hollis counselors lead a campfire. Photo provided by Camp Hollis Archives.

OSWEGO – What started as a tuberculosis camp has now become a staple in Oswego County for 75 years, as former camp director and local author Jim Farfaglia publishes his next book, “Oswego’s Camp Hollis: Haven by the Lake “, July 5th.

Jim Farfaglia’s latest book will be available from July 5th. Image from Arcadia / The History Press.

The three-year project will examine the entire 75-year history of Camp Hollis, which began as the Oswego County Health Camp, but became Camp Hollis after Judge Eugene Sullivan turned it into a camp. for children with “problems” as Farfaglia described it.

Farfaglia is nothing less than an expert on the camp and its history, being an Oswego County resident who hails from Fulton and involved with the camp in three key aspects: as a camper, counselor and full-time director. for more than two decades.

Farfaglia decided to write the full history of the camp to honor its 75th anniversary, even though a photo book was published in 2007, highlighting the early years of the camp.

“[My book] relies heavily on the oral history of those involved in the camp, ”said Farfaglia. “The coolest thing is that I’ve been able to walk through its entire history, some of the great things that have happened over the years, how it has gone from a free camp to a degressive camp. ”

These fees emerged in 2003, when the county, which runs Camp Hollis, could not afford to maintain a free camp. This spawned the Friends of Camp Hollis, a nonprofit group that raises funds to send campers to Camp Hollis in case they can’t afford some or all of the fees.

The book begins by describing the origins of the camp in the 1920s and 1930s, under the name Oswego County Health Camp. Since there was no cure for tuberculosis at the time, the cure was “fresh air, good food and healthy living,” Farfaglia said. The camp invited sick children to help strengthen their immune systems, to which Farfaglia’s father was invited. According to Farfaglia, his father’s summers at the health camp caused him to send each of his children to the camp, which changed his son’s life.

“It has changed my life to go to this camp,” said Farfaglia. “It happens a lot, not just in our camp, but in all camps. I thought it was important to honor what camps can do for children in this book.

In 1945 a decision was made to bring a camp back to Oswego, naming it Camp Hollis to honor Dr. LeRoy Hollis who started the health camp and died a year later. Sullivan saw a need for at-risk children to take a break from their difficult lives and organized a way to send them to Camp Hollis.

“He saw kids go through his court, and he felt that they weren’t bad kids, that they just had a hard break in life or maybe they took a wrong turn. somewhere, ”Farfaglia said. “He really felt that the kids just needed a break, something fun, something positive in their lives and that’s why he created Camp Hollis.”

While the camp was open to all children at that time, it wasn’t until the 1960s that children outside the justice system or orphanages were made aware of Camp Hollis, according to Farfaglia.

The process of compiling the information for the book took two or three years by Farfaglia, but the memories had been told over five decades.

“When I ran the camp for most of my adult life, every time [people] I had memories and I came, wrote them down and pasted them in a folder, ”said Farfaglia. “I have been collecting for 50 years, obviously not continuously. “

Farfaglia’s book evokes generations of memories and stories of staff and children who spent their summers at camp, culminating in the history of the entire camp, from the Oswego County Health Camp to the modern camp Hollis.

For generations, the camp has provided children with countless memories and helped them become the people they are today, giving them the chance to learn new ‘skills’ and ‘be who you want to be’. , according to Farfaglia. These memories are what make up 75 years of the camp and Farfaglia’s new book “Oswego’s Camp Hollis: Haven by the Lake”.

“Around 2009, one day these two men came to the camp, they were grown brothers and asked if they could see the camp,” Farfaglia said. “They were orphans in one of Oswego’s orphanages in the 1950s, and they came back to Oswego just to visit and decided to come to Camp Hollis because one of their best childhood memories was coming. at the camp. It really touched my heart… They really talked about what it meant to be able to go to Camp Hollis during the summers that they had to go.

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