1928 - Alderson High School - 1968

The Journal Of The
Greenbrier Historical Society
Alderson, West Virginia
Written by Kenneth D. Swope

Camp Greenbrier

Alderson is the home of Camp Greenbrier, a summer camp for boys, located on about twenty acres of land on the river just east of the town limits.

Outdoor camping for health and education of youth is a peculiarly American institution.  No other country has organized outdoor camping or camps to such an extent as the United States.

Camp Greenbrier had its first season in the summer of 1893.  It is the oldest summer camp in the south and the third oldest in continuous operation in America.  Only two or three businesses in Alderson have had a longer life.

Camp Greenbrier had a distinguished group of men who started the camp and, over the long period of years, men of great scholarship and leadership have been on the staff.  Dr. Walter Hullihen, Ph. D., a college professor at Grant college, Chattanooga, Tennessee, later with the University of the South, and Horace Whitman, a distinguished lawyer still living in Baltimore, met at Johns-Hopkins University. These two men and other men camped up and down the Greenbrier in 1895, 1896 and 1897, searching for a camp site to start an educational and athletic camp for boys.  They settled on Alderson.

The prestige of the staff and the location of the camp attracted a substantial clientele.  Until the mid 1920's, the camp had a compulsory academic program taught in Walker Hall, now demolished, with Greek, German, French, English, Geometry, Algebra, Trigonometry, Analytical Geometry, History, Physics, and Chemistry.  (No laboratory work.)

The qualifications of the staff were impressive.  Most of them held Ph. D or Master's degrees, and none less than a Bachelor's degree.  Classes were held during the morning and teaching was intensive.  The purpose was to help boys advance academically or, in some cases, help them in make-up work.

The athletic programs was divers.  baseball, tennis, swimming, canoeing, every kind of track event, marksmanship, trap shooting and hiking were some of the sports.  The baseball team played Alderson, Hinton, Ronceverte, Lewisburg, Covington, Hot Springs.  Some of those old baseball games must have been exciting.  In some seasons, Alderson met the camp in five games.

Dr. Hullihen owned Camp Greenbrier outright until 1921 when he became President of the University of Delaware.  Camp Greenbrier was then incorporated but Dr. Hullihen owned at least 70 % of the stock. He brought in Dr,. Frank Hooper, John S. Walker, C. B. Richmond and Frank Carter.  All of these men were from various universities or schools, and were minority stockholders.

From 1917 until about 1925 Camp Greenbrier was a military camp. (Not a pare of the U. S. Army.)  The camp had a uniform, regular drills, and a good band.  Older town residents remember the camp boys and band marching on occasions in Alderson.

Peak attendance at the Camp was in the years 1920-27, and from 1952-57, with 225 boys and from 50-60 counselors.  Presently, attendance is about 100.

In 1944 Dr. Hullihen died and his two daughters inherited his interest.   Until 1947 Frank Carter operated the camp as Director.  The Hullihen daughters sold their interest to S. Cooper Dawson, T. S. Garnett and E. J. Male, and in 1959 male sold dot Garnett.  Mr. and Mrs. T. S. Garnett are the present owners and operators.

Before 1917 Dr. Hullihen specialized in trap shooting, and then the long rifle range was started.  For a time, the Camp had a 600-yard range.  Now it is a 200-yard range.  Springfield 30 caliber rifles are used.  The U. S. Government has always furnished the ammunition for the range.

In addition to distinguished staff members who have been connected with Camp Greenbrier over the years, a number of outstanding men have been campers.  Ivan Allen, Mayor of Atlanta, was at Camp Greenbrier or five years.  Bill Wade, quarterback of the World's Champion Chicago Bears, was at the Camp for twelve years.  Many have distinguished themselves in the professions.

Camp Greenbrier still uses for athletic purposes a track built by the old Alderson Fair in 1884 for horse races.

At the end of the regular camp period in August a "house party" starts, attended by families.  In 1964, 245 people, mostly adults, will be in camp.

Ref: Catalogs, Camp Greenbrier, 1907,01909, 1910
S. Cooper Dawson, Alexandria, Va.

Next: The Alderson Lion

The contents contained in this series is copyrighted and the sole property of The Greenbrier Historical Society - Lewisburg, WV
Used by permission - November 18, 2008