A Cincinnati Tradition
Written by – Dave Oeters
For more than 60 years, Camp Wildbrook has been a Cincinnati summer tradition for many families in the area. The key the camp’s success, explains Gayle Lucas, the Camp Director, is the strong support from the community of former and current campers and counselors and their families, and the dedication of the entire Kraushar family.
Bob and Flo Kraushar founded Camp Wildbrook in 1952. Both were former schoolteachers in Cincinnati Public Schools. They realized there was a need for a private summer camp in the area after speaking to parents while they managed a playground group run by the Cincinnati Recreation Commission. They were also supported in the project by Dr. Albert Degarmo, a prominent local pediatrician. Camp Wildbrook quickly became popular with local families, offering fun activities for kids and recruiting the best counselors they could find. While Bob and Flo ran the camp during the summer, they continued to teach. In addition to the Camp, they have offered a swim club and rented space for events to community groups such as local fire departments and Disabled American Veterans (DAV).
Since that time, Camp Wildbrook has continued to offer quality programs based on the tradition started by Bob and Flo, but also fine-tuned and improved the experience for campers. For example, at one time the Camp offered horseback riding, but that program has been replaced with gymnastics and soccer in addition to old favorites like nature and camping, swimming, crafts, and drama and singing. Other traditions continue such as weekly Popsicle day for campers, and field trips for each of the groups.
“Many families have had three generations attend Camp Wildbrook,” explains Gayle. Parents who attend the Camp look forward to sending their children. Many counselors were former campers. And former campers often call to ask about the camp and inquire where their children are on the waiting list. “Traditions are important, and parents want to share their experience with their kids.”
Just as Camp Wildbrook crosses generations with campers and counselors, it has crossed generations in the Kraushar family. All five of Bob and Flo’s children (Gayle, Karen, Scott, Dave, and Gary) have attended and worked at Camp Wildbrook. Gayle currently handles the day-to-day operations of the camp, and she worked for many years with her sister Karen as Co-Director of Wildbrook. Many of Bob and Flo’s grandchildren work at the Camp in a variety of roles every summer. Wives and husbands who marry into the family have also played roles at the camp. The dedication of the Kraushar family to Camp Wildbrook has made the camp experience truly unique.
Gayle explained that Camp Wildbrook has been an important part of so many lives in our area, each summer is an exciting experience to see the tradition continue to grow. Gayle also credits the counselors and staff for the success of the camp. “We really do have the best counselors, and we couldn’t offer the programs and experience we do without them.”