Home History Club House Trunk House  
Contact Us
Rates & Reservations Explore Tosebo News & Events Shop


"We planned a future retreat for women to be held in this wonderful building! The rooms and accommodations were fabulous!"

~Tom & Dee

"Tosebo – the buildings, the grounds, the energy; it is a treasure. It’s in good hands, thank you."

~ David & Krista


News & Events

Join our Facebook fan page.

Camp Tosebo turns 100 years old!

Please join the Camp Tosebo family, former Tosebo campers, and Red Park neighbors for a 'Tosebo 100th Birthday Party' on Saturday August 25 at 1:00PM. The gathering will be held at the ' Tosebo Clubhouse' at 7228 Miller Rd Manistee MI 49660. Ice cream, cake, and refreshments will be served. Visit with old friends, play a round of 'Tom Thumb' miniature golf, tour the historic Camp buildings, stroll the Tosebo forest trails, or take a walk down to the Boathouse as we celebrate 100 years of this very special place.

Located in historic Red Park on the southern shore of pristine Portage Lake in Manistee County, Camp Tosebo was established in 1912 as a private summer camp for the Todd Seminary for Boys located in Woodstock, Illinois. During its years as a summer camp, Tosebo attracted boys from all over the country, and even though the Todd School was closed in 1953, the summer camp carried on with its eight-week summer program for another twenty-four years. Since the camp closed in 1977, the property has been used as a family retreat, a bed & breakfast and since 2004 as a very popular vacation rental retreat.

Please feel free to call 616.644.8239 or email reservations@tosebo.com for more information regarding Camp Tosebo.

Please also visit www.tosebo.org for more information, history and pictures.

Tom Thumb GolfThe Restored TOM THUMB Golf Course

We are really excited to offer the restored TOM THUMB golf course for family fun. Nine holes with angle, obstacles, and an occasional leaf make the course fun for all ages. Putters and balls are supplied and we're sure you'll find TOM THUMB golf to be another fun opportunity at Camp Tosebo.

In 1928 near Chattanooga, Tennessee, Garnet Carter decided to miniaturize the game of golf. His plan for a full size course was taking too long to build. He needed something to entertain his guests at the Fairyland Inn. He came up with the idea of miniature golf. The game became an immediate hit! Even serious golfers came out to play the game.

The game attracted so many people that the natural grass turf became bare. So Carter looked for a substitute. He had several processes patented. One of the processes was for the surfaces of his miniature golf putting surface. He used recycled cotton hulls, which were being processed in Chattanooga into cottonseed oil.

Cottonseed oil was also hydrogenated and turned into Crisco brand shortening. Garnet took the byproduct of the Crisco process, mixed it with green paint, and rolled it out. Soon, thousands of TOM THUMB kits were sold all over the country and for about $3000 you could start your own business. Carter took the earnings from the miniature golf game and put the profits into a new tourist attraction on Lookout Mountain. That new attraction he called Rock City.

Camp Tosebo's course was originally installed about 1930 in this same location. The signature hole for every TOM THUMB course is the hollow log on number 9. Today's course has the original log for you to putt through. Have fun and enjoy the challenge of TOM THUMB miniature golf.

Renting a Piece of Vacation History
By Dianna Stampfler

Walking down the tree-lined drive at Camp Tosebo, you can almost hear the chatter of boys being boys...escaping the heat of the city for a summer away in Northern Michigan. Nearly one hundred years ago, the sounds of energetic young campers could be heard scurrying about. Skipping stones; rowing boats; catching fish, frogs and turtles; roasting marshmallows over a campfire. Such experiences are waiting to become reality, once again, at Camp Tosebo in Manistee.

Listed with both the Michigan and National Register of Historic Places, Camp Tosebo was one of the first summer camps in America. Founded by Noble Hill in 1912, it operated as the private summer retreat for the Todd Seminary for Boys out of Woodstock, IL. The name, created by taking the first two letters of each word of the school's name: To-Se-Bo.

Camp Tosebo sits adjacent to Red Park – one of the first summer resort colonies in Michigan, founded in the late 1800s along the south shore of Portage Lake in Onekama Township by Manistee landscape architect C.G. Davis. The original resort boasted a bandstand and a small store, operated by James Sandenberg and his wife – the resort's only permanent residents, who were also caretakers of the collection of small summer cottages. The neighborhood was also home to summer resort area Wick-A-Te-Wah – founded by H. Ward Leonard in the early 1900s and the Portage Lake Bible Camp.

Each summer, boys from all over the country traveled to Camp Tosebo by bus or ferry to explore the 50 acres of preserved woods and to march quietly through Red Park to the sandy beach of Portage Lake for a day of sailing, canoeing, swimming, fishing and relaxing. The Todd school closed in 1953, and operations at Camp Tosebo were reduced to an eight-week program – under the auspices of Hill's daughter, Carol Fawcett, and then his grandson, Ross Taylor.

The camp closed in the 19970s and was then sold to former Camp doctor David Wild Sr. Ten years later, Wild's son, David – along with his wife, Lulu Garigiulo – restored several of the buildings and operated them as a bed-and-breakfast resort for a period of years. When the Camp came up for sale again in 2002, it attracted the attention of developers who wanted to constructed more than a dozen houses on the property, with associated condominium amenities, ultimately altering the character of the historic property.

Yet, it was a dedicated group of family and friends (Mark and Martha Schrock, Steve and Kris Darpel, Kim and Joe Perrin (Mark's sister and brother-in-law) and Dave (a former Tosebo camper) and Fran Wallace (a Tosebo 'kitchen girl') – who banded together to acquire the property and bring Camp Tosebo back to life.

"We spent two years working with Dave and Lulu, developing a plan to place more than 40 acres under a conservation easement affiliated with the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, with the ultimate goal of preserving not only Camp Tosebo but the surrounding Red Park Community," said Mark Schrock. "We and the Darpel's purchased property across the street in 1996 and built a cottage that we all share, so we were familiar with the neighborhood and the camp's history."

While the Wild and Garigiulo had restored three main buildings – the Clubhouse, Welcome House and Trunk House – the other structures were in need of attention from the new owners.

"We started by restoring the Boathouse, then the cabins and outhouses – which needed flush toilets, the tennis courts and several small outbuildings," Mark said.

Today, the two-story Welcome House is outfitted to comfortably sleep 6 -8 people, with two bedrooms and a couch that converts to a bed in the living room. Ideal for a midsized family, this charming cottage features a fully stocked kitchen, living room with a brick fireplace and separate dining room.

Originally built as a dance pavilion, the 1893 Victorian-era Clubhouse with its covered porch easily accommodates 17 guests, with nine bedrooms and 7½ bathrooms, with antique claw-foot tubs. There's plenty of space to spread out through the fully-equipped chef's kitchen, dining hall, game room, library and large living room with a stone fireplace. The motto painted on the mantel is a constant reminder of the philosophy of Tosebo's founder "There is Nothing so Kingly as Kindness" – taken from a poem titled Nobility by Alice Cary (1820-1871).

"This house really is perfect for families and groups looking to create lasting memories," Martha said. "The game room is on one side where children can play board games or assemble puzzles, while the library is on the other side, offering a quite refuge to curl up with a good book."

The rustic Trunk House – which once was a storage facility for the campers' luggage – is a large, one-room studio with vaulted ceilings, living and dining areas, kitchenette, queen bed and twin bed, and a bathroom with a claw foot tub and separate shower.

Several camp landmarks have been preserved for future Tosebo generations, including a sign that reads "HO FOR TOSEBOLAND" that hangs from the arch on the trail that led to the cabins, activity areas and the Council Ring. The sign has been restored in memory of Hal Tonkins, owner and director of Camp Tosebo from 1963 to 1972.

Another noted landmark is the Council Ring itself.

"Noble Hill wanted to incorporate a Native American theme into Camp Tosebo, and while at the 1934 World's Fair in Chicago he met Chief Whirling Thunder of the Winnebago Tribe – who actually visited the Camp and suggested that a separate area be created and used exclusively for the ceremonial dances," said Dave Wallace. "When we acquired the property, you could walk right past the Council Ring without realizing that it was there. There were a few remnants of the old benches, and after several hours of weeding and raking we eventually found the painted stones of the Ring. They were mostly still in place, but buried under six inches of dirt!"

The Council Ring is still considered the most sacred place of all at Camp Tosebo and was carefully decorated for the Reunions of 2005 and 2009.

Today, Camp Tosebo welcomes newcomers as well as countless groups of former campers who are looking to relive their youthful days in Northern Michigan. Whether enjoying the woods for hiking, mountain biking and wildlife viewing or the waters for boating, swimming, fishing and sunbathing, or the countless other activities on premise or off, one thing is certain – Camp Tosebo has held tight to its traditions of simple pleasures in an historic and natural setting.

Reprinted from Summer 2011 issue of Michigan HOME & Lifestyle Magazine.

Back in 2001, a few Tosebo Alumni began corresponding and now there are over 270 alumni who have been located and are able to re-connect with old summer friends. A new Alumni Website – www.tosebo.org - has just been created. It features Then and Now pictures, Reunion Recaps, the Truck Restoration, and an ever expanding FLICKR Gallery of old Camp Photos. All are welcome to take a look back into the 65 year history of Camp Tosebo.

© Copyright Camp Tosebo. Site Map
Camp Tosebo- on Portage Lake - Manistee Michigan - Reservations • Call 616-644-8239
Tosebo on Facebook Like Us on Facebook