It was at least 25 years ago, but for Scott Souder the magic of going to camp in northern Wisconsin still shines brightly in his memory.
His youthful experience at camp led to his love for nature and, in recent years, to a desire to help conserve Wisconsin’s Northwoods so others can enjoy its wild beauty and make their own memories.
For 80 years, it has been a tradition for the men in the Jacobus family—Scott’s mom, Susanna’s family—to spend seven weeks each summer at Red Arrow Camp on Trout Lake. And Scott was no exception even though his family lived in Florida when he was young.
“Scott loved everything about Red Arrow Camp,” Susanna recalls. “He was a good little athlete, and Red Arrow Camp was just his cup of tea.”
Each summer, Scott would join other boys between the ages of 7 and 16 for myriad outdoor activities from archery and tennis to swimming and sailing. The boys lived in log cabins dating to the 1920s when Red Arrow was a logging camp.
Overnight canoe trips on rivers like the Brule, Flambeau and Manitowish were a high point each summer. The boys paddled metal canoes, stayed in vintage World War 2 green canvas tents, collected wood and cooked their food.
“Those trips were so amazing,” Scott remembers. “You could paddle for miles and not see any houses or other remnants of civilization. But they were also challenging. I have to say I wasn’t always happy, but I’m glad I did it.”
In 2006, Scott contacted The Nature Conservancy about making a gift to support its conservation work in northern Wisconsin, especially the rivers, some of which he had canoed while at camp. His first gift, through the Souder Family Foundation, was to the Guido Rahr, Sr. Tenderfoot Forest Reserve on Tenderfoot Lake in Vilas County.
In subsequent years, Scott has also supported the Conservancy’s work at Wild Rivers Legacy Forest, the Catherine Wolter Wilderness Area and other places up north. He says he is very excited about his most recent gift, which will advance the Conservancy’s effort to help protect land surrounding a portion of the Brule River.
Scott’s two most recent gifts have qualified for the Ripples Matching Fund, raising an additional 50 cents for each dollar given for conservation in northern Wisconsin. The match, which was created by three anonymous donors, will apply to any gift of $1,000 or more for northern Wisconsin through December 2013.
“The Nature Conservancy keeps land natural and undeveloped, which is what I care about,” Scott comments. “And having my gift matched so more money is available to protect rivers in northern Wisconsin is a real bargain.”
“What I remember most about my summers in northern Wisconsin was how clean the water was and how serene it felt,” Scott recalls. “There was a lot of room, and I didn’t feel confined. I hope that through my support for The Nature Conservancy, I can help keep it that way for other kids to enjoy, just like I did.”