Camp Hoover

Camp Hoover, a complex for boy scouts with disabilities, is located on several hundreds of acres of rolling land on the west bank of the Fox River.  The program was to develop a master plan to include cluster camping areas embedded in existing forest sites (or in sites to undergo a reforestation program).  These sites would be composed of tents, screened shelters, winterized cabins (for year round usage) and outdoor activity shelters.  In addition, there was to be a large indoor activity center, medical facilities, training cabins, a year round swimming complex, dining facilities, storage and administrative offices — in other words, the total facility to service approximately 400 children with disabilities.  It was important to provide an authentic camping experience for these scouts with disabilities.

While allowances for the handicapped are extensive (paved pathways, at grade entrances, a swimming-pool hoist, faucets and mirrors at handy levels), Hoover Center seems neither institutional not patronizingly cute.  Sharing a spare, porticoed style...its modestly scaled structures are rendered in rough-faced concrete block and wood, stained a self-effacing gray...the apparent impermanence of Hoover’s materials suggests not only the amiably ramshackle condition of traditional camps, but also, ‘the built-in poignancy of this project — the vulnerability of health and the fleeting quality of youth.