Ross Camp Revisited

Shared stories and a Homecoming weekend help revive memories of the summer surveying camp.

Approximately 100 people attended the Ross Camp Reunion as part of the Civil Engineering Breakfast and Homecoming weekend. The event included a bus tour through the Ross Camp Park. To follow are some of the photos and a few reflections about bygone summers at the camp.

“I am from the Ross Camp summer of 1950 during which the Korean War erupted right in the middle of the session. We lost one party member immediately, and he never did return to Purdue. I also was on a roofing crew putting on a new roof on one of the main hall buildings. I had a short fall backward off the edge of the roof line, but luckily was uninjured. To this day I still crawl up and down ladders cleaning out second-story gutters, making minor roofing repairs, and trimming trees. I am still nimble at age 80.”

—Hubert Kleasen (BSCE ’53, MSCE ’54)

“I transferred into the Purdue Civil Engineering School from the Colorado Schools of Mines at the beginning of my sophomore year and attended Ross Camp during the following summer in 1956.I was sorry to read that the Ross Camp has been discontinued, but I suppose the “modern engineer” has little use for the practicalities of field surveying and other hands-on courses like we took back in the ’50s, such as heat treating, gas and electric welding, and foundry casting. I have used my knowledge of surveying quite extensively in my homebuilding and land development activities and my welding skills on my Christmas tree farm.”

—H. Robert Schoenberger, Professional Engineer (BSCE ’58)

Another alumnus shared this from his autobiography:

“Our August 1960 surveying course was the 43rd annual, and final, surveying camp. The students were organized into four-man teams. Our team, ‘party 5,’ consisted of me, Leonard Hasse, Larry Smith, Jim Iverson, and Per Solberg, a student from the Netherlands.

We started the day by raising the flag and then having breakfast. We would get our assignments then go out in the field to do our surveying or leveling, taking notes of our readings. We would break for lunch then go back out in the field until the end of the day when we would return to camp. We would transcribe our notes in the evening, do the plotting, and write our reports. The terrain at Ross Camp was very rugged. We learned to use all current surveying instruments, running topographic surveys, leveling, geodetic surveys, taking sights off the stars, earthwork computations, etc. We dressed lightly, me in a tan pith helmet or fatigue cap, fatigue pants, combat boots, web belt, and canteen of water. I normally went shirtless and finished the camp with a very dark tan and a beard.”

—Leonard Hasse (BSCE ’63, MSCE ’66)