Janota says that before the improvements, the original camp had one path leading from the parking lot straight into the woods, which is where the campsites were located. Both Janota and Pronger note the existence of a hand pump in that area, providing “some of the best water around,” Janota recalls.
Camp Crete closed in 1977 and the Forest Preserve District of Will County purchased the property for just over $700,000. This purchase included extensive areas of open fields, a circular gravel roadway, the man-made sled hill, a shallow man-made lake, a number of flush toilet latrines scattered throughout the preserve, three designated camping areas, several marked trails, a site manager’s residence and several other buildings.
According to a newspaper article from the time, the camp was put up for sale due to underuse. Robert Hamilton, the then director of financial services, said that the “camp is not used by enough scouts to justify the annual operating costs.” The 1976 operating budget was $17,735, or about $7.35 per boy for the 2,410 Scouts who used the camp that year. This contrasted with the cost of $3 per user at a Boy Scout camp in Yorkville.
Pasteris also believed that the camp had become too expensive to maintain. He speculated that “the upkeep must have been too much for them, because the property contained 11 remote restroom facilities – including a pretty elaborate infrastructure,” he told the Northwest Indiana Times in 2002.
Camp Crete was the first major acquisition by the Forest Preserve after Pasteris was hired in 1976.
On April 13, 1978, Camp Crete was renamed Goodenow Grove by the Forest Preserve, according to “Crete Remembered.”
Much has changed in the 40 years since the Forest Preserve acquired the land. Today, Goodenow Grove has grown to more than 2,300 acres, with 514 acres designated as State Nature Preserve. It is home to Plum Creek Nature Center, a nature playscape for children to explore the natural world, hiking and biking trails, year-round camping and picnic facilities. It also serves as the Forest Preserve’s hub for winter activities, including snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and sledding.
In addition, Plum Creek Nature Center hosts dozens of public programs throughout the year.
The beauty and diversity of the land led the Boy Scouts to acquire use of the property nearly a century ago. The same attributes attracted the Forest Preserve to add Goodenow Grove to its holdings of preserves to be enjoyed by the public for generations to come.
Special appreciation to Carol Triebold and Phyllis Monks for their contribution of images.
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