By Robert Lucke
For the outdoor enthusiast, Camp Kiwanis in the middle of Beaver Creek Park has for years been a Mecca of outdoor activities. Few children can grow up in Northern Montana without going to some camp or other during the summer at Camp Kiwanis.
The camp was started by Kiwanis Camp members in the 1920's who wanted a group campground in the middle of Beaver Creek Park.
Before that time, the Havre Rotary Club had built a camp on the side of Rotary Hill just above Rotary Falls. That camp had ceased to be used and was found not particularly suited to continue as an expanded camp because the area was mostly located on a very steep hillside.
Hence, another camp was started in an area that was called Shambo Springs. It was close to Shambo post office, Shambo school, and Shambo Mountain. All those landmarks had been named for Louis Chambeau, an early homesteader just west of Beaver Creek Park and a scout for Fort Assinniboine. Shambo, as his name had been shortened to, was involved in the Chief Joseph Battle on Snake Creek.
So Kiwanis Camp members started building a camp at Shambo Springs. Their first project was to build the log slab chapel building on the campground.
After that not much happened at the camp until the CCC Camp, located just north of Camp Kiwanis, closed on March 1, 1938. At that time the buildings were turned over to the city and county.
Many were moved up the road to Camp Kiwanis where they became the caretaker's store and residence, a large cook house and dining room, dormitories and a long line of single and double cabins. All were located in the camp in a long line at the bottom of the camp, and ran in a north-south line. The caretaker's home and store is still standing in the camp. Other buildings ran south of that building.
In the early campground southwest of the chapel, there was an arched bridge over Beaver Creek, which led down a wooded path to a rock-lined swimming pool that the CCC boys had constructed.
As the camp grew, new buildings were added to the flat area just east and above the original camp. That was done because the original camp was so low that it frequently flooded. In early days where the present Superintendent's house is located and some of the present cabins was a large baseball field.
Early park caretakers, like Burt Pasma, derived most of their income from the sale of candy and pop in the camp store. Some, like Pasma, even had a zoo built into the bluff just below the baseball field.
Years progressed, and thanks to county money and numerous grants but most of all much volunteer work from Hill County residents and groups, the camp has grown into something vastly unlike those first CCC buildings at Shambo Springs.