In the early days of golf in New Hampshire,
especially at the luxury hotels located in the White Mountains, it was traditional to provide caddies for golfers. Since many of these hotels were in fairly remote areas, there simply were not enough local youth to fill these positions.
Then someone came up with the idea of recruiting young men from the inner cities (many from Boston MA), and provide them with a camp-like experience, where they would learn how to caddy, and earn some money to help them financially. They stayed in anything from tents to cabins to dedicated buildings. “A Daily Dose of Fiber” states that over 2,000 young men learned about golf this way. In 1998 a shrine was built in Bethlehem NH, on the edge of Maplewood Village.
According to “Rye Reflections,” and other sources, the mastermind behind this idea was Norman Franzeim. He was a social worker at the North Bennett Street Industrial School in the North End of Boston. Reportedly he not only started the Maplewood Hotel caddy camp (route 302 in Bethlehem NH) and ran it from 1910 to 1940, but possibly also the Bretton Woods camp (which his son ran after World War II). Another Caddy Camp was run in Wentworth NH. By 1920 Poland Springs Caddy Camp had opened. In 1928 [one source says 1938] an arrangement was made with Boy Scouts of America, to establish a camp of 50 boys at Bald Peak in Moultonborough NH, where the Bald Peak Club might obtain caddies.
Some of these camps, such as the one started at the The Mount Washington Hotel at Bretton Woods about 1945, and Poland Springs, continue to hold “Caddy Camp Reunions” to bring together these “alumni,” many of whom became successful in life.
Some alumni of caddy camps include:
–Dr. Harry Ernst, of Arlington MA
–Johnny Kelley, charismatic athlete who ran the Boston Marathon sixty one times [who claimed all the walking he did at the caddie camps helped prepare him for marathons]
–Stephen P. Barba, Executive Dir. of University Relations at Plymouth State University, formerly president and managing parter of The Balsams Grand Resort Hotel
By 1969 some of the caddy camps were winding down. The caddy camp at the Maplewood Hotel in Bethlehem became “Camp Duncan,” the second of the name and reserved for the boy’s choir (Bretton Woods Boy Singers). Other caddy camps like one at Bald Peak in Melvin Village continued into the late 1970s.
And if you are wondering, according to several dictionaries, “caddie” is the usual spelling in golf, although “caddy” may also be used, both as a noun and a verb. A caddy is also a box for storing tea.
–When Good Caddies Grow Old ….. [added 2015]
–Photographs of NH Caddy Camps[search for word “caddy”]-