The popular former Baylor Camp that ran until 1971 offered countless boys opportunities to get closer looks at the then-male military preparatory school - and to enjoy plenty of summertime fun.
For Jack Stanford, working at the camp as a college student gave him a chance to see the rewards that could come from working with young people.
"Just the fact that I came out here to work at the Baylor summer camp, it changed my life entirely," he said.
In fact, Mr. Stanford went on to a lengthy career at Baylor, including being the successful basketball coach, before serving as headmaster of two Memphis schools - Presbyterian Day School and Hutchison School for girls.
He returned briefly to Baylor as interim headmaster in 2004.
As Mr. Stanford, now 81, reminisced about the old Baylor Camp recently from in front of the Memorial Gymnasium, where many of the camp activities took place, he sounded as enthusiastic as a young camper.
"You had wonderful people who really cared about offering quality," he said.
He said he had begun working at the camp in the summer of 1950. The former Alabamian was playing football at the University of Chattanooga at the time and asked head coach A.C. "Scrappy" Moore if he could help him find a summer job.
Coach Moore called camp director Sib Evans, who also had played football at UC, and he told Coach Moore he needed someone to help in the play camp for 5-to-7-year-olds.
So he began helping Jim Pennington in that area. The youngsters would have their activities by the former old gym along the river, and their small frames created quite a contrast against the large ancient oak that sat in that area.
Mr. Stanford said Mr. Pennington was sometimes spontaneous or unpredictable, and he would out of the blue ask Mr. Stanford to sing for the children. Mr. Stanford still remembers having to sing the Lord's Prayer a cappella in the Guerry Hall dining room for the campers - and in front of the older students going through summer school.
"I wonder what those summer school boys thought," said Mr. Stanford with a laugh.
He continued working at the camp in college, later helping with the canoe activities in the Baylor Lake, and then went on to work briefly in the business field. However, he was not happy in the latter position.
He kept thinking about how much fun he had working at the camp with youth and soon realized he wanted to make a difference instead of just make money.
"I discovered that I enjoyed working with young people," he said.
He was able to get hired at Baylor fulltime in 1953 and stayed until 1972. And for every summer through 1971, he worked at Baylor Camp, eventually becoming camp director.
Mr. Stanford is not sure of the origin of Baylor Camp, but he knows it was going strong by the early 1950s. He said the students would have about 200 boarders and about 300 play and day campers involved.
For six weeks, campers would take part in a variety of activities, including track on the old cinder Rike Field track, swimming, crafts, team sports like baseball and gym hockey (with plastic sticks and pucks), horseback riding, archery, shooting .22 rifles in the armory, and, as mentioned, canoeing in the Baylor Lake when the water was much higher and it had a wooden pontoon bridge where the canoes would be tied.
Many of those who attended the camp have not forgotten falling out of canoes during canoe regatta races, making gimp lanyards during craft activities or wearing camp T-shirts.
Meals would be enjoyed in the dining hall - served family style at tables out of large bowls - and a film would be shown in the top floor of Barks Hall in the old study hall after lunch.
The campers were also divided into groups or teams named after Native American tribes. In fact, the camp's official logo featured a teepee.
The campers would also sometimes take trips for about two or three days to the Cherokee, N.C., area, and other weekend activities were involved for the boarding campers, such as excursions to Nickajack Cave before it was flooded.
"Baylor didn't mind spending money on the weekends to make sure they were entertained," Mr. Stanford said, adding that school officials also wanted to keep the boarding campers from becoming homesick.
Mr. Stanford remembered that Herb Barks Jr., years before he became headmaster and president, would entertain the boarding campers with stories.
"He would tell ghost stories and those counselors would have the hardest trouble getting those boys to go to bed," he said. "He just had the kids in the palm of his hand all the time."
Before later becoming a coordinator and director, Mr. Stanford said he worked in the now-gone outdoor pool up the hill a few feet from the old gym. He taught swimming with Maj. Luke Worsham, a tough-love Baylor coach who had seen combat during World War II.
"A lot of people say Luke Worsham taught them to swim by walking them to the end of the diving board and tossing them in," laughed Mr. Stanford. He also remembered that he and Maj. Worsham would empty and fill the pool twice a week because it did not have a modern filtration and circulation system.
Mr. Stanford - who would artistically draw up a sheet of activities for each tribe to do that day after he became director -- said creativity was allowed in planning events, and that made the camp fun from an administrative point of view.
"We weren't given a whole lot of regulations," he said. "We weren't told anything you had to do."
Almost the entire faculty and staff were required to help either with summer camp or summer school, however. Mr. Stanford said he and Humpy Heywood also traveled around during the school year trying to recruit students, and would also try to find boys to come to the camp.
The thinking was that if they could get them at the camp, they might be interested in becoming students down the road.
Because of the faculty's nearly year-round work schedule, the challenges in trying to get the school buildings ready for fall classes in a short period after camp, and a different summer vision by incoming headmaster Herb Barks Jr., the camp ceased after 1971. As a result, more limited summer activities were offered at Baylor in subsequent summers.
However, Dr. Barks did later begin adding an innovative outdoor program for Baylor during the regular school year that many independent schools adopted for use, Mr. Stanford added.
And in recent years, the summer activities at Baylor have again been expanded with Camp Baylor, causing a whole new generation of youngsters to form their own special memories.
But many people have not forgotten the old Baylor Camp. And that includes those who worked there, from Mr. Stanford to the former counselors he periodically runs into who are full of praises for their experiences.
"You feel like you made a difference in youngsters," Mr. Stanford said.