Old camp is home to fond memories for many native Nevadans | NevadaAppeal.com

Old camp is home to fond memories for many native Nevadans

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Mike Shaughnessy retired after 16 years as director of Clear Creek. Shaughnessy says he's sad to see it go but understands that it's too expensive to modernize the facility.

Mike Shaughnessy remembers Clear Creek well. As director of the camp for 16 years, he ought to.

While he says it’s a shame it’s being torn down, he said he understands that it would just cost too much to bring the camp up to modern standards.

“I understand, but it’s sad,” he said. “It’s an era that’s gone.”

He said the camp did a lot of good for the community, especially young people.

“It was awesome,” said Shaughnessy, who retired in 2001.

Among those young people who attended events at Clear Creek over the years was Dean Heller, now one of Nevada’s three congressmen.

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“We were up there a lot for scouting. I remember one Klondike Derby where there was no snow so we were dragging these sleds around in the dirt,” Heller said.

“Carson High School had a basketball camp up there, but the gym had burned to the ground, so we ended up having the whole summer basketball camp outside. It was great.”

Matt Griffin, now Deputy Secretary of State for Elections, said he attended events up there including a retreat sponsored by St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church.

“What made it fun was you had all your friends there but not your parents,” he said.

Shaughnessy said Girls’ State was held there every year. In fact, Buildings and Grounds Manager Cindy Edwards said Girls’ State was the last group booked there in 2003 but they had to be moved to Stewart because of a nearby wildfire.

It was leased to Rite of Passage, a program which counsels and helps young men who’ve gotten into legal trouble such as drugs or gang activities for a time after that, but finally closed completely a couple of years ago.

Shaughnessy said Girl’s State presented him a few challenges.

“Girls’ State would arrive on Sunday every year. By Tuesday, all the boys in Carson knew they were there and here come the cars. I’d have to meet them at the gate and say, ‘Sorry guys, but go away.'”

Invariably, he said, one of the guys would know where the back entrance was on Highway 50 above the camp.

“So I’d go up the hill and meet them at the back gate,” he said. “Nice try guys.”

For most of those 16 years, Shaughnessy and Dick Beatty did all the work around the camp.

“We were carpenters, plumbers, electricians, everything. When it snowed, I had to plow the road all the way to (Highway) 395 so our customers could get in. And one time, we had four feet of snow in 24 hours.”

But, he said, for big projects he received a lot of help over the years from the Division of Forestry and their inmate crews.

He said a wide variety of youth groups, school classes and a number of religious groups regularly used the camp. He said even the Washoe Tribe used the camp for a place where elders could teach their children tribal history and tradition.

But it wasn’t only for young people. He said BLM trained firefighters there and the Peace Officer Standards and Training classes were held at Clear Creek.

District Judge Bill Maddox said he taught numerous classes for POST while serving as Carson District Attorney, but that his memories go back to before the camp existed.

When I was a kid, I hunted deer up there,” he said. “The wind would be flowing through those pine trees. It was beautiful.”

When construction began, he said he and his brother applied for jobs at the camp.

“We were told it was a union job but if we wanted to join the union, we could have jobs, so we went to Reno, paid our five bucks and joined the union,” he said.

It didn’t work out.

“The next day the union went on strike. We never got to work on it,” he said.

Shaughnessy said fire was the constant danger up there.

“Our fire plan was to get out.”

In one of those fires, he said, the young people he had to evacuate were student ballet dancers.

“We had to walk them up the back road to the highway and they were in their tutus,” he laughed. “It was different.”

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.

Remembering

“When I was a kid I hunted deer up there. The wind would be blowing through those pine trees. It was beautiful. “

– District Judge Bill Maddox

“Girls’ State would arrive on Sunday every year. By Tuesday, all the boys in Carson knew they were there and here come the cars. I’d have to meet them at the gate and say, ‘Sorry guys, but go away.'”

– Former Clear Creek Director Mike Shaughnessy

“We were up there a lot for scouting. I remember one Klondike Derby where there was no snow so we were dragging these sleds around in the dirt.”

– Rep. Dean Heller

“What made it fun was you had all your friends there, but not your parents.”

– Matt Griffin