Camp History

In 1894, Lizzie and Robert Bandhauer 'homesteaded' in a valley near Four Mile Creek and the South Platte River as a permanent home. The Bandhauer family rode horses and wagons to Daffodil (now Deckers) from Denver - after losing everything they had when the U.S. went on the Gold-Standard. In 1901, to help with the courting of their five daughters (they also had two sons!), a dance hall was built.

A fun story from Carol Todd, Granddaughter of Clara Bandhauer:  My grandmother, Clara Bandhauer, who was 10 years old when the family moved to Shady Brook in 1894, met my grandfather in the old dancehall and married him in 1905.  In July 1969, she said to me, "I've lived a long, wonderful life, the best years at the magical valley of Shady Brook where our only transportation was by horse and wagon.  Now I've watched a man walk on the moon - this is beyond belief in one lifetime!"  She died in 1973, 89 years old. 

In the 1920s, the Shady Brook Farm was sold to the Day family so they could start a guest ranch. Horses were brought to the site and small cabins were built. The Day’s Dude Ranch operated until the YMCA bought the 140-acre property in 1948 for $15,000. The small but lovely mountain that watches over camp is now fondly referred to as Day Mountain.

The 1950s and 60s saw extraordinary contributions from the service organizations of Colorado Springs. The Rotary Club, Pikes Peak Sertoma Club, Lions Club and Y Men’s Club were all critical in the growth of Camp Shady Brook. Additionally, the Kiwanis Club donated funds to dam Four Mile Creek and create Kiwanis Lake.

The 1970s saw the beginning of ‘caravanning’ camping, with staff leading groups of campers to destinations such as the Boundary Waters, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon and even Disneyland. Forty years later, we are still carrying on our trip tradition for teen campers.

The early 1980s brought many facility improvements, with the Pikes Peak Sertoma Club donating Pikes Peak Cabin, which was originally used as a nature and crafts center. A couple of years later, the Luther T. McCauley Charitable Trust donated $20,000 to improve our aquatic program. These funds were used to dredge the lake, reconstruct the upper dam, create a shallow swimming beach, build new docks, install a waterslide and purchase canoes and rowboats.

In 2002, Shady Brook was impacted by the Schoonover Fire. Our camp lost nine buildings, but luckily our tree coverage was not affected. On June 8 of the same year the Hayman Fire, one of the largest in Colorado state history, erupted north of Lake George and eventually burned 137,760 acres. This fire burned on all sides of Shady Brook and it is believed that if not for the previous smaller fire, all of Shady Brook would have been lost. Instead, camp became a small island of green in a sea of black when viewed from above. The YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region responded to these fires remarkably by replacing all lost buildings and using this as an opportunity to update and restore life into Camp Shady Brook.

Today, Camp Shady Brook is a thriving year-round facility serving thousands of children throughout the summer and many school districts from around Colorado. Our camp is also available for conference and retreat rentals for groups throughout the nation – we’d love for you to stop by and experience the beauty of our camp for yourself.