More than 100 years ago, the staff at Camp Wyman in Eureka could not imagine the growth and progress their organization would one day achieve. Beginning as a camp for children from socioeconomically depressed areas in St. Louis city and county, Camp Wyman narrowed its focus in 2000 to the needs of today’s teens and evolved into the Wyman Center. With its expansion and new focus, Wyman is adapting its campus to reach more teens and members of the community.
One significant change involves the old recreational hall originally built by the Southside Kiwanis Club. In the winter of 1969 Arthur Darr, chairman of the club’s Camp Wyman committee, built the structure that would one day become the recreational hall. It began as an open air pavilion, and was a well-loved place where kids could participate in activities and camp out during adverse weather.
During the 1970s, Dave Hilliard, Wyman’s Executive Director, approached the Southside Kiwanis Club to request improvements upon the pavilion. Dedicated to service, the club members enthusiastically stepped up to his appeal and outfitted the pavilion with walls and plumbing. Their improvements took several months to complete, with members donating their talents every weekend to build the hall.
The updates rallied the Kiwanians behind Wyman’s mission, and a considerable amount of pride and involvement was invested in the new recreational hall. When it was finally completed, the building was used as a meeting hall for faith communities, a place of learning for school groups, and as an area where Wyman counselors provided mentorship and guidance to the adolescents they served.
Today, as Wyman continues to serve more teens in St. Louis and across the nation, its old recreational hall plays a part in the expansion. Leveled this winter for Kling Hall, a new, multipurpose building that will have classroom, assembly, and conference space, the old hall will always remain in the memories of the thousands of campers who learned and played within its walls. The new facility is dedicated to the life and achievements of former Wyman Chairman S. Lee Kling.
Check back soon for the story of the new centerpiece of Wyman’s programming with teens: Kling Hall.