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Celebrating 80 Years - 1955, Nutrition Camp School

Tags: #Celebrating80Years


#Celebrating80Years: 2017 marked 80 years of working with Colorado’s nonprofits as they seek to strengthen their communities. Throughout 2018, we will be looking back on this history of the outstanding organizations and people the Trustees have had the opportunity to support. On the blog you will find a history of the Foundation’s grant making and a representative organization from every year since our founding in 1937.


One of El Pomar’s five original grantees in 1937 was the Junior League of Colorado Springs for the operation of its “Nutrition Camp School,” which El Pomar continued to support for the next 20 years. The Nutrition Camp School ultimately closed in 1964, but the funds were used to form an endowment for The Nutrition Camp School Foundation, Inc., which today continues to provide its own annual grants toward children’s nutrition and health in the Pikes Peak region.


Grantee Spotlight: Nutrition Camp School

During World War I, a survey of children in local and county schools showed that Colorado Springs children had a high degree of uncorrected defects and marked malnutrition. This fact was of great interest to Mrs. Marjorie Palmer Watt, daughter of city founder General William Jackson Palmer, and in 1921 she took several children suffering from malnutrition into her own home. A nurse was employed at her expense and the services of doctors employed, who donated their time. The result was encouraging, but due to the fact that the children returned home for the night, the process took much longer with less satisfaction than anticipated. The Nutrition Camp School was born from this initial experiment.

Mrs. Watt and her sister, Miss Dorothy Palmer, generously endowed the project: Mrs. Watt gave $10,000 worth of Liberty Bonds which she hoped would be for an endowment but could be used for maintenance if necessary and Miss Palmer’s gave $15,250 of Liberty Bonds to be used for the endowment only. The project, by this time, had also aroused the interest of many local businessmen who planned a benefit that brought in $13,585. Sister Mary of Glockner Hospital raised an additional $5,700 in gifts and offered to have the building erected on hospital property. A building was erected on the Tejon Street side of the Glockner grounds and the city school system delegated a public school teacher to the camp for the teaching of children.


By spring 1924 it was felt there was a need for some organization to back the Nutrition Camp and the formation of a Junior League began. The origin of the Junior League of Colorado Springs is therefore a direct result of the Nutrition Camp School.

In 1928 the Camp was moved to Memorial Hospital. The building was completely renovated by the Junior League and interested friends at this time. For a number of years meals were sent in from the Beth-el Hospital (now Memorial) for a charge of a dollar a day per child.

In its early years the Camp benefited from the unusual abilities and boundless energy of Miss Peter O’Leary, a graduate nurse of the Seton Nursing School at Glockner, who became the supervisor of the Camp in 1925. Miss O’Leary was never at a loss for things to be done and was always eager to provide Junior League girls with a host of opportunities to help: delivering skimmed milk and cod liver oil to families of Camp children; juggling scales in and out of cars to weigh the children after they had gone home and to  maintain contact with the families; taking the children in the Camp for rides (until it was decided by the husbands to be not a safe plan); teaching summer school at the Camp; busing the children to the doctors; mending sheets; and helping with the amusement of the children at the School.

In 1958, the school transitioned into a medical clinic when it was determined that a better use of Camp School resources was to serve children in the community whose parents could not afford the expense of doctors. The Clinic operated until 1964 when the Nutrition Camp School Foundation was formed and has operated as an independent grant making entity ever since, committed to supporting children’s nutrition in the Pikes Peak region. Today, the Foundation grants $5,000-$10,000 a year to approximately 25 organizations, continuing the legacy first begun in Marjorie Palmer Watt’s home in 1921.



El Pomar in 1955:

El Pomar granted $535,447 in 1955, with the largest amounts given to college scholarships, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Glockner-Penrose Hospital, and the Fountain Valley School.

Unfortunately, the end of 1955 saw signs that the Foundation was about to experience a dramatic change. Two weeks before Christmas, Julie Penrose went in to her doctor for a check-up and he discovered a malignant tumor in her colon. When exploratory surgery at Glockner-Penrose Hospital revealed that the cancer had spread to her liver, Julie was asked to remain in the hospital for the holiday.


Images by Harry Standley. Courtesy of Special Collections, Pikes Peak Library District: 102-2431, 102,4801, 004-10544.

Nutrition Camp School history provided by Foundation President Liz Cobb​