Service Above Self since 1920
A BRIEF HISTORY OF OUR CLUB
The permanent charter for the Rotary Club of Traverse City was issued on May 1, 1920. This was just 15 years after the initial Rotary Club formed in Chicago as one of the world’s first service organizations and as a place where professionals with diverse backgrounds could exchange ideas and form meaningful, lifelong friendships. The first Traverse City club president was State Senator James Milliken, whose son William (also a Traverse City Rotarian) would later serve as the governor of Michigan from 1969 to 1983.
One of the Rotary Club’s first service projects was the establishment of the Traverse City Chamber of Commerce in 1921. In 1923 club president Clarence Greilick led in the acquisition of 450 acres of land in the Spider Lake and Rennie Lake areas. The club raised $1,100 for this purchase and an additional $7,500 for 27 acres with Rennie Lake frontage, the purpose of which was to create a campground for 4-H, the Boy Scouts, and the Girl Scouts.
In 1955, all of the lands acquired was turned over to a new nonprofit corporation called Rotary Camps & Services, Inc., which then leased the Camp Greilick property to the Scenic Trails Council of the Boy Scouts of America for 99 years for the sum of $1 (one dollar) and reserved the mineral rights. In 1956, the Rotary Club bought and additional 393.5 acres on Bass Lake which later became known as Camp Sakakawea, and was leased to the Girl Scouts. Hundreds of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts have enjoyed the pleasure and challenges of outdoor recreation and exploration at Camp Sakakawea and Camp Greilick over the years.
In 1975, Rotary Camps & Services and Total Petroleum Company agreed to a lease for potential mineral exploration. An outstanding contract negotiated by some very astute Rotarians (Al Arnold, Frank Power, Jerry McCarthy and Bob Hilty) provided the club with 25% royalties until all production costs were met, and 40% thereafter. Once the oil and gas revenues started coming in, a separate charitable organization was formed to manage the windfall. This entity is called Rotary Charities.