In the spring of 1933, twenty two year old Ralston "Fox" Smith started a day camp by renting property east of Chagrin Falls. Fox was teaching physical education at Malvern School in Shaker Heights and wanted to continue his work with children during the summers. In 1938, Fox rented the 161 acre Patch Farm located on state route 87, one half mile east of route 306 in Geauga County's Russell Township. Fox's dream was to build and develop a permanent camp for children to serve families in the eastern suburbs of Cleveland.
The farm's rolling hills and rugged terrain spotted with woods, fields, springs and brooks created an ideal setting for a summer camp. Soon the tall beech and sugar maple woods were dotted with Adirondack shelters. Pastures and meadows became athletic fields, the main stream was dammed to create a swimming area, and barns became stables for an ever growing interest in horsemanship. The farm's original Sugar Bush remained untouched and continued to produce maple sugar throughout the life of the camp. Fox called his new creation "Red Raider", the nickname of Colgate University and later Shaker Heights High School.
Initially, small groups of children from Fox's neighborhood were brought to camp in his own car. He later obtained a stake body truck for the same purpose. Soon the first camp bus was purchased and for the next forty years, Red Raider buses with their familiar "Red Raider Knight" emblem flooded the eastern suburbs. Not only did day campers attend Red Raider, but an overnight resident camp evolved during World War II, and eventually accommodated 120 campers and staff during the eight weeks of the summer season. In 1943, Fox was able to purchase the original property and by 1954, Red Raider had blossomed to 214 acres. The camp grew from a farmhouse, cattle barn and a few small farm buildings to over forty buildings including six staff residential houses, three barns accommodating one hundred horses, two large indoor riding arenas, a main dining hall and dormitory complex, three craft buildings, a maintenance building, several sleeping cabins, and a score of adirondack shelters.
In the summer of 1972, the adjacent 74 acre Scheve property just west of camp was purchased and Red Raider expanded to 288 acres. With this acquisition and the tremendous growth of day camp, the boys and girls resident camp was discontinued. The camp continued to flourish and at the height of its economic prosperity, Red Raider serviced thirty different communities from Painesville to the east, Berea to the west, and Akron to the south. Throughout the summer, a dozen camp buses and five vans transported well over 600 campers and staff members to and from camp daily. Many of these continued to function during the fall, winter and spring after-school horseback riding program which averaged more than 500 riders a week throughout the year. Weekend retreats, hay rides, parties and horseback riding filled each Saturday and Sunday from September to June. From it's humble beginnings, Red Raider had become a year round retreat for thousands of eager children.
Approaching retirement, Fox sold Red Raider Camp during the summer of 1975. On November 16, a few short months after his sale of Red Raider, Ralston Fox Smith passed away.
The new owner tried to maintain the character and reputation that Fox Smith had developed over the years. However, the chemistry that worked so well also passed away and the new Red Raider Camp never was quite the same. Five years without Fox Smith had taken its toll and the new owners decided to sell.
Transcom Builder was contacted by the owners and after a few days of hiking in the beautiful woods, seeing the waterfall, magnificent trees and scenic trails, Transcom Builders decided to purchase the property and create an equestrian community.
During the development process, Transcom Builders sought to preserve much of the property's natural elements. Careful planning and design produced sixty beautiful lots to become one the the most recognized residential developments in Northeast Ohio.
Today, Red Raider remains a wonderful memory to thousands of men and women who spent their summers growing up at Red Raider Camp. And for the fortunate families who reside in Red Raider Trails, the natural beauty of rolling hills and woods which Fox Smith loved is part of their daily enjoyment.