A Brief History of Camp Barton


Sam Bogan in 1924

Camp Barton was first established in 1923, as the first summer camp for the new Ithaca Council, which was born only three years earlier. It was located about three miles south of its present location, on an undeveloped parcel along Taughannock Creek. The "father" of Camp Barton was Sam Bogan, the first Council Executive hired by the fledgling council.

Bogan hired a small crew of ten Scouts to prepare the camp, cut out of a former pasture which extended out into the lake. The site was perfect - it even had a haunted house for the Scouts to use. Tents were pitched, water brought in from nearby Trumansburg (there was no water available on-site) and Camp Barton was a reality.

In addition to Bogan, the camp staff included a number of Cornell University professors, including the famed ornithologist Louis Aggasiz Fuertes, who quickly became known as "Uncle Louis" to the boys. When he was killed in an automobile accident four years later, the Ithaca Council was renamed "Louis Aggasiz Fuertes Council" at the request of the Scouts themselves.

 

The first camp season lasted just two two-week sessions, but Camp Barton was under way. The second session was marked by a tragedy - polio broke out among the Scouts. The camp was quarantined, and several Scouts were removed to hospital. One died. Still, the season was counted a success, and the Scouts looked forward to the re-opening of camp next year.

After the 1926 season the Scouts were notified that the State of New York had purchased the site of Camp Barton as a State Park (which remains to this day - Taughannock Falls State Park). A frantic search for a new site led to the purchase of Frontenac Point (also known as "Mill Point" or "Frog Point"), along with the Frontenac Hotel located there. Some $35,000 was raised, and Frontenac Point was ours.

Then as now, the waterfront was one of the main attractions of Camp Barton. Campers could swim or canoe off the swimming dock (now the rowboat dock), and nighttime whale-boat rides became a tradition.


Barton Waterfront in the 1930's

The hotel was used for handicrafts and the trading post, with staff housing upstairs. A new lodge was built in back of the hotel around 1929, with a fireplace lounge, kitchen and dining hall area. This building, with all three sections merged into a single dining hall, remains as the central portion of the current Camp Barton dining hall. As the years went by, the campsites (or "villages") were expanded and began to extend up the hill behind the lodge.

 
An evening Camp Band concert on the Frontenac Hotel steps


First Aid Practice

 A July 1929 article about camp mentioned some of the activities that the boys would find "Activities are selected with emphasis on scouting advancement, yet, recreational, moral and inspirational need of the Scouts are not overlooked. The camp period represents a balanced program designed to fill every hour with character, and health developing activities. Periods are devoted to Scoutcraft action, instruction and construction ....Evening programs are recreational and inspirational ...stunt nights, camp fires and ceremonial council fires." 


2"x3" photo of "The Council Ring" in Mike Brown collection

Camp sessions in those early days were two weeks long, and all Scouts attended as what we today would call "Provisional Scouts". That is, troops did not attend camp as troops - each village was made up of a mixture of Scouts from around the area.

During World War Two, as with so many other Scouting activities, Camp Barton struggled to find staff who were not in the Armed Forces. Many older Scouters came back to help out - in the 1942 Camp Staff photo at left is the council's first Scoutmaster, Rev. Sidney Winter (front row, third from left), after whom today's First Class Trail area is named.


Barton Campers - 1942


Scouts at Camp in 1951

Camp Barton continued to grow through the war years and into Scouting's heyday in the 1950's and early '60's. Several buildings were added, including the Nature Lodge, a gift of the Gannet Foundation, in 1954, and several off-season camping buildings on the lakefront and on the hill.


Seabees help out at the 
1968 Building Campaign at Camp Barton

In 1968, a major fund drive was undertaken which expanded the camp property to encompass its current expanse of almost all of the area enclosed by the Frontenac Road loop, including the two gorges.A family camp area was established on the lakefront, over Trumansburg Creek, and the trading post/handicrafts lodge, health lodge, boat building (then a Sea Scout base), and administration buildings were built. The hotel was demolished, and the dining hall was expanded to its current size at this time.


Demolition of the old Frontenac Hotel

In 1975 the Louis Aggasiz Fuertes Council, comprising Tioga and Tompkins Counties merged with the Tioughnioga Council of Cortland County. The newly formed council was named "Baden-Powell Council" after the founder of Scouting, with headquarters in Dryden, New York.


Rappelling on the climbing wall, 1990

After the 1975 merger, a climbing/rappelling wall and another off-season camping building (King Cabin) have been added, and the trading post was renovated for 1993. A handicapped-accessible bathroom and campsite was added in 1995, as Barton completed its largest and most successful year in many years. A new shower building was built in 1997. The climbing wall was removed around 2002, and was replaced by a bouldering facility in the 2007 camp season. 

With the merger of Baden-Powell Council and Susquenango Council in January, 1998, 
Camp Barton joins with Camp Tuscarora in Deposit, New York, as a part of the Baden-Powell Scout Reservation.

We hope you will become part of the Barton story...

There's a web page on the Western NY Waterfall Survey website about Frontenac Falls.

Baden-Powell Council - Camp Barton, BSA

  • By mail: 
    • Council Office: Baden-Powell Council, BSA - 2150 NYS Route 12, Binghamton, NY 13901
    • During the camp season: Camp Barton, BSA - 9640 Frontenac Road, Trumansburg, NY 14886
  • By phone: 
    • Council Office:  - (607) 648-7888 - 877-674-8876 (toll free) 
    • Fax: (607) 648-7895
    • Camp phone: (607) 387-9250
  • By E-mail: 

 

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