History of Scouting in the Baden-Powell Council
1903 – Returning as a hero from the Boer War, a British Army General, Robert S.S. Baden-Powell, discovered that boys in England had been using a manual he had written for training military guides and intelligence agents (“scouts”), Aids to Scouting. They called themselves “Boy Scouts”, because they were using the skills of scouts and they were boys… Baden-Powell realized that the methods he had used in training military scouts and organizing boys at the Siege of Mafeking during the Boer War could be used in a more formal way to train boys in citizenship, character and fitness.
1907 – Baden-Powell tried out his ideas in a pioneer camp at Brownsea Island near Southampton.
1908 – Baden-Powell revised the military manual to be more relevant to a youth movement, and the new book, called Scouting for Boys, was published in six bi-weekly parts in 1908. The Scouting Movement was born, and it began to spread.
1909 – There was at least one Boy Scout troop in Ithaca, started by the boys on the British model based on Baden-Powell’s Scouting for Boys. Like most such very early troops, it did not last very long.
1910 – William D. Boyce, a Chicago newspaperman, returned from England with information about what Baden-Powell was doing, and in 1910 the Boy Scouts of America was founded. Rev. Sidney Winter of Owego received the first Scoutmaster’s warrant from the new National Headquarters in that year.
1911 – Scout Troops chartered by the BSA began to spring up in the six-county area which today is the Baden-Powell Council.
1912 – General Baden-Powell embarked upon a world tour to promote the new Boy Scout movement, which he described in his 1913 book Boy Scouts Beyond the Seas. During his visit to the United States, he made a detour to see the George Junior Republic in Freeville, New York. Freeville is now part of the Taughannock District of the Baden-Powell Council, home to a Cub Pack and Scout Troop. The Sea Scout program was started by the BSA in this year.
1916 – LeRoy Pritchard becomes the first Eagle Scout in Ithaca.
By the mid- to late-teens there were Scout Troops all over our Council area – but, as yet, no Scout Councils. Troops would be founded by local men and boys and charters would be issued directly by the national organization in New York City. As the movement grew and the number of troops multiplied, it became obvious that there needed to be some sort of coordinating body which would work with and support the existing troops, as well as organizing new troops. And thus the Scout Council was born. The first councils were small, covering only a single city or even a town, and the first councils in our area were organized and run by volunteers under the leadership of a Council Commissioner. Such councils were called “Second Class Councils”.
1917 – Second Class Councils formed in at least Ithaca and Cortland. There were also Second Class Councils in Trumansburg, Owego and Interlaken, and perhaps others, although the dates of founding of these councils are unknown.
1918 – At the invitation of Rev. Alvin C. Sawtell and the Scoutmasters of the Binghamton troops, a meeting was held February 8, 1918 at the Chamber of Commerce, to discuss the Boy Scout situation in Binghamton and its vicinity. The group decided to organize a local council. Ten days later Daniel Carter Beard, the National Scout Commissioner, inaugurated the organizational meeting of the “Binghamton Local Council.” The region served by the Council was the City of Binghamton; Endicott and Johnson City were known as “affiliates” of the Council. Camp Roosevelt, which was not owned by the Binghamton Council, was used for summer camp.
1920 – At the insistence of the National Council, the name of the Binghamton Local Council was changed to “Susquenango Council” – by this time, the Council had two camps – Camp Russell (weekly fee $7) and Camp Kiwanis (weekly fee $3). Central New York Jamboree is held at Cornell University. Troop 20 is founded in 1920 at the Reconstruction Home in Ithaca as one of the first troops in the nation for what were then called “crippled boys”.
1921 – Endicott and Johnson City (including Vestal, Maine, and other outlying areas) separated from the Susquenango Council to form the “Fair Play Council.”
1922 – Sam Bogan is hired as the first Scout Executive at the Ithaca Council. Bogan later recalled that his first impression of Ithaca was a blend of bad weather and beautiful waterfalls. Susquenango Council moves from the Heath Block to the Berry Block in Binghamton, and formally incorporates on December 7th, 1922.
1923 – First year of operation of Camp Barton on Cayuga Lake, at Taughannock Point (the location of what today is Taughannock Falls State Park). The first year’s camp was marred by an outbreak of polio. The very famous Louis Agassiz Fuertes (1874-1927) acclaimed as America’s greatest painter of bircil was a frequent visitor, lecturer and campfire speaker during the 1923 to 1926 period of Camp Barton. He was always known by Scouts as “Uncle Louie,” and was a visitor at Camp who attracted the attention of Campers because of his ability to not only name and describe birds but could whistle the song of each bird he would speak about and in some cases would sketch a bird to illustrate any talk. Susquenango Council builds a Council Scout cabin on Deyo Hill.
1924 – Chenango County joins the Susquenango Council.
1925 – A campsite on Cincinnatus Lake was purchased in January 1925 and named Camp Spalding in honor of the Council President, R. Z. Spalding.
1927 – Following the death of Louis Agassiz Fuertes when struck by a train at the Potter’s Corner railroad crossing near Unadilla in 1927, at the request of the Scouts themselves the Ithaca Council of Boy Scouts became the Louis Agassiz Fuertes Council. After the 1926 season, the State of New York took over Taughannock Point, and it was necessary to find another place for Camp Barton. After much searching, 89 acres with an old hotel and about 3,000 feet of lake frontage was found just up the lake at Frontenac Point. The price was $14,600, which was quickly raised, and today’s Camp Barton was ours. The new Camp Barton was dedicated on July 15, 1927, at a ceremony which drew over a thousand visitors despite a heavy rainstorm. Cortland County Scouting becomes part of the Onondaga-Cortland Council, headquartered in Syracuse.
1928 – The Louis Agassiz Fuertes Council absorbs the rest of Tompkins County. E. E. “Dusty” Bredbenner becomes the first Cubmaster in the area, as BSA experiments with a new program for younger boys.
1930 – Cubs BSA becomes an official BSA program for 9-11 year old boys (it will not be called “Cub Scouts” until the 1940’s). The lake tug Iroquois runs aground off Frontenac Point. The Scouts of Camp Barton, using their lifesaving skills learned in Scouting, rescued the crew of the tug without loss of life. The remains of the Iroquois can still be seen when the lake level is low, and are a destination for local divers. An Indian Village with tepees is added at Camp Spaulding.
1933 – Tioga County joins the Louis Agassiz Fuertes Council. The Fair Play and Susquenango Councils merge. Fair Play Council’s Camp Kiamesha (“Land of the High Beautiful Waters”) was leased to Susquenango Council for two years; in 1935 it became the property of the Council.
1935 – First National Jamboree, in Washington DC, is organized – and canceled a few days before it was to open because of a polio outbreak in DC. Disastrous floods hit the Southern Tier – the road into Camp Spalding was washed out and the dam at the end of Cincinnatus Lake was swept away. With the drop in water level, the camp docks ended up 100 yards from the lake. The Council offered to donate $1000, but the reconstruction of the dam was never accomplished.
1936 – Camp Kiamesha becomes the official summer camp for Susquenango Council, with Camp Spalding reserved for Troop camping.
1937 – National Jamboree is held in Washington DC.
1939 – Cortland County Scouts secede from Cortland-Onandaga Council and form the Tioughnioga Council under the leadership of Judge Ames, Dr. Wattenburg and Fred Purchas, despite discouragement from National Headquarters. They chose a local man, Bernard Rodenheizer, to be the first Council Executive, and he opened the new council’s office in Cortland in 1939. Susquenango Council moves to the Old State Armory in Binghamton
1941 – Air Scouts is formed by the BSA, with its own uniforms, rank advancement, merit badges, etc., as an aviation oriented program similar to the naval-oriented Sea Scouts.
1942 – World War II brought gas and food rationing; summer camp operations for the Susquenango Council were consolidated at Camp Spalding.
1946(?) – Camp Cobako (named after the COrtland BAking COmpany which donated the land) is set up on Blue Creek Road in Cortland. The camp is quickly renamed “Camp Tioughnioga” (or “Camp Ti”, for short). Many of the troops from Cortland built Scout Huts at Camp Ti and summer camp was held there for many years, but as the concept of Scout Camp evolved, and health codes became more strict, it became obvious that a larger facility was needed.
1949 – End of the Air Scouts program. Explorer program begins – all 14-17 year old Scouts become Explorers, wearing a dark green uniform.
1950 – Camp Purchas in Lincklaen opens as the Tioughnioga Council’s summer camp, and Camp Tioughnioga is relegated to use as a weekend campsite.
1952 – Sidney Winter Lodge (then the “Training Center”) and Gannett Lodge (now the Nature Lodge) built at Camp Barton. Camp Spaulding closes.
1953 – Camp Spalding and Camp Kiamesha are sold, Camp Summit in Deposit opens – it is soon renamed “Camp Tuscarora”.
1955 – Susquenango Council opens new service center on Jensen Road in Vestal.
1958 – The Explorer program is changed to career orientation, older Scouts are once again “Scouts”.
1968 – Camp Barton capital drive leads to expansion of the camp. Additional land was purchased, expanding Barton up to Route 89. The old Hotel was torn down (left), and the Administration Building, Trading Post / Handicrafts building (then the “QM building”), Boat Building (originally intended to be a Sea Scout base), Health Lodge, Ranger’s house and the Family Camp cabins were constructed. On top of the hill, a Cub Pavilion (later used for Horsemanship) and Chase Lodge were built.
1969 – The New Exploring Program is introduced by BSA – girls 14-20 years old can join.
1972(?) – Camp Tioughnioga is sold.
1974 – Last summer camp season for Camp Purchas in Lincklaen. The camp remains in use as a training center and camporee site until its sale twenty years later.
1975 – The original Baden-Powell Council (Release 1.0) is formed by the merger of the Louis Agassiz Fuertes Council (Tompkins and Tioga Counties) and the Tioughnioga Council (Cortland County). The council headquarters was in Dryden, New York. The first Council Executive was John (“Jack”) Bennison, who remained in that position for more than 10 years. The council originally had four districts – Fuertes-Frontenac, Tioga, Tiohero and Tioughnioga – but the Tiohero District was almost immediately merged into Tioughnioga.
1977 – King Cabin is built at Camp Barton.
1984 – Varsity Scouts is introduced by the BSA, although the program is never implemented in this area.
1989 – Climbing wall is built at Camp Barton.
1990 – Baden-Powell Council builds new council office in Dryden.
1994 – Camp Barton shower house built. Camp Purchas is sold.
1997 – Tioga and Fuertes-Frontenac Districts were merged into a new Louis Agassiz Fuertes District.
1998 – Baden-Powell Council (Release 2.0) is formed by the merger of the original Baden-Powell Council and the Susquenango Council. The council initially had five districts- Chenango (Chenango Co.), Delahanna (Susquehanna Co., PA), L.A.Fuertes (Tioga Co. and most of Tompkins Co.), Mohawk (Broome Co.) and Tioughnioga (Cortland Co. plus Dryden, Lansing and Groton). This was soon reduced to four, with the Tompkins County part of the L.A. Fuertes District and the Tioughnioga District merged into the present Taughannock District, and the Tioga County part of L.A.F. joining Mohawk in the present Hiawatha District. Venturing is introduced by the BSA for boys and girls aged 14-20.
1999 – Former Baden-Powell Council headquarters building in Dryden is sold.
2001 – Camp Barton climbing wall is taken down.
2017 – Varsity Scouts is discontinued by the BSA.
2018 – Girls in 1st-5th grade can join Cub Scouts. New Shower House was completed at Tuscarora.
2019 – Girls 11-17 years old can join Scouts BSA (formerly “Boy Scouts”)