TMR Scout Museum


History of the
Ten Mile River Scout Camps

By the middle of the 1920s Scouting was growing at a tremendous pace.  There were, at that time, living in the great city of New York men who were dreaming of vast unspoiled woodland acres as a solution to a problem, which weighed heavily on their minds and hearts.  This group was the Boy Scout Foundation of Greater New York, which was headed by a man of great foresight as well as an abundance of Boy Scout training.  His name was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who, in 1929, became Governor of New York State and eventually guided the destiny of the United States as President throughout the Depression era and World War II.

When Roosevelt organized the Boy Scout Foundation in 1922 and became its President, the camps at Kanawauke Lakes in the Palisades Interstate Park were being leased by the Boy Scouts of New York City.  At the time, Roosevelt set three objectives, one of which was a permanent camp for the N.Y.C. Boy Scouts, adequate for all time.

Year after year camp attendance had risen steadily until the possibilities for expansion were exhausted.  The camp was simply too small and no more wild lands were available in the vicinity with which to enlarge the camping facilities.  Underprivileged youth campers, mainly from New York City, filled other nearby lakes.

Accordingly, about 1924, Roosevelt's far reaching vision and limitless energies started the ball rolling toward the acquisition of a new Boy Scout camp site large enough to meet any future needs.  The campsite search committee, including two judges, Frederic Kernochan and James Cropsey, searched diligently for two years within a fifty-mile radius of New York City, but to no avail.  It was deemed absolutely essential to acquire a very large parcel of land, since it was assumed that camp attendance would continue to grow at the rapid rate of the 1920s.  The land also had to contain lakes, streams, swamps, timberland, and few main roads.  Other requirements included relative isolation from settled communities, accessibility by rail, water and public highways and an adequate water supply.  While multiple sites were considered, some seriously, no such campsite could be found within fifty miles of New York City.  

After examination of many maps and another year of careful investigation, it was found that options could be placed on thirty-two small parcels of land and farms in the region of Ten Mile River, all of which adjoined to form an area of approximately ten thousand acres.  Furthermore, this aggregation of land contained all of the several essential requirements desired. 

THE LAND IS PURCHASED

The real estate firm of Gaul & Kampfer, in Yonkers, N.Y., was authorized to purchase the property from the landowners, but not to disclose the role of the Boy Scout Foundation.  It was thought that the Foundation had access to substantial money and that there were many who would prey on that money if afforded the opportunity.

In April of 1927 the Foundation started a $1 million fundraising campaign to pay for the purchase and development of the new camp, whose location was not publically disclosed at the time.  The Monticello Republican Watchman first announced the massive land purchase in its August 12, 1927 issue.

As a testimony to the trustworthiness of those involved, no one except the purchasers knew where the new camps were to be established until all of the necessary land options were acquired.  On October 7, 1927 the thirty-two proportionate landowners were invited to Monticello for the purpose of signing the deeds and receiving payment for their lands.

Camp Brooklyn Postcard

THE BOROUGH CAMPS ARE CONSTRUCTED

It took no time at all for the Boy Scouts to commence work on the first camp.  Harvey A. Gordon was brought in from the Bear Mountain Camps as Chief of Construction.  Also involved in designing and constructing T.M.R. were Hermann Merkel, Cyde R. Place and Grosvenor S. Wright.

A construction camp was erected on Turnpike Lake and sawmills were erected near Rock Lake, Wildcat Pond and Half Moon Lake.  Sand, rock and gravel for roads and sewer systems were obtained right from the camp property.  Gordon first constructed the Brooklyn Camp on the shores of Rock Lake and had it ready for the youthful campers by the summer of 1928.

For the 1929 summer camp season, Harvey Gordon then bent to the task of building a camp on Half Moon Lake for the Staten Island Council, which that group christened "Aquehonga."  As he stated some time later, he was proud of his privilege to build these camps and wanted the boys who used them to view them with equal pride.  Therefore, the buildings were ruggedly and handsomely built to withstand the elements for fifty years or more.

On the shores of Wildcat Pond, known later as Lake Nianque, Gordon built a magnificent camp for the Bronx Council, which was named "Ranachqua."

In July of 1929 the Boy Scout Foundation purchased the 970-acre Crystal Lake tract.  In August of 1929, Governor Roosevelt addressed about 1,200 Scouts at the Brooklyn Scout Camps council ring and toured the other camps.  He was pleased with his reception and said he had as his goal 100,000 boys on the 11,000 acres within a period of years.

Harvey Gordon's report to the Foundation at the close of the camp's second season revealed an engineering and construction accomplishment of gigantic proportions covering all of the many types of buildings, sawmills, water systems, sewage systems, surveys, plans, roads and fencing.

Ranachqua Lodge, Camp Ranachqua, 1933

With the addition of the Crystal Lake tract, the new camp now consisted of more than 11,000 acres.  Harvey Gordon continued his engineering work and built for the 1930 summer camp season two camps on the shores of Crystal Lake, one for Manhattan and called by that name, and the other one for Queens which was named "Camp Man" in honor of Queens Council President Alrick H. Man.

In August of 1930, Camp Man was the scene of a very festive occasion when Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt was awarded the Silver Buffalo by Judge Frederic Kernochan.

Over the next nine years, three of the N.Y.C. Order of the Arrow Lodges were founded at T.M.R.: Suanhacky Lodge at Camp Man in 1930, Man-A-Hattin Lodge at Camp Manhattan in 1935, and Aquehongian Lodge at Camp Aquehonga in 1938.

In 1931, Frieda Schiff Warburg and her son, Frederick Schiff, donated $20,000 to the Boy Scout Foundation for the expansion of the Zumi Trail.  It was renamed and dedicated the Mortimer L. Schiff Highway, in recognition of her deceased brother.

Even after Roosevelt was elected Governor of New York State, he found time to make personal radio appeals for the raising of funds to enlarge the work of the Foundation and facilities of the camps to the point where 3,500 Boy Scouts could be given recreation and training at the same time.
 
President Roosevelt visited the T.M.R. camps again on August 23, 1933 and was inducted into Suanhacky Lodge of the Order of the Arrow at Camp Man.

THE CIVILIAN CONSERVATION CORPS CAMP

It was during Roosevelt's visit in 1933, that his lessons in Scouting brought the President to the idea that the Ten Mile River Camps would be an ideal proving ground for part of his recently organized Civilian Conservation Corps.  He saw how the Corps, whose founding was also the fruit of his Scout training, could be utilized for the building of roads, fire trails around the boundaries of the camp property, and communication lines from camp to camp.  

This idea began to take shape within two months, when, on October 12, 1933, work commenced on erecting C.C.C. Camp Ten Mile River, No. S-85, near the outlet of Turnpike Pond.  Many local men were involved as foremen over the young men who made up the Corps.  The C.C.C. camp operated for several years until the program was terminated in April 1936 and the camp buildings were turned over to the Boy Scouts.

THE "RED DOT" TRAIL IS BLAZED

In the mid-1930s, two particular individuals from the Brooklyn Camps, Morty Hyman and Nick Dale, initiated an ambitious project to connect the entire reservation with a trail system, which would pass through each camp.  They had previously blazed the White Bar Trail in the Brooklyn Camps.  Thus, the Ten Mile River Trail was begun.  It was difficult work for in many areas the forest and brush were very dense, but work continued until the "Red Dot Trail" was completed.  In the same era, the hike sites along the trail were also developed.  Each site had, and most still has, three lean-tos, a latrine, and a pump or piped spring.  The T.M.R. Trail is, to this day, maintained along its 42-mile length by various Scouting groups and interested friends.

THE CAMP CONSOLIDATION

From 1928-1937 each of the five Borough Councils comprising New York City Scouting operated independently with camping facilities totally independent of each other. In 1937, the Boy Scout Foundation of Greater New York consolidated to put management under one head for greater efficiency and uniformity in programming.  At this time the office of Chief Camp Director was established.  In March of 1938, Alfred C. Nichols Jr., who was one of the foremost camping men in the Boy Scouts of America, filled this office.  Under his leadership, the Ten Mile River Scout Camps enjoyed a steady and healthy growth.  The five Borough camp directors now reported to Mr. Nichols instead of their Borough Councils.  In 1938, the new reservation-wide staff took over the former C.C.C. camp on Turnpike Lake for their headquarters.

Alfred C. Nichols, Jr.

Camp Kernochan, named in honor of Justice Frederic Kernochan, a Judge of Special Sessions and avid Scouter, was dedicated in 1939 and paid for by his friends.

DEVELOPMENT OF HOME TROOP CAMPS

“Al” Nichols strongly encouraged home Troop camps, not provisional camps, which was the norm at T.M.R. at the time, and changes starting occurring all over the reservation.  In 1939 the Brooklyn Camps converted from 100-boy campsites to 32-boy campsites under four major numbered (and later named) Divisions. 

THE WAR YEARS

During the war years of 1942-1945, there was great difficulty in getting staff to man the camps since most every healthy, able-bodied young man was involved in the war effort.  During this time some decreases in population occurred due to the hardships of the nation.  The bus service to Ten Mile River, which had been established in the middle 1930s, simply became unavailable due to the difficulty in procuring gasoline and rubber.  Therefore, train service to camp was reestablished, and for the first time in several years the Scouts made their way to camp on the "Erie."  But many of the Scouts had to attend the summer camp operation at Kanes Open at Tallman, N.Y. instead of traveling to T.M.R. since Kanes Open was able to maintain a more complete staff during the war years.

GROWTH CONTINUES

Ten Mile River continued to expand and build.  In 1946, the dining hall at Camp Kunatah was completed and in 1945 Camp Rondack was constructed.  Rondack was the first experiment in the modern style of "Troop Camping."  The camp was specifically built with 32-boy Troop-sized sites rather than 100 boy-sized sites as was typical of the provisional style of camping, which had been the rule until that time.  The experiment was successful and Troop camping was encouraged more and more.

Talequa Lodge, Camp Brooklyn

Ten Mile River continued to expand and build.  In 1946, the dining hall at Camp Kunatah was completed and in 1945 Camp Rondack was constructed.  Rondack was the first experiment in the modern style of "Troop Camping."  The camp was specifically built with 32-boy Troop-sized sites rather than 100 boy-sized sites as was typical of the provisional style of camping, which had been the rule until that time.  The experiment was successful and Troop camping was encouraged more and more.

In June of 1940, the largest structure at Ten Mile River met a fiery fate.  Talequah Lodge, which had served as the Brooklyn Camps headquarters building since 1928, was reduced to a heap of ashes in a matter of hours.  In August of 1950, the original Division "E" Dining Hall at Camp Ranachqua burned down and was replaced the following year with a new and much larger dining hall.  This is the same structure used as today's Camp Ranachqua dining hall.

Starting in the early 1950s, Districts were encouraged to reserve blocks of campsites for T.M.R. District Camps.  It was felt that N.Y.C. Troops would prefer to camp together where practicable.  Districts provided their own staff of Commissioners and program specialists, who attended free as members of the camp staff.  District Camps encouraged home Troops to attend camp and boy attendance at T.M.R. soared.

In August of 1952, the Silver Jubilee of Ten Mile River was held on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the camp's founding.  By that time Ten Mile River had more than 250,000 alumni, having served an average of roughly 10,000 boys in each of the proceeding 25 summers.  In June of 1952, former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt gave Manhattan Scout Mark Sobell of Troop 702 a 25th anniversary neckerchief as the 250,000th Scout to register for Ten Mile River.  By this time her late husband's fond dream of a camp that could accommodate 3,500 Scouts at one time had been fully realized.

In 1952, the Greater New York Councils began operating for Explorer Units a self-reliant Wilderness Explorer Camp on Davis Lake, which had previously been operated as a Troop camp called "Waramaug" by Troop 123 of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.  In 1958, under Camp Director Denver Wallace, the new camp, called “Camp Davis Lake” was opened as a truly primitive camp.  Troops were required to prepare their own meals and for the most part provide their own program though staff was now available to supplement the program.  During the last week of that summer at Davis Lake, the first Explorer Camp was run successfully.  Powerboats were brought in a water skiing program that provided some true high adventure!

THE ORDER OF THE ARROW

Until the mid-1950s, the Order of the Arrow elected and inducted its members exclusively at T.M.R.  Its activities outside of summer camp included monthly chapter meetings and social or service events.  The O.A. became a home-troop based organization starting around 1953.  Camp chapters became district chapters and elections were shifted to home Troops in the city.  Over the next several years, Scouts elected by their home Troops in the city had the option of being inducted on a weekend by the district chapter or presenting their letter of election and being tapped out and inducted during one of the four two-week camp periods.  This choice was phased out at the end of the 1950s, basically ending Order of the Arrow participation in the camp program.

THE BIG CAMP REORGANIZATIONS OF THE 1950S

By the middle of the 1950s Ten Mile River was organized differently than it had been at it's founding.  Instead of eleven 100-boy camps around Rock Lake comprising "Brooklyn Camps," there were now four distinct camps known as Kunatah, Kotohke, Chappegat, and Ihpetonga.  On Crystal Lake, the original Camp Manhattan was now Camp Keowa and Camp Rondack; while the old "Queens Camp" known as Camp Man was now Camp Kernochan, Camp Lakeside, and Camp Central.  On Lake Nianque the original "Bronx Camps," known as Divisions "A," "C," and "E" were now Family Camp (or “Zumi Village”), Camp Nianque, and Camp Stillwaters respectively.  Only Camp Aquehonga remained essentially unchanged by this time.  However, despite the name and organizational changes, the reservation still had the same basic boundaries and very much the same Borough loyalties to the camps, which had existed since the beginning.

Camp Kotohke closed after the 1956 season.  Its waterfront was not accessible by emergency vehicles and the camp itself was difficult to reach at the end of a long road.

The Council was also actively purchasing parcels of land bordering the Ten Mile River property so as to increase the potential of the physical operation.  In 1959, the old Half Moon Lake Hotel property was purchased giving the Greater New York Councils full ownership of Half Moon Lake.  This would later become new Camp Aquehonga and the "Barta House."

THE B.S.A. 50th ANNIVERSARY CAPITAL DEVELOPMENT CAMPAIGN

By 1960, home Troops in increasing numbers attended Ten Mile River under their own leadership.  New concepts were developed under the title of “self-reliant camping.”  Instead of sleeping in cabins or lean-tos and eating in dining halls, Scouts would sleep in tents in their campsites and cook their own food.
 
To fund the huge capital expenditures required, in 1960 the Greater New York Councils conducted the 50th anniversary of Scouting Capital Campaign with the expressed purpose of building capital projects at Ten Mile River and the other weekend camps.  This campaign was enormously successful and among the facilities constructed were the staff and family cabins at Rock Lake, Crystal Lake, and Lake Nianque.  The entire Headquarters service area including the administration building, the main trading post, the health lodge, the maintenance shop, the central warehouse and fourteen Adirondack shelters for housing key staff and families were also constructed during this era.

The residual effect of this capital infusion was to continue to increase the boy population so that at its peak in 1965 Ten Mile River was operating eleven camps with a peak usage of nearly 12,000 boy-weeks.  In 1962, Camp Stillwaters was renamed Camp Ranachqua.  In 1963, Camp Chappegat was absorbed into an expanded Camp Kunatah.

TEN MILE RIVER OUTPOST CAMPS

In 1965, T.M.R. Program Director John Duffy began the Outpost Camp program.  Patterned after Philmont Scout Ranch, the eleven T.M.R. camps were each responsible for staffing a nearby Outpost Camp.  Scouts participated in an afternoon program, cooked their own meals and slept overnight at the camp.  Among these were canoeing, archery, survival, fishing, sailing and Indian-lore camps.  Less popular Outpost Camps dropped over the years and by 1973 only five remained.

In 1966, the riverfront property known as the "Conklin Farm" was purchased.  This enabled the development of a "Canoe Base" from which the Delaware River canoeing operation was first developed.  A number of other parcels were purchased in both New York and immediately across the river in Pennsylvania until the land holdings at Ten Mile River totaled more than 14,000 acres.

“SELF-RELIANT” CAMPING INTRODUCED

By 1967, “self-reliant” camping programs were available at T.M.R.  Instead of dining hall feeding, Troops cooked at least one meal each day in their site, using sheepherder stoves, patrol boxes, dining flies and kitchen tarps.  Troops could either cook their own dinners or receive it, ready to eat, in insulated “heater stacks.”  Modified Baker tents were provided for shelter.  As a result, dining halls closed in Camps Kernochan and Ranachqua and many Troops moved to the remaining dining hall camps.  Over the following years, many other dining hall camps closed at T.M.R.

In anticipation of further increases in population in the late 1960s, Camp Davis Lake was renovated and expanded in 1968.  In that same year a brand new and expansive Camp Aquehonga was constructed on the opposite shore of Half Moon Lake and the much smaller old Camp Aquehonga was abandoned.  In 1969, yet another new camp was completed and opened on the opposite shore of Davis Lake.  It was first called Davis Lake West but was rededicated as Camp Hayden in 1970.  Also in 1970, Camp Sanita Hills in Holmes, New York, was prepared for summer camp usage and Tom Voute, the successful camp director from Davis Lake, got the call as its first director.  For the first time in almost two decades, the Greater New York Councils was operating summer camps in two distinct locations.

In August of 1969, not long after the Scouts in Ten Mile River had applauded the great event of the first manned moon landing, another momentous occasion took place not 240,000 miles away but less than ten.  The Woodstock Music Festival was held at Yasgur's Farm in Bethel, N.Y., not three miles from the northernmost boundary of the Ten Mile River Scout Camps.  Though the camp management ordered heavy equipment parked at every back entrance to the reservation in an effort to dissuade enthusiastic concertgoers from camping on Scout property, many of the staff spent their days off attending the festival if they could find a way to get close.  In the evenings during that time, the music of the festival could be plainly heard in Camp Keowa.

HARD TIMES IN THE 1970's

By the late 1960s and early 1970s, attendance at Ten Mile River began to dwindle.  The aftermath of the Vietnam War had created a deep rift in the American consciousness. Values were changing rapidly and Scouting was getting lost in this re-adjustment.  The National Scouting movement experimented with new programs, which tended to depart somewhat from the things which made Scouting great; namely, camping and the outdoor program.  Scouting enrollment plummeted in New York City and the corresponding effect at Ten Mile River was fewer boys at camp.  Some of the very same persons who were involved in the ambitious capital expansions of the 1960s were now forced, by real economic circumstances, to do an about face.

In 1969, Camp Lakeside was absorbed into an expanded Camp Kernochan, which closed its dining hall and converted into a Troop-cooking camp with new campsites.  Camp Nianque, which had a long history going back to 1929 when it was known as Bronx Division "C," was closed in 1969 for lack of attendance.  At the end of 1973, Camps Davis Lake and Rondack were closed for the same reason.  Thus, by 1974, where eleven camps had operated a decade earlier, six were still open.  The Ranachqua Blockhouse, an icon of the Bronx Camps since 1929, was intentionally burned down in December of 1975 as a result of decay due to inadequate maintenance.

In 1976, the Greater New York Councils no longer found it feasible to operate Camp Hayden but an agreement was worked out with Rockland County Council to lease the camp.  By 1977, Camp Ranachqua also became infeasible to operate but another agreement was worked out with Hudson Delaware Council to lease this property and it reopened in 1980.  In 1982, Camp Kernochan, the final remnant of the original three Queens camps, was shut down.

T.M.R.'S 50TH ANNIVERSARY

On July 30, 1977 Ten Mile River celebrated its 50th anniversary with a gala celebration at Camp Keowa.  Members of Aquehongian Lodge hiked the 120 miles from Camp Pouch to T.M.R. on a nine-day trip, saluting the anniversary.
The same year, Federal funds became available for summer camp programs for N.Y.C. youth.  This was seen as a way to dramatically increase attendance at T.M.R., which had dropped in previous years.  Thus, the “Country Adventure” program was instituted, bringing many N.Y.C. youth without camping experience or even a Scouting background to Ten Mile River.  Boys were organized into provisional Troops and attended camp alongside traditional Troops.  Generally young and inexperienced Provisional Scoutmasters were hired, leading to considerable friction with the traditional Troops.  The “Country Adventure” program ended in 1983.

DISTRICT AND COUNCIL PROVISIONAL TROOPS

By 1984, City Districts organized provisional Troops, consisting of Scouts within the District and adult leadership from the District professional staff and volunteers.  This further encouraged attendance at T.M.R.  G.N.Y.C. also organized its own provisional Troop, the T.M.R. Adventure Troop, which continues to the present day.

While Boy Scout membership was declining in the early 1980s, Cub and Webelos membership was holding firm.  The T.M.R. Cub Camp started in 1985 at Keowa for Cubs and Webelos as a one-week experimental camp.

B.S.A. 75TH ANNIVERSARY CAPITAL CAMPAIGN

In 1985, the 75th Anniversary Capital Campaign raised at least $1.2 million, mostly spent on purchasing new equipment and upgrading facilities at T.M.R.  In 1986, T.M.R. offered a seven-day Junior Leader Training Conference at Camp Keowa called the “Big Oak Experience.”  Scouts received instruction in Scoutcraft and patrol or troop job skills.  Also in 1986, the Ten Mile River Great Expedition, a weeklong backpacking program, was introduced for older Scouts with previous camp experience.  Scouts hiked the T.M.R. Trail, visiting the camps and participated in a variety of exciting camp activities.

THE TEN MILE RIVER RALLY

In May of 1986, G.N.Y.C. sponsored the T.M.R. Rally for Junior Leaders.  Overnight facilities, most meals and a closing show were provided at Camp Keowa.  Different activity areas were established all over the reservation and transportation was provided by the camp bus.  The Rally was repeated again in 1988.

T.M.R.'S 60TH ANNIVERSARY

More than 500 T.M.R. Alumni celebrated its 60th anniversary on July 25, 1987 at Camp Keowa.  The daylong affair included opening remarks, a buffet lunch and a walk through the old camps.

In 1990, the T.M.R. Trail was designated a Nationally Approved Historic Trail by National Council, B.S.A.  Scouts completing the Trail Award requirements received a pocket patch, backpatch, medal and award bars.  The following year, T.M.R. offered an expanded program for Cubs and Webelos at Camps Kunatah and Keowa, consisting of four weeks of Cub Camp and seven weeks of Webelos camp.  District and Borough provisional Packs were also available.

GROWTH OF T.M.R. SPECIALITY CAMPS

Starting in the 1990s, T.M.R. expanded the number and variety of specialty camps offered.  This helped boost camp attendance and utilize the underused camp facilities that were available.  In 1991, Scouts could attend Equestrian Camp at the Ponderosa Ranch, the Eagle Trail, Aquatics and Sports Camps at Camp Keowa, the Junior Leader Training Conference at Camp Aquehonga and the T.M.R. Historic Trail Expedition, based at Camp Kunatah.  In 1992, T.M.R. began a High Adventure Trek program along the T.M.R. Trail.  Each 3-7 day trek was custom-designed and had the option of including a canoe trip down the Delaware River.  Also in 1992, T.M.R. offered the North Wind Escape Specialty Camp at Camp Kunatah, with a focus on hiking, wilderness survival and Indian lore.

Camp Kernochan reopened again in 1993 with new basketball courts, updated facilities and program equipment.  Camping was in tents or lean-tos with dining hall feeding.  In subsequent years, primarily non-traditional scouts including the In-School Scouting program attended the camp.

From 1995-1998, there was substantial improvement of infrastructure at T.M.R.  Financial support from G.N.Y.C. made it possible to improve and upgrade existing facilities as well as construct numerous new structures.  In 1997, the Village at T.M.R. was established at the former Camp Lakeside site on Crystal Lake.  It offered a variety of programs designed for first-year campers, including a Scout skills area, a fishing station and a barnyard animal petting zoo.

T.M.R.'S 70TH ANNIVERSARY

T.M.R. celebrated its 70th Anniversary on July 19, 1997 at Headquarters Camp.  Alumni heard speeches, toured the camps and bid in a memorabilia auction.  Also in 1997, the present version of the Ten Mile River Scout Museum opened as part of the Main Trading Post at Headquarters Camp.  In 1999, the museum moved to its present home, and operated with a full-time staff for the first time.

In 1998, T.M.R. offered the High Adventure Specialty Camp and the Law Enforcement Explorer Camp, both at Camp Kunatah and two specialty camps for Explorers at Camp Keowa.

IMPACT OF COUNCIL CONSOLIDATIONS AND THE INTERNET

Starting in the 1990s two trends combined to help boost camp attendance at T.M.R.  The first was the consolidation, mainly for financial reasons, of many small B.S.A. councils into far larger “super” councils, resulting in the closing of many summer camps.  Troops that faithfully attended their council summer camps for years suddenly found them closed and had to decide where to go.  Some went to T.M.R. instead of their “new” council summer camp.  The second trend was widespread use of the Internet, which provided easy access to T.M.R. camp information on the tenmileriver.org web site.

Beginning in 1999, attendance by traditional G.N.Y.C. Troops at T.M.R. started a slow decline.  Attendance by out-of-council Troops at T.M.R. surged between 1997-2003.  For the first time, in 2002, out-of-council attendance exceeded attendance by traditional G.N.Y.C. Troops at T.M.R.

OUTREACH TO MORMON AND KESHER SCOUT GROUPS

In 1998, under Director of Camping A. Richard Greene, Mormon Scout groups in New York and New Jersey were recruited to organize one-week camps at T.M.R., further boosting camp attendance.  Kesher Scouting, a national orthodox Jewish youth organization, took over multiple weeks at Camp Kunatah, which was then the only kosher Boy Scout camp in the United States.

As a result, T.M.R.'s attendance jumped from 3,800 Scouts to almost 6,000 Scouts in 2002.  Camp Keowa absorbed the old Rondack area, becoming a Greater Camp Keowa, covering the same territory as the original Camp Manhattan.  Camp Kernochan, now specializing in Outreach and In-School programs, absorbed most of old Lakeside, making it a greater Kernochan.  Ten Mile River began providing camp support and services at Camp Ranachqua under the leadership of a camp director selected by Hudson Valley Council.  Camp Ranachqua was opened to both Hudson Valley and New York City Scouts for the first time.

CAMPOREE 2000

In early July of 2000, G.N.Y.C. sponsored Camporee 2000 at T.M.R., immediately before the start of the regular summer camp season.  Special activities were held at all the T.M.R. camps, ending with a gala evening show at Camp Keowa.

T.M.R.'S 75TH ANNIVERSARY

On July 20, 2002, over 600 T.M.R. alumni celebrated its 75th anniversary with a gala celebration at Headquarters Camp.  The program included a midway, T.M.R. history jeopardy game, visits to the Museum, donut farm recreation and various dedications.

In 2002, T.M.R. offered an expanded selection of specialty camps, including Venturing Camp, Law Enforcement Camp, High Adventure Trek, Trail to Eagle Camp, Junior Leader Training Course, T.M.R. Provisional Camp and Scuba Camp.

DECLINING CAMP ATTENDANCE DURING THE 2000S

Attendance at Camp Kernochan grew from 1997-2002, filled with youths from Learning for Life, a non-traditional program sponsored by the B.S.A.  Starting in 2003, Camp Kernochan attendance dropped and the camp closed in 2004.  Out-of-council attendance grew during this period and traditional G.N.Y.C. Troop attendance slowly declined. As a result, overall T.M.R. attendance dropped from 6,000 boy-weeks in 2002 to about 4,500 boy-weeks in 2005.

Camp Kunatah closed in 2007, due to declining overall attendance, a deteriorating dining hall and the inability of Kesher Scouts to supply sufficient youths to justify the camp operation.  In 2008, T.M.R. attendance dropped below 4,000 boy-weeks for the first time in recent memory.

POTENTIAL NATIONAL JAMBOREE SITE

When Camp Kunatah closed, the entire section of T.M.R. below Route 23 was unused, except for the climbing station on Indian Cliffs.
 
In June of 2008, National Council, B.S.A. announced that local councils interested in permanently hosting the National Scout Jamboree should submit proposals.  Requirements included 5,000 acres to be donated or leased for 100 years, water, natural beauty, transportation, ability to also host World Jamborees, and use as a B.S.A. high adventure/training center in non-jamboree years.

The Greater New York Councils submitted a proposal for the land below Route 23, including a detailed map suggesting how the site would be developed.  The main camp would be located between Davis Lake and Rock Lake, with activity areas along the Delaware River, elsewhere on the property and a huge amphitheater at the north end of Rock Lake.  It was thought that very few B.S.A. Councils could provide the required 5,000 acres and compete with the G.N.Y.C. proposal.  Eventually, the search expanded to non-B.S.A. properties and a site in West Virginia was selected and announced by the B.S.A. in November of 2009.

JACK RUDIN DONATION

In 2008, the Greater New York Councils announced a $1 million donation by real estate developer and longtime Board member Jack Rudin, for improvement of camp facilities, mostly at T.M.R.  The most significant construction took place at Camp Keowa, which Mr. Rudin served as a staff member in the 1930s when it was Camp Manhattan.  From 2008-2011 the Jack Rudin donation paid for Camp Keowa improvements, including a new waterfront, trading post, provisional campsite and an amphitheater.

ACQUISITION OF LANDMARK CAMP BUILDINGS BY THE T.M.R. SCOUT MUSEUM

In 2010, under the leadership of Museum Trustee John Romanovich, the T.M.R. Scout Museum started moving landmark buildings from long-closed T.M.R. camps to the Museum grounds.  The buildings were then restored and used for display or storage purposes.  In May of 2010, the Kernochan Blockhouse, longtime symbol of Camp Kernochan, was moved to the Museum.  In November of 2010, the Cayuga/Kotohke Cabin, the last standing remnant of the Brooklyn Scout Camps was also moved.  Plans are to move the Jerry Reamer/Kunatah Trading Post to the Museum in 2012.

INCREASING CAMP ATTENDANCE

In 2011, summer camp attendance at T.M.R. jumped by 23%, due to strong increases in participation by both out-of-council and G.N.Y.C. Troops, the largest such increase in at least the previous 15 years.  Projections for the 2012 season predict that T.M.R. attendance will equal if not surpass the 2011 attendance.  Only time will tell if this is the start of a trend towards sustained and growing attendance at the Ten Mile River Scout Camps.

The T.M.R. Camps

* Accaponac (Bk)
* Aquehonga (SI)*
* Brooklyn (Bk)
* Central (Qn)
* Chappegat (Bk)
* Connetquot (Bk)
* Davis Lake (Bk)
* Family Camp (Bx)*
* Hayden (Bk)
* Iheptonga (Bk)
* Kanohvet (Bk)
* Keowa (Mn)*
* Kernochan (Qn)
* Kotohke (Bk)
* Kowamoak (Bk)
* Kunatah (Bk)
* Lakeside (Qn)
* Man (Qn)
* Manahattan (Mn)
* Nianque (Bx)
* Oseetah (Bk)
* Ranachqua (Bx)*
* Rondack (Mn)
* Sacut (Bk)
* Stehahe (Bk)
* Stillwaters (Bx)
* Tahlequah (Bk)
* Tanawadah (Bk)
* Waramaug (Bk)
* Wapaga (Bk)
* Zumi Village (Bx)

Key: Brooklyn (Bk), Bronx (Bx), Queens (Qn), Manhattan (Mn), Staten Island (SI)
* Currently in use.

Last Updated: August 12, 2012
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