2007 - Contributed by G. Ernest Heegard
In More than sixty years have passed, but the memories of my first week at Horseshoe for summer camp are just as vivid today as they were that first summer in my Stockade campsite.
After arriving at Horseshoe, I dashed off to the front porch of the White House to check in, then out the back door to join some other Scouts bound for the Kit Carson Stockade, our camp-site for the next 2 weeks. Each camp-site (or stockade as they were called in the early years,) was named for a key person or place in history. The names and buildings have not changed over the years, and have been wonderfully maintained by the Order of the Arrow.
Scouts fall in
in front of their bunk houses. Ossie Spellman is pictured on the leader's cabin porch (right
1935 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III
The five original sites were constructed of cypress wood, consisting of a leaders' cabin flanked by four bunk houses - each with only a back wall and 2 canvas roll-down sides. Sherwood Forest was on top of the hill and named for Robin Hood's hide-out. Then proceeding down (or south) along the stockade trail (the upper part of this trail is paved and part of the loop road), you encounter the Boonesboro Stockade named for Daniel Boone. Further on the trail, is the third stockade, Kit Carson, named for a western pioneer. The remaining two camp-sites are: Davie Crockett, named for a famous woodsman; and Bayard Taylor, a Chester County legend.
The Taylor stockade straddles the Mason-Dixon Line, separating Maryland and Pennsylvania. This dividing line actually passes through the middle of the leaders' cabin, leaving half of the group sleeping in Maryland, and the other half sleeping in Pennsylvania.
Each stockade was staffed by a college student, with a strong Scouting background, and employed as a “provisional” troop leader for the summer. Scoutmasters rarely attended camp, but would drop by from time to time. Most Scouts came to camp as individuals, or with 3 or 4 from the same troop, depending on their choice of camping periods.
A Scout's first Sunday at camp was jampacked with many things to be accomplished - preparing your bunk by filling a canvas sack with straw, hiking to the pool for a swim check, and orienting ourselves with a quick guided hike around the camp.
Upon returning to Carson we quickly donned our uniforms for inspection. The Scouts required a bit of adjusting by our leaders to form this diverse group of individuals from many different troops to look like a cohesive, functioning Scout troop. A few extra minutes were then spent learning the Kit Carson Stockade song: “Over hill, over dale, As we hit the dusty trail, To Kit Carson, the best camp of all!........” and a couple of cheers for the 'song and cheer challenge' which awaited us following that evening's meal.
We were then led to the parade field, which had to be cleared of any remaining cars, in order to allow each troop to practice marching. Each stockade leader stressed a good showing during the ceremony of 'lowering the flag'. I'm sure we did not win retreat that night, but I do remember almost jumping out of my skin when the canon was fired!
After the opening camp-fire that evening at the Natureheart staff site, a small tenting area for the nature and kitchen staff, we returned to the Carson Stockade for clean-up and Vespers. All eight bunks were filled in our bunk house.
Prior to “Taps” being sounded, all the Scouts were seated on the porch-ends while our leader and his assistant gave an inspirational thought for the day. The camp chimes seemed to be perfectly timed to the final words of our leaders and were played from a small wooden tower located in what is now the campcraft area. While were climbing into our bunks, the camp bugler played Taps, which echoed around the hills of Horseshoe. Very exhausted, we all drifted off to sleep listening for the sounds of the whip-o-wills.
Not the next day, but a few days later, was the cooks' day off. The kitchen was closed, but each patrol/bunkhouse had to send one Scout to the dining hall to pick up the food for breakfast. It had rained overnight, but was still intermittently showering. The side flaps on our bunkhouse were rolled down, protecting the bunks from the rain, and afforded us some cover for what we were about to do. Our instructions were to gather wood to build a fire in order to boil water for oatmeal and raisons, and then fry eggs and bacon, all to be done after the food arrived. Instead, we hastily employed the “democratic process” and took a vote! It was unanimous - no one wanted to venture forth for fire-wood, build a fire, or cook in the rain.
Clinton, a bunk-mate from Troop 50 or Berwyn 11, came to camp well equipped, and drew from his pack a small heat-tab stove, and so began the slow process of each of us frying our eggs and bacon in our own mess kits. We planned to skip the oatmeal. The bunkhouse porch afforded protection from the rain and the long tarp shielded us from view from the leaders' cabin. No sooner had the cooking begun . . . . who should appear from out of nowhere, but the impressive figure, MR FRANK BEAM, the Camp Director!
He was in full uniform, raincoat and broadbrimmed campaign hat! The scene on the floor of the bunk house must have been incredible - 8 scruffy young Scouts, with mouths gaping, crouching around a tiny collapsible stove merely 5 inches by 5 inches emitting a little blue flame coming from a white pill, which looked like a slightly oversized Alka-Seltzer tablet. WELL!!!!!! Mr. Beam was not going to let this pass.
The next 45 minutes he gave a highly personalized course on dressing for the weather, collecting squaw wood (small dead wood hanging in the vines), fire-building, and cooking the entire intended breakfast, not to mention the finer techniques of clean-up. The totally embarrassed eight of us all had to agree at the camp director's urging, “Wasn't that a better and more Scouting way of doing breakfast?” Looking back, many important life's lessons were learned that early rainy morning. Thus, the first of many, many lasting memories of stockade life……