Directory History and Geography Camp Ware
Explorer Base

In the late 1950's, Council opened the Lewis property for use as an Explorer Base.  Under the leadership of Ernie Heegard, this Camp served older Scouts as a base camp for backpacking, canoeing and even sailing above the Conowingo Dam.

Edited by David B. Woodward  [Contribute Info]

Exhibit Content

Top of Page

Explorer Base Pictures


Back to Exhibit Content

The Lewis Property to Explorer Base

This two part "Ernie Says" article first appeared in the HSRAA news letter, The Octoraro Loop in 2003.

Part 1

Contributed by G. Ernest Heegard  [Contribute Info] 

During the middle 50's, councils all across the United States were encouraged to expand their Explorer programs. Chester County Council's Scout camping program at Horseshoe was reaching its full potential. Older Scouts, while camping with their troops at Horseshoe in the summer of 1956, were looking for additional activities. J. Holland Heck was Camp Director at Camp Horseshoe and "Casey" Edward B. Jones was Assistant Camp Director and Program Director. Mr. Heck created a new position, "Exploring Director," either as a way of furthering the Exploring movement or just a way to keep me around another year as I had had most of the other jobs in camp.

Early Explorer Camp set-up with pavillion.  This photo was also reproduced and used as postcard.

Contributed by Anonymous
Each Sunday evening after taps, we had a get together with the older Scouts in camp who might be interested in some Explorer activities that week. Many of the Scouts and leaders were reluctant to commit to activities of long duration, as they were needed to help with their troop leadership. Therefore, overnight hikes, night swims, cookouts, and short over-night canoe trips on the Susquehanna became popular. However, the activities, which captured the greatest enthusiasm, were the dances arranged with older Girl Scouts from neighboring Camp Tweedale. Throughout the summer we alternated between Kindness Center and the Tweedale dining hall. "Yes, we did have girls at Horseshoe in 1956." That summer's Explorer program finished with overwhelming support and praise. 6. Great BBQ beef and venison await all Explorer Base beginnings.

The next summer, '57, Peter Tobiessen of Berwyn Troop 11, joined the camp staff as my assistant. We were asked to further develop and expand the Explorer program. This was to operate on the Lewis property. The Lewis acreage was north of Flagpole Hill and across the Octoraro Stream in Lancaster County. (This later became Camp Jubilee and then Camp John H. Ware 3rd.) This property was purchased sometime between 1932 and 1935 along with other acreage which provided a buffer zone around Camp Horseshoe.

I recall campfire stories about the Lewis farm and how Farmer Lewis was a very sharp trader and dealer. Each year he would show up at local livestock auctions with one or two matched teams of oxen which he had raised and trained for plow work. Story has it that he would buy odd oxen, some overweight and some skinny as a rail. Throughout the winter he would fatten some and starve some until he had a matched pair.

Bottoms - The Explorer Base pack mule from the late 1950's.
Contributed by John B. Rettew III
Pete and I built rope slides from trees on opposite sides of the Octoraro in order to ease access to the old farm. The water was swift and deeper then it is now. Our work continued as we cleared and repaired the old springhouse located at the rear of what is now the rifle range at Camp Ware. We ran a long pipe to "Aunt Molly", a latrine and washstand we built as the first structure on the property. This was located to the rear of what is now Lawrence Lodge.

Two permanent campsites were added to this developing Explorer Base. They were named Lewis and Clark, and Frontier. One was an Adirondack site, and the other a tent site. A large cook shelter in each site provided meeting and eating space. Using the springhouse for water and cold food storage, and supplies carried over to the Explorer Base on our backs or in chuck boxes carried by "Bottoms", the camp burro, the Explorer Base program was slowly getting off the ground.

1958 saw the Explorer Base in high gear. A new headquarters building, Lawrence Lodge, was constructed and dedicated to E. Hibberd Lawrence, a farmer who died in 1954. He had been a farmer on the Tudor farm in Avondale, and had taken much interest in community affairs and the work being done in our Council. Lawrence Lodge was equipped with gaslights, a gas refrigerator, running water, program planning area, staff quarters, kitchen, and equipment storage. Bill Bird was added to the Explorer Bass staff and also came with Berwyn 11 camping experiences. The three of us had been to Philmont Scout Reservation in New Mexico and drew heavily on those experiences in developing the new Explorer Base. The E.B. hit its stride this season with Explorer posts and groups of Explorers from troops in the most successful season ever. The Base offered a wide range of instructional and shake-down activities which included back-packing, hiking, trail food preparation, Dutch oven baking, field sports (archery, 22 caliber skeet shooting), and bait casting, as well as canoeing and sailing instruction. During the previous winter, Pete and I built a sail-fish class sailboat, which we sailed on the lake behind the Conowingo Dam.

Each week's highlight was the group's selection of an off-property trip for two or three days.

Part 2

Contributed by G. Ernest Heegard  [Contribute Info] 

Each week's highlight in the days of the Explorer Base was the group's selection of an off-property trip for two or three days.

For the rock hounds we took a three-quarry hike: to old chrome mines, a marble quarry, and a spar mine.  Another hike adventure was the Mason-Dixon marker hike to find the 1-mile and 5-mile markers placed by the surveyors, Mason and Dixon.  The longest hike was to the Broad Creek Scout Reservation on the other side of the Susquehanna River.  This included a tour of the Conowingo Dam and power generating plant.  Canoe trips up the backwaters of the dam and camping on the islands were other things did.  We also went canoeing below the dam, and ended up at Broad Creek Scout Reservation, utilizing their land ship that was used by their Sea Scouts.

The most adventuresome expedition was canoeing the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal.  We soon learned that canoeing against the tide was impossible.  Prop wash from the ocean going tankers was another hazard to be avoided.  We traveled east to a smaller canal, then northeast to Delaware City.  From there we went due east to Pea Patch Island, in the center of the Delaware River.  The island was deserted and had the intact remains of Fort Delaware, a mooted old stone fortress, which was constructed to house prisoners here in the north during the Civil War.  We later found out it was called the “Andersonville of the North”.  (Andersonville was the most feared and brutal prison the Confederacy operated.)  we gained access to the fort by crossing the mud filled moot on driftwood planks.  We then scaled the wall to a slit window without bars and climbed through.  We found that the fort had been converted to a secure site during the Second World War for use as a mine assembly storage and mine laying operation.  The ship's mines had been placed in the Delaware to prevent U-boats from slipping up the river to blow up our refineries.  Today the fort is part of Fort Mott State Park and is a working museum.  It had been a spooky night, but a real thrill to explore this old fort!

The trio of Pete Tobiessen (P.T.), Bill Bird (B.B.) and G. Ernest Heegard (G.E.) at the Explorer Base had many, many exciting times creating and developing the Explorer Base and its program on the Lewis property.  The following year I returned to the Horseshoe side of the Reservation.  Pete Tobiessen and Bill Bird took over the operation.  They added Richard Walter from Troop 78 to carry on the traditions.  As Explorer Posts looked more afield for greater challenges, the Explorer Base suffered from the lack of repeat campers.  The camp then began attracting Scout troops looking for the challenge of camping in a more rugged setting.  This rugged camping style later became known as the “Jambo” style: pitching your own camp, sleeping on the ground, cooking your own meals, etc.

The Explorer program at this base was fading and a name change was inevitable.

1960 was the 60th anniversary of Scouting and activities throughout the movement were named Jubilee.  Since the Scout camping actually began in 1960 on this property, the name caught up with the program and the former Explorer Base was officially named Camp Jubilee by the Council Board's action in 1962.  The Lewis property / Explorer Base / Camp Jubilee would undergo another name change in 1985.  It became Camp John H. Ware 3rd, named for an influential past Council President and Scouter in Chester County.

Those early Explorers, Scouts and leaders, are carrying with them indelible memories of the friendships, fun and wild and crazy experiences we all shared at the OLD Explorer Base.

Back to Exhibit Content