Directory History and Geography Spirit of the Horseshoe
KINDLING SCOUTING'S FLAME

1919-1923

Edited by David B. Woodward  [Contribute Info]

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1919-1920

1919 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III  [Contribute Info] 

... In addition to new troops, the Council had its first summer camp and participated in a successful Liberty Bond drive.

Much effort was invested in the Scout Program in the County. Plans for a summer camp were developed this spring by the Camping Committee consisting of Rev. Horace Walton, Rev. Jay Dickerson and Rev. John Martin of Malvern. A site at Icedale on the Horseshoe Pike near Honeybrook was chosen and leased for five years from Rev. John Buyers. A camp brochure was prepared and the opening of camp set for July 1st. 

Scouts arriving in Icedale for Camp Lafayette.
1919 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III
By that June, Adam J. Himmelsbach, then Secretary of the local Y.M.C.A. and who had more recently been involved with help for returning World War I wounded soldiers at Cape May, New Jersey, was hired as Assistant Scout Executive of the Council. He was to serve as the Camp Director of the Council Camp named Lafayette. The camp leader was Jacob Nevyas. Twelve Army pyramidal 16'x16' tents, each holding eight Scouts, were acquired and 40 camp cots were contributed by Midvale Iron Company of Coatesville. Another 75 cots were purchased.

Plans for camp included a large wooden mess hall, facilities for boating, swimming, baseball and Scoutcraft instruction. An Indian village was to be featured with council fires, totem pole, wigwam, etc.. The cost of a week in camp was set at $4. The camp season was set for six weeks. 

The staff for the first year included Camp Director A. J. Himmelsbach, Camp Leader Jay Neyvas of West Chester and directing activities of the boys were Bartram H. Dilks, Prof. Frank H. Kramer of West Chester; Rev. H.O. Frey, Atglen; P. R. Schmaltz, Kennett Square; J. Holland Heck, West Chester; and, Arthur Crowell, West Grove. Steward John R. Hollinger was handling the commissary; the Chefs were S. Jones and C. Grant of the Normal School. Dr. A.C. Morozzi, of Honeybrook, was the camp physician.

Camp opened a week later than planned due to Scouts in the County remaining in their home towns during the July 4th celebration period to participate in parades to honor returning World War I soldiers. Camp opened and on July 13 a formal dedication ceremony was held with over 200 friends of the Scouts in camp. Talks were made by Chief Schuck and Council President Norris B. Slack. The Daily Local News reports:

"Visitors found the camp site ideal...a cleared space in the dense woods on the farm of Rev. John M. Buyers, with facilities for boating and bathing handy. Trained leaders in attendance assure the boys an outing under conditions calculated to upbuild and instruct.

First summer at Camp Lafayette.
1919 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III

The tents arranged along the edge of the woods are models of neatness, and the permanent mess hall kitchen and commissary department building all contribute to the comfort of the Scouts.

Under the direction of Scoutmaster Herbert O. Frey, of Atglen, the boys have taken several hikes during the week, going as far as Wagontown. Scoutmaster Edward Marsh of Phoenixville Troop 3 has been drilling the boys, and they are showing efficiency along these lines.

A chicken dinner was served...and maybe these Scouts didn't go for that dinner. Heaping platters of chicken, flanked by mashed potatoes and peas, and the whole surmounted by ice cream and cake, disappeared as if by magic."

Scouts returning from a Camp Lafayette overnight hike.
1919 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III

Visitors were welcomed by Scout Executive Schuck. President Slack in his address noted the significance of the Camp Lafayette name and the fact that this Frenchman had contributed so much to our country's history. Mr. Slack remarked that he had thought of the great problems (in the world) that would be solved by boys trained in such camps, and felt that the country would be safe in their hands. Mr. William W. MacElree, Esq., of West Chester who was vacationing nearby also briefly spoke to the Scouts and visitors about the history of the County and its settlement two hundred years earlier. He mentioned the situation of the County, its relevance in history and referred to Valley Forge, the Brandywine Battlefield; the old Indian village in nearby Glenmore; and, the springs that serve as the source of the Brandywine Creek. 

Inspite of a summer of inclement weather, it was a successful first year encampment for the Council "even beyond expectations".

Atglen Troop 1 at Camp Lafayette.
1919 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III
The Daily Local News reported in August near the end of the camping season:

"Ninety-one boys are in camp this week, representing several sections of the County. Assistant Scout Executive A. J. Himmelsbach is being assisted by Russell C. Jones of Spring City; Rev. H.H. Kurtz, of Honeybrook; and Edward Richardson, of Malvern, an Eagle Scout, the highest rank in Scouting.

Signal towers have recently been erected, which aid greatly in interesting the boys in (semaphore and Morse) code."

Camp ended August 18. The end of camp report testified to the success of Camp and the fine experience the Scouts enjoyed. 396 Scouts attended Camp Lafayette that first summer and there were 33 leaders providing supervision. Activities that summer had included swimming and boating, an all-round sports program, hikes out-of-door life, campfires and mock trials and other fun programs.

Camp Lafayette Staff Leaders - Ben Thomas (far left) and Clifton Lisle (3rd from right)
1920 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III

"The camp emblem was a much coveted prize." The boys would have to earn eighty points or more to earn the "L" emblem. This was done by the passing Scout requirements, good behavior, proper care of themselves and their equipment, etc.. 

In a 1994 conversation with 89 year-old Ken Edwards of the Malvern 1 Troop that camped at Lafayette, he comments:

"I recall Ben Thomas, who was Scoutmaster of my Troop. He was a great guy. He was at Camp Lafayette with us and at Rothrock. There was a lot of keen competition among the campers in those days, especially in sports. I was pretty good at the 100 - yard dash in those days. We slept in big squad tents at Lafayette. The camp emblem was keenly sought after...it was an 'L' which I earned. "

Lafayette Mess Hall and Tent Sites

1920 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III

Camp Lafayette served the Council for only two years after which time the lease was terminated. In the early 1970's, the Icedale property was again revived for use by one of the Council's Districts for its Klondike Derby winter camping events. It was particularly interesting to hike over the hills reflecting on the time the area once served as our camp in the summers of 1919 and 1920; and, to stand on the remnants of what once must have served as a Scout camp building of a bygone year and to view the beautiful lake formed by a dam. Reverend Edward B. "Casey" Jones wrote of the Icedale property in a brief history of Horseshoe in the mid 50's as follows:

Cecil (the cook) cooking breakfast.

1920 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III
"The first camp was located at Icedale, north of Downingtown. The camp proper was located in a meadow about 30 yards by 100 yards (in size). On all sides the camp was surrounded by woods, while in back were the Welsh Mountains, and in front was the historic Brandywine Creek. The only permanent building was a Dining Hall and Store House. Pyramidal tents with no floors were the shelters used by the Scouts. Later, board platforms were added. The facilities were inadequate, for the swimming area was a good half mile from the Camp and the maximum depth of the water was four feet. Each Scout ate out of a tin pie plate or mess kit and after each meal there was a mad rush for the stream, for it was the responsibility of each Scout to keep own eating utensils clean!"

Camp Lafayette's leaders and programs are now but a minute of time in our Council's 75 year history but they had an impact on our Council's Scouting. The training Scouts received in camping, swimming and life saving skills and that which our troop leaders received in those early summer camp experiences would set the mold for Scouting's future generations in the County. Many of those early leaders would become a part of a strong Council structure for the future.

Troops in review at Camp Lafayette Retreat at Bungalows.

1920 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III

An individual who was to have a key part in the development of Scouting in Chester County was on the scene many years before the Council's formation. Clifton P. Lisle was a member of Paoli Troop 1, an Eagle Scout, a scholar, an athlete, a writer, a naturalist and a decorated military man. He was one of the first Vice Presidents for the Chester County Council, Camp Director in 1921 and 1922 and its Council Commissioner in 1923. Lisle, a retired Army Colonel and former President of the U.S. War Claims Commission, was Scoutmaster of Paoli 1 and one of the founders of the Council. He attended the International Jamboree in England in 1929 and received the Gilwell Wood Badge (the first in the Council) from Lord Baden-Powell in 1937. He was author of several boys' books including Diamond Rock and Sandy Flash and was former head of the English Department of the William Penn Charter School. His Scouting experiences as a Scout, Scoutmaster, Council Commissioner and Executive Board leader would be a strong factor in the strength of the Scouting Movement here...

...

Camp Lafayette at Icedale attracted Scouts for the 1920 summer camping activities. It was under the leadership of E. E. Romberger this year. ...

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1921

1921 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III  [Contribute Info] 

...

Camp Rothrock Dining Hall and Campfire Circle

1921 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III
Considering the short comings of the facilities at Camp Lafayette, a search began on the part of Scout Executive Henry Sluyter and Dr. Joseph Rothrock, then Chairman of the Camping Committee. After much exploration, in 1921 the Council, led by President Norman Slack, along with Scout Executive Sluyter and Mr. Rothrock, decided on a new Council camp. The camp was named, Camp Rothrock, for the individual through whose efforts we obtained the property was obtained. Reverend "Casey" Jones' history reports:

"Work was started immediately to tear down the Dining Hall and tent platforms at Camp Lafayette and move by truck to the new site."

The following description from the camp brochure served to promote attendance in those early days:

"Camp Rothrock is situated in the midst of 64,000 acres of woodland, known as the Michaux State Forest in the South Mountains, ...twelve miles from Carlisle (Penna.) or about 120 miles from West Chester. Through the efforts of the 'Grand Old Man' of West Chester, and the "Father of Forestry in Pennsylvania," Dr. Joseph T. Rothrock, this ...spot was secured as a permanent camp site for the Boy Scouts of Chester County." 

Rothrock Stockades

1921 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III
The brochure further describes some of the buildings including the Mess Hall having sanitary eating facilities and being used for camp fire and indoor field meets during inclement weather. It goes on to state that Scouts are housed in open sided rustic shelters that have canvas curtains rolled up or down "in a Jiffy" as the occasion demands. Furthermore, "The shelters need no screens as flies and mosquitoes are unknown in this section."

"A large artificial mountain lake known as Laurel Lake is but a stone's throw from camp and affords ...fine bathing, boating and swimming facilities. ... The woods abound with animal life, as many as sixty deer being seen within ... our camp in the evening..."

The view of Camp Rothrock and Laurel Lake from Pole Steeple lookout.

1921 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III

The first Camp Director at Rothrock was Clifton P. Lisle. He and Scout Executive Sluyter brought together an enthusiastic Staff. The Camp Director along with the Scout Executive were responsible for teaching Scout games "which may be used at troop meeting and Scout Activities throughout the winter months" and conducting a course in 'Patrol Methods'.

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1922

1922 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III  [Contribute Info] 

... Based upon the Daily Local News article of April 10, !922 reporting on a Camp Rothrock Staff and camper reunion held at the Y.M.C.A. one gains a sense of the effort made to encourage troops to attend summer camp:

Camp Director Clifton Lisle with Gilbert Rothrock.

1922 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III
"By auto, truck and trolley they came from all over the County, with their Scoutmasters and Troop Committeemen, meeting the leaders of last year, and pledging anew their loyalty to the organization. Captain Clifton Lisle, Camp Director; Francis A. Bickel of Coatesville; Dr. Loomis of Lansdowne, the camp physician, were all there..."

"It was a happy crowd that sang the songs of the camp, led by Mr. Sluyter, who had everyone in good humor. Prolonged applause greeted his rendering of the original camp song, "On the Road to Pine Grove Furnace." 

The article includes comments about Dr. Rothrock by his friend, Christian C. Sanderson. Sanderson for years had been the "sage" of Chadds Ford and now was a resident of West Chester. Sanderson paid tribute to Dr. Joseph T. Rothrock, for whom the camp was named, and who had done so much in instilling a love of nature to the youth of Chester County.

Judging from the Camp Rothrock promotion literature, traveling to Camp in those days was quite an experience. The major road to that part of Pennsylvania was the Lancaster Pike (now Route 30) for there was no super-highway at the time and road systems lacked the maintenance received today. Of course, there were not that many cars on the road either. The camp brochure gave the traveler circuitous directions by which to reach the camp via Lancaster, Harrisburg and Carlisle. For other travelers, either the Pennsylvania Rail Road or the Philadelphia & Reading rail road lines were suggested in the brochure. The Council offered transportation to camp "in large Marine Transport Trucks going by way of Harrisburg with a stopover in the capital and returning via Gettysburg with a stopover." Quoting from Reverend Jones' treatise:

Retreat Ceremony at Camp Rothrock

1922 - Contributed by David B. Woodward

"In spite of the fact that this was a much better spot suited for camping than Lafayette, there was the problem of transportation. This was solved to a degree when the Army provided trucks free of charge for the use of the Scouts going to Camp. The trucks would leave on Sunday morning and arrive some time Sunday evening. The drivers would stay overnight after unloading the Scouts and return to Chester County on Monday morning with the homebound Scouts."

There are many stories in the annals of troops in the Council that recall those bumpy rides in the military transport trucks (with no springs) or the flat tires in dad's car on the way deep into the forests and mountains of Pennsylvania. 

In a 1994 conversation with Harry Rolin, formerly Scoutmaster of Paoli Troop 1 and a 1922 camper at Rothrock, he commented:

"Clifton Lisle was Camp Director and spent a great deal of time working with the Scouts. I remember swimming in Laurel Lake and particularly the high diving board there which I enjoyed jumping from. There were lots of rattle snakes there, especially around Hammond's Rock and Pole's Steeple. We would have to carry a forked stick with us when we traveled to these spots in case we ran into any snakes. It was a beautiful camp!"

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1923

1923 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III  [Contribute Info] 

Rothrock Staff at HQ with Chief Heistand (4th from left), with Swim Director 'Eubl' and Joe Brinton to his left.
1923 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III

Chief circles the staff at Camp Rothrock in 1923

1923 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III
... By the time Camp Rothrock's third season opened, Chief Heistand was on hand as Council Executive and serving as Camp Rothrock's Director. He was a man whose inspirational leadership would set the course for the Council's future. The flame of Scouting was to be nurtured and glow with the fundamental keynote of making "Scouting outing" as Walter C. Burkey, a Rothrock camper and later Scout leader, commented. ...

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