Directory History and Geography Spirit of the Horseshoe


Edited by David B. Woodward  [Contribute Info]

Exhibit Content

Top of Page


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

... Upon the endorsement of our former Scout Executive Arthur A. Schuck and the qualifications he presented, Mr. Heistand was hired to take the place of Henry Sluyter on a temporary basis to help the Council. He joined the Council just in time to head Camp Rothrock which was starting its third season.


The July 19, 1923 Daily Local News reported on the opening of Camp Rothrock:

"The boys found many improvements at camp this year, as members of the force...had expended much energy getting everything in perfect order for the opening.

The camp staff consists of the following: Camp Director and Scout Executive, Charles M. Heistand; Assistant Camp Director and Physcian, Dr. B. S. West, of Philadelphia; Assistants, Christian C. Sanderson of West Chester; L. C. Saunders, Spring City; cook, Alexander Griesk, Philadelphia; assistant, J. W. Chalfant, Coatesville; camp clerk, Albert W. Kitts, Kennett Square; camp bugler, Horace A. Riggs, Paoli; truck driver, William Everett, Kennett Square."

Some of the Scoutmasters in camp that summer included; Earl Webster, Phoenixville 1; Ben J. Thomas, Malvern 1; Norman Kirkner, Tredyffrin 1; Franklin Wandless, Berwyn 1; Rev H. H. Kurtz, Honeybrook 1; and, Major Clifton Lisle, Paoli 1. Articles throughout the summer in the Daily Local News reported on the fine camp and experiences of the Scouts.

Back to Exhibit Content


1924 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III  [Contribute Info] 

Scouts arriving at Camp Rothrock after bumpy military truck trip.

1924 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III
... There are numerous stories told of those early days at Camp Rothrock. Only a few men remain that spent their first days away from home in the remote forests of Pennsylvania. Walter C. Burkey is one such person and another is Ken Edwards. Ken was also at Camp Lafayette in the Council's infancy.

One of the earlier accounts of a troop's travel to Camp Rothrock is the account related in Paoli Troop 1's 75th Anniversary History when they hiked from Paoli to Camp Rothrock (could it be that they did this due to Army personnel carriers in those days lacking a certain comfort?):

"In 1924, the Troop was excited by the prospects of its first long hike, a 125 mile trip from the parish house (in Paoli) to Camp Rothrock, Chester County Council's Cumberland Mountain summer camp. Scoutmaster Clifton Lisle led this trip, and neither 'blisters, snakes, nor nearly vertical mountains' slowed the hearty progress..."

Camp Rothrock Honor tent - 1924 with Clifton Lisle seated center & Richard F. Warren, top row forth from left.

1924 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III
Scribe Horace Rigg captured the rush of pride all felt upon reaching camp:

"Fireworks noted our arrival as we marched into camp. We felt like returning heroes. Pausing for no one, we made quick tracks for the mess hall, and soon cleaned out the kitchen of barbecued chicken, baked potatoes, corn on the cob, fresh apple pie and lemonade."

Such experiences lay the groundwork for the spirit of the boys and helped to set the example for others to follow in their footsteps. In fact, Paoli 1 followed this hike with similar ones in 1925 and 1926. 

Canoeing on Laurel Lake at Camp Rothrock.

1924 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III

Walter C. Burkey, now an 89 year-old veteran of Scouting, attended Camp Rothrock with his Troop 1 of Malvern in those early years and recalls:

"Camp Rothrock was a great time for us. We enjoyed the games and hikes to such spots as Pole's Hill, Hammond's Rock, Bunker Hill Farm and other spots. It was a great camp...but difficult to get to."

Honing Scout skills in front of the Rothrock stockades.

1924 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III
The camping season at Rothrock was divided into four periods of two weeks each. This was to allow for a "breaking in " period the first week for camp routine with the "real benefit" being derived from the second week.

OK everyone, at the count of 3... pull!  Scouts compete in the tug-a-war contest at Camp Rothrock.

1924 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III
Camp routine began early...6:40 am First Call...6:50 am, assembly with setting up exercises, morning dip, etc. (One can imagine the invigorating dip in Laurel Lake that early in the day!) Other parts of the program day included woodcraft instruction, aquatics, Scoutcraft, games, hikes, construction work, and the like. After Retreat and Colors, there would be games and an evening camp fire. ...

Back to Exhibit Content


1925 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III  [Contribute Info] 

... The brochure for Rothrock announced the Camp Staff for the June 29 to August 24 season. Chief selected as his Camp Adjutant, Eagle Scout Joseph H. Brinton, Jr. of West Chester. (Joe became a life-long friend of Chief's, eventually entering the Scouting profession and serving until his retirement as Scout Executive of the Detroit Area Council.) Jules Prevost served as Activities Director, as he had in earlier days. "Pre" was known for his football and wrestling prowess at Penn State. Eagle Scout J. Wayne Chalfant of Coatesville was Director of Woodcraft and Eagle Scout Tom Bishop of Paoli was Director of Scoutcraft. Johnny Chambers of Coatesville, who had been a camper for several seasons, headed up the Commissary and Transportation. "Jake" O' Donnell the cook was back for his third season, "which alone speaks for his popularity." The cost for a Scout to attend was $1. per day....quite a deal !

Back to Exhibit Content


1926 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III  [Contribute Info] 

... From the July 1926 issue of Trailing one gets a glimpse of plans for summer camp at Rothrock: 

"Camp is beginning the first period ... with a full attendance of boys and a staff that is hard to beat." It goes on to talk of "Jake" the cook and other members of the camp staff. "...there is, of course, Chief Heistand, to whom is due the credit for making Rothrock one of the most successful Boy Scout Camps. He is on the job this season with a lot of new schemes...for making this the most interesting and efficient seasons ever. Next to him is his assistant, Joe Brinton who faithfully carries out Chief's plans to a detail, and who has charge of Scoutcraft." Other members include C.C. Schmidt of Downingtown for program, E.H. Brown, Jr. resident camp doctor, Heubi at the waterfront, and junior staff members Harrison Rigg of Wayne, Frank Bicking, Raymond Watson and William Hathaway from West Chester. Kenneth Sowden of Malvern is listed as truck driver.

A new point system was announced for camp awards. To win a camp letter a Scout was required to earn so many points in athletics, camping and hiking, handicraft, health and sanitation, nature lore, service, social life, woodcraft and good conduct. Scouts winning their letter will "also be privileged to have a large Indian head stamped on their leather or buckskin trophy. ( A forerunner of today's belt brands program.) The purpose was to spread the boy's interest over the essential features of community camp life.

Program was important to the success of camp as it is to any troop operation. Trailing reports on the events at Rothrock which included evening hikes and campfires. Junior staff member Harrison Rigg writes of one evening campfire: 

"One night was 'ghost night'. Everybody came to the campfire in his pajamas. Many weird stories were told; many were true. It happened that the night was cloudy and no flashlights were allowed to be used, so you can imagine how ghostlike it was. After campfire, when the boys were going back to their beds, the wind blew a sheet, which was hanging on a bush, and attracted everybody's attention. Some of the boys were so scared..."

Another account in Trailing by S. Sinclair of Troop 1 Kennett Square echoes the super time he and other campers had that summer. He ends his report: "...I resolved that I was going to help make Rothrock a still better camp, and I think many of the other boys made similar resolutions." 

Introduced this summer was the Order of the Arrow program where each troop who had eight or more Scouts in attendance could elect one of their honor campers to the "Brotherhood." An impressive ceremony based upon the legends of the Lenni Lenape Indians of the Delaware made this a distinctive honor to have been chosen by their fellow troop members. Immediately after their election, the candidates went off to take their ordeal. Upon successfully completing the ordeal, the inductees became First Degree members entitled to wear their white sash with the felt red arrow symbol over their left shoulder signifying their degree level. In 1926, both Chief Heistand and Joe Brinton were honored with the Third Degree in the Order of the Arrow, the Vigil Honor. Joe at this time became the first Chief (Sakima) of Octoraro Lodge #22. The Lodge for years to come would become an ever increasing factor in cementing together Scouting ties between Scouts and Leaders and a force in the maintenance of Camp through its service projects.

At Rothrock that summer of 1926 there were 501 Scouts who spent one or more weeks and represented 31 Troops in the Council. The troops who sent most boys to camp were Troop 1 Paoli, Troop 1 Downington, Troop 1 Malvern and Troop 11 of West Chester.

For Chief Heistand and many others, it was becoming increasingly evident that Rothrock was facing encroachment by building taking place in the area. Many people attracted by the beauty of the area had built vacation cottages near our Camp. The seclusion desired for the campers was no longer available. To the Scouts and Staff, it seemed as if they were in the middle of a resort. By 1926, the need for a new campsite was pressing. At first there was considerable opposition, however, the Council's Camping Committee and Executive Board eventually recognized that Rothrock had reached its maximum potential. A new site was to be sought. ...

Back to Exhibit Content


1927 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III  [Contribute Info] 

This was another pivotal year for the Chester County Council and its camping program. Camp Rothrock had come to mean so much to the Scouts who camped there. Now, in 1927, it was in its final summer of operation as our Council camp. Scouting was becoming an even stronger factor in the lives of young men in the County. The success of our Council camp,

Reynolds' Farm (now Horseshoe)

1905 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III
the excellent program provided there as well as throughout the year to troops was a reflection of the superb work of Chief Heistand and the Council Board. It was this quality of leadership that other councils were seeking and now Chief was being called to move up the ladder of the Scouting organization. Yet Chief had a warm feeling for his work in Chester County and especially the youth he served. After much deliberation he decided to remain with the Council to carry out his work to obtain and establish The Horse-shoe Farm as our Council's camp and ensure its getting off on a firm footing for the boys.

Robert W. Wolcott had become the President of our Council in 1926. He was a long time President of the Lukens Steel Company, the largest plate steel maker in America, located in Coatesville, and was a strong supporter of Chief Heistand. With Wolcott's leadership, and that of Board members J. Gibson McIlvain, Council Treasurer, Gilbert McIlvaine, Architect, Richard F. Warren, Camping Chairman and other members inspired by Chief Heistand, the Council set about procuring a new Council camp in 1927. President Wolcott was pleased to announce in 1928 that the Executive Board had been able to prevail upon Chief to reconsider his resignation to become Scout Executive of San Antonio, Texas and to stay with us a while longer to see the establishment of the Horseshoe Camp.

In 1927 the Camp Rothrock brochure announced:

"... back to old Rothrock. - yes, fellows we are going back to Rothrock, for the last time, so if you have never had the privilege of taking part in this real camping experience... sign up now for your last opportunity."

For those who had spent many of their past summers at Rothrock, undoubtedly this was sad news. There is a certain feeling one gets about the places one spends those leisurely days of summer...the smell of the woods, the cold dip in the lake, the camaraderie and the friendships that develop from such an experience. However, the prospects of a new camp piqued the interest of many. So it was in 1927 that plans were being laid to acquire the Council's very own property on the Mason-Dixon Line in southern Chester County and northern Cecil County, Maryland.

Reverend "Casey" Jones comments in his history:

"The requirements for a new site were quite rigid: it must be isolated; it must be accessible to all parts of the County. After looking over many places, each with many good points to recommend them, the Council, much to the delight of B. F. Reynolds who had moved his home from the 'Horseshoe Farm' to the Toughkenamon Valley and had recommended Horseshoe to them, decided upon this area that had at one time been sold for two dollars and thirty-three cents!"

Reynolds family reunion at what is now the "White House"

Contributed by John B. Rettew III
Many fascinating stories are told of the time when Chief Heistand and several members of the Executive Board first stepped on to the property that was to serve as our official camp. The site originally had been recommended as a camp site for the Philadelphia Council and fortunately for us, they believed it was too far from their headquarters. In 1927 Chief Heistand first visited the site and immediately saw its potential. This was in spite of his initial experience as he came in the old camp road that wound along the side of the beautiful Octoraro Creek. Here, Chief encountered several questionable looking characters who were sporting guns and obviously serving as guards or look-outs. Upon convincing them that he was a Scouter to look at the property for possible use for the boys, Chief was permitted to enter. It seems these individuals were look-outs for operators of illicit stills producing liquor on the property. In fact, it is told there were some 100 such stills operating on the property. Chief had been mistaken for a Revenue Agent!

Back to Exhibit Content


1928 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III  [Contribute Info] 

Scouts at Horseshoe with barren Goat Hill (Flagpole Hill) in background

1928 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III
The decision to purchase the farm was made, the deal consummated in 1928 and our new Council camp was on the drawing board. Funding was a key element of course since the Council is a non profit organization. Even the income from camp covers but only the cost of food for the Scout then as it is today. Chief and other Council Board members went to work. They called on DuPont and other major corporations and secured funding to purchase the camp and to build the needed camp buildings, dining hall and to equip all facilities with the proper equipment. 

The Tenth Anniversary of Scouting in Chester County was being celebrated in 1928. The March 1 issue of Trailing reports on our new camp:

"Work is starting on the new camp, and at this time it looks as though everything will be in readiness. ...Several men have been making regular trips to the property and each time come back with more enthusiastic reports, such as 'A virtual paradise.' 'It has Rothrock backed off the map.' 'Didn't know we had such a thing in or near Chester County.' "

Enthusiasm was building for the summer camp season and for many other things happening in the Council. ...

1930 aerial photograph of Horseshoe Reservation with new pool installed

1930 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III

Back to Exhibit Content