Directory History and Geography Spirit of the Horseshoe

1941 - 1952

Edited by David B. Woodward  [Contribute Info]

Exhibit Content

Top of Page


1941 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III  [Contribute Info] 

The Morrison Health Lodge dedication on July 22, 1944.  Justice Owen J. Roberts addressed the Scouts and visitors.
1944 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III
... Work was started on the new Health Lodge at Horseshoe. In June, John H. Ware, 3rd reported that the foundations for the building were in place and the dedication was planned for Roberts' Day in July. Announcement was also made of the plans to hold the Council's Annual Camporee at Horseshoe in mid June. 

Edward "Casey" Jones remembers his first year in Camp:

"In 1941...the thing I remember was the physical examination we got on the bottom floor of the "White House." I recall thinking how inappropriate it was to receive a physical exam in what was at one time someone's living room.

I recall the rather decrepit bus filled with Scouts from West Chester and Coatesville, trying to negotiate the camp road on a Sunday afternoon. ...since the road was single lane, we used a flag and Staff members posted at each end of the road to regulate the flow of traffic."

On Roberts Day, the Board Meeting was held at Camp. Regret was expressed at the meeting of the death of the National Scout Commissioner, Daniel Carter Beard who was 91 years old. "Uncle Dan" had a great part in success of the Scouting Movement in America since its inception. In honor of "Uncle Dan", troops were ordered to adorn their troop flags with a black streamer.

Camp Director for Horseshoe this summer was Raleigh W. "Bud" Smedley who had been with the Council Staff since June 1938 and had been serving on the Camp Staff since that time. He was called upon for brief remarks on the status of Camp. The Board members enjoyed the impressive Horseshoe retreat ceremony and enjoyed a fine supper.

This was the first of many years that Jim Gawthrop (Silver Beaver recipient, OA Lodge Lay Advisor, Scoutmaster and Vigil Honor member) spent in Camp. He recalls the interest that Cecil H.Good, Assistant Scout Executive and Scoutmaster of Thorndale Troop 70 and others had in Camp Thomas, a remote exploring campsite located along the Octoraro between the Iron Bridge and Kindness Center off the camp road that had been started in 1934: 

"Camp Thomas drew its name from "Ben" Thomas a beloved Scoutmaster of Malvern Troop 7. It was about this time that the site fell in to disuse. The last time the site was used by Cecil H. Good and the campers they created a time capsule of an old jar into which they placed various mementos of the day. It was buried in a piece of cement in the center of the site. They all vowed to return in 25 years to re-unite and retrieve the capsule. They did so many years later with their wives and families."

Back to Exhibit Content


1942 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III  [Contribute Info] 

... That spring, considerable damage was done by a storm at Horseshoe that affected the camp road and other areas. That was not the only storm to hit that year that would severely affect the camp.

Camp opened with Frank S. Beam as Director. He had joined the Council's professional Staff that year after giving many years of service to Scouting as a youth and leader of the Parkesburg Troop. J. Holland Heck, Al Weeks and many former Staff members were back to bring a top quality program to the campers. Of Course, Chief Lester was there to lend his leadership support to the Camp. 

Reverend Edward B. "Casey" Jones relates this story of Camp at the end of the 1942 season:

"It was the last week of Camp for the Scouts of Chester County Council, and the Scouts from the Delmarva Council were to enter Horseshoe the next week. It began to rain during the latter part of the week, and rain and rain it did. The Octoraro began to rise, first making it necessary to check the boats tied to the dock. It was soon apparent that this was no usual storm for the water had already begun to rise to the Athletic Field. Before the storm was over, the pool had been flooded, the water had reached to the top of the benches at the pool. (The low diving board was covered). The water almost reached the swinging bridge, a good 15 feet over the stream. By carrying many pieces of debris, logs, and even bodies of pigs and cattle, the water cascaded down its enlarged bed, tore the swinging bridge loose from its moorings, and took it down, never to be seen again. On entering the Camp today the high water mark is...visible on the right side of (the old) the Camp road. This threat of high water is practically non-existent today (1958) for a dam has been put in the Octoraro...(it) prevents extremely high water..." 

By the way, the story goes that to get in and out of Camp, it was necessary to hike over Flag Pole Hill on the old Lancaster to Port Deposit road. Flood stories and slide /Pictures taken by Mr. Beam were part of the evening program at Camp for many years to come.

It is interesting to look back a bit at this time on the famous swinging bridge's encounters in past floods. A flood in 1931 first took out the bridge. Then it was taken out again in 1932, again in 1933 and again in 1935. But the flood of 1942 was perhaps the most devastating. ...

Back to Exhibit Content


1943 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III  [Contribute Info] 

... Camp Horseshoe was on the move as well under the direction of Frank Beam. Frank was now serving as an Assistant Executive. In spite of the affects of the war and the turnover of adult leadership due to call-ups for military service, Scout attendance was on the increase at Camp, attracted by the strong program and fine facilities.

Leonard M. McCabe (1943 Eagle Scout of Phoenixville Troop 58 ) looks back on his days at Horseshoe with his brothers Tom, Eugene and Marty:

"Horseshoe was reached by the front called Horseshoe Road. Just past the hardware store and lumber yard, up on the left was an old house and in the summer there was this old woman sitting on the porch as we would arrive. What always struck us was she was always smoking a pipe! Camp cost was 18.95 for two weeks!

Winter camping was always fun. Most of the time we camped in Browning. At that time it was not lined on the inside. If you wanted to know what the weather was you just looked through the cracks in the boards. It also had a balcony which we used as a refrigerator. Each night we had a fire watch to keep the fire going in the fireplace. It looked good but didn't add much heat!"

Dining Hall with tables set by Stockade

1950 - Contributed by Anonymous
Eating in the Dining Hall in the 1940's is described by Ernie Heegard:

"The Dining Hall was about half the size it is today. There were these long tables which would sit four campers on a side with the Stockade Leader at one end and the Assistant Stockade Leader on the other end. As the food was served it would first be given to the Stockade Leader who drew his portion and then passed by the Scouts to the Assistant at the other end to draw his portion and then the Scouts would be able to take their food. And if a Scout happened to drop food, a chant would arise from all corners of the Dining Hall - 'Johnny get the drip pan, Johnny get the drip pan, etc.' The embarrassed Scout would then have to go to the kitchen to fetch a huge pan of water and a sponge to clean up the mess. This would invoke another chant by the Camp - 46...47...48...49...Razzz...berries!" ...

Back to Exhibit Content


1944 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III  [Contribute Info] 

C. C. "Coley" Cole, who had faithfully served the Council as Ranger for 15 years announced his retirement in 1944 due to ill health. The Board regretted his resignation in accepting it. They recognized him with a special statuette for his exceptional service.

Scouts Bill Tyson and Johnny Rettew hoist the colors on Flagpole Hill.
Contributed by John B. Rettew III
Camp Horseshoe beckoned again in the spring and the Scouts heeded the call. Experiences the Scouts had at Horseshoe influenced the lives of many. It is not uncommon in 1994 to see former campers at Order of the Arrow events, at the Council Dinner or serving as members of the Council Scoutmasters, commissioners or on the Executive Board. A number of Council Presidents were campers at Horseshoe. The comments of one such person follows:

1994 Reflections by John "JB" Rettew (Horseshoe camper and Staff member 1944 - 1949; Scout leader 1966 to present):

"50 years ago this summer I first set eyes on Camp Horseshoe and although I went through a period of "adjustment", I have had a strong feeling towards Camp. It became my "home away from home" over the years as it did for many young men like me. Each time I set foot in camp since that first year, I sense a renewal, a rejuvenation and fond affection for Horseshoe, the Scouts and Leaders and the memories of so many wonderful experiences!

Memories of those first days as a camper have been indelibly set in my mind and undoubtedly play a strong role in the feelings and commitments that I have had towards my involvement in Scouting to this day. I tell of those experiences because I believe that others like myself shared similar ones when they arrived at Camp, whether it was in the "20's, 30's or the 90's".

There are first times for everything, and this was the first time for me. I was on my way to Camp Horseshoe!

Scouting was new to me. A few days prior to going to camp, I attended my first troop meeting, having just passed my Tenderfoot test with the Troop Committee Chairman, "JB" Chesnutt. It was just enough learning the Scout Oath and Law along with the Tenderfoot Knots, let alone to think of being away from home for the first time!

My brief introduction to the troop was followed by my parents telling me that I was going to camp...for six weeks! What a surprise!...What a shock!...especially since I never spent a night away from home until then! All sorts of things come to one's mind at a time like that. But, never mind... my parents did a good job of packing my trunk for that inevitable trip to far away Rising Sun, Maryland and to face new adventures.

These were World War II days when gas rationing made it difficult (darn near impossible) to motor to camp. In those days, the Council arranged for the Shortline bus to meet the boys in West Chester, in front of the Scout Office on High Street. Here, Council leaders greeted the boys and their families as they waited to embark on the long journey.

The arrival of the bus was accompanied by nervous laughter by some and by muffled last minute instructions from the parents to their off-spring as they were about to leave. At last the bus was Horseshoe. For some, it was the re-kindling of similar trips they made in years past. For me and others, it was a time to wonder what adventures were we really in for.

The trip was long (much more so than today's, which is over modern roads and more direct) and hot, especially since there was no air conditioning on the bus in those days. We knew we were really going far away as we passed open fields, woodlands and small towns along the way. As time passed, the anticipation of our arrival grew. Finally, we were making a turn off Route 1 on to Horseshoe Road. As we twisted around a bend, the bus was forced to a stop by a narrow bridge near a farmhouse. After several back-ups and turns, the bus navigated the bridge and we were once more on our way. We were paralleling the (Octoraro) creek now and soon came to an iron bridge. At this point, the bus lurched over a small hump in the road to the right and entered upon a rutted dirt road. There were wooded hills on one side and the swift running creek on the other. The trip along this road held a special beauty and feeling of tranquillity the memory of which lingers to this day. To an impressionable young boy, visions of Indians paddling along the creek and teepees with smoke curling towards the sky were called to mind.

As we bumped along, the spirits of many of the old timers soared. Soon, we were caught up in their enthusiasm.

Out the window, as we started climbing a hill, I caught sight of a sign ..."Trustworthy"...followed by another..."Loyal"... and then others which formed the twelve points of the Scout Law that I had memorized days before. Then, ahead, hanging on a cedar post was another sign welcoming us to "Camp Horseshoe". Finally, we were here!

The bus wound its way past several wooden structures and past a white house where we could see some activity of other scouts and leaders in uniform. After passing Allen Memorial, we turned onto an open field where the bus parked. All of us seemed to arise at the same time and try to squeeze to the door. Upon disembarking, came the wait to haul the packs, duffel bags and trunks from storage. As we waited, we were directed to get our medical forms, in hand, to report to the headquarters building...the White House we had passed earlier. In the newness and excitement of the situation, you trusted those directions and followed them to the letter.

The line of boys outside the headquarters was long. Nervously, I asked the boy ahead of me what was happening next, and his reply indicated he was just as nervous and unsure as I. The processing took a while as we had to check in and make sure we were registered and had our medical forms. After the medical check, we were sent on our way to our stockade, which sounded more like a lock-up than a home. 

I was assigned to Boonesboro Stockade and was helped along with my camping gear by one of the older staff members. How I got there, I am still uncertain, but I did. As I walked through the gate, I found there a semi-circular arrangement of open sided houses that contained bunks and Stockade Leader Eric Corkhill, who directed me to one near the leader's cabin. There were no mattresses, only bed springs, and I felt that it would be a pretty uncomfortable spot to get some rest.

My next instruction was ' get my "tick" and get ready to head for the "straw hut."' Now "tick" to me meant an insect and not what I then was shown that was the muslin bag that my mother had sewn together for me before I left for camp. After sorting things out and asking some questions, I pulled my "tick" from my trunk and was soon on my way.

Now the heat on this late June day was pretty oppressive, especially since I still had on my Scout uniform with my neckerchief in place. With my "tick" in hand, I joined other scouts in entering a dark and dusty small building, obviously, the straw hut. Straw and dust was flying all over the place. It seemed that my clothes were saturated with perspiration and the dust and the straw particles soon were attracted to my face, hair, neck, clothes and other uncovered extremities of my body. I felt as if there was as much straw on me as there was in the "tick" that was to become the mattress I was to sleep upon in the six weeks that lay ahead. It seemed like the inside of an oven in that hut and so I quickly filled the bag with as much straw as I could before getting outside for fresh air. Now...back to my bunkhouse in Boonesboro!

Note the extremely high life guard stand at the far end of the pool in this picture from the early 1930's.
1930 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III
It was then off to the pool for a refreshing dip...but no, it was the swim test and...I had never seen a pool this big! Well in I went and after a time I qualified for "red, white and blue" swimmer (and even gotten cooled off in the process).

I won't go in to the next happenings since they were pretty much routine...setting up the bunk, getting the uniform back on for marching ... geee! Even playing soldier!

Well the days went by and I really did not feel that good about being in camp for a day let alone six weeks. I became quite a letter writer to my mother at this time (in fact she saved all those cards and letters for me to read at another future time) describing how I missed all those things at mowing the yard, pulling weeds, digging in the garden, raking and you name it! I really was not too happy! Well, I got word that my parents wanted me to stick it out for another week after which time they would come to pick me up. Well this set my mind at ease for a while....but something else happened!

It seemed that the message of my Home sickness had gotten to members of the Staff. It was not long before Chief Lester would spot me in the Dining Hall and inquire as to my well being; Frank Beam on other occasions would do likewise and so did a staff member named Fred Gates. Fred put me under his wing as did other staff members and soon I was into the swing of camp life. Also, playing a large role in my sticking with it was Camp Ranger George Cole (George was the new Ranger this summer filling the shoes of hid dad, "Coley") with his twisty stick cane and great personality.

By the time my parents arrived on that Sunday visiting day, I had no interest in going home...I was at Horseshoe to stay! And, for the following two years, I was a six week camper and ended up on the staff part way through the third year!

In retrospect the fact that there were other men and boys who practiced the point of the Scout Law, a Scout is Friendly, made all the difference in one person's life!

Staff members in 1944 included J. Holland Heck, Al Weeks, Eric Corkhill, Frank Seaboldt, Larry Phelan, Aquatics Director and Fred Gates. And, of course, there was Chief Lester and Camp Director Frank Beam. Camp Horseshoe was and continues to be an important part of a Scout's life. The opportunities to learn, to associate with one's peers on a day in and day out basis, to grow in strength and knowledge is valuable as one becomes a responsible citizen and contributor to society.

Owen J. Roberts addresses the crowd at the Health Lodge dedication.
1944 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III
Frank Beam, who had experienced the 1942 flood, commented this year that the weather was exceptionally good for camping. For the first time in the Council's history it was necessary to say "the Camp is full!" In reviewing the season, he spoke of the fine turn out for the dedication of the new Health Lodge on July 22 at which time Justice Owen J. Roberts spoke to the boys and visitors. The health Lodge was dedicated to Bentley R. Morrison. Attending were Council guests Dr. E. K. Fretwell, Chief Scout Executive of the National Council, Paul H. Love, Regional Executive of Region Three and Associate Justice Roberts. The impressive Tap-out ceremony was held at Retreat that evening at which time Chief Executive Dr. Elbert K. Fretwell was honored by being tapped out for the W.W.W. by our Ceremonial team. ...

Back to Exhibit Content


1945 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III  [Contribute Info] 

... Horseshoe called again. An impressive flier was issued announcing activities for that summer. in the meantime the Staff was being pulled together by Camp Director Beam.

Charles E. Swope (Eagle Scout, Distinguished Eagle Scout, Horseshoe camper and Staff. Present Council Board Member and President and C.E.O. First National Bank of Chester County) reflections:

"I shall never forget the thrill in June 1945 when I received a letter from Frank Beam informing me that I had been appointed to the Camp Staff...terms: From June 18th to August 20th - "your board and $75 for the season."

A friendship with John Cable, "Reds" Russell, John Rettew and so many others that have lasted a lifetime.

I shall never forget - Capture the Flag at night on Flag Pole Hill...the thrill of being tapped out for the Order of the Arrow...the competition to win Retreat with Justice Owen J. Roberts, Lou Lester, Robert W. Wolcott and my dad, Charles S. Swope, and many others visiting that day."

Chuck Miller teaches life saving techniques.
Contributed by John B. Rettew III
Charley was Stockade Leader of the Sherwood Forest Camp that year. It, along with Boonesboro and Carson had "provisional" Scout campers representing various troops. Many of the boys would spend more than the customary twoweek period, some for the entire summer. Our Crockett and Taylor camps were usually reserved for troops camping as a unit with their own leadership. McIlvaine Lodge was also in use that summer because of the great attendance. Charles "Chuck" Miller was the Pool Director while Ernie Wright was at the Boat Docks. Other Staff members were George "Reds" Russell, Frank Seabolt, James Johnson Daniel Schmidt and Fred Gates. Alfred Penrose was a Staff member that summer and all were saddened to learn of his death later in the fall. He was an Eagle scout and an Order of the Arrow member from Troop 21 and Sea Scout Ship 18.

The Camp Echo reported that a group of our Staff was called to Pine Grove to assist in the search for a drowning victim. Chuck Miller and six Staff members, including Frank Beam, made the nighttime trip. "Reds" Russell discovered the body within five minutes of their arrival.

Another entry in the Camp Echo reported on the Staff Invitation to Camp Tweedale, the Chester County Girl Scout Camp for dinner and a dance.

JB Rettew in 1994 remembers:

AAH! The old Obstacle Course (aka Commando Course) on the Athletic Field with the Scouts on the Monkey ladders...pant...ugh...pant!!

1945 - Contributed by Anonymous
"I'll never forget the Commando course set up on the Athletic Field in those days. I don't believe my body at that point was prepared to handle the ladders nor the speed of others in navigating the course. Some boys were pretty good at it. Also, the night war games on Flag Pole Hill were particularly memorable with fellows like the McCabe brothers from Phoenixville, Mulvaney and "Reds" Russell playing (?) the game. There were a lot of stories of the rough and tumble activities along the chapel trail and trying to go that last measure to reach the Flag Pole!" 

The Camp Program this year had a number of other innovations. There was a Campwide election held between two different "political" parties for the key Staff jobs. Following the elections "Topsy Turvy" day saw the newly elected Staff take charge. "Gold" was found in the Octoraro this summer and campers competed to "stake" their claim. A "Boom Town" in Kindness Center provided the gold diggers with the chance of disposing of their poke of gold that evening. The impressive Indian Pageants and ceremonies continued to be the highlight of the week when Camp awards were presented at the closing campfire.

Back to Exhibit Content


1946 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III  [Contribute Info] 

A. Paul Breuninger was Business Manager of Horseshoe this summer; Al Weeks of West Grove, the Program Director; Forrest Lenker of Wayne Nature Director; Seymour Ledis of Philadelphia in charge of health and Safety; Charles Miller of Coatesville, the Swimming Director; and, Bob Tinsman of Paoli the Boating Director. Other Staff members included Ronald Sykes, Johnny Rettew as an Assistant at the pool, Charles Swope, Edward "Casey" Jones, Robert Alexander, Al Brawn, Robert Thomas, Willard Yeakel, Robert Mercer, David Prizer, Albert Fegley, William Beam, Howard Kramer and Robert Townsend. 

Nature Director Forrest Lenker, Bob Lenker and friendly Black Rat Snake.
Contributed by John B. Rettew III
The Nature displays Mr. Lenker developed acted like a magnet for the campers. During the day he would teach Bird Study at "the crack of dawn", later Botany and Reptile Study. In the evening, he would put on special "black light" demonstrations for the campers which would intrigue them. Many went away wondering how that rock glowed in the dark.

Speaking of nature , there are interesting geological aspects of the Horseshoe property and the area in that there are nearby opportunities to find interesting minerals as noted by other people who had been interested in the property in years gone by. In fact there is a Serpentine Rock Barrens located very near part of the Horseshoe Reservation property which was set aside as a special nature study area. Scouts of the 1940's remember, too, the soapstone found at camp which could be carved into neckerchief slides and other mementos.

There are a number of stories that have 'floated' around Camp about the property across the Octoraro Creek that is in the present day a quarry. Rumor had it that the Council was offered this property at some early time but declined to buy it because there was insufficient money to do so. It was also felt that it would never be developed. Regardless, the property was developed in the 1950's as a quarry. It became very intrusive to the Camp in its earlier days when it was worked around-the-clock to supply the stone for highway construction. 

On numerous occasions Forrest Lenker, Nature Director, traveled to the quarry area to collect rock specimens for the Nature Lodge. In addition, there were chrome mines several miles from the Rock Springs Store that Ernie Heegard used to hike to with the Explorers for mineral study. Williamsite and Serpentine were found there. 

At the pool, the weekly Water Carnivals saw each of the Camp Stockades competing for the top spot...whether it was in swimming the breast stroke, freestyle or diving competitions or in gunwale pumping a canoe.

After finishing the meal in the Dining Hall, the spirited campers would erupt in singing their respective Stockade's song...from "Ki-Yi, Ki-Yi- Kus...every body likes us" for Sherwood Forest, to "Gosh O Hemlock" for Boonesboro, to "Over hill, over dale as we hit the dusty trail for Kit Carson," to "I'm from Camp Davey Crockett and don't try to knock it," and finally to "It's a long way to Bayard Taylor, but we'll get there some day." Then Frank Beam would lead a song, or, if Chief Lester were there he would. Songs like "The Bear Went Over the Mountain," "We're On the Upward Trail," and "Trail the Eagle" were popular in those days.

(From left) Frank Beam, Andy Wilson, John Rettew, Charles Swope, Charles Miller, Bob Thomas, Bob Alexander

1946 - Contributed by Andrew Coe
Camp life was firmly built around camping skill development and the aquatics programs with the Scouts working on various merit badge programs. The Handicraft Center located beneath the Kindness Center was especially popular on hot was one of the cool spots in camp! From gimp lanyards or bracelets to metal candle stick holders or ash trays, the Scouts received excellent guidance from the Handicraft Director for 1946, Ronald Sykes.

Casey Jones and JB Rettew, in 1994, reflect on the preparation of the Sunday meals back in the 1940's:

"We used to have creamed chicken, not turkey as they have today. I can remember one of our jobs was to slaughter the chickens on Saturday afternoon in a most unappetizing fashion. Once they had been terminated, there was the vat of boiling water that you had to soak them in. Then came the task of removing all their feathers. We enjoyed the Sunday meal anyway."


Reflections by John "JB" Rettew on Horseshoe experiences that many others have similarly shared in those days:

- the sweet smell of hay when entering camp;

- trying to keep stockings up while marching;

- "Sit Down Johanna...Sit Down!"

- Whip poor will call piercing the still night;

- early morning bird hikes with Forrest Lenker;

- tree toads;

-"The Lost Chord" and the "Lord's Prayer" played after Taps;

- storms that seemed to follow the Octoraro Loop and return again;

- 'washing' the chapel windows;

- belts;

- the swinging bridge;

- watching the flag lowered on Flag Pole Hill from Parade Ground.

Camping Committee Chairman John H. Ware, 3rd reported at the fall Board Meeting on another fine season at Camp. He called upon Frank Beam and Paul Breuninger to report on the Horseshoe operations relating to program and morale. The McIlvain Fund for the Horseshoe Scout Reservation that had been started in memory of J. Gibson McIlvain was growing and would provide resources for a future Camp project.

Back to Exhibit Content


1947 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III  [Contribute Info] 

Another picture dating to the late 40's when the Headquarters building was under construction.
1947 - Contributed by Anonymous
The new Headquarters building opened for business in 1947.
1947 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III
This year the Horseshoe campers were greeted by the newly acquired Quonset hut for equipment storage and a new Headquarters and Trading Post at Camp Horseshoe. For years the Trading Post had been located next to Handicraft beneath Kindness Center. Each evening the campers would line up with their Trading Post cards and be given the opportunity to buy a scoop of ice cream and one candy bar. During the day the Post was open to dispense handicraft supplies.

Ronald Sykes and John Rettew were the first Staff members to reside in the new Trading Post. It quickly became a popular spot for the campers. In addition, the camp bell would be rung from the small belfry to denote different activity periods or emergencies. A public address system allowed bugle calls to be played and heard campwide. After campers were called to quarters, hymns and quiet music would be played over the PA system. This building was our new Camp Headquarters. The White House continued to be used by the Camp Director.

1947 Tap-out Team - Jack Jacobs, J. Rettew, Ron Sykes and "Casey" Jones
1947 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III
Frank Beam continued as Camp Director while William Thornhill came on the Staff as Business Manager. Many of the previous year's Staff was back to provide a spirited camp. Forrest Lenker was back with his entourage of a possum, raccoon, copperhead and black snakes and lots of turtles! It was another great year and Horseshoe's facilities were being strained by the increase in the number of campers.

In the previous year, a Long Range Planning Committee under the leadership of William J. Clothier was begun. With the momentum of the Council, the anticipated growth in available youth and our strained camping facility, Chief Lester had sought to develop plans for the Council's future to allow for continued growth and for the most efficient use of the camping facilities. Much effort was expended by Mr. Clothier's committee and the results were published later in the year. The Five-Year Plan was a well thought-out document that would serve as specific guidelines for our Council's future growth and development of our camping facilities.

Back to Exhibit Content


1948 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III  [Contribute Info] 

The 1948 Camp Staff saw many old timers return. Mr. Herbert Ellson of St. Davids was the Waterfront Director assisted by Johnny Rettew at the pool, Earl and Jud Ellson at the Boat Dock. William Thornhill was Program Director; Ronald Sykes for Handicraft; Ed Abrahamsen was First Aid Director; Forrest Lenker for Nature Lore; Jim Lockhart as Hikemaster; and, Roy Alford as Business Manager and Camp Steward. Stockade Leaders were Edward "Casey" Jones, Clarence Burnside, and Walter "Dusty" Rhodes. Bob Lenker served as Assistant for Nature Study. Jackson "Andy" Wilson was Assistant Steward, Jack Gabel in charge of the Trading Post and Daniel Cornwell was Assistant in Handicraft. 

1948 marked the twentieth anniversary of the opening of Camp Horseshoe. In commemoration of this, Roberts' Day on July 24 was a special occasion for the Scouts, Council Executive Board members, friends and family of J. Gibson McIlvain and friends of Scouting. 

Normal activities were suspended in the afternoon so the camp could attend special events being held on the camp road below Kindness Center at the base of Flag Pole Hill. 

In charge of the Ceremonies that day was John H. Ware, 3rd. Prominent participants in the Ceremonies included Council President Charles Swope, Chief Louis Lester and the Chairman of the Board, the Honorable Owen J. Roberts. Each in turn spoke of the founding of the camp and the contribution so many people had made to its success. Also on hand that day was former Council Executive Thomas J. Price. That day, the specific work done by J. Gibson McIlvain in helping to secure and develop the camp property was acknowledged. A special plaque was unveiled by Owen J. Roberts to commemorate Mr. McIlvain's work. In doing so Mr. Roberts mentioned the fact that it was McIlvain who, nineteen years earlier, had approached him about the Scouting Movement in Chester County and encouraged him to help. 

The inscription on the plaque read:

"J. Gibson McIlvain...1881-1944...In grateful recognition of the untiring efforts towards securing and developing the Horseshoe Scout Reservation, friends contributed funds for additional improvements and erected this tribute to his memory, July 24, 1948." "Our job is to do our best, be our best, and bring out the best in others, and so to make a better world."

Following the special recognition, the Scouts put on a life saving and water safety display at the pool for the visitors. This was followed by the Retreat Ceremonies on the Parade Field and the Board Dinner.

The last weeks of the Horseshoe season were devoted to black Scouts. Troops from West Chester, Downingtown and other communities joined Scouts from the Delmarva Council during the last Camp period. Prominant among the Chester County leaders were Ray Lemmon, Harold Denny, J. Walker Brown and Leon Anderson to name just a few. JB Rettew recalls his time on the Staff when the black Scouts were in Camp:

"I particularly remember that these Scouts were great friends and had wonderful singing abilities...songs like 'Climbing Jacob's Ladder' and other moving spirituals. I was on the Staff and ended up in the Health Lodge at the beginning of their Camp week one year. Many of the Scouts who knew me from the year before came to visit me in the Health Lodge. I will never forget that experience."

It was not until 1948 that the Order of the Arrow was officially recognized by the National Council as an official program of the Boy Scouts of America. The official recognition would provide for expansion and influence of the Order of the Arrow locally and nationally. During that summer a group of the Staff who were members of the Order of the Arrow Tap-out and Ceremonial team went to the Reading Council's camp where they conducted the Brotherhood Ceremony for that newly formed Lodge. Mr. Beam, Jim Lockhart and Johnny Rettew were among those who assisted the program for the neighboring Council.

The Staff was a spirited group that summer. On "Staff night out" several of them would hop in Jim Lockhart's Model T and go into Rising Sun to a gathering of local fiddlers and singers held on the loading platform of Dempsey's furniture store. Here Jim, Johnny Rettew and Andy Wilson would provide entertainment at the intermission with camp songs and western melodies the words of which are now long forgotten and most likely concocted then. These fellows came up with the idea of driving the Model T west to New Mexico to pick up Bill Beam after the Philmont season was over.

Back to Exhibit Content


1949 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III  [Contribute Info] 

Also, discussed at this time was the integration of white and black Scouts in troops and at summer camp. Heretofore, black Scouts had their own troops and period at summer camp. Actually, integration had commenced to a small degree before this discussion took place, reflecting a change in the times. It was not until several years later that it was fully accomplished.

During those years there were a number of black troops with strong Scouting Programs in the Council. West Chester Troop 66, under the leadership of Harold Denny was one such troop. J. Walker Brown, who had been a Scout at Camp Horseshoe in an earlier year, a Scoutmaster and then a Commissioner in the Lenni-Lenape District comments: 

"I was a camper at Horseshoe, attending during black week. Later I helped to organize Troop 60 in Kennett Square. I was the Scoutmaster and had between 35 and 40 Scouts in the Troop. There were a number of black leaders that I recall. Ray Lemmon of Downingtown, was a leader who provided exceptional service to Scouting as did Harold Denny, a school teacher from West Chester. Both men received numerous Scouting and community awards for their work."

It should be noted that Ray Lemmon was the first black Scout leader to be honored with the Silver Beaver award in 1946. Harold Denny was the second and received the Silver Beaver in 1949. 

The 1949 season at Camp Horseshoe opened with William M. Thornhill as the new Camp Director. Most of the previous year's directors had returned. New members of the Staff included Bill Lenker assisting the Boat Director Jud Ellson; Howard Hutton at the Trading Post; Bob Quann and Marty McCabe, Steward and Assistant respectively; and Stockade Leaders Dick Swannenburg, J. Roland Smith and Clarence Burnside. Walt Gabel was the Program Director. 

This was the Council's 30th Anniversary. New this year was a series of opening night camp fire programs at which historical skits, based on early Chester County events, presented by the Staff members. Robert Goshorn, Advancement Chairman for District 2 wrote the popular skits. Each Sunday various Staff members taught Sunday School at the Chapel and visiting clergy and Council leaders gave inspirational talks. The Catholic Scouts were transported to Mass in Rising Sun each Sunday. 

Ronald Sykes was elected Camp Sakima of the Octoraro Lodge Order of the Arrow and had an active role, as did other Order of the Arrow members, in the Saturday evening Ceremonial campfire. Al Brawn who had been Lodge Chief in 1948 turned the reigns over to Frank Young this year. The Lodge prospered and continued to grow under his leadership. 

Roberts' Day at Camp was always a special occasion. More than 300 people were treated to exhibits at the Demonstration Area, Commando Course, Boat Docks and the Pool. In addition to the Hon. Owen J. Roberts and our Council Officers, Clarence F. Urffer, Region Three Executive, was on hand for the Camp inspection. The Retreat ceremony with the "impressive?" marching of the troops combined with the solemn tap-out ceremony of the new honor campers and selected distinguished visitors was capped off by a heavy rain shower after Colors.


It was about this time that a young man joined our Camp Horseshoe Staff who would eventually have a marked impact upon the Camp, the Order of the Arrow and Scouting in the Council. G. Ernest Heegard of Troop 78 of Willistown worked in the Kitchen this summer as his first job on the Staff. In subsequent years he would serve the Council in many different capacities on the Staff and eventually would become the Horseshoe Reservation Director. 

Back to Exhibit Content


1950 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III  [Contribute Info] 

Allen Memorial Dining Hall in the early 50's.
Contributed by John B. Rettew III
... While summer Camp approached there was much attention directed towards the Valley Forge site of the National Jamboree, which would take place from June 30th to July 6th. Undoubtedly, the fact we were sending three troops to the event would have an impact upon Camp attendance that summer. In addition, there was the second trek to Philmont under the leadership of Scout Commissioner Art McGinnes.
Jim the Crow
Contributed by Anonymous

At Horseshoe that summer, Bill Thornhill again directed the activities. Herb Ellson was back at the Pool and Ernie Heegard was on the Staff once more. The story goes:

In 1950, Ernie Heegard had a crow when he was at the pool. He was named "Jim" and it used to sit on his shoulder as he would travel around camp in his early days as a Staff member. The campers were intrigued with "Jim". Ernie remembers that "Jim" loved Jud Ellson's old Model A Ford. He would perch on the top of the window rod when Jud had the top down and take in the scenery as they sped across the Athletic Field to man the Boat Docks. "Jim" also was an early riser and would get up at the crack of dawn and pick at Herb Ellson's watch that sat in a cup next to his tent. Ernie recalls that Herb wouldn't take too kindly to this early rude awakening! ...

Back to Exhibit Content


1951 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III  [Contribute Info] 

Chief Lester served as the Camp Director at Horseshoe this summer. Vic Adderton was the Business Manager keeping tabs on the expenses with Edward "Casey" Jones of Parkesburg Troop 35 assisting. Ernie Heegard of Troop 78 was the Handicraft

Ernie Heegard helping a camper with Indian Lore in the early 50s.
1951 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III
Director holding forth in the basement shop of Kindness Center. Herb Ellson returned as the Waterfront Director and was assisted by Jud Ellson and Bill Lenker of Devon Troop 50 and Walley Hubbell of Florida. Doug Hoffman of Paoli Troop 1 served as the Pioneering Director. The Stockade Leaders this year were Paul Davis of Phoenixville; Jerry Barber of Malvern; and, Carl Brenhenman of Paoli. Tom Burkey of Malvern Troop 7 was Camp Quartermaster and Sid Bell was Program Director. Herbert "Doc" Houston was the 'Nature Boy' directing the Nature Department. We can't forget the cooks - Charlie and Percy Henry of Swarthmore College, who did such a great job in keeping our campers well fed. George Cole kept the camp pool and equipment running as the Camp Ranger in his 7th season.

Speaking of the pool, Bill Lenker, who worked at the pool with Herb Ellson, recalls:

"We used to have late night swims at the pool on especially hot and humid days. The Camp would be alerted that they were to help in a fire drill and would need their towels to beat out the flames! This was always a welcome event for the campers." 

Ernie Heegard also recalls Herb Ellson as did Bill :

"He was truly a fine person and helped many people out in difficult times they might encounter. A very important person to the success of camp life.

Many favorable comments were registered about Horseshoe's operation that summer. Dr. Agnew Ewing of West Grove 30's Committee was particularly impressed with the program and the mature Staff that helped the campers. Camp Staff members included Edward "Casey" Jones and Ernie Heegard. John H. Ware, 3rd continued to provide strong leadership to the Council's Camping Committee and expressed his Committee's determination to conduct a top-flight camp in every respect.

Back to Exhibit Content


1952 - Contributed by John B. Rettew III  [Contribute Info] 

... Encouraging news came that the largest ever pre-camp enrollment for Horseshoe had been made. There were more than 500 different boys signed up which was more than we had for the prior year's camp. Karl Woodward, Council Field Executive, was appointed Camp Director for the approaching season. 

Under the leadership that summer of Karl Woodward, Camp operated smoothly. Vic Adderton was back as Business Manager and Doug Hoffman was now Boating Director. Ernie Heegard was now Campcraft Director and "Doc" Houston of Lenape was the Program Director. Bob Pulver of Wayne was the new Nature Director this year. Jerry Rodos of Philadelphia was the Health and Safety Director assisted by Hank Little of Devon Troop 50 and Bill Heuser of Wayne. Casey Jones was Assistant Waterfront Director and Stan Burkey, Ted Mauger, and Jim Myers served in the Stockade campsites. At the end of the camping season the Staff and their guests held forth at the closing banquet. Among the guests that evening was Dr. Agnew "Hank" Ewing from West Grove who had been a camper and Staff member in the 1930's.

The Order of the Arrow in 1952 was led by Fred Gates, serving as Lodge Chief for the second year. That year, after many years of raising funds, on a special work weekend, ground was broken for the Lodge's Order of the Arrow Building. Work was to progress slowly and fitfully over the next few years as material was purchased and work completed as funds became available.

This was the 25th season for Camp Horseshoe. Camp Director Woodward announced at the Board Meeting at summer Camp that attendance was expected to be over 600 Scouts! The Retreat Ceremony that evening included the Order of the Arrow Indian Tap-Out team singling out the honor campers of the week. They also singled out Mr. F. Huston McIlvain as a candidate for the Order.

 Sunday services at the Chapel.
Contributed by Anonymous
The Chapel on Sunday morning was a special time for the Scouts and held much meaning in their later lives. Speaking of Chapel on Flag Pole Hill, Bill Lenker (Camper and Staff member in the late !940's and early '50's and present day leader) remembers in 1994 the Sunday School sessions:

"We formed up for Chapel at Headquarters behind the US Flag and Church Flag and marched silently up the Chapel trail in columns of two. We then would enter through the gate (keeping a careful eye out for copperhead snakes who might be sunning themselves) and be seated. Then usually Camp Director Holland Heck would ask Scouts to form different groups by age of the Sunday School portion of the service. The Staff had prepared special lessons(Uniform Lessons) for the occasion and would conduct the class. By the way, Scouts would receive a letter attesting to their attendance for their Church at home."

Ernie Heegard comments in 1994 about some of the excellent Chapel Service preachers we had then and over the years:

"There was one gentleman, Presbyterian Minister John Ferguson of Unionville, who was particularly memorable. He would come prepared with all sorts of signs and get all the Scouts into his sermons using the signs. One year he had some sermon that had to do with diamonds and he brought simulated diamonds to achieve the point he wanted to make with the Scouts. He came to Camp for over 25 years. There was also Mr. Farnloff of the Nottingham Academy who also was a very effective speaker. 'Casey'' Jones also gave many sermons when he was on the Staff when he was practicing for the ministry."

An option to purchase the New Bridge Church, a former school building located on the road leading to, and near the Horseshoe Reservation, met with Board approval. 

As a follow-up to the camping season John H. Ware, 3rd reported that financially the season ended in the black. Attendance exceeded any previous year in the history of the Council with 569 Scouts there for one or more weeks. "Since the Reservation was established in 1927, a total of 10,462 Scouts have benefited through the summer camping programs." Ware said. He also called attention to the fact that during the winter season, a greater number of Scouts participated in week-end or short-term camps. "The successful season was a fitting tribute to the 25th Anniversary of the Horseshoe Scout Reservation," he said.

Back to Exhibit Content