CONSTANTIA — Nestled in the woods along Kibbie Lake Road, Scouts from around the world have spent time enjoying nature and learning life lessons, skills, for 90 years at Camp Woodland.
Longtime Scout Curt Carpenter said a lot has changed at Camp Woodland since he attended as a Boy Scout in the 1960s.
“There were platform tents and troop areas all around,” he said. “It doesn’t look at all like it did back then.”
Mr. Carpenter added that rangers of the camp have made an impact on its progress.
The 900-acre plot was purchased from the Will Estate in 1929 with the local Boy Scouts council (Onondaga) assuming the mortgage of $30,000. Key members involved in revitalizing the camp in the 1930s included George Morton, Leo Sandefur, Fred Lee, Ray King, Crandall Melvin, Collin Armstrong, Dr. Walter Rooks, Clifford Carpenter, Cecil Crego, Jim Stimson, Bill Lawrence, Dave Jaquith, Stewart Darrow, Fritz Crego and Eric Will.
The camp had no permanent dining facility in the '30s, but it is recorded that barbecue dinners were a favorite among Scouts at the Sherwood Forest archery range.
Troop 80 of the Onondaga Council was the first to camp at Woodland in 1934. In 1935, the Gyro Club built the first wooden structure suitable for troop camping and was occupied by Troop 81.
In 1944, World War II was in full swing, but camp director Bill Wadsworth revamped the idea of camping to make it a meaningful experience for Scouts in the council. He and his team of volunteers developed and provided a program in which life skills were learned during the camping experience. Tin can cookery, canoe trips, rifle range, adventure trail and winter camping were a few of Mr. Wadsworth’s concepts. He went on to lead at the national level of the Boy Scouts of America as the national camping director.
In 1945, Joseph Owens, Sr., donated $10,000 toward construction of a dining hall, now known as Owens Hall. The Syracuse Community Chest also donated funds for the project.
The Kiwanis Club of Syracuse built a Kiwanis cabin on the property in 1946. Capital funds furnished money to build King Lodge in 1965.
Through the years, donors and volunteers have continued to build the structures, programs and activities that continue to provide fun and education to Scouts and Scouters alike.
Most recently, the camp has added a space for recreational vehicles, a new chapel, lean-to site, climbing pavilion and gaga pit.
Today the camp is used by Cub Scouts, Scouts BSA, Venturing Crews, Sea Scouts, Explorers, Scout leaders and community members from Onondaga, Cayuga, St. Lawrence, Oswego, Jefferson and Lewis counties.
The current council, Longhouse Council, will celebrate the camp’s 90th anniversary on Saturday, July 13. Those who wish to attend the event may register by Wednesday, July 10 online at www.cnyscouts.org/camping/camp-woodland/90, fees vary based on the level of participation for the day.
Throughout the year, community members interested in the council’s Scouting history are encouraged to visit the William Hillcourt Scout Museum and Carson Buck Memorial Library, on Camp Woodland, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturdays.
Historical documentation was provided by John Binkowski of the William Hillcourt Scout Museum.