From Bob Hans: "I was at Ten Mile River last month (yep, still in Boy Scouts) and visited the museum there.  They have a website with some background information on the various camps.  You may want to link to those descriptions from your site."
Right you are Bob! Here's the link for the Ten Mile River Museum Archives. It a really good website.  Click Here

Scouting is Outing


One of the real attractions about joining the Boy Scouts in the 1960's was the opportunity to get out of the city and actually camp out in the wild (or as wild as the average Greater New York Council Scout camp could be). And Troop 273 had a very active camping program. We camped out, on the average, about 2 to 3 weekends each school semester. That meant that we had 6 camping trips each school year. And our camping program culminated with a 2 week summer camp, usually during July.


A Scout had to have equipment for camping out and all of us were equipped with Official Boy Scout issue equipment. In addition to the Scout uniform, we bought BSA sleeping bags, knapsacks, mess kits, axes, knives, canteens and other camping gear. Even our outer wear was often the BSA issue bright red coat with patches sewn all over the coat. And in those days, we all bought the official scout equipment. I don't think it was mandatory to buy official BSA items, but all of boys were uniform in the camping gear that we carried. (When I was an adult leader in the 80's and 90's, it seemed the boys had a wide and different variety of camping gear, very little of it BSA--perhaps that owes more to the increased selection of sleeping bags, camping gear, etc, versus what was available to us in the 60's.)


We would generally prepare our camping outing with military precision. The Thursday meeting prior to our campout, we would go through checklists including socks, underwear and toiletries. We would also go through our planned meals, who would buy and carry food, who would prepare the food and duty rosters to clean up after meals. And we would establish our schedule of training and activities. We tried to make the most of our 2 days out in nature.


During the campout, Adult leaders would make some of our meals that we would eat as a troop. But the patrol was responsible for some meals, even if it was just a bologna sandwich with chips for lunch. However, we always had people earning Cooking Merit Badge, so we would often have young chefs testing their culinary arts on us hapless boys. Generally, the best and easiest meals were the foil wrapped beef stew cubes, with carrots, onions and potatoes tossed over an open fire. It was very hard to screw that up.


For weekend campouts, we rarely stayed in tents. As far as I remember, we were always in some type of camp house, wood cabin or lean-to. And even though it was the northeast, where it could get very cold, very quickly, anytime from October through March, I don't ever remember being cold at nights when we slept. On Saturday evenings, we would gather around a campfire and sing songs. Even if we were indoors, we had some sort of troop activity involving songs on Saturday night. And as a ritual, Bill Welsch and the other leaders would always provide hot cocoa and Oreo cookies for us every evening. We always looked forward to that treat. We could sneak candy and treats, which we inevitably did. But we all learned a lesson about camping: you have to carry everything that you use. Since we were completely stacked with necessary camping supplies on our back, around our wastes and slung on our shoulders, there was very little extra space, or weight capacity for extra food and snacks.

As far as where we camped, the Greater New York Council had many more camps back in the 60's than they have today. Our primary camps seemed to be Spruce Pond and Pouch Scout Camps. We also went to Camp Kaufman (Long Island) and Alpine Scout Camp (New Jersey) but to a lesser extent than Spruce Pond or Pouch. Although Sanita Hills was open for weekend camping, I don't remember ever going there at all for a weekend campout. However, we did have our 2 week summer camp in Sanita Hills. One of the reasons that Spruce Pond was such a favorite was that the Red Apple Rest was located across from the camp entrance. Us boys could usually finagle a way for our adult drivers to make a quick stop at the restaurant, for a Coke and Hot Dog, on the way home from camp on Sunday.


"I see from google earth that the Sanita land remains undeveloped; I'm still hoping to sneak in there one day for one last look around.  Bobby Buszko, Mike Eastman and I did that once, but that was more than 25 years ago.  One correction about Sanita - we did go there for weekend trips.  My first camping trip was to Sanita in November of 1961, and I remember a number of winter trips there. Jimmy Oberle, Bobby and I were able to use the camp's skis on one trip.  They had leather straps that you attached to your boots - amazing we didn't break a leg." Bob Hans, Aug 2013  (Thanks Bob!)

The biggest benefit to camping was to learn about nature. For us city boys, this was an eye opener. Our camps generally had lakes and swim areas. For me, I learned how to swim at Scout Camps since I had little opportunity to go to pools in Queens. I also learned to freshwater fish at Scout camp. And, I learned how to live in the woods, where we had no concrete sidewalks, houses, street lights, running water, plumbing, heat or any other creature comforts. Each Scout Camp was also completely dark, quiet and still at night. A Loud noise would carry for miles. This was a far cry from the 707's landing at Kennedy, flying every 5 minutes over my Richmond Hill home. It was a very valuable experience for boys raised in the city.