I visited the site in 1998, the first time in 25 years. I wandered around Camp Pahaquarra and looked at the foundation of the dining hall and the crumbling remains of the trading post. I climbed up the hill and found evidence of Cree and Netop campsites. I looked into the entrance to one of the copper mines and sat on a mossy rock that was once part of the Durling Ceremony Grounds. Everything was overgrown - not just with weeds or saplings but with large trees. Truly, many years had passed since Camp Pahaquarra had closed. I headed down to the waterfront. There was no indication that a cabin had sat on the banks overlooking the swimming area. The only witnesses to the "old days" were the massive trees bordering the river and a single cement step along the path, before it dropped down to the shoreline.
I sat on that step and tried to see countless Scouts swimming in the river, trying to earn a merit badge or simply trying to figure out how to inflate their pants to use as a floatation device. But all I saw were ripples in the river as fish rose to eat evening insects.
I sat on that step and tried to hear my father playing the bugle "come and get your chow, boys, come and get your chow" from the Pahaquarra of 1943. Or maybe the sounds of the bolt-action .22s up at the rifle range (10 shots for a quarter in 1969). But all I heard was the wind blowing through the trees.
I sat on that step and tried to detect the faintest whiff of cooking from the dining hall - maybe bacon frying or cupcakes baking. But all I could smell was a piece of fresh mint that I had crushed with my boot.
I sat on that step and watched the Delaware River flow slowly past me. I learned to swim and canoe in that river and I learned to be a boy and a man at that camp. But I recognized that my youth was just a fleeting moment in time for the Delaware, as was forty-six years of Camp Pahaquarra. But before I became too sad, I remembered I had one last stop to make. Just the thought of stopping at Hot Dog Johnny's for a 'dog with mustard and onions and an ice cold birch beer was enough to make me say "things are OK."
Camp Pahaquarra 1969-1971
Sanhican Lodge Chief 1974
PhD in Forest Biometrics 1985
In Closing Page 2
Camp Pahaquarra History Page