Memories of Camp Sakawawin
by Martin Engel
My first recollections of Sakawawin Scout Reservation (Branchville, NJ) go back to the late sixties, when it was the showpiece of Middlesex Council NJ. The camp boasted eleven troop tent campsites and two lean-to troop sites. Showers were at the bottom of "hernia hill", but the rifle range, fire rings and seven of the sites were up top. Whatta schlepp! The entire camp was situated on the SW side of Struble Road. Marked trails led the way up to the Appalachian Trail and other tours through the hillsides.
When I brought my Cub Pack to Camp for a day's fun each summer, they were able to have all their activities at the lower level. They used to set up a Mo'skeet range for us between the showers and health lodge. Mo'skeet is a smooth-barreled .22 Caliber single shot rifle that fires .22 shot cartridges at 3"-diameter clay birds. Lunch in the dining hall, some archery, fishing along Lake Ashroe's shoreline and of course a swim. We finished with an ecumenical service at one of the two chapel sites. The boys purchased neckerchiefs that were in reality a map of the camp. When they came back as Scouts they never got lost.
In the early seventies, Middlesex and Raritan Councils merged to become the Thomas A. Edison Council. Six new troop tent sites were carved into the forest on the NE side of Struble Road and were named Camp Cowaw, while the original camp retained the Sakawawin name...and the entire operation became Kittatinny Mountain Scout Reservation. My Troop immediately opted to camp at Cowaw's Eagle's Nest, halfway up to the CCC planted pine forest overlooking Rt. 206.
There was a program in place at the camp then whereby Troops could provide their own food and cook for themselves, patrol style. Our boys loved meal planning, shopping and packaging their meals. We brought half the week's meals up with us and stored them in the service lodge. We borrowed the camps Sheepherder Stoves for the week and cooked up a storm all five days. We had a welcoming dinner at the dining hall on Saturday night, and a closing breakfast there the following Saturday. Otherwise we were on our own. Fathers coming in to help out during the week's second half brought up the balance of our rations.
The treat of the week's stay was brush busting by patrols with map and compass, over the hill and through the woods to a day of swimming in the Flatbrook and a picnic lunch on the shore. There were always hikers to Tillman's Ravine or up to Buttermilk Falls. The best patrol of the day won the opportunity to set up the Havahart Trap and see what they might entice in the way of overnight visitors. Thank goodness, only once did they come up with a skunk. He finally deigned to leave the opened trap and wander off to greener pastures without mishap.
Camp Sakawawin History
November 3, 2000