George Washington Council
by Larry Gering
Camp Pahaquarra and Yards Creek
In the 1970's, my dad (an MD) did "check-in exams" at Yards Creek, a somewhat casual review of medical forms and a brief exam to make sure no one was too sick to attend their week at camp. We used to drive up on Sunday morning, eat breakfast in the dining hall, he did exams (I went sailing on lake). We'd stop off at Hotdog Johnny's on the way home to Trenton. Dad did it for free (well, 2 breakfasts and use of a Sunfish).
Final OA Pilgrimage at Pahaquarra
The last OA Pilgrimage to Pahaquarra was in June, 1971. Several hundred brothers from Sanhican Lodge arrived to set up camp and the same procedure was followed as in past years. Groups of boys and adults were organized into teams and assigned tasks. Moving hundreds of old (ie: smelly and mouse-infested) mattresses from the barns was one of the least desirable chores. Setting up tents was the easiest. Everything else was in-between.
The important consideration, though, was that it went so smoothly. An entire camp set up in about a day and a half. Good meals cooked by the brothers of Lenape Trails Chapter (Tr. 22) as Mr. P, Mr. N, Southy and Curly kept the food coming. Saturday ended with ceremonies at the old OA grounds behind the dining hall, near the old copper mine. I can still picture my Ordeal ceremony taking place at that ceremony grounds earlier that year.
First OA Pilgrimage at Yards Creek
Once all of the politics and business concerning the sale of Pahaquarra and the leasing of Yards Creek were over, it was time to set up for the summer of 1972, proclaimed the "Pioneer Year" by the Council. Late June found another large crowd of arrowmen arriving at Yards Creek to set up camp. What a weekend!
It started off poorly when someone trying to be helpful filled all of the camp trucks with kerosene rather than gasoline (above ground pumps had been mis-labeled). Most of the tents had been crammed into a quickly constructed cement block storage building and it was a huge mess. Tent platforms were in the various campsites but it took many hours to find, carry and arrange rocks to hold them off the ground.
At least those old mattresses hadn't made the trip over from Pahaquarra. Somewhere, the Council had found new bunks that had a canvas stretched across the frame rather than springs requiring mattresses. Those were a needed improvement.
Cooking and dining took place in two great army tents set up in the parking lot. Again - good food but, since there was no refrigeration or electricity there, everything was 'ice chests' and 'propane'. Those tents were later set up on the floor that would eventually become the permanent dining hall.
Pioneer Year 1972 was a true learning experience as a camp was literally built day by day. Various patches from Yards Creek show a totem pole with its base 'behind the mountains'. That totem pole is the one originally at Pahaquarra - just across the mountains. It's a way of remembering our past.
I also camped at Camp Buck pretty extensively; not surprising as I was also a member of Troop 11 out of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Trenton (same as Doug Remer but a few years younger). We certainly camped there in 1972 but sometime around then, once again, the Council sold some property in order to meet debts.
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Rev: Sep 2, 1999