Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco History 2007
A Brief History of Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco 1927-2007
80 Years of Scouting Tradition and Excellence
Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco lies on the shores of Sand Pond at the base of the Kittatinny Ridge, approximately 2.5 miles southeast of the Walpack Bend in Hardwick and Stillwater Townships. Originally, the surrounding Paulins Kill watershed region was inhabited by the Tohockonetcong Band of the Minisink Tribe. It is unlikely they had a permanent settlement in this valley at the headwaters of Jacksonburg Creek due to its inhospitable terrain and shortage of potable water.
In October, 1715, Samuel Green surveyed many tracts of land for conveyance to private owners. William Penn purchased one of these tracts that included a portion of Camp. Green and his crew were the first Europeans to see Sand Pond.
The first known settler on the property, James Clandenin, purchased more than 200 acres in 1774, including much of Sand Pond. He established a 7 acre farm on the north end of the swamp, at the foot of the ridge then called Pahaqualong Mountain. Soon after, the Conkle and Kice families settled in the area. Israel C. Conkle established a farm on the eastern edge of Camp circa 1829, and Peter S. Hyatt (button at left) worked the same land after leaving the Union Army in 1865. The foundation walls of the old homestead are along the yellow trail.
Scouting Comes to North Bergen County
On December 15, 1921, North Bergen County Council held its first annual meeting, and discussed locations for a camp. In 1923, the Council began leasing land on Lake Sparta, NJ, and opened a facility known either as Camp Sparta or Camp Spartan. After the Englewood Council joined North Bergen County Council, a fund was organized to purchase a camp for the Boy Scouts. The Trustees of the Camp Fund were Clarence D. Kerr, Floyd R. DuBois, Garret G. Ackerson, Alexander Jones, John R. Banta, and Malcolm S. Mackay. The men actively searched for land, and began discussions regarding the purchase of land around Sand Pond in 1925. The original 807 acres of Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco were eventually purchased for just over $60,000. Each trustee was responsible for raising $10,000 or approximately $118,000 in 2007 dollars.
Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco Established, 1927
Over 500 Boy Scouts attended the first Summer Season in 1927. The first Camp Ranger, Elmer Baker of Maine, (right) was hired in 1928. Lance M. Parsons of Englewood supervised Baker and a crew of men. They built the Camp’s log cabins between 1928 and 1931, beginning with a building to house themselves where Price Lodge stands today.
A New Dining Hall
Summer 1934, witnessed the greatest disaster in Camp history. With 100 boys and staff members in camp, the original, lakeside dining hall fell victim to a great conflagration. Fortunately, the staff acted quickly, saving vital camp equipment and supplies. While they formed a bucket brigade, the camp truck driver made a desperate early morning drive to summon the Blairstown Fire Department. The Blairstown United Methodist Church loaned the Scouts a big tent used for clam bakes. The staff set the tent up in time for dinner that evening.
Bill Yonkers of Midland Park, other volunteers, and several hired men from the Hardwick/Stillwater area built the current dining hall (left) before summer, 1935. Additions were made to the dining hall, kitchen, dishroom, and commissary over the years, most notably in 1967 and 1995.
In 1942, the Council hired Newton Woodruff of Troop 32, Ramsey as Camp Ranger. Newt had served on the camping committee for two years, was a skilled carpenter, and had volunteered at Camp since its founding. Newt served as Ranger for 25 years. He built, replaced or added to nine lean-to sites and 21 major camp structures, including the Ranger’s shop, Quartermaster and the dining hall. He plumbed and electrified the entire camp including a new well and a phone system. Ruffwood Lodge, the Ranger’s residence, is named in Newt’s honor.
World War II Reaches No-Be-Bo-Sco
Unlike some camps, No-Be-Bo-Sco stayed open during World War II. The war effort made supplies scarce, so Scouts brought their rations to summer camp. The war arrived at camp in a much more tragic way on February 22, 1944. That Tuesday morning, a B-17F Flying Fortress (right) on a mission out of Bangor, Maine and destined for Fort Dix NJ, experienced mechanical trouble and became lost in heavy fog, sleet, and rain. The plane was heard circling Millbrook, NJ and Bushkill, PA at a low altitude. At 2:30pm, the aircraft crashed into the west face of the Kittatinny Ridge. All twelve men on board gave their lives in service to their country.
Oratam Lodge 484 held its first induction in 1952. Ever since, the Order of the Arrow’s service has been vital to Camp’s success. Most notably, the Lodge adopted the old Kit Carson leaders’ cabin, and made it their permanent home in camp. In 1982, the Seabees slid the entire cabin onto a new foundation, and the Lodge renovated it. The cabin is named Oratam Lodge in honor of the years of service the Order of the Arrow has provided Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco. The current Lodge, Lenapehoking IX, continues this tradition of service in camp today.
In 1967, North Bergen County Council hired Fred Smith, a Midland Park bicycle shop owner, as Assistant Ranger for Newt’s final year at Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco. Fred would serve as Ranger for the next 18 years. In the 1970’s, the BSA, based on ecological studies, mandated that camps transition to tent camping, and the OA lodge removed all the lean-to sites excepting Iroquois. Fred asked that it remain for historical reasons. Today, Iroquois serves as the summer camp staff area. In 1983, Scouters reconstructed East Lodge in the north corner of the A-Field, and after he died in 1985, the cabin was renamed in Fred Smith’s honor.
During the summer of 1969, Scouts tracked the progress of the three Eagle Scouts manning the Apollo 11 Moon Mission (left) on a large board in front of the Dining Hall. Shortly before taps on July 21, 1969, the Camp Staff gathered in the Dining Hall to watch Neil Armstrong walk on the moon.
Expansion by Subtraction
The Army Corps of Engineers and the National Parks Service collaborated during the 1960’s on a project extending from Tocks Island into New York State along the Delaware River. The Tocks Island dam was proposed to provide water to the region and improve recreation. Many camps along the river were purchased or condemned by the federal government, and in 1970 they bought the mountain from Bergen Council, reducing Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco to approximately 369 acres. The sale agreement provided Camp access to the proposed lake, but the government abandoned the project due to a large change in public opinion. The resulting Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area provides Camp direct access to over 69,000 acres of federal parkland.
A 1987 study commissioned by the BSA recommended selling Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco, and 1988 proved the most critical year in Camp history. Building code inspectors shut down all electricity in Camp, but Scouts filled the cabins that winter, relying on flashlights and propane lanterns. That spring, a persistent campaign by Scouts and Scouters attained a three-year postponement of the sale. Led by Wayne “Flash” Gordon, a group of volunteers from the Hackensack IBEW Local 164 rewired all the critical buildings before summer camp. (right)
In 1988, Bergen Council hired Bob Johnson to direct Summer Camp. Though Bob had never been to No-Be-Bo-Sco, he had sixteen years of camp staff experience, and quickly revitalized the program. Among other things, Bob has since united the staff in the Camp’s first centralized staff area, supervised outfitting the Dining Hall with a world class kitchen, and crafted a signature summer camp program unique to No-Be-Bo-Sco. His non-stop, high energy program is renowned for its enthusiastic staff, excellent food, and original campfires. Bob Johnson still serves as Camp Director and 2007 is his twentieth summer at the post. He is the longest tenured Camp Director in No-Be-Bo-Sco history.
A Fall, 1988, fire inspection forced the OA to remove the wood stoves from all but one cabin. Kimball Herrick of Paramus began the cabin heating campaign, pledging his troop to donate the first stove. The winter season began with four heated cabins. Every cabin was heated by Christmas and almost every troop in the Council gave to the effort.
While Bob Johnson attracted new units, in 1990 a group of Overpeck District volunteers led by Jim Africano started the Weboree. (left) The increased summer and winter attendance bolstered Camp’s finances, and the Weboree helped restore Scouter enthusiasm. Soon No-Be-Bo-Sco was bursting at the seams year-round, yet again.
Current ranger Tom Rich was permanently assigned to No-Be-Bo-Sco in 1995. The same year, volunteers led by a Scout, Steve Kallesser, undertook a major dining hall renovation. They united the complex under a single roof with a consolidated electrical service. Two years later the same group converted the Protestant Chapel to an all-faiths facility and built an outdoor chapel; (right) the first new camp structure in almost 30 years. Shortly after, Northern New Jersey Council began it’s current camp improvement campaign.
80 Years and Counting...
Since 1927, Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco has become a beloved home to the Scouting Movement. Looking back on their rich and storied history, the Scouts and volunteers of Northern New Jersey Council can be proud and hopeful for the next eighty years of Scouting Tradition and Excellence at Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco.
Copyright © 2007 The Sand Pond Society