Friday, April 30, 2021

The Boy Scouts of America Early History of the North Shore Area Council (1926–1968).

Since the history of the Boy Scouts is well known and documented, it is not appropriate to repeat it in this more localized history except as a backdrop or as scene-setting for what happened in the suburban area north of Chicago.

By 1908 the “Hero of Mafeking” (1900) had become a hero to boys in England who were devouring his little book “Scouting for Boys” based on his experience as a British military officer and his concern for the character development of British youth.

Borrowing heavily from various youth movements in England at the time, Robert Baden Powell had published his book in serial form. It was being taken seriously throughout the British Empire and beginning to be noticed in the United States. Independent “Boy Scout” units were being formed based on the content of the book.

The following year, 1909, a Chicago area publisher, William Boyce, was introduced to the Boy Scout model while on a trip to England. He brought the idea back to the United States and legally incorporated the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) in February 1910 in the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C.

That same year, Baden Powell, now a Lieutenant General and peer of the realm, retired from the Army and began to concentrate his time and efforts on the Boy Scout movement full time.

In May 1910, the well-known and politically connected publisher, William Randolph Hearst, formed the more militaristic American Boy Scouts (ABS). He incorporated the organization in June in the State of New York. Thus ABS became a serious rival to the BSA and they began to compete for membership and support national wide. Wherever Hearst had a newspaper, including Chicago (The Examiner & American), there was an ABS office. Before the year was out, Hearst had resigned from the presidency of ABS in a dispute over financing and the use of his name. ABS continued under various names until around 1920.
Early History of the North Shore Area Council (1926–1968)
The story goes that in the spring of 1910 two Wilmette dads of 12-year-old boys, Mr. Arthur L. Rice and Mr. Alonzo J. Coburn were looking for a program that would engage their sons in stimulating and healthy activities. (Little League Baseball would not start for another ten years and Pop Warner football for another nineteen years. There were many local religious and military-oriented programs developing and of course, the YMCA was appealing to young men and older boys.) 

The two fathers researched the options and decided that the Boy Scout idea offered the best alternative and so organized a troop with themselves as Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmaster respectively. As was typical of the time, the first troop organized in a community became “Troop One.” There was some feeling among the clergy that youth membership should be limited to the boys attending the Sunday School of Congregational church where meetings were to take place. The laypeople felt membership should be open to any boy interested. The lay leadership prevailed.

The boys at first used the English manuals for references and were “filled with joy when the first American handbook became available.”

Troop 2 came into being sponsored by the Methodist Church.

The troops at the time had a strong military flavor (despite Baden-Powell’s insistence that the Boy Scout movement was not a military movement) and a Captain G.R. Harbaugh was persuaded to become drillmaster. Soon there was a “well-drilled troop” with a “splendid drum and bugle corps.” Early photographs reflect this military bearing.

Around 1911, in neighboring Glencoe, the scout movement was gaining the support of the Glencoe Men’s Club who agreed to “Cooperate with Scoutmaster Cornell.” Cornell was pastor of the Glencoe United Church.

By 1912 The Highland Park Press was regularly reporting on the activities of the growing scouting movement. For example, in August of that year, 30 Boy Scouts from the “local council” (there was no official “Council” at that time) camped at Long Lake in Libertyville for two weeks and returned “tanned and fit.”

According to Northeast Illinois Council records, William Kleinpell of Wilmette received his Eagle in 1913. The record does not indicate a troop.

While on vacation (in the summer of 1914) from the University of Illinois, Edwin Plagge started a troop in Deerfield with 24 scouts. The troop was first numbered 1, then troop #8, and finally Troop #51 when the North Shore Area Council was chartered in 1926. Other Deerfield Troops were #50, #51, and #52.

A letter from Myron C. Rybolt, Scout Executive of the North Shore Area Council dated December 9, 1929, states that Troop 1 of Glencoe (then numbered Troop 21) was organized in July of 1916. The same letter notes that Winnetka Troop 1 (renumbered Troop 16) was organized in September 1912.

According to the 40th-anniversary booklet, in 1912 Wilmette became a chartered council with Mr. W. E. Klimpell as President leading a committee of 19 men. (Official local Charters were not granted by the BSA until 1913.)

The “Lake Shore News” of May 29, 1912, lists troop leaders for two troops in town (Wilmette) and reports they went camping in Whitehall, Michigan. Life Scout Temyn’s paper shows an exhibit of Troop One at summer camp in Saugatuck, Michigan dated 1911. (These two sites are about 45-50 miles apart.) The Temyn paper notes that the scouts traveled to Michigan by boat across the lake and studied the stars on the trip. A photograph dated July 20, 1911, shows five adults and 16 scouts in full uniform at camp in Saugatuck.

The recollections of Mr. Coburn’s son, Miner, say that the Troop One meetings were held at the First Congregational Church where Mr. Coburn was a leader. The troop grew rapidly to 120 Scouts. It was then (1912) that a second troop was formed and they met at the Methodist Church.

As was true in Evanston and other communities, a Drum and Bugle Corps was formed also. Seventy-five dollars bought their equipment. Along with scout craft skills, a close order drill was an important part of their regular activities.

In 1913 Troop One took the train to Lac de Flambeau, Wisconsin, and from there to Long Lake for two weeks of summer camp. The cost was about $25 per scout.

In 1914 Mr. Rice was made Scout Commissioner to supervise several other Scoutmasters.

According to a story in the “History of Deerfield” (undated, pp 193-340) in July of 1914 Troop 1 in Deerfield was organized with the endorsement of several local churches. Irwin Plagge, a recent University of Illinois graduate, was the Scoutmaster.

That year, the Troop of 12 Scouts hiked 18 miles north to Gages Lake in Lake County for a 5-day campout. Two years later, the Troop went to Long Lake near Fox Lake (about 21 miles from Deerfield) for two weeks of camping.

The same article reports that one of the Scouts from Troop, Adolph Bennett, was aboard the SS Eastland when it capsized in the Chicago River in July 1915. He is credited with pulling a small child from the water flooding the vessel thus saving the boy’s life. When pressed about the event, Bennet responded, “I am a Scout and did my duty.”

Through the war years and afterward the troop continued to look north for camping experiences with Diamond Lake and sites among the Des Plaines River being attractive. The troop (and probably other units) went further north to Twin Lakes and even Lake Como, Wisconsin.

When the Northshore Area Council was formed, Troop 1, Deerfield, was renumbered Troop 51 and was by this time sponsored by the Cottage Church (later the United Brethren Church and then Christ United Methodist Church).

During World War I (1917 – 1918), Wilmette Scouts joined scouts across the country in selling Liberty Bonds and stamps, collecting scrap, delivering war-related government literature, and aid in food and conservation projects.

In 1920, at Northwestern University, one of the earliest reported training programs for Scoutmasters was held. The “basics,” were emphasized and included signaling, knot tying, and tent pitching in the curriculum. (Training sponsored by the national office of BSA started in 1915.)

The North Shore Area was particularly assertive in organizing younger boys with units being formed in 1922 through 1928 so that when Cub Scouting started officially in 1930, boys, leaders, and units were in place making the North Shore a national leader in establishing this part of the movement.

In 1923 the Village of Glencoe applied for a council charter with Mr. Charles Workman as President and Mr. James D. Lightbody as Commissioner. Seventeen other men served on the committee. There were three troops in town at the time. Two years later they merged with the new Highland Park Council.

Somewhere around 1923, the council brought together scouts from 57 troops to form a “Press Club.” They prepared short articles that were released to the local press reporting troop activities. Their slogan was “Every troop reports every week.” Each town had a paper that reported in great detail local activities. They were the “Social media” of the time. The scout articles were often strong on editorial matters such as these Q & A in one:

Q – “How do I produce a troop of scouts who are a credit to their institution, parents, and scouting?”
A – “Through a well-planned program with plenty of outdoor activities and at least two weeks at summer camp.”

Good advice then... Good advice now. The club turned into something of a career-oriented activity with field trips to Chicago papers, radio stations, and special coaching from local journalists. The concept was expanded in 1932 with a 15-minute weekly radio broadcast over WIBO.

During these early years, before 1928 when the first acreage was purchased at Spring Lake in Wisconsin, units camped at a wide variety of locations in Northern Illinois and Southeast Wisconsin. Among the locations reported were Long Lake and Diamond Lake near Libertyville, IL. Camp (Everett L.) Millard on the Des Plaines River near Wheeling, IL., Camp Keller in Highland Park, IL., Lake Como near Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, YMCA Camp Hastings near Lake Villa, IL., Camp Shabbond near DeKalb, IL., Camp Chicangan (originally near Des Plaines, IL and later a sub-camp of the Chicago Council Owasippi in Michigan), Camp Wilderness in Michigan and Camp Suganash on the south shore of Lilly Lake, 35 miles north of Waukegan, IL. In Wisconsin.

The North Shore Area Council received attention from the National Council when in the summer of 1924 the National Director of Education for the Boy Scouts, Ray D. Wyland, visited the council. Wyland was identified as being “perhaps next to Mr. West (the Chief Scout Executive) the most influential character engaged in Scout work.” He planned to address scouts, adult leaders, parents, and others who wanted to be informed about the “most influential boy’s organization in the history of civilization” crowed the Lake Forester.

Local municipalities were also beginning to recognize the influences and value of Scouting. In 1924 the City of Lake Forest started a tradition of allowing local scouts to play in the role of city officials and “govern” for three hours with scouts from various troops assuming different governmental positions. The program continued for at least 10 years.

In October 1925 Highland Park, Ravinia, Deerfield, Highwood, and Fort Sheridan, all with one or more troops applied for a charter. General Robert E. Wood of Sears, Roebuck & Co. was to be President and H, A. Babcock as Commissioner. Mr. Walter Reed was listed as “Scout Executive” with a remuneration of $200 per anum. The operating budget was projected as $5,000 per year. Thirty-one men formed the committee and other officers. The new Council was to be called the “Highland Park Council.”

One of the first Sea Scout units was started as a “special patrol” in October of 1925. Albert Snite was an early leader of this patrol.

In November 1926 Highland Park Council helped to host the Region 7 Annual Meeting with councils from Rockford, Aurora, Elgin, Wheaton, Beloit, DeKalb, and McHenry County (IL) attending. Earlier that year, in May, Baden Powell came to Chicago, Highland Park, and Lake Forest scouts, and leaders had the opportunity to see the Founder in person.

The Lake Forest scouting community had formed a “provisional council” hoping to become a stand-alone council, but reasons that are not clear from the published material decided in January of 1926 to affiliate with the North Shore Area Council.

One year later (1927), “tired of going it alone” the Highland Park, Glencoe, and Wilmette Councils decided to merge and form the North Shore Area Council. The new council President was Albert P Snite and the full-time Scout Executive was Walter MacPeak. Three hundred and eleven scouts with 63 leaders were registered at the time.

As happens, units ebb and flow in their existence, and something had happened to Troop 1. An October 28, 1927, article in the “Wilmette Life” reports that “older residents... know that there was a Boy Scout Troop... in the village,” but that Troop 1 had “slipped into oblivion.” The article further reports that American Legion Post 46 of Wilmette has decided to sponsor the “revival” of the “famed troop” and is going to select 32 boys from those who volunteer to be the first new members. A Mr. G.J. Browales is to be a scoutmaster.

The first charter for the North Shore Area Council was presented in January 1927 before 400 adults at a Midwestern training session held at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago. Recognizing the importance of standardized training for local adults and youth leaders, the newly chartered council initiated an eight-week training course for adult leaders to start the week after the charter was presented (January 19, 1927). A parallel junior leader training course started in February of the same year. As is customary, both courses were organized with student patrols being established for learning and practical application of subject matter. Presentations, discussions, hands-on work, and fun were emphasized in both courses.

Another form of training was offered at monthly “roundtables” much as is done today.

Both formats stressed looking at things from the boy's perspective with presentation titles such as “A Birds Eye View of the World a Boy Lives In."

In 1928 a new progressive five-year training for adults was announced culminating in awarding of the “Scouters Key” for those completing the course. Scouting Methods and Objectives along with “Skills” such as First Aid and Lifesaving were included in the curriculum. Training for adults and junior leaders continued to be refined and improved through the late ’20s and 1930s to include Cub Scout leaders in 1931 as well as Sea Scout leaders. The Council also took advantage of joint training with the Chicago, Evanston, Lake County, Oak Park, and Northwest Suburban Council as reported in local newspapers.

The pinnacle of MacPeak’s tenure in the Council was the locating and purchase of the original 240 acres of the land that was to become Camp Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan known now as “East Camp.” By 1929 another 450 acres of property was added. A well-organized fund-raising campaign under the direction of Henry Fowler and Dan C. Stiles was launched to help finance the new camp. They urged community leaders to purchase the equivalent of one or more acres of land at the new site (out of 360 initial acres) at $25 per acre. In saying so, they pointed out that “at the gang age, it (Scouting) gives the boy a Good gang instead of a Bad One... "Another letter requesting contributions was addressed to some “Real Men” and asked for only $10 which “doesn’t mean much to you now, but it will be an investment that will grow in value as the years roll on.” True! Powerful stuff! Major gifts came from General Wood and Mr. Snite. Other smaller gifts came from the Highland Park Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary Club, and Optimists. The Chicago Tribune described the property as “far away in the woods of Northern Wisconsin” with “rolling hills and valleys." After camping at the Chicago Council camp for years, this new place was referred to as “a camp of our own” in publicity. [1]

Of great interest to Scouts in the North Shore Area Council was the dedication on June 26, 1927, of the “Cabin in the Woods,” “the overnight objective of the 32 troops of more than 700 Northshore scouts from Wilmette to Lake Bluff."

The cabin was built by scouts from trees harvested by scouts through the “...courtesy of the Board of the Forest Preserve Commission of Cook County.” The property was owned by the Forest Preserve but used frequently by scout troops and for training. It was located near Voltz Road and Sunset Ridge in Northbrook near the north branch of the Chicago River. A later newspaper report (the mid-1930s) suggests that at one time the cabin was formerly owned by the Evanston Council.

An undated songbook published by the North Shore Council list the following 25 communities as being in its service area:

Wilmette, Kenilworth, Indian Hill, Winnetka, Hubbard Woods, Glencoe, Braeside, Ravinia, Highland Park, Highwood, Fort Sheridan, Lake Forest, Everett, Glenview, Northbrook, Northfield, Deerfield, Bannockburn, Mundelein, Libertyville, Diamond Lake, Half Day, Rondout, and Ivanhoe.

The “40-year” booklet adds most communities in northern Lake County to bring the total to 48 towns and villages. The expansion was due to the dissolution of the Lake County Council in 1935.

At the formation in December 1926 of the North Shore Area Council, there were twenty-one troops in the Council’s area with 424 Scouts and Sea Scouts, according to the Council Newsletter

January 31, 1927, issue of the Lake Forester tells of the visit to the Lake Bluff Council of Mr. John L. Alexander, identified as the “man who wrote the first Boy Scout handbook.” This claim Is usually attributed to Ernest Thompson Seton as the author of the first handbook for use by Boy Scouts in the United States. Nevertheless, Mr. Alexander was an early leader of the movement and his appearance to start Scout Week was a notable event.

The Council grew steadily and dramatically over the next four years:

1927 31 Troops with 733 Scouts and Sea Scouts
1928 37 Troops with 927 Scouts and Sea Scouts
1929 57 Troops with 1,229 Scouts and Sea Scouts
1930 64 Troops with 1,572 Scouts and Sea Scouts

As part of the first Scout Week observance, the new Council announced nine goals for the year 1927:
  • Provide Outdoor Facilities for Camping
  • Stimulate Advancement
  • Improve Cooperation with Sponsors
  • Provide Training for Adult Leaders
  • Encourage Sea Scouting for Older Scouts
  • Seek Opportunities for Civic Service
  • Encourage Reading Among Scouts
  • Keep the Public Informed
  • Secure Financial Support
In July 1929 The Highland Park Press reported that for the “first time in history” a father and sons had all received their Eagle Scout rank at the same Court of Honor. This may be true since Herbert R. Smith, then the adult (over 18) Scoutmaster of Troop 33 of Highland Park, and his two sons, Herbert D. (14) and Alan (13) each were recipients of the award. It should be noted that there were earlier father and son (singular) combinations. The Greater Cleveland (Ohio) Council records a father and son combination as early as 1921. At first, the Eagle Award was available to those who completed twenty-one merit badges, adult or youth. In 1936 it became a full-fledged rank. By 1952 persons over 18 (adult) could not be awarded Eagle rank.

Financially, the first year of the North Shore Area Council was a success. The year (1927) ended with an excess of $45 in the bank. It had seen $7,139 in income with $7,092 in expenses.

While Boy Scout troops were springing up over the North Shore, individuals were looking for a similar program for boys younger than 12 years. One of those was Sam Meyers, owner of the Teatro del Lago theatre in Wilmette. He organized a “troop” and gave them a place to meet in the theatre and even arranged for Marshall Field’s department store to design a unique uniform for the boys. The unit blossomed and soon numbered 200 “Del Lago Cubs.” In 1930 the Cub Scout program for boys 8-11 was formally launched by the BSA and the Del Lago Cubs became a part of the new program. Tremyn’s paper says the cubs were taken into Wilmette Boy Scout Troop 13 in 1928. Except for the older boys, this is doubtful considering the age requirements. His paper also reports that in 1947 there were 126 Cub Scouts in four Packs, 228 Boy Scouts in six Troops, and twelve Senior Scouts. [2]

Intensive and continued Training of Adult Leaders has been a characteristic of the Scout Movement from its inception in Great Britain. On August 6, 1928, the Highland Park Press reported that a new five-year training program for Scout Masters and committee members was to be launched with training taking place at Camp North Shore in the Forest Preserve “just west of Glencoe.”

In addition, twenty-five adults had earlier that year completed a Council Officer Training Conference in Chicago.

In 1929 254 Scouts attended Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan. 318 Scouts attended in 1930.

One of the early leaders of a younger boy program known as “Junior Hikers” was Robert W. Townley, Director of Physical Education at the Sears school in Kenilworth, Illinois. He is mentioned in newspaper articles as Scoutmaster of Troop 13 in 1923 and as a camp leader in 1929 and 1930. One article reports he served as Scout Master until “the spring of 1955... 33 years.”

Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan Lodge #40 of the Order of the Arrow was chartered in May 1929. (Evanston’s Wabaningo Lodge and Noo-Ti-Mis-oh’Ke Lodge merged with #40.) Urner Goodman, then the Chicago Council Scout Executive came to install the new Lodge of the “secret” Order (as reported in the newspaper) in July of 1929. Previously, many scouts who attended Chicago’s Camp Owasippe were inducted into the honor camping society as members of Owasippe Lodge #7. They now eagerly transferred to their own OA lodge. The lodge first picked the Wolf as its totem but soon discovered that another lodge claimed the Wolf. Because the Whipporwill was abundant in the area, it was selected as the official lodge totem.

Troop 50 (Wilmot School) was organized in 1929. Troop 51 chartered to the Rotary Club organized in 1925. Troop 52 sponsored by the Presbyterian Church also organized in 1925. It was reported that the Scoutmaster graduated from Elementary Scoutmaster Training and was currently in the Standard Advance Course.

In the summer of 1929 Boy Scout training proved its self again when 2d Class Scout Billy Lardner of Troop 22 sponsored by the Union Church of Glencoe convinced reluctant and excited adults to let him try artificial respiration on a drowning victim, little Virginia Dean, aged two. One witness commented on the “cool, deliberate way” Billy “showed his Scout training. Virginia quickly regained consciousness and was soon playing with friends.”

Mr. Walter W. Head, then President of General American Life Insurance Company and national President of the Boy Scouts of America was the featured speaker at the Council Annual Meeting. Mr. Head was in his fifth year as national president and would continue in this role until 1946. He was the longest-serving president ever and a powerful voice in the movement.

At the Executive Board meeting in November of 1929, Walter MacPeek bid farewell to the Council and introduced his successor, Myron C. Rybolt as Scout Executive.

A letter dated December 10, 1929, from John H. Rumbaugh on North Shore Area stationary reports that at the beginning of the year 808 scouts were registered in 36 troops in the council and that by year’s end these numbers had grown to 1,200 scouts in 52 troops. The operating budget was $16,092. It was in this year that the National Council required that adult leaders and officers are registered and fees are collected. They were to be known as “Scouters.”

In June of 1929, the Wilmette scouts held an ambitious “Rally” for which specific and detailed instructions were prepared. The troops were to assemble at the Village Hall at 3 P.M. And then parade to the Village Green. Not later than 3:30 p.m. contests were to start which included such traditional scout skills as water boiling... “each troop will furnish a one-quart water bucket with a wire handle. Water to be within one inch of the top to which two tablespoons of soap flakes have been added.” There were more detailed instructions and this format continued for contests on lashing, first aid, signaling, and fire-making. In the evening, after dinner from 6 P.M. to 7 P.M., there was a campfire program where each troop “will be called to produce a stunt, said stunt not to take more than five minutes.” Obviously, much detailed thought went into this event by adult leaders designed to keep the eager, energetic scouts under control.

The Highland Park Press reported that the 1930 “receipts” had been $24,342 with expenses at $23,583. A remarkable increase of 51% in finances. A $50,000 Capital Campaign was also planned in 1930 for the following year (1931). The Northshore Area Council was named the top council out of 106 in Region 7 in 1930.

An article in the Lake County Register dated February 4, 1930, indicates that Mr. Keith Roberts, a new District Commissioner, had volunteered to conduct geographic surveys of the new MA-KA-JA-WAN camp and had already made several trips at his own expense.

In 1930 a training experience was announced for scouts. They were to be given more independence. More of a chance to promote their camping skills and develop leadership. The scouts were to gather at West Turnbull Woods in Highland Park and “live on their own” in patrols without their adult leaders with them. (They were in another campsite nearby.) Each patrol was judged on their proficiency. Scouts from Lake Forest, Lake Bluff, Highwood, Waukegan, Zion, and Libertyville were invited to the first “Camp-o-Ree. The event became annual until about 1940.

Also in this year, two North Shore Area Council leaders were tapped for important positions in Region 7... Henry K. Urion of Wilmette became a member of the Regional Executive Committee and Charles A. Steele of Glencoe was named as Regional Camping Chairman.

Steele was also Chairman of the Council Camping Committee and leader of the Council’s Fundraising effort for 1931. The Council that year determined it needed $50,000 for the year:

$15,000 to pay off the Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan loan
$16,500 for camp improvements
$14,500 for other council activities
TOTAL: $50,000

Remember, the Great Depression was in full swing but people were reminded that “despite hard times, Scouting must go on!” reported the Wilmette Life. The paper also noted, Scouting is a bulwark against communism and aligned movements.”

The Boy Scout movement was called upon to help nationally during the Depression in collecting food, clothing, and other necessities for those in need as “their biggest chance for service since the war (WWI)” in a letter from Marshall Field III, of the National Council.

The North Shore Area Council took another large step forward in the year by announcing the creation of a “University of Scouting” for volunteer leaders. It was similar to Wood Badge training today and to be held in various phases “to help volunteers do a better job.” Also in this year, Charles F. Smith from the National Council conducted a special course on Patrol Camping for six Chicago Area Council (Evanston, Lake County, and North Shore Area Council were among them). This emphasis on training might be one of the reasons that the North Shore Area Council had the highest market share of all councils in Region 7 that year.

The goal to encourage Sea Scouting was greatly enhanced with the presentation of a 28-foot whaling boat from a donor in Toledo, Ohio, in 1931.

The Independent Register of February 1931 reports that the North Shore Area Council operating budget was $50,000 - $25,000 of which was for MA-KA-JA-WAN. In the same year, County Judge Perry L. Persons became the first Council recipient of the Silver Beaver for “distinguished service to youth” through the council.

In May of that year (1931) local newspapers reported the visit of Chief Scout Executive, James E. West to attend the “Youth Tribute to Mothers” celebrated when North Shore Area scouts gathered to recognize and honor their mothers. During the ceremonies, West presented the national Life-Saving Medal to the mother of Scout John H. Brumbaugh, Jr. of Wilmette Troop 3 who lost his life saving the life of another Scout.

During the event, Boy Scouts, Cubs, and Sea Scouts presented their mothers with pins representing their appropriate ranks in the organization. The national Chief Scout Commissioner of Great Britain, Lord Hampton, was also in attendance and commented that the event was a “jolly good show.” The recognition attracted other national leaders...notably the Region 7 Scout Executive, Walter Kiplinger, and National Sea Scout Commodore Howard Gillette.

In 1931 the North Shore Area Council hired an Assistant Scout Executive to work specifically on recruiting, organizing, and training boys and adults for “Cubbing” as well as the Sea Scout program. [3]

In August 1932 the Independent Register reports that the camp had its most successful season in four years and the “Staff was in perfect harmony.” The next year (1932) the camp hosted 303 Scouts and 35 Volunteer leaders.

Sea Scout Ship “Ouilmette” earned the coveted National Flagship rating in 1933. The council also had a 43 foot, two-masted schooner called the “Albatross” that was donated by a generous North Shore resident. It was touted as the “finest boat owned by Sea Scouts any place in the country.” In June of 1935, The Wilmette Life reported that the Council acquired the 35-foot cruiser “Scarab”... "all in all she is a trim looking craft” the paper bragged.

1936 saw the Council membership reach 2,000 Scouts. The following year (1937) the Council sent a delegation to the First National Jamboree in Washington, D. C.

The Kenilworth Historical Society booklet, “The first 50 Years” mentions that in 1941 the “... annual Scout Circus made $1,200 for the Village’s Scouts and Cub Drum and Bugle Corps...” the only one in the North Area Council. It should be noted that Winnetka claimed to have a Scout Drum and Bugle Corps also.

In this year deciding that “men whose business interests are in Chicago are unable to devote enough time to local scouting” elected Robert Roeber, a local businessman, as District Chairman of the Lake Forest district of the council. Roeber had been a long-time scout leader and former scoutmaster of Troop 48. It is interesting to note that the council repeatedly warned local donors that “money contributed to Chicago remains in Chicago.”

A special camp for scouts over 15 was announced in 1940. It was to be held at the south end of the lake and limited to 20 boys in two two-week sessions so they could experience “advanced camping” techniques.

A 1941 MA-KA-JA-WAN promotion piece announced that “some forty men will assume leadership...” at Camp led by Clifton G. Speers, Scout Executive, North Shore Area Council for the ninth consecutive season (since 1932). During the war years (1941 – 1946) there were many shortages at Camp...adult manpower and canvas for tentage among them. Albert B. Tucker, Sr., who had connections in the paper industry, arranged for lumber from several paper mills to be shipped to the camp so that temporary wooden shelters could be built to house the campers.

George R. Boardman became Scout Executive in 1947. There were 32 Cub Packs, 45 Boy Scout Troops, and three Explorer Posts totaling about 3,000 youth. The Council President was Milton Wright. Council finances seemed to be in good shape with an operating budget planned of about $53,000. For reason not clear from the minutes of the Executive Committee and Executive Board, Mr. Boardman resigned in November of 1948 to be effective in February 1949. He had complained earlier that “ ...we have a champagne appetite with a beer income.” After considerable discussion, the Executive Board voted 17 to 11 to accept Boardman’s resignation. Strangely, the letter notifying the Boardman of the board’s action is signed by Robert C. Brown, the Vice-President for Finance and suggesting that Boardman was “a victim of circumstances.” Cliff Peterson, a “Field Executive, was to be his temporary replacement and a selection committee was formed to recruit a new Scout Executive.

By February of 1949, the Selection Committee had identified three candidates for Scout Executive. All had “Excellent backgrounds.” One of the candidates was “Mr. Ed Sweckle (sic), Scout Executive of the Samoset Council in Wausau, Wisconsin.

Edwin A. Schwechel, 44, was eventually selected and would serve with distinction for the next nineteen years. [4]

At that time in 1949, the Council reported 3,879 youth reaching 40.5% of the total available youth. After a year of Schwechel’s tenure, youth membership had grown to 4,437 and in 1951 when the Lake County Council was absorbed into the North Shore Area Council, youth membership exceeded 5,000 with a penetration of 45% of the youth market. There were about 1,200 adults registered as leaders.

In 1951 the Lake County Council dissolved and the Scouts and volunteers in northern Lake County outside of the Waukegan-North Chicago Council were absorbed into the North Shore Area Council bringing total youth membership to 5,000 in 60 Troops, 30 Packs, and 5 Explorer Posts. A promotion piece dated 1957 (“Camp Expansion Fund”) puts 1956 total youth enrollment at 8,536.

In 1953, 80 scouts from 8 troops represented the council at the National Jamboree in Sana Anna, California. Council President John J. Noel also attended. The Council had nearly 6,000 youth registered or almost 50% of the “market."

For the first time in eleven successful seasons, in 1945 there was no camping at Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan. Several factors contributed: the inability to secure a full-time medical staff, difficulty in organizing a camp staff of volunteers, and some transportation issues. Two “macro” matters were also present. One was that this was the final year of World War II and all things were in restricted supply and secondly, in the previous year (1944) there had been a serious polio outbreak and many public places where youth congregated had closed during the summer. Camping enthusiastically resumed in 1946 with a small but adequate staff and sufficient supplies and equipment.

The period from 1957 to 1959 witnesses a dramatic increase in Council properties. Camp Sol R. Crown (143 acres) in Wilmot, Wisconsin, is donated by the materials Management Corporation and Camp Traer (360 acres) near Park Falls, Wisconsin, are added to Council camping sites in 1957. In 1958 Camp Thunderbird (60 acres) near Bristol in Kenosha County, Wisconsin, is donated. In 1958 “West Camp” at Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan was dedicated. And finally, in 1959 the Council’s office in Glencoe is acquired.

December 10, 1961, the Chicago Tribune had a four-column story on Troop 13 of Kenilworth... “its only troop.” The Troop’s history goes back to 1919 when Elridge Keith entered 8th grade at Sears School. He and some friends had heard of the Boy Scouts and decided they wanted to form a troop. They wrote national headquarters and national agreed in 1920 to charter Sears School as the sponsor of the new Troop. Keith’s father became the Scout Master. That tradition continues for as one Committeeman later remarked... “In our Village, you don’t send your son to Scouting... you go with him.”

The Troop and later Pack 13 (in 1961) had almost every eligible boy enrolled. The Pack claimed 94% and the Troop 81%. The Explorer Post had enrolled 38.5% of the eligible youth.

The 1963 Annual Dinner Program lists 91 Troops, 99 Packs, 35 Explorer Posts, 5 Sea Scout Ships, and 1 Air Scout Squadron.

In 1968, when the North Shore Area Council merges with the Evanston Council to form the Evanston-North Shore Area, there are 10,477 Scouts registered. The operating budget was around $152,000.

In June 1968, Eagle Scout Alwyn A. Hughes is appointed Scout Executive. He came to the local council from the National Council where he had been Director of Activities. The incoming Council President that year was Carl. W. Vorreiter of Wilmette.

A letter from John Pennell (1968) under the letterhead of McDermott, Will & Emery states that the North Shore Area Council has the following properties:

Camp Traer – approximately 360-acre campsite in Langlade County, Wisconsin
Camp Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan – approximately 720-acre campsite in Langlade County, Wisconsin
Camp Thunderbird – approximately 60-acre campsite in Kenosha County, Wisconsin
Camp Crown – approximately 147-acre campsite in Kenosha County, Wisconsin
724 Vernon Ave, Glencoe, Illinois – Council Headquarters

In 1971 Camp Thunderbird was sold for $60,000 and in 1979 Camp Jackson (Evanbosco).

The Council Service Center located at 724 Vernon Avenue, Glencoe, was sold on February 27, 1981, to Ann V. Evanston for the amount of $101,500. It had been appraised for $69,000 in 1969.

NEIC History Project Committee
Edited by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.



[1] A contest was held in 1928 to name the new camp. Scouts were to submit their suggestions. As of October 25th, that year “Nor-Sho-Boy” and Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan each had equal votes. By November 15 Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan (the Menominee name for Spring Lake) had won with other contenders being “Camp White Eagle” and “Camp Tamarack.”

[2] Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, offers this informative commentary on early programs for younger boys: “As early as 1911 Ernest Thomson Seaton, the Chief Scout of the BSA, had developed a program for the Boy Scouts named Cub Scouts of America that was never implemented. Unofficial programs for younger boys started around this time, under names such as Junior Troops or Cadet Corps. Emerson Brooks, a Boy Scout Commissioner, started the Boy Rangers in 1913 and it came to the attention of the BSA (who encouraged it). The article also indicates that ‘The BSA encouraged an unofficial Wolf Cub program in 1918.’ The BSA finally began some experimental Cubbing units in 1928 and in 1930 began registering the first Cub Scout packs."

[3] Much of the material for this history of Cub Scouting on the North Shore comes from John L. Robiequet’s excellent research paper entitled, “Cubbing on the North Shore”.
In 1948 Scouts in the Antioch area received the exciting news that C. K. Anderson a local banker had donated funds to build a new meeting for local Boy and Girl Scout troops. Another local banker, William Schroeder donated the land. The “Scout House”, looking like a log cabin, was started in June of that year by more than forty volunteers in a one-day “Raising Bee” to get the frame, walls, and roof in place. Volunteer work continued and in September the building was dedicated. It has been in continuous use ever since. In 2001 the building was relocated with the Schroeder family again helping with a $20,000 grant that was used to install a new foundation, basement, and utilities.

[4] Schwechel had gained some notoriety as the founder of a regional canoe base on an old Civilian Conservation Corps camp on White Sand Lake according to the “Lakeland Times” of Minocqua, Wisconsin.

The Boy Scouts of America History of the Waukegan Council (1918–1924) and Waukegan Oak Plain Council (1940–1971)

Since the history of the Boy Scouts is well known and documented, it is not appropriate to repeat it in this more localized history except as a backdrop or as scene-setting for what happened in the suburban area north of Chicago.

By 1908 the “Hero of Mafeking” (1900) had become a hero to boys in England who were devouring his little book “Scouting for Boys” based on his experience as a British military officer and his concern for the character development of British youth.

Borrowing heavily from various youth movements in England at the time, Robert Baden Powell had published his book in serial form. It was being taken seriously throughout the British Empire and beginning to be noticed in the United States. Independent “Boy Scout” units were being formed based on the content of the book.

The following year, 1909, a Chicago area publisher, William Boyce, was introduced to the Boy Scout model while on a trip to England. He brought the idea back to the United States and legally incorporated the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) in February 1910 in the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C.

That same year, Baden Powell, now a Lieutenant General and peer of the realm, retired from the Army and began to concentrate his time and efforts on the Boy Scout movement full time.

In May 1910, the well-known and politically connected publisher, William Randolph Hearst, formed the more militaristic American Boy Scouts (ABS). He incorporated the organization in June in the State of New York. Thus ABS became a serious rival to the BSA and they began to compete for membership and support national wide. Wherever Hearst had a newspaper, including Chicago (The Examiner & American), there was an ABS office. Before the year was out, Hearst had resigned from the presidency of ABS in a dispute over financing and the use of his name. ABS continued under various names until around 1920.
Early History of the Waukegan Council (1918–1924)
The Waukegan Council was incorporated in 1918, but as was typical of the times, individual troops were organized before councils were formed. By November 1918 it was reported by The Lake Forester that “rapid strides” were being made in the vicinity with twelve troops having been formed (no troop numbers or sponsors were indicated). The area included North Chicago and Winthrop Harbor. In 1924 this fact was recognized by the formation of the Waukegan-North Chicago Council which lasted until 1928 when it expanded its horizon and became the Lake County Council. Both names changes better reflected the geography covered.

The formation of a new Lake County Council was not without some contention. The Libertyville Independent reported in January of 1926 that the Waukegan-North Chicago was “split” on forming a “County Council” and voted to stay in existence for another year (until 1927) due a “failure to agree” on whether Lake Forest and other towns on the North Shore would be included.

According to the cited undated article, “Records at the national scout office show that the first troop to organize in Waukegan was at the Methodist Episcopal Church." The charter was granted in November of 1914 for Troop 1 – Waukegan. The next year the number was changed to Troop 2.

A charter was issued in December 1915 for a Troop 1 sponsored by a “Group of Citizens.” Fred C Morey was the Scoutmaster, leading sixteen boys. Mr. Morey later became a “Field Scout Executive” for the Council.

New troops continued to be organized:
Troop 3 in 1915 Sponsored by the YMCA
Troop 4 in 1918 Sponsored by the First Congregational Church
Troop 5 in 1918 Sponsored by the York House Church
Troop 6 in 1918 Sponsored by Christ Church

The undated article reports, “In the spring and summer of 1919, the local (Waukegan) council organization was completed.

The formation of the council seemed to spur the founding of troops in 1920:
Troop 7 Sponsored by the First Methodist Church
Troop 8 Sponsored by the Mother of God Church
Troop 9 Sponsored by the Knights of Columbus
Troop 10 Sponsored by St. Joseph’s Church
Troop 11 Sponsored by St. John’s Reformed Church

On April 6, 1917, the United States entered World War I. It wasn’t long before the Boy Scouts were called upon to help in the war effort. While it may be safely assumed that the entire movement was asked by the government to help, Boy Scouts in Waukegan and all along the North Shore were requested to provide fifty Scouts to assist in the training of officers at the nearby Fort Sheridan, Illinois. The Scouts were to be paid, trained, and provided with meals. The boys may have been excited and ready to go but many mothers objected and the superintendent of Schools, William C. Knoelk, supported them feeling that the boys should not neglect their studies. It is not clear from the newspaper accounts if the Scouts ever reported to duty.

The war effort inspired the community and various troops to begin to look at strengthening the movement locally. In April 1918, seventy Scouts representing all the Waukegan troops met for the first time in one place to organize a coordinated Liberty Bond Campaign. E. T. Sargent of Troop 1 was elected chairman to provide leadership for the campaign.

The war ended with the armistice on November 11, 1918. After the war, the government had discovered the power of the Boy Scouts, set aside September 17th as “National Constitution Day” and asked the national headquarters to take leadership of the campaign. Waukegan Scouts responded enthusiastically.

In October 1919, C. L. Alling, Scout Executive, and E. C. Morgan organized a Council-wide campout at the Libertyville, Scout Cabin for adult leaders and prospective leaders. Fourteen automobiles full of men showed up and had a “wonderful night in the woods.”

The Council continued with combined events from 1919 to 1922. A Pow Wow was sponsored in 1919 at North Beach with Scott Peters, a Cherokee Indian, as the star attraction. In 1920, a Scout Leader Training School with 21 adults and 11 Boy Leaders was held at Third Lake. Later that year Troop 6 hiked 100 miles west to Lake Geneva. The Council Executive Board began to plan for a long-term campsite.

According to the “Souvenir Program,” in the fall of 1920, the Council sponsored its “First Annual Circus.” bringing together at the Waukegan Armory all the Council Troops (300 Scouts in 15 units) in a reenactment of a typical Scout overnight with the Scouts displaying various skills, such as camp set up, Indian dances, wall scaling, knot tying, bridge building, and a clown show. Advertising for the circus touted, “…not a dull moment in the program” and ”no intermissions.” C. L. Alling was the Scout Executive, Dr. C. S. Ambrose was Council President and T. H. Hurst was Council Commissioner at the time.

In the same year, troops gathered at the Waukegan Armory to hear the report from Tenderfoot Scout George Fisher of Troop 10 about his adventurous trip to the First World Jamboree in London, England. It was a long journey by boat and railroad. Fisher left home in June, traveled by train to New York City where he waited ten days for 300 other Scouts to assemble before sailing for England, arriving on July 16, 1920. As they waited for the contingent to form, they camped at the Army base at Fort Hamilton off the southern tip of Manhattan. After the Jamboree, they traveled to France leaving that country on August 25 and arriving by Steamship in New York on September 2, 1920. Quite a sojourn for Tenderfoot Scout about 12 years old.

In 1922, nineteen Scouts from the Council camped at Loon Lake near Antioch for two weeks. The new Scout Executive, B. F. Edgar, (appointed in April) was in charge.

In February 1922 a 'Mass' meeting was held at the Waukegan Armory to drum up interest in Scouting. Various community organizations were invited to hear Dr. Kelly, the Scout Executive from Evanston, who had “...organized the Boy Scouts in that city until they became one of the most important ...in the country.”

Later in the year, it was reported that Waukegan and North Chicago Scouts had camped at Loon Lake near Antioch and heard B. F. Edgar, the Scout Executive, speak at their evening campfire as they pursued their “quest for adventure.”

In January of 1925 the Waukegan – North Chicago Council organized one of the first reported training events for Scoutmasters and encouraged leaders from adjoining councils to attend.

Walton Wadell became the first Eagle Scout in Waukegan in 1926. He was a member of Troop 3. The big event of the year (according to an article in the Waukegan News-Sun on May 5, 1930) was a baseball tournament held at Bairstow Field. The article does not say where Bairstow Field was or is.) Teams from troops in Waukegan (Troops, 1, 5, 15, 18, and 19), Gurnee (Troop 77), Antioch (Troop 81), and Lake Bluff (Troop 42) competed over a three-day series.

The Waukegan Council changed its name in 1924 to the Waukegan-North Chicago Council which lasted until 1928 when the consolidated Lake County Council was completed.
History of the Waukegan Oak Plain Council (1940–1971)
The Oak Plain Council was organized in December of 1940 with Charles T. Ross as President and A.V. Neuman as Scout Executive. Five hundred and forty-two Scouts were registered supported by 118 adult volunteers. The Council was headquartered in Waukegan, Illinois, and had units in Great Lakes, Gurnee, Gages Lake, North Chicago, Wadsworth, Waukegan, Winthrop Harbor, and Zion, Illinois. The Council owned and operated Camp Oakarro, near Rosecrans, Illinois, and a remote camp near Iron Mountain, Michigan. The Council included some of the oldest troops in the area, most notably Troop 1 in Gurnee organized according to troop history in 1913. The Troop has undergone several number changes and is now Troop 677 sponsored by the Gurnee Community Church. As was typical of the times, the first eight scoutmasters (spanning the first 25 years) were the pastors of the sponsoring church.

As of this writing, the available documentation of the history of the council is scarce. Northeast Illinois Council files show evidence of the formation of new units in the area from this early period through the 1920s. Units in the area were grouped in the Lake County Council in 1928.

In 1931 Milton H. Wright was awarded the first Silver Beaver in the Oak Plain Council.

In 1942 Darrel F. (“Doc”) Kirk became Scout Executive and the Noo-Ti-Mis Ok’ke Order of the Arrow Lodge 215 was chartered.

When “Doc” Kirk became Scout Executive, his first order of business was to set the Camp Committee looking at the property owned by Mr. Harry Hall (then Lake County State’s Attorney) as a possible site for a council camp. Hall had offered 40 acres in Rosecrance, Illinois, at $40 per acre. Rosecrance was an unincorporated area within Lake County on Old Mill Creek Road south of Route 173. It was a nicely wooded area right in the middle of the council. The minutes of the Camp Committee of February 22, 1945, concludes, “The property has been inspected by each member of the committee and it is their concurred opinion that it is a desirable property for the development of overnight and weekend camping.

H. M. Fisher, the Council Finance Chairman, promptly organized a fundraising campaign among major local business concerns who responded quickly and generously. Among them were Johnson Motors, Johns-Mansville, Abbott Laboratories, American Steel & Wire, and Fastneal. The camp opened for the first campers in 1945. During that year a lodge in a nearby forest preserve was offered and dismantled log by log for transport and reassembly in 1946... all accomplished by volunteers. A fireplace was added, built from local stones collected by various Scout Troops. A bell tower was added, and a local railroad company donated an engine bell.

The camp name came as a result of a contest sponsored by the local Scout Distributor at the time, Durkin & Durkin. “Oakarro,” the winner represents the melding the Acorn and Arrow totem of the Oak Plain Council. The “w” in the word arrow was deliberately left off.

The current campsites are well populated by sturdy lean-to shelters, the first ones being built by Troops 7, 11, and 77. Additional lean-tos were constructed by volunteers so eventually there were a dozen. Latrines were added in 1957 and more wells dug, again all by volunteers and with company donations of money and materials. Protestant and Catholic worship areas were established also. About 1949, 15,000 seedlings of Norway and White Pine were furnished by the State of Illinois for planting.

In 1962 the United States Navy 946th Construction Battalion based at Great Lakes Navel States dredged a sizable lake on the property. The estimated cost was $3,863; however, the Navy considered this a “training exercise” for the reserve unit and the Council paid only for feeding the sailors... $65.00! [1]

In 1948 Troop 1 in Waukegan was reorganized and sponsored by the Homer Dahringer Post 281 of the American Legion. A letter from the National Headquarters Boy Scouts of America addressed to D.F. Kirk, Scout Executive, dated July 13, 1953, credits Troop 1 with existence from December 1925, giving it a total tenure of 27 years as of that date. The Troop claims it was originally formed in 1911 and continued until 1922 when it lapsed for four years.

By 1955 the Council was able to report, “... the number of boys coming of Cub and Scout age is greatly increasing every year and that (in) the area served by Oak Plain Council, is increasing at a rate much faster than the national or state average.” The Council claimed 29 Cub Packs with 1,174 Cubs and 24 Troops with 705 Scouts plus 214 members of 14 Explorer Posts. Thirty-four percent coverage of TAY (Total Available Youth) was claimed.

It was about this time that the Navy at Great Lakes Naval Station in North Chicago presented the Council an excess fire engine. A “Waukegan News-Sun” photograph dated March 3, 1955, shows “Doc” Kirk and others inspecting the vehicle. William “Bill” Gregory, a long-time Scouter, believes the fire engine eventually ended up at the Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan Scout Reservation after the Councils merged.

The big news in the Council in this period was the construction of a new, free-standing, headquarters building to replace the third-floor downtown offices dubbed the “Crows Nest” by Scouts.

In 1953 the Waukegan Park District agreed to lease for $1.00 a year to the Council three lots in Powell Park for 99 years as a “memorial to the military and naval forces of the State of Illinois and the United States.” The Council agreed to build a one-story building and a campaign was launched to raise money and secure donated supplies, equipment, and labor. Regular operating expenses together with the building expenses forced the Scout Executive to notify the Council leadership that the Council was “$600 in the red” and would have to raise money to “keep operating.” An aggressive campaign of support was initiated and the Council did keep operating.

The building was completed in 1957 at an estimated cost of $40,000 of which $30,000 had been donated. The new headquarters would serve 75 units and 900 adult volunteers.

In 1960 the Council was represented at the Fifth National Jamboree by 18 Scouts under the leadership of Dr. Hugh Vincent, Scout Master of Troop 63 in Zion.

By 1969 the Council had 1855 Cubs in 46 Packs, (37% of the “total available youth), 1434 Boy Scouts in 48 Troops (32% of TAY), and 214 Explorers 6.6% of TAY) in 15 Posts.

Ralph S. Kroehler had become Scout Executive. Fred H. Geiger was Council President and Donald Davis as Commissioner.

In November 1970 the council was requested by the National Headquarters to “consider the possibility of a merger” with the Racine and Kenosha, Wisconsin Councils. The Council Executive Board appointed a committee to study this proposal and a separate one to study the possibility of extending the Council operating area to include those communities not covered by the then Evanston-North Shore Council in Lake County. Region 7 agreed to work with the Council on this possibility.

The Council was not diverted from serving youth by these happenings. It held a Council-wide Pinewood Derby in February, created a separate Explorer Division in June, held a “real smash” of a canoe race with 287 participants, planned a co-ed car rally for the fall, and received a donated powerboat for Sea Scout use.

The Council's operating budget was to move from $54,687 to $63,421 to support its planned program for 1971.

Also in 1970, the Long-Range Planning Committee issued its report projecting council growth to 1976. They estimated that by that year the council would reach 35% of the boys 8-7 in its service area. The report said, however, “a greater effort is going to have to be made to reach more of the inner-city boys.” Further that “Unit leader recruitment and training... must be given top priority...”

The report also recognized a need to enlarge (double) the size of Camp Oakarro (40 acres), add camping opportunities for Cub Scouts, and a “base” for Sea Scouts.

The committee studying merger possibilities decided to recommend that the Oak Plain and Evanston-North Shore Council consolidate to form what is now the Northeast Illinois Council. (Note: “merger” means one council gives up the charter and joins the other; “consolidation” means both give up charters and form a new council.) The council newsletter, “Oak Plain Talk” reported that the Oak Plain Council Executive Committee overwhelmingly (30 to 3) voted on March 25, 1971, to merge effective July 1, 1971. Alban Weber of Lake Forest became the President, Al Hughes the Scout Executive of the new council, and Ralph Krockler became Director of Field Service of the new council.

Follow-up meetings were held between the two councils in April, May, and June to work out preliminary details.

It is interesting to note that in a letter to George Myers, Regional Scout Executive, that Ralph Krockler reports his surprise that the consolidation actually took place and that Oak Plain Council President had said in 1970 “he wasn’t going to be president to preside over the end of Oak Plain Council.” Krockler signs the letter as “Ex Scout Executive and Director of Field Service.” The consolidation was not without some wounds that now are healed. Two strong councils saw what was best for youth and came together to form a stronger council.

NEIC History Project Committee
Edited by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D. 



[1] Almost all of the commentary is based on an undated interview with “Doc” Kirk conducted by the Scout Master of Troop 14. Kirk retired in 1974 and died in 1976. The interview contains the names of many volunteers, companies, and governmental agencies that contributed to the development of the camp... it would not be inappropriate to call it “Camp Volunteer.” In November of 1976, the Northeast Illinois Council rededicated Oakarro as a “training center” in memory of “Doc” Kirk. 

The Boy Scouts of America History of the Lake County Council (1928–1935).

Since the history of the Boy Scouts is well known and documented, it is not appropriate to repeat it in this more localized history except as a backdrop or as scene-setting for what happened in the suburban area north of Chicago.

By 1908 the “Hero of Mafeking” (1900) had become a hero to boys in England who were devouring his little book “Scouting for Boys” based on his experience as a British military officer and his concern for the character development of British youth.

Borrowing heavily from various youth movements in England at the time, Robert Baden Powell had published his book in serial form. It was being taken seriously throughout the British Empire and beginning to be noticed in the United States. Independent "Boy Scout" units were being formed based on the content of the book.

The following year, 1909, a Chicago area publisher, William Boyce, was introduced to the Boy Scout model while on a trip to England. He brought the idea back to the United States and legally incorporated the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) in February 1910 in the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C.

That same year, Baden Powell, now a Lieutenant General and peer of the realm, retired from the Army and began to concentrate his time and efforts on the Boy Scout movement full time.

In May 1910, the well-known and politically connected publisher, William Randolph Hearst, formed the more militaristic American Boy Scouts (ABS). He incorporated the organization in June in the State of New York. Thus ABS became a serious rival to the BSA and they began to compete for membership and support national wide. Wherever Hearst had a newspaper, including Chicago (The Examiner & American), there was an ABS office. Before the year was out, Hearst had resigned from the presidency of ABS in a dispute over financing and the use of his name. ABS continued under various names until around 1920.
History of the Lake County Council (1928–1935)
A local (Lake Villa) newspaper reported in 1915 that Scoutmaster C.B. Dicks and C.L. Alling with 1st Class Scout Harry Bird, Jr. and 2nd Class Scout Russell Krebs bicycled 50 miles from Chicago to meet with 20 boys in town to discuss “reorganizing the Scout troop that once flourished in Lake Villa.”

On January 17, 1918, the Antioch News reported that “troops of Boy Scouts of America had been organized the previous December with Rev. S. E. Pollack of the Methodist Episcopal Church as Scoutmaster and the Antioch Grade School Principal, Mr. Royal T. Morgan, as Assistant Scoutmaster. The paper fully reported on the activities of the troop. It wasn’t until December 1927 that a troop number is mentioned…” Troop No. 1 of the Antioch Boy Scouts under the leadership of Scoutmaster (Rev.) A.M. Krahl (of the Methodist Church). In October 1928 the paper reports the activities of Troop 81 of the Methodist Church. The article also identifies Dr. Williams as Chief Scout Executive.

As Scouting grew into the northern half of Lake County, it became apparent that the Waukegan – North Chicago Council should expand its horizons and move to consolidate Scouting in the more rural portions of the county.

With this in mind, a special meeting of the Executive Board of the Waukegan—North Chicago council was held on February 7, 1928, to consider expanding its borders to include the communities of Antioch, Fox Lake, Grays Lake, Wadsworth, Wauconda, and the surrounding areas.

Many of these towns, such as Gurnee, Lake Villa, and Antioch already had well-established Troops. The Gurnee Troop 1 started in 1913 and Antioch’s Troop 1 in 1918. The Rev. Harry W. Cordell first organized what is now Troop 677 in April of 1913. The troop was sponsored by the Disciples of Christ Church which became the Gurnee Community Church in 1919. The church has sponsored the troop continuously since 1913. When the first Charter was granted by the Boy Scouts of America, Gurnee, at the time, had fewer than 21 homes and a population of less than 200. The troop started with nine Scouts meeting in troop members’ homes.

“The Rev. Pollock, formerly pastor of the M.E. Church, is commanding a Boy Scout camp on the big hill deck of Smith’s Hotel at Channel Lake. The boys had an excellent band and on Tuesday evening gave a concert on the Smith Hotel veranda. Rev. Pollock moved on to another congregation in Palatine, Illinois, where he became a scout leader. He continued to maintain a relationship with Antioch and Lake Villa troops often camping together with them and appearing at troop events.

In 1924 this report in the Episcopal Church news, “The Boy Scout Camp at Smith’s Hill between Channel Lake and Lake Marie: Rev. Wentworth of Lake Villa was scoutmaster, Rev. Pollock was the mastermind of camp and Rev. Stanton gave all his time to instruction and taking tests.”

And later “Rev. Pollock and Rev. Stanton have been trying to give proper instruction to 35 and more boys every Thursday night. This has proven almost impossible. Mr. Stanton asks that some of the fathers make it a point to come down to the High School some Thursday night and see the work performed. It probably wouldn’t be amiss for a few of them to hoop up in a game of basketball with their sons and show them how they used to play the game.”

“The pastor (Rev. Krahl) returns Friday, June 18, 1926, from Battle Creek, Michigan, where he has been attending the Regional School of the Boy Scouts of America for Camp Directors, for the last week. This course was taken at the request of the Waukegan-North Chicago Council of the Boy Scouts, in preparation to having charge of the County Camp this summer from July 19-31, at Diamond Lake.” The Methodist Church News. 

And later on, the home of Rev A.M. Keahl has become the rendezvous for many boys this past week, all eager to pass the tenderfoot test which will permit them to enroll for the camp. As yet the exact number of boys attending this big camp set up on Lily Lake, Wisconsin, is not known, but Antioch will be represented by several scouts.

The Antioch and Lake Villa troops continued through 1927-1929 with typical activities and adventures that recognized today–camping, hiking, attending a livestock show in Chicago, recruiting new boys, showing off scout acquired skills at shows. One event had as a promotional line “If you wonder why scouting makes real men out of boys, come to this program Sunday evening.”

The North Shore Area Council retained jurisdiction over communities in Libertyville, Vernon, West Deerfield, Moraine, and Shields (except North Chicago) townships.

With the expanded territory it was proposed that the Council name be changed to the “Lake County Council” to more accurately reflect its geographic scope. The decision on the new name was put off until March of 1928. The Lake County Council formed in 1928 on the merger with the Waukegan and North Chicago Council. It dissolved in 1935 when it merged with the North Shore Area Council.

Later in 1929 “the Methodist Church Notes” in the Antioch News talks about Troop 61. Again the pastor is the Scoutmaster (Rev. Phillip Bobi). In August of that year (1929) the announcement was made that “Boy Scout Troop 61, Lake County Council, ceased to exist.”

Apparently, the troop revived because in January 1930 it was announced that the troop (now Troop 81) would be meeting. January of 1934 a Troop 91 was meeting in Antioch and pursuing an aggressive scouting program.

The impetus of the expansion came from the national headquarters of the Boy Scouts of America which was attempting to centralize administration (such as rechartering non-council affiliated units) and give units a more local headquarters to support, advise and supervise them.

The officers of the expanded council were:

Walter H. Durkin – President
Otto R. Thompson – Commissioner
Warren E. Blogett – Scout Executive

Scouting continued to prosper in the area. In 1930, Mr. Blogett led a small group of volunteers in attending the “University of Scouting," a regional training event in Chicago where James E. West, Chief Scout Executive was a featured speaker. The volunteers included:

Robert T. Wright (Scoutmaster) Troop 43
Arnie Makela (Ass’t Scoutmaster) Troop 11
Walton C. Wedell (Scoutmaster) Troop 3
W.N. Kemp (Ass’t Scoutmaster) Troop 2

In October the big event of the year (1930) was a baseball tournament held at Bairstow Field. (The article does not say where Bairstow Field was or is.) Teams from troops in Waukegan (Troops 1, 5, 15, 18, and 19), Gurnee (Troop 77), Antioch (Troop 81), and Lake Bluff (Troop 42) competed over a three-day series.

In 1933 – The Boy Scouts of Antioch and Channel Lake attended the “Century of Progress” World Fair in Chicago on Boy Scout Day there.

In 1935 the Lake County Council merged with the North Shore Area Council.

NEIC History Project Committee
Edited by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

The Boy Scouts of America Early History of the Evanston Council (1916-1969).

Since the history of the Boy Scouts is well known and documented, it is not appropriate to repeat it in this more localized history except as a backdrop or as scene-setting for what happened in the suburban area north of Chicago.

By 1908 the “Hero of Mafeking” (1900) had become a hero to boys in England who were devouring his little book “Scouting for Boys” based on his experience as a British military officer and his concern for the character development of British youth.

Borrowing heavily from various youth movements in England at the time, Robert Baden Powell had published his book in serial form. It was being taken seriously throughout the British Empire and beginning to be noticed in the United States. Independent “Boy Scout” units were being formed based on the content of the book.

The following year, 1909, a Chicago area publisher, William Boyce, was introduced to the Boy Scout model while on a trip to England. He brought the idea back to the United States and legally incorporated the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) in February 1910 in the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C.

That same year, Baden Powell, now a Lieutenant General and peer of the realm, retired from the Army and began to concentrate his time and efforts on the Boy Scout movement full time.

In May 1910, the well-known and politically connected publisher, William Randolph Hearst, formed the more militaristic American Boy Scouts (ABS). He incorporated the organization in June in the State of New York. Thus ABS became a serious rival to the BSA and they began to compete for membership and support national wide. Wherever Hearst had a newspaper, including Chicago (The Examiner & American), there was an ABS office. Before the year was out, Hearst had resigned from the presidency of ABS in a dispute over financing and the use of his name. ABS continued under various names until around 1920.
Early History of the Evanston Council (1916-1969)
Before there was an Evanston Council of the Boy Scouts of America, there was at least one unnumbered and unaffiliated Boy Scout troop in town. The troop met at the Lincoln School. Mr. Peter C. Wercks was Scoutmaster.

On September 21, 1910, a group of men in Evanston met at the home of Mr. Wercks to consider asking for a charter [1] from William Randolph Hearst’s American Boy Scouts (ABS) and to organize a Drum and Bugle Corps. They called their group, “The Advisory Committee of the American Boy Scouts for the City of Evanston.” Mr. Lewis W. Parker was elected Chairman and the group agreed to buy four drums and four bugles for $50. By October they had secured the services of a drum and a bugle teacher and agreed to assess each boy fifty cents per meeting to pay for the instruments.

In December 1910 the press was reporting Hearst’s resignation from the ABS and after some investigation of the matter, the group decided in March of 1911 to affiliate with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) [2]. In May a second troop was authorized by the committee to meet at Noyes Street School with H. A. Clauson as Scoutmaster. Troop One continued to meet at Lincoln School.

In the summer of 1911, 67 Scouts from ages 12 to 16 camped at Grays Lake with Mr. Wercks as Scoutmaster. After camp, Mr. Wercks attempted to resign as Scoutmaster of Troop One over matters of discipline, personal expenses, and time. The committee agreed to offer him $10 a month to defray expenses. He accepted.

On February 6, 1912, Lord Baden Powell visited Chicago and the Evanston Boy Scouts. Troops 1 & 2 were excused from school to attend a “review” in Chicago at the Stock Yards in Baden Powell’s honor. The Evanston Index reported that Baden Powell told Scoutmaster Clauson of Troop 2 “… (the Evanston Troops) were the best he had ever seen in America.” One local newspaper article said that the local Boy Scouts “have brought glory to their city.”

In March 1912, the “Evanston Boy Scouts of America” received an application for the organization of a negro troop. The committee approved the application unanimously in May provided the troop did not “be associated with or take part in any activities of the white troops except parades.” Mr. Alfred H. Edmunds (Edmonds) was to be Scoutmaster of Troop  3… later renumbered Troop № 7. A later newspaper item commented that “Scoutmaster Edmunds deserved great credit for his work in bringing the negro troop of scouts to its present excellent condition.” An article in The Lake Shore News (May 29, 1912) suggested that the troop was the only “negro“ troop in the United States, and they went on later to say that Edmunds oversaw 30 negro boys in Evanston (June 14, 1914).

The Committee also created the position of “Commissioner” to supervise the Scoutmasters and limited the size of a troop to fifty boys. In September 1914, the Committee formally agreed to ask to be“ ...properly recognized by the BSA headquarters in New York City.”

Troops 1 and 2 under Scoutmasters Wercks and Clauson went to summer camp together in 1911 with 78 boys for ten days. Wercks and Clauson were both veterans of the Spanish-American War of 1898 and ran the camp “in the latest military system” according to one observer. The camp schedule and terminology reflects this military flavor:

5:30am Reveille
5:55am Assemble in full uniform
6:00am Mess Call
6:45am Sick Call
7:00am Airing of Equipment (bedding)
7:30am Drill (Gymnastics)
8:15am Prepare for Inspection
8:30am Inspection
8:45am Guard Mount (older boys)
9:00am Fatigue Call
9:05am Police Call
9:30-10am Swimming
9:35-noon Liberty
12 noon Mess Call
1-3pm Liberty
3:00pm Fatigue
6:00pm Mess Call
6:30pm Retreat
6:30-8:45pm Liberty
8:45pm Call to Quarters
9:00pm Taps

In March of 1913, a new Troop 3 was authorized (presumably the “colored” troop had been renumbered). Mr. George Witbold was to be Scoutmaster. Mr. O. D. Davis was approved as Scoutmaster for Troop One and compensated at 30 cents per hour of service and was to have his uniform provided by the “Evanston Boy Scouts.”

Another prominent name was H. C. Carlisle. He was secretary of the organizing committee, an organizer of Troop 2, and later chairman of the camping committee. He is in some reports (around 1913) identified as Scout Commissioner also.

In September a seventh troop is mentioned in the minutes… possibly the “colored” troop but one source, the Chicago Defender, says Troop 7 came into being in May 1912 becoming the “… first colored Boy Scout of America.”

In August of 1913 Evanston (white) scouts (40 strong) were selected from Chicago area scouts to escort Illinois Governor E. F. Dunne at the big annual Naval Review in Grant Park, Chicago partly because of their “soldierly” appearance. Another newspaper article that year noted that the colored troop had 15-16 members.

About this time the Evanston scouting movement was beginning to show some cracks…Scoutmaster Clauson complained… “The troubles in Evanston is that there are too many rich families who are inclined to pamper their children” at the expense of “things in life that are most worthwhile.”

In 1914 Evanston troops boarded the steamer Carolina and sailed across Lake Michigan for a camp at Crystal Lake, Michigan. The camp was near Duck Lake which was to later become the Evanston Council’s Camp Wabaningo.

The Committee continued to meet and the program continued through 1914 and 1915. In April 1915 the Committee concluded that the public had lost interest in Boy Scouts as evidenced by a lack of community-wide financial support and that therefore the Boy Scouts should “suspend” all operations of all troops and the Drum and Bugle Corps. At this time there were about 200 Scouts in Evanston.

By November 1915 under the leadership of the Evanston Women’s Club, $10,000 had been raised and was considered sufficient to resume operations.

A new era was about to be launched for scouting in Evanston. A new council was formed and later incorporated in Illinois in 1916. J. P. Fitch was employed as Scout Executive with W. Eastman as Council President. Troop 1 was reorganized at St. Luke’s Church, Troop 2 was reorganized at Cramdon School, and Troop 3 was reorganized at Orrington School. The Drum and Bugle Corps continued with about 40 boys. National records give the total involvement as 245 Scouts in 1916.

According to an April 1981 article in the Palatine Countryside, in 1916 the Cook County Forest Preserve “conveyed” to the Evanston Boy Scouts six acres of land off Hillside Road in East Barrington. The Evanston Boy Scouts planned to use the land for camping and eventually build three cabins, a residence, a pump house, and a latrine. The camp was originally named “Evanbosco.” Later it was renamed Camp Jackson to honor a long-time Scouter, Al Jackson who had done much to improve and maintain the site.

Chicagoland Scouts camped at Evanbosco over the next fifty to sixty years, but by 1976, it had fallen into disuse and disrepair and its use was suspended by the successor council (Northeast Illinois) “due to health and safety conditions.” The camp was sold for $97,750 in 1979 much to the disappointment and chagrin of many old-time Evanston Scouters.

During World War I (1917-1918) many older Scouts took over leadership as young adult leaders went to war. Scouts pitched in and sold Liberty Bonds, collected peach pits used in gas masks, and identified Black Walnut trees to make propellers.

In 1918 Dr. Earle D. Kelly who had been Scoutmaster of Troop One became Scout Executive. Two hundred and forty-nine Scouts were registered at that time according to national records. Also, this year the first Eagle Scout Award was presented to E. Eale in Troop 2 of Evanston.

By 1920 the number of troops had grown to fourteen with membership at 280 boys. The 10th Annual Report BSA lists 262 scouts in 10 troops.

In 1920 the Evanston Council purchased 100 acres of land on the northwest side of Duck Lake on the Eastern Shore of Lake Michigan near Whitehall for $10,000. It included the channel to Lake Michigan and several hundred feet of Lake Michigan frontage. The camp was named “Wabaningo” after an Indian chief from the Ottawa tribe who camped, hunted and fished in the area. A few years later the Council purchased an adjacent 450 acres on the north shore of Duck Lake for $25,000. In 1927 250 acres was sold to the Grand Rapids Council and became Camp Showondossee. Travel to camp could be an exciting trip either by automobile (210 miles from Evanston and some five hours) or by steamer ship from Chicago’s Navy Pier aboard the S.S. Carolina or the S.S. Georgia of the Goodwin Steamship Lines. The steamer fair was $5.00 added to $25.00 per week camp fee in 1943.

In 1969 Camp Wabaningo was sold after the merger with the North Shore Area Council.

The 1968 Long-Range Plan report of the council recommended that because of encroaching urbanization, loss of privacy, water pollution, and tax problems that “a search should… commence immediately for a wilderness property.” This recommendation was made despite a companion recommendation that the Evanston Council consider consolidation with the North Shore Area Council.

The White Lake Beacon goes on to report… “The scout chapter of Duck Lake history came to a close when the councils sold their camps (Wabaningo and Camp Showondossee) to the conservancy in 1970.” The state of Michigan acquired the property and in 1984 established Duck Lake State Park.

Scouts from other councils found Wabanigo an attractive place to go for summer camp. The Herald (Maywood, Illinois) reported in a feature article on July 2, 1940:

“More than fifty Boy Scouts from the Oak Park Area Council… are taking part in the various activities at Camp Wabaningo situated on the shore of Duck Lake among the pines and oaks covering 387 acres.”

The article goes on to list the facilities as:
• A recreation hall and handicraft lodge
• A “spacious” screened dining hall
• A library and museum building
• A trading post and modern latrines and wash houses
• A quartermaster building, ice house, vegetable cellar, and two boathouses.

Accommodations include “large tents” for eight scouts) with wooden floors and steel cots with pads. A camp promotion piece in 1929 also lists “A completely equipped hospital… (that) assures the utmost care and prompt actions in case of an accident.”

“Luxury” however, would not be a word used to describe all the accommodations. Charles “Chuck” Gibson, an Eagle Scout from Troop One in Evanston, wrote an appealing five-page memoir of his experiences at Camp Wabaningo recalling that “We had no electricity, no (running) water, no flush toilets” but that bathing was a compulsory affair…, “we were instructed to bring a towel and a bar of soap down to the beach (of Duck Lake) and give ourselves a good scrubbing in the lake.”

Wabaningo received an unfortunate national attraction in July of 1955 when a 12-year-old scout from Evanston, Peter Gorham, was reported missing. In August his decomposed body was found near the camp with a bullet wound in his skull. Later, a known sex offender was picked up, confined, and was eventually convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. The whole affair was reported by the press across the nation.

Gibson in his remembrance piece concluded, “… the big thing I learned at Wabaningo (was) to live the 12 Scout Laws… and I found out I could live comfortably and happily with my fellow man. Camp Wabaningo taught me that there is so much in life to smile about.”

Camping sites seem to have grown during this period: Camp Howell (west of Glencoe) became a weekend camp and Camp Waukonda near Harms Woods was added. The 6.5-acre Camp Evanbosco next to Deer Grove Forest Preserve in Barrington, Illinois, came into being in 1930.

Earlier in 1921, Camp Sherrell next to Glenview was purchased.

Having learned the bitter lesson of having no area-wide financial plan and fundraising effort, in November of 1915 regular community fundraising started. Things limped along and by 1921 the campaign netted $9,274.

In 1921 the Council got serious and organized a well-conceived campaign with a goal of securing $30,000 for operating purposes. Two hundred and forty-four men were recruited into 30 teams supported by printed materials and aggressive publicity. $35,685 was raised to finance a two-year budget in support of 400 Scouts in 15 Troops.

From 1921 to 1932 an average of $18,752 was raised in community campaigns. In 1933 the Council became a Community Chest agency and an average of $13,947 came from that source. According to figures in the 1968 Long-Range Plan, the Community Chest was the principal source of operating funds until 1959 (averaging $25,245 a year). In 1960 Sustaining Membership began with $8,058 received. The source grew steadily so that in 1967 it represented 24% of the operating budget.

The movement continued to grow in size and interest. In 1924 there were 534 Scouts in 17 Troops, in 1926 it was 694 Scouts in 25 Troops. In 1927 a part of Camp Wabaningo was sold to the Grand Rapids Council and Camp Sherrell was sold to the Forest Preserve. Sea Scout Ship “Hobo” was purchased.

In 1926 the Evanston Council was conducting a creative “elective” in the Boltwood Intermediate School where boys could learn scout skills for academic credit through “practical work instead of the lecture method.” Don Boulton, Assistant Scout Executive was in charge.

A two-year drive launched in 1927 to raise enough money to buy property on Elmwood Avenue and an additional $30,000 for a building. The land on which the building was erected as part of the former site of Boltwood Intermediate School before it burned down.

March 23, 1929, a letter from the Evanston building Commissioner (no name listed) to Dr. E. D. Kelly:

“Dear Sir – Your application for permission to erect a building to be used for headquarters for the Evanston Boy Scouts upon the property known by street numbers 1225-31 Elmwood Avenue was granted by the Zoning Board of Appeals on condition that the building be erected in strict accordance with the terms of the Evanston Building Code and with the plans submitted to the Board of Appeals."

By 1929 registration had grown to 777 Scouts in 24 Troops, the following year 820 Scouts were registered in 28 Troops and the next year registration grew to 836. 1931 was the first full year of the new Cub Scout program with Four Packs chartered enrolling 117 boys. Unfortunately, Sea Scout Ship “Hobo” had to be scuttled as unseaworthy. There is photographic evidence of a Sea Scout Ship “Lafitte.”

A 1931 article in a publication identified as “Civic Service Corps” noted that 65% of 12-year-old boys in Evanston became Scouts and their advancement rate ranked with the highest in the country. The article also mentions the ambitious plan to build a headquarters building for $120,000. The two-story office building was to include offices, meeting rooms, and a swimming pool.

According to a newspaper article, the financial campaign started in 1927. “The building, however, was not built following the 1929 market crash…” and the $30,000 was placed in a trust fund that grew to $35,000. A campaign was launched to raise the $85,000 to complete the project.

The exact dates for all this are not clear but a Mr. Amos M. Mathews who was elected in 1948 was identified as Council President. Another undated article citing Mathews and Evanston Mayor John R. Kimbark reports a groundbreaking ceremony. Kimbark was Mayor in 1953 and resigned in 1961. A one-story building was built and eventually sold in 1971 to the Bethany Baptist Church.

In 1931 the Silver Beaver Award was authorized by the National Council to recognize distinguished service to boyhood within local Councils. Mr. H. W. Carlisle of Evanston was the first recipient in the area now served by the Northeast Illinois Council. Mr. Carlisle was a long-time activist in scouting since 1915 and had been elected a member of the Chicago Council and appointed to the Chicago committee to find and establish a permanent camp for “Chicago’s 6,000 Scouts.”

A paper in the files of the Evanston Historical Center indicates that Mr. Carlisle had organized a troop in 1908 and planned to affiliate with the American Boy Scouts. It should be noted that the American Boy Scouts did not incorporate until 1910 in New York State.

The minutes of the “Evanston Boy Scouts” organizing committee of April 1911 record that he was asked to join that group that year. He did and became Secretary in 1912 and continued to serve in that capacity until 1915.

Along with Mr. Peter Wercks, he did attend the first summer camp at Grays Lake in 1910, apparently with his son, Henry C. Carlisle, who was 12 at the time.

Carlisle’s name appears again in 1924 as a member of that year’s Council fundraising campaign. He went on to serve as Council President according to a profile in the Evanston Congregational Church’s 1976 history, “Our Congregational Heritage.” A report “50 years of Scouting in Evanston” lists him as Council President from 1930 to 1944. Newspaper articles dated 1936 and 1937 list Henry W. Carlisle as a Vice President of the Evanston Council. This is probably more accurate. The Evanston Council newsletter, “Scouting Ahead,” for February-March 1965 identifies Mr. Carlisle as a member of the Council Committee in 1915. He was influential in getting the Evanston Woman’s Club to sponsor a campaign to secure financial support that allowed the Evanston Boy Scouts to continue its operations.

The big event in 1935 was the organization and production of a Merit Badge Exposition to be held in the Northwestern University gymnasium. The Exposition was to be sponsored jointly by Evanston, North Shore Area, and Northwest Suburban Councils. The objective was to interest more boys in becoming scouts. Planning started in August.

The idea was to bring merit badge work alive with demonstrations conducted by scouts on how to accomplish the various requirements for each badge. The merit badges presented included life-saving, swimming, journalism, Indian Lore, horsemanship, stamp collecting, basketry, and over 50 other subjects. There was also a stage show presented by the scouts as well as music provided by various high school bands and Drum and Bugle corps.

In 1936 the Evanston Council took the lead in organizing a six-council adult leadership course at its Camp Evanbosco near Barrington. The courses included subjects both for scouts and cubs. It was reported in 1937 the participating councils were DuPage, Elgin, North Shore Area, Northwest Suburban, Oak Park, and West Suburban.

At the close of the 1937 camping season at Wabaningo, Loren W. Barclay, National Director of Camping praised the camp as “One of the best in the United States.” In that year council leaders completed plans for building a new hospital and converting the existing hospital to an improved camp headquarters.

Always concerned with keeping older scouts interested in the movement, Evanston in the spring of 1937 formed the Evanston Senior Scout Association with 60 charter members. Only scouts (or ex-scouts) who were at least 15 years old were qualified for membership. The previous year, in 1936, Thomas J. Keane, the National Director of the Senior Scouting Program, had spoken at the Regional 7 meeting hosted by the Evanston Council. The Evanston Review commented, “Senior Scouting, a comparatively new branch of scouting, combines a program of strenuous outdoor activity… with special activities along vocational lines.” The association planned a trip to Turkey Run in Indiana and to send two delegates to the First National Jamboree in Washington, DC. James Harness of Troop 24 was elected the first president. [3]

In June of 1937, Evanston held an official send-off at the City Hall for the 35 scouts that would represent the Council at the Jamboree from June 20 to July 9th.

In a 1943 publication of the Boy Scouts of America entitled “Boy Scout Victory Services News,” honoring World War II heroes who were scouts, Lt. William F. Eadie, USNR, an Eagle Scout from Troop 17 in Evanston is cited for his heroic rescue of members of World War I flying Ace Captain Eddie Rickenbacker’s party, who had crashed in the South Pacific. Using scouting skills, at one point Eadie lashed survivors to his light Kingfisher aircraft's wings and taxied 40 miles over choppy waters back to his base. “That chap (Eadie) has what it takes” declared one of the rescued men. Eadie received the newly created Air Medal for his “meritorious achievement.”

Also, in 1943, Evanston’s Wabaningo Lodge #248 of the Order of the Arrow was chartered and continued until merged in 1969 by Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan Lodge #40.

Francis Roy in 1948 was named chairman of a Capital Fund Raising project to finally construct a building at the 1225 Elmwood site. The council had been renting space at 614 Davis Street on the third floor. It did not meet the needs of the council any longer. The trust that was formed from the original Capital Fund Raising project had grown to $35,000 so an additional $50,000 was needed to complete the L-shaped council headquarters. Also on the committee were Philip B. Schnering, Thomas E. Boswell, Archer L. Jackson, George R. McKay, and Earl J. Rusnak. Mr. Jackson’s firm, A. L. Jackson, and Company supervised the construction. Amos M. Mathews was the council president, Donald M. Boulton (Scout Executive), H. S. (Sid) Pettett (Field Executive), and Mrs. James H. Wells and Mrs. E. A. Bartz (secretaries).

February 2, 1948 – the first God and Country Scout Award in Evanston Council went to Philip Carlson at the Calvary Baptist Church, Evanston. Part of the requirements for the award was to serve at least 150 hours of service to the church.

In June of 1955 ground was broken for a new Scout Headquarters building at 1225 Elmwood Avenue. It was finally opened in July of 1956.

The 1959 Annual Report of Council Lists Camp Evanbosco (renamed Camp Jackson) at Deer Grove Forest preserve (near Barrington) on 6 ½ acres and Camp Wabaningo of 380 acres near Whitehall, Michigan plus the office at 1225 Elmwood Avenue as properties operated by the Council.

Evanston was interested to give “in every Boy Scout the opportunity of going to (camp) any weekend.” The Camp Evanbosco was maned by experienced adult volunteers to direct the program of a provisional troop. A troop was made up of whoever showed up (with a reservation). Each scout had to be self-sufficient with his own gear, food, and sleeping equipment. Outdoor merit badge work was emphasized.

It is an interesting note that the concerns of the Council today are about the same as they were 40 to 50 years ago. A document prepared by the Evanston Council entitled “Goals and Personnel of the Council Committee.” (1959-1960)

1959–1960 list these concerns:
  • Training… at all levels, units, youth, commissioners
  • Better planning
  • Public Service
  • Membership Growth
  • Finance
  • Increased Camping Experience
In 1963 the Evanston Council initiated the first Annual “Together” conference of churches, schools, civic clubs who were interested in advancing their youth work via the scouting movement.

In 1968, as part of the National program entitled “Boy Power ‘76,” the Evanston Council under the leadership of Council President William J. Neill and Scout Executive Sid Pettett formed a long-range planning committee. Alban Weber was chairman. One of the conclusions was that “additional emphasis must be directed at once to the organization of a greater number of units in these (minority) areas… if the Council is to fulfill its objective of bringing the scouting program to all boys. The same objective exists today!

This same report concludes that its work “leads to a consideration of the merits and disadvantages of possible consolidation” with another council. The report goes on… “Because of a naturally close kinship to the North Shore Council… several meetings have been held… to discuss the possibility… and the committee recommends drafting a preliminary plan for such consolidation.”

Although not stated in the report, the consolidation notion apparently had the encouragement of the National Council.

Robert E. Dunn, a longtime Scout, and Scouter from Evanston offered this insight into the process:

“In 1968, the National Council sent representatives to Evanston. One at a time, a representative took a member of the Evanston Council Executive Board to lunch. Each was told that when Doc Kelly resigned and Don Boulton replaced him as Council Executive we had violated a national procedure in which Council Executives are appointed by the National Office and that Evanston not be allowed to repeat that procedure. Further, the Evanston Council was the smallest Council in the United States, and that Evanston would be required to consolidate with the North Shore Area Council. Thus, on October 21, 1968, the Executive Board of the Evanston Council voted to recommend consolidation with the North Shore Area Council by a vote of 22 to 6. This led the Evanston Council to the very unhappy requirement to sell the beautiful Scout headquarters in Evanston and Camp Wabaningo in Michigan. Proceeds from these sales were used to purchase additional property at Camp Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan, the section now called Wabaningo, at the Wisconsin camp.”

The Evanston Council consolidated with the North Shore Area Council in 1969 to become the Evanston-North Shore Area Council and in 1971 consolidated with Oak Plain Council to form the Northeast Illinois Council.

NEIC History Project Committee
Edited by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.



[1] “Charters” authorizing a BSA Troop were initially granted to Scout Masters. It was not until 1935 that charters were given to sponsoring institutions or groups.

[2] The separation of white and negro scouts apparently continued through the years as reflected in a piece in The Evanston Review in 1936 headlined “Negro Boy Scouts Will Go to Racine."

[3] The Exploring program for older boys was established in 1959 The Saint Mary’s Bulletin of February 1943 records that Troop 18 “has lost all of its officers” (adult leaders) to the war and asks if anyone is willing to help as Scout Master. As was common in other units in similar circumstances older scouts who were former Assistant Scoutmasters filled in. The troop apparently survived and prospered. It was still in existence in 1959 along with a Pack and an Explorer Post. In fact, Evanston was doing quite well that year with 27 Cub Scout Packs, 21 Troops, and 9 Explorer units chartered.