Friday, April 30, 2021

Boy Scouts of America Early History of Chicago's 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 a 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 then, Robert Baden Powell 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 formed based on the book's content.

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 nationwide. 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 to 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. Many local religious and military-oriented programs were developing, and of course, the YMCA appealed to young men and older boys.) 

The two fathers researched the options and decided that the Boy Scout idea offered the best alternative. So they 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 the 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 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, which 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 began as number 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 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 also formed. Seventy-five dollars bought their equipment. Along with scout craft skills, a close-order drill was essential to 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 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 attractive. The Troop (probably other units) went north to Twin Lakes and 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 aiding in food and conservation projects.

In 1920, at Northwestern University, one of the earliest reported training programs for Scoutmasters was held. The curriculum emphasized the "basics" and included signaling, knot tying, and tent pitching. (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.

Around 1923, the Council brought together scouts from 57 troops to form a "Press Club." They prepared short articles 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 and good advice now. The club became 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 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 started as a "special patrol" in October 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 for 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.

Units ebb and flow in their existence, and something has 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 will select 32 boys from those who volunteer to be the first new members. 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," 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 the "Scouters Key" to 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, including Cub Scout leaders in 1931 and Sea Scout leaders. As reported in local newspapers, the Council also took advantage of joint training with the Chicago, Evanston, Lake County, Oak Park, and Northwest Suburban Council.

The pinnacle of MacPeak's tenure in the Council was locating and purchasing the original 240 acres of the land to become Camp Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan, known now as "East Camp." By 1929 another 450 acres of property were added. A well-organized fundraising 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. 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 called "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 frequently used 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 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, the author of the first handbook for use by Boy Scouts in the United States. Nevertheless, Mr. Alexander was an early movement leader, and his appearance to start Scout Week was notable.

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 was recipients of the award. It should be noted that there were earlier father and son (singular) combinations, and 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, and 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, and 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. 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 at Camp North Shore in the Forest Preserve "just west of Glencoe."

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

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 itself 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. This year, the National Council required adult leaders and officers to be registered and fees collected, and 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. At 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 lashing, first aid, signaling, and fire-making contests. 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 given more independence and 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 adult leaders. (They were at another campsite nearby.) Each patrol was judged on its 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, this year, two North Shore Area Council leaders were tapped for essential 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 significant 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, this year, Charles F. Smith from the National Council conducted a special course on Patrol Camping for six Chicago Area Councils (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 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 while 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" and the Sea Scout program. [3]

In August 1932, the Independent Register reported that the Camp had its most successful season in four years, and the "Staff was in perfect harmony." The following 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" 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.

This year, "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. Interestingly, 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 manpower and canvas for tentage. 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 of about $53,000. For reasons not clear from the minutes of the Executive Committee and Executive Board, Mr. Boardman resigned in November 1948 to be effective in February 1949. He had complained earlier, "...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 suggests 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]

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 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. Secondly, in the previous year (1944), there had been a severe 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 witnessed a dramatic increase in Council properties. Camp Sol R. Crown (143 acres) in Wilmot, Wisconsin, was donated by the materials Management Corporation, and Camp Traer (360 acres) near Park Falls, Wisconsin, was 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 was 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, 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%, and 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 merged with the Evanston Council to form the Evanston-North Shore Area, there were 10,477 Scouts registered. The operating budget was around $152,000.

In June 1968, Eagle Scout Alwyn A. Hughes was appointed Scout Executive. He came to the local Council from the National Council, where he had been the Activities Director. 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
Council Headquarters - 724 Vernon Avenue, Glencoe, Illinois.

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 $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 25 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 came to the BSA's attention (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 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.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for retaining the details of this history. I am writing 3 poems about my Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan experiences in my 4 sessions there 1964-1967 (?). I was not aware of the origin of the name. Wonderful find.I am wondering how many scouts to a village? Especially in the mid-1960's.


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