Some Memories of Camp Buck
by Charles T. Tart

Drawing from long-ago memories, I was a member of Troop 18, sponsored by the Lutheran Church of the Savior in Trenton. Carl Jacobelli was the scoutmaster, and I know he was there on at least one camping trip. I remember it because we were standing on top of the bluff in Camp Buck tossing pebbles to see how far across the river they would go and he decided to show us a good toss -- and his wristwatch flew off as the threw the stone! It was held on by one of those expansion bands, which I think were pretty new-fangled at the time, the 1950s.
I recall we, the scouts, vaguely knew Camp Buck was owned by some troop up in Northern Jersey and they had first call on its use, so one of the leaders would have to call to see if it would be free for a given weekend. I think later it was given to the George Washington Council.
There was a log cabin on the bluff, not at the highest point, which was a clearing where the campfires were held. The cabin was, I believe, one room, with a large stone fireplace at the road end and the entrance door at the other end. I believe there was a sleeping porch on the side away from the river, with another door there. An old cast iron cooking stove, was on the side along the river.
I recall that you parked cars in a little pull off area just as you came over the bridge. Almost immediately off the parking area a little footbridge crossed a very small stream, but with enough drop to the water that you would't want to fall off the bridge. I remember the bridge very well, for on one camping trip with Explorer Scouts one of our members had borrowed a portable generator somewhere that we brought along, and it was heavy! At least four of us, including me, carried it from the car up to the cabin and I remember wondering if the little foot bridge would collapse (but it didn't).

There was some kind of auction house several hundred yards down the road on the other side of the bridge. On Saturday nights, you could hear the noise from the auction house, but otherwise you heard nothing but country sounds at night.
There was a well with one of those old fashioned hand pumps. It squeaked a lot, but it could pump. The pump was downhill from the cabin. On the other side of the pump, perhaps a little uphill, were one or two rough shelters, I think mainly a roof and floor, where you could get out of the rain if there wasn't enough room in the cabin. Other we pitched tents, of course.
As to activities, Camp Buck wasn't very big. I doubt that more than one troop ever camped there at any given time. There was no staff or formal activities. Locals tended to vandalize the cabin during the week.
I don't remember a pavilion.
One of my other memories, which probably don't want to display to the public, is coming up to camp with a few other Explorers one Friday night and discovering a bunch of older teenage guys in the cabin who had been drinking a lot. I think they were locals. They were trying to start a fire in the fireplace and having poor luck, one tossed about half a cup of gasoline on to the smoldering fire. Whoosh! Singed off his eyebrow, but he was drunk enough to hardly notice it at the time.
Note from Randy Ponticiello:
Charley forgot the Saturday night hikes to the Auction - thru the Church graveyard. They were a lot of fun and scary for the younger scouts.

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December 20, 2003