Memories of Camp Buck
by james Edgar Morgan

Troop 18 was chartered some time around 1948 or 1949 by the George Washington Council, BSA. We first visited Camp Buck in the spring of the following year with Carl Jacobelli and Rader Seiler as advisors, and one other advisor (forget the name).
 
We arrived, for our first visit, on a Friday night in darkness. It was eerie and scary for 12 year olds to unload their gear from the cars, cross this small, narrow footbridge over a tributary stream of the South Branch of the Raritan River, which I believe was called the bend. After entering the cabin, and starting a fire in the fireplace, we sat around as we got some basic instruction from our scoutmaster. The next morning, most of us were up prior to sunrise and we could see the deer and other wild creatures of the wilderness from the front porch of the cabin, which basically faced northwest. During the day, we did normal scouting activities, learning how to chop and split wood, trying to keep warm, sharpening of our knives and ax blades, tying knots of different types. These were skills that we needed toward earning merit badges and gave us the opportunity to scout the area itself. We went up over the hill, staying to the southwest and down to the other dirt road. It was a challenging and rewarding weekend.
 
The cabin, as I remember, along with the ground, belonged to the George Washington Council. The cabin, built with the efforts of numerous scout troops and friends of scouting, was 20 foot wide and 32 foot long, with a stone fireplace. A local well driller basically pounded the well in. It was a hand dug well that was then covered over and a pump put into. Across an embankment with a tributary stream was a single, three-sided lean-to with a wooden deck that was built by Troop 12, from the western section of New Jersey. This group was possibly the strongest and most influential troop in the George Washington Council.
 
Our trips to Camp Buck became many. Arrangements were always made through the council. For many years, troop 18 made six or more trips per year. When I began driving in 1953, we would go to Camp Buck almost every third weekend and our activities were wild and very rewarding. We played capture the flag, a little bit of touch football, throwing stones from the bluff, sneaking up on the lovers at night across the Raritan River which later became a YMCA camp
 
We would go about a mile down the road to a small village of about six homes, and a fairly large chicken coop thad been converted into a Friday night auction house. The nice part was, they had a pantry where you could get things to eat. The thrill of the auction was not only entertaining, but also educational for those who paid attention. I never realized how much I learned there regarding purchasing, negotiating and selling items until much later in my life.

Our Saturdays were pretty much the same. However, we would leave Camp Buck on Saturday nights and walk 3.5 miles on the old road, mostly past fields and farms into the town of Clinton, NJ. After gorging ourselves on ice cream cones, we would then walk east on Route.22 to the Clinton Point movie theater and enjoy the first show. Leaving the Clinton Point Theater we walked south on Route 69, past the old church, to the old Clinton Road. (Route 69 was later changed to Route 31, because many students from Trenton State Teachers College, and elsewhere, stole the signs.) At this intersection, there was a small church graveyard, and furtherdown the road there was another small private graveyard. After going around a left and then a right turn, the road to Camp Buck was to our left. We would complete this and be back in camp by 10:30 or 11 o'clock. We finished our day by sitting around a campfire telling weird stories, roasting marshmallows and the likes.
 
In our last few years at Camp Buck, we spent much of the Easter time off from school there. We tended to stay in the three-sided shed, deserting the cabin which was getting into somewhat deplorable condition due to the local boys destroying it. We did camp there, from time to time, with other troops that stayed in the cabin.
 
Camp Buck was a place that played a big part in developing my outdoor skills, and I visited there many times during the early 1960s to the mid-1970s. I have photographed much of the area and I am presently marketing a print called Serenity taken below Camp Buck in the early 1960s, produced as a limited edition.
 
I hope this gives you an insight as to what I remember of Camp Buck. Other than Camp Buck, the majority of our trips were to Camp Pahaquarra up above the Delaware Watergap, and a cabin up on the ridge close to the Appalachian Trail, which Troop 12 also built. Troop 18 became one of the larger, effective community minded troops in the George Washington Council. One year, the troop was part of a detail to clear out the grounds on Route 1 just below New Brunswick, where the National Headquarters was located for a short time. I remember this well because there was a buffalo meat buffet during the day, and I had never tasted buffalo meat before. I wish I could remember the year.
 
Note: Jim Morgan was one of the young scouts seen in the cabin photographs. Jim, who likes to sign himself as james Edgar Morgan, is a professional photographer, and maintains a web site at photoimagesbyjamesEdgarMorgan.com

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December 20, 2003