Camp Pahaquarra History
Going to Camp
(Editor's Note: This is fiction. There is no evidence that the following ever happened, but it might have.)
Think about a summer evening along the Delaware River, near Columbia, NJ. The night is dark, quiet, pleasantly cool, the sky is full of stars. You are in a vast field, surrounded by the old, teepee style tents. Smell the smoke from the many fireplaces. Hear the sounds of boys having fun, running, laughing, playing games.
How many thousands of boys have spent part of their summers at Camp Pahaquarra? They came for the fun of camping, being away from their parents for a week, and they learned the rules of Scouting and good citizenship. They learned how to co-operate with other boys and adults, how to become leaders, how to become men, how to serve their community and their country.
Camp Pahaquarra, active from 1925 to 1972, was the first council-wide camp owned by the George Washington Council. Originally, the 1000 acre camp was the site of many commercial copper mines. Copper ore was mined in the area at least as early as 1659, but by 1917 the mines were no longer profitable and most of the mines were closed by 1924. You can read about Pahaquarra in Compressed Air Magazine, March 1951, "The Mystery of Pahaquarry Copper" (sic).
In the early days of Camp Pahaquarra, Scouts drove to camp on dirt roads on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River. They crossed the river at Dingmans Ferry, using a raft powered by a tow rope. Scouts swam in the Delaware River and liked to construct towers with rope swings that took them in a arc out over the river. The boys cooked all their own meals on-site. In the evenings, they used kerosene lamps.
Some of the things that Scouts remember about Camp Pahaquarra are the waterfalls, the Lodge, the Indian Dancers of the Order of the Arrow, waterfront activities in the Delaware River. Apparently, as part of the Pioneering merit badge, boys would build small log buildings that they could live in and would become a permanent part of the camp.
The camp is closed now, only memories remain with no one to dream them. The Federal government announced plans to construct the Tocks Island Dam, creating a huge reservoir by flooding much of the land along the Delaware River. The government began acquiring ownership of the area, taking farms, houses, other properties and forcing occupants to move from the area. In 1972, the George Washington Council acquired Yards Creek Scout Reservation near Blairstown, NJ, and closed Camp Pahaquarra forever. (Ref. 1)
As a footnote, a coalition of local groups convinced the government to give up on the idea and the dam was never constructed.
Camp Pahaquarra History
Rev: Oct 15, 2003