Some Personal Comments
Yards Creek Scout Reservation
In a letter, dated February 7, 1997, George Washington Council announced the closing of Yards Creek Scout Reservation for "renovations." This seems like a good time to reminisce a bit about YCSR. I hope this does not turn out to be a eulogy. (Ref. 1), (Ref. 2)
In 1971, Council closed Camp Pahaquarra, the camp facility located along the Delaware River, and opened YCSR, a 510 acre Scouting retreat. The new camp, located on the grounds of the Yards Creek Pumping Station in Blairstown, New Jersey adjacent to the Appalachian Trail and within hiking distance of the Delaware River and the Delaware Water Gap, had a lovely lake for waterfront activities, several ponds for fishing, lots of trails for hiking.
The pumping station is owned by the Jersey Central Power Company. The facility consists of a man-made reservoir, power generation equipment, transformers and high-tension leads for transferring power to its customers. There is a second reservoir, high on the mountain. In the night, when power demand is low, the station pumps water up the mountain to the second reservoir. Then, during the day, water runs down the mountain to drive the electrical generators. In the evening, around 11 p.m., we could hear the gates slam as the pumps started to force water up the mountain and in the morning, around 6 a.m., we would hear the gates slam in the other direction as water would begin the trip down the mountain.
I started going to YCSR around 1980, when my boy was a Webelos Scout. The camp was so lovely, quiet, there was no TV, no radio, no newspaper. Probably the greatest pleasure was to finish the day, get the kids to bed, sit around the fire and talk. The evenings were generally pleasantly cool, usually with the stars shining overhead. Around midnight, I would walk around the tents, make sure all the boys were asleep, and off to bed. The trees have grown so tall that the stars are no longer visible through the canopy of leaves.
Because of the easy access to both the Appalachian Trail and the Delaware River, the camp offered several high adventure experiences. There was the Raid, combining a rugged hike with canoeing a portion of the river. There was a 5-day canoe trip down the river, with overnight camping. There were several mountain hikes and wilderness overnights, and the famous, grueling day hike to Sunfish pond.
For several summers, I organized and led Webelos Week at camp, a very satisfying experience. That summer when the boy moves from Cubs to Scouts is so important. Give the boy an active, exciting, fun time at camp, he will stay with the Scouts. This was a great way to meet boys and leaders from all over council.
I watched so many boys at camp grow and mature into fine young men. There is a type of boy that greatly benefits from being at camp. I would see them develop confidence, independence, skill. They would work on staff and return each summer, even after starting their college life.
There were a lot of good leaders also. I remember the fine job that Ed Chando did as camp director. When Franklin Smith was director, I don't think he ever stopped working. He would be in the kitchen at 6:30 am making breakfast, then I would see him at 11:30 p.m. washing the dishes.
YCSR re-opened, as a limited-use camping facility, in October 1998. Units interested in high adventure activities, such as hiking the Appalachian Trail, canoeing the Delaware River, or mountain climbing, may establish a base camp at YCSR. Currently, units must bring their own water.
Yards Creek Scout Reservation
September 2, 1999