An icon of the American West, the longtime president of Coca-Cola and a man who died in the sinking of the Lusitania.
Names of these and other fascinating Americans grace BSA camps across the country.
The names of Scout camps offer an interesting entry point into the history of Scouting, a particular community or the nation as a whole. Many camps are named for men and women who donated money, time or both to support local Scouting. Others are named for famous figures in history.
How did your favorite camp get its name? Leave a comment at the end of this post.
But first, let’s look at five Scout camps named for intriguing people in history.
Theodore Naish Scout Reservation
Who: Theodore Naish (1856–1915), a civil engineer in Kansas City, Mo., who died in the May 7, 1915, sinking of the Lusitania by a German U-boat.
Where: Kansas City, Kan.
Council: Heart of America
Theodore Naish was born in 1856 in Birmingham, England. He later moved to the United States and became a citizen. In 1895, he purchased nearly 150 acres of land in Kansas — rolling hills and dense forests of oak and hickory.
In 1911, at age 55, Naish married Belle Saunders, a schoolteacher from Detroit. The two spent several summers on the land he owned, enjoying hikes to the tops of hills 1,000 feet high.
In 1915, the pair treated themselves to a belated honeymoon to England, where Theodore had grown up. They purchased tickets on the Lusitania and traveled to New York to board their regal ride. Yes, England and Germany were at war. And yes, the Germans had submarines lurking in the waters around England. But Belle and Theodore didn’t worry.
“We were convinced that the Germans would not sink an unarmed passenger liner loaded with neutrals and so many women and children,” Belle Naish told The Kansas City Star in 1935.
When the German U-boat’s torpedo hit the Lusitania, Belle remembers seeing a “vast mass of water, mingled with all sorts of broken and splintered things,” she told The Star.
Belle and Theodore helped passengers don their life vests. Soon a second explosion — perhaps in the coal compartment — rocked the ship, sending Belle into the air and knocking her unconscious. Someone in a lifeboat pulled her in and took her to Queenstown, Ireland. Belle searched every hospital and morgue in Queenstown for her husband, but it became clear that he was one of the 1,198 passengers — including 128 Americans — who died.
Belle kept the Kansas property for more than a decade. In 1927, she donated 90 acres to the Boy Scouts. Later, she donated another 90.
Theodore Naish’s body never was found. In 1941, Boy Scouts helped dedicate a memorial to him. Decades later, his legacy lives on.
Camp Buffalo Bill
Who: William “Buffalo Bill” Cody (1845–1917), an icon of the American Old West and traveling showman who founded the town of Cody, Wyo.
Where: Cody, Wyo.
Council: Greater Wyoming
William Cody earned the nickname “Buffalo Bill” after the Civil War when he supplied buffalo meat to Kansas Pacific Railroad workers.
After building legendary status as a (lowercase-S) scout and hunter, Cody transitioned into a career as a showman. In “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West,” he traveled the country to bring a glimpse of the American West to sold-out audiences. When organizers of the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 rejected his request to participate, Cody set up his own exhibition nearby. His exhibition’s popularity irked fair organizers.
In 1895, Cody helped found the town of Cody in northwestern Wyoming. He liked its rich soil, picturesque scenery and proximity to Yellowstone National Park, established in 1872.
Those qualities that made the town of Cody attractive in 1895 make Camp Buffalo Bill near Cody a favorite of Scouts more than 120 years later.
Woodruff Scout Camp
Who: Robert W. Woodruff (1889–1985), longtime president of The Coca-Cola Co. and a prominent Atlanta philanthropist.
Where: Blairsville, Ga., about 2.5 hours north of Atlanta.
Council: Atlanta Area
Robert W. Woodruff was born in 1889 in Georgia. He was the son of a Ernest Woodruff, one of a group of businessmen who bought The Coca-Cola Co. in 1919.
After various jobs — shoveling sand, selling fire extinguishers, supplying trucks for troops during World War I — Robert’s dad offered him the position of president of Coca-Cola.
As company president in 1926, Robert Woodruff turned Coke into a global brand by establishing a foreign department. He served as president until 1954.
The fact that Woodruff’s name graces a number of school buildings and public landmarks is a testament to his philanthropy. There’s the Woodruff Arts Center and Woodruff Park, for example, named in recognition of his gifts.
The Robert W. Woodruff Scout Reservation, now called Woodruff Scout Camp, was built after donations from the Woodruff Foundation and Coca-Cola. Each summer, Scouts gather there for life-changing experiences they’ll find nowhere else.
Horace A. Moses Scout Reservation
Who: Horace A. Moses (1863–1947), founder of Strathmore Paper Company and the man who helped start Junior Achievement, a nonprofit youth organization that teaches young people how to succeed in the world economy.
Where: Russell, Mass., about 35 minutes west of Springfield, Mass.
Council: Western Massachusetts
Horace A. Moses, born in New York, established the company that eventually became the Strathmore Paper Company. Strathmore, now part of the Pacon Corp., is known for making high-quality art papers. The company counts Norman Rockwell and Andrew Wyeth among its past customers.
In 1919, Moses helped start Junior Achievement, serving as its chairman for 27 years. The organization teaches work readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy to students in kindergarten through high school. In 1984, Moses was featured on a 20-cent stamp commemorating his work with Junior Achievement.
Moses’ good works extended to Scouting, as well. Shortly before his death in 1947, Moses sold sections of his 1,600-acre summer estate to the BSA.
For his Good Turn, Moses received the council-level Silver Beaver Award. The award still hangs in the camp office.
Cole Canoe Base
Who: Edward N. Cole (1909–1977), an automobile executive who was general manager of Chevrolet and helped develop the Corvair and Vega.
Where: Alger, Mich., about 2.5 hours northwest of Detroit.
Council: Michigan Crossroads
Edward N. Cole wanted to be a lawyer, but a part-time job at an auto parts store introduced him to the high-octane world of automobiles.
He enrolled in the General Motors Institute, and his rapid ascent began. One of his first hits was as a member of the team that developed the 1949 Cadillac V8. He was the chief engineer of the Chevrolet Division when he helped turn weak-performing Corvettes into the muscle cars they are today.
When he was general manager of Chevrolet, GM’s largest automotive division, Cole was on the cover of the Oct. 5, 1959, issue of Time magazine.
After that, Cole developed the Chevrolet Corvair, a compact car that sold from 1960 to 1969, and the Chevrolet Vega, a subcompact available from 1970 to 1977.
Through all this, Cole was involved in Scouting as a volunteer. He served as president of the Detroit Area Council in 1962. In 1977, as vice president of General Motors Corp., he donated funds to support what was then called the Rifle River Scout Canoe Base.
In recognition of Cole’s gift, the base was renamed Cole Canoe Base, home of the famous Beast Feast I covered in 2015.
What’s your camp’s story?
Is your camp named after someone famous or fascinating? Leave the story in the comments.
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