Sinoquipe Scout Reservation: Builder of Men
A Brief History of the Camp
The Mason-Dixon Council was formed, in part, in 1927, seventeen years after the chartering of the Boy Scouts of America. Originally called the Washington County Council as it served only Washington County, Maryland, the council would encompass Tuscarora and Great Cove Districts in Pennsylvania as well as Washington County, Maryland by 1937, when they renamed the council the Washington Area Council. The Washington Area Council was officially renamed the Mason-Dixon Council in January 1956.
The council made camp at numerous sites throughout these years including Maryland National Guard’s Camp Ritchie near Highfield, Maryland (1927), Sidling Hill Creek near Pearre, Maryland (1928-1944) and Cowans Gap State Park (1943-1947) before eventually finding its present location. In 1946, the council purchased a 126 acre farm nestled along Plum Run, a tributary of the Little Augwick Creek, in the mountains near Fort Littleton, Fulton County, Pennsylvania for the present home of Sinoquipe Scout Reservation, commonly called Camp Sinoquipe, and work on the campsite would continue for the next two years to prepare it for the 1948 opening season.
Four campsites were cleared and a ten acre lake, the focal point of present-day Camp Sinoquipe, was constructed in 1946-47. During 1948, meals were taken in an army surplus tent used as a dining hall near the former Ranger’s home, an old farmhouse. The dedication of Altenderfer Lodge, the first permanent structure in camp, occurred during 1948 in memory of Eagle Scout W. L. “Bill” Altenderfer Jr., who was killed in France during World War II. The Benedict Lodge, dedicated in 1949 in memory of John Downey Benedict who died in Italy during World War II, served as Camp Sinoquipe’s first permanent dining hall. A wooden dock was installed on the waterfront the same year.
Improvements continued at Camp Sinoquipe during the succeeding decade with the construction of a concrete bridge over the Little Augwick Creek, improvement of camp roads, and the completion of a recreation area. Several buildings were also added in camp, including the Harry S. Wherrett Lodge, dedicated in 1951, which served as the craft lodge, administrative building and trading post. The following year saw the construction of the first camp gateway, a lean-to near the present rifle range, and the Sagmore Lodge, which would become the director’s residence. A waterfront lifeguard tower and three colorful totem poles, carved by Scouts and Camp Director Bob Bruce, were erected in 1953, the same year the “Sinoquipe Rouzer,” penned by J. Warren Large, became the official camp song. The campfire ceremonial area, still used during evening campfires today, was constructed in 1954. Several rowboats joined the fleet at the waterfront the same year, and improvements on the lake and swimming areas continued into the next. The year 1957 saw the addition of various structures to Camp Sinoquipe including a winter lodge log cabin, a cook’s cabin, an equipment building, an addition to the Administrative Building, two waterfront lean-tos, and a new trading post.
By the end of the decade, Camp Sinoquipe was beginning to look the way Scouts know it today as 1959 saw seven campsites and its very first hot showers. The new gateway boasted a large painted Sinoquipe emblem, welcoming all who entered the camp. The Wells Valley Lodge, a new Health Lodge and a waterfront cabin were all erected as a new decade begun. By 1962, the Order of the Arrow completed the non-denominational open air chapel by the lake, which had seen an upgrade to its fleet with canoes and a dory skiff. Two more campsites were completed, and by the mid-1960s an additional 169 acres were added to the camp’s property.
Five new campsites were added in the 1970s, a decade which saw the very first visitors’ latrine, the enlargement of the Trading Post, the dedication of the Robert F. Hoover Handicraft Lodge and Le Bleu Pavilion, the opening of the J. Warren Large Ecology Center, the relocation of the rifle range, and erection of a new service building. With these improvements, camp started specialty weeks in Aquatics and Ecology.
The building boom of the previous decades stalled by the 1980s with only the addition of the E. K. “Doc” Mowen Pavilion, the North shower house and the Order of the Arrow Wishalow Lodge. Yet the 1990s breathed new life into camp, topping off with the 50th anniversary of its present home. Multiple improvements were made with the addition of a new maintenance facility, a repelling tower (Oliver Tower) in the C.O.P.E. area, beach volleyball court, five handicap accessible latrines, new waterfront pavilion, Shotgun Range, the Henson Lodge (Ranger’s House), and upgrades to both campsites and the aging administration building. The 50th Anniversary in 1998 saw Camp Sinoquipe yielding a total of 13 campsites and a ten acre lake in its approximately 485 acres.
Since the 50th Anniversary, Camp Sinoquipe has seen construction and upgrades to propel it into the next fifty years. These include the construction of a High Ropes course and zipline in the C.O.P.E. area, Kerstein Lodge, four program pavilions throughout camp, Patterson Field with baseball diamond and soccer field, new latrines at six campsites, replacement of central and northern showers, as well as the addition of camp’s 14th campsite. Additionally, the outdoor chapel has been renovated, along with the renovation and expansion of the old dining hall into the present Mike Callas Dining Hall. Recently the former health lodge became a technology center, allowing technology-based badges to be offered at camp, with the construction of a new administration building which houses the Trading Post, restrooms, conference center, health office and administrative offices. With these improvements, Camp Sinoquipe looks forward to serving Scouts well into the new millennium.