Monday, February 3, 2014

Boy Scouts of America: Camp Geronimo

January 27, 2014 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved. 

The Boy Scouts of America was a fledging organization in Arizona shortly after World War I and the Salt River Valley had several scout troops representing cities such as Phoenix, Glendale, Tempe, Buckeye, Lehi and Mesa.

On May 4, 1921, a committee met in Phoenix to consider the selection of a site for the summer encampment of the Boy Scouts. The committee consisted of H. D. Ross, Jr., Edgar Hunsaker and Edwin M. LeBaron. This committee met with another committee consisting of J.E. Thompson, H.B. Wilkinson, E.S. Clark, Leroy Show and Joe Prochaska, the State Game Warden.

Several possible sites were suggested, including Seven Springs on Camp Creek, Pine Air and Fish Creek. The committee carefully considered the three sites and decided another committee would be appointed to inspect the three sites before a final decision was made.

The committee inspected the sites for the 1921 encampment and decided against them. Instead, the encampment site chosen was located eight miles north of Payson on the East Verde River and was called Camp Apache.

The pond immediately south of the Reavis Ranch house served as the swimming, canoeing, and water safety training area.
The Boy Scout Councils soon found that travel over the primitive roads to Payson, which included the Apache Trail, was extremely difficult and not cost effective. On April 7, 1922, the Boy Scout camp committee of District No. 2, the old Apache Council, met in the Mesa Chamber of Commerce rooms. The purpose of the meeting was to propose summer campsites.

Tom Murray, scout executive for the Roosevelt Council (Frank Cervney), Old Apache Council (Joe Pomeroy) and State Game Warden Joe Prochaska, met and discussed campsites for the upcoming Boy Scout Encampment. The committee members agreed they would visit and inspect the Pine Air camp at the Reavis Ranch on April 15-16, 1922.

Reavis Falls was also known as
Maiden’s Prayer Glen.

Pine Air had the distinct advantage of being much closer to the Salt River Valley than the East Verde River north of Payson. William J. Clemans owned the Reavis Ranch and welcomed the Boy Scouts to the area. At this time the only way to visit the Reavis was on foot or horseback. The committee used twelve horses to ride up to Pine Air to inspect the site for the scout camp. The Scout Committee approved Pine Air for the Boy Scout Camp for 1922.

By May 13, 1922, the Boy Scouts were asked to register early for the Pine Air encampment. The camp was planned for three sessions of one hundred boys each. The first encampment was from June 16 – 26, the second from July 6-26 and the final encampment began on July 26.

Each scout needed $9.50 for two weeks of camping at Pine Air. The fee covered all expenses. The scouts had to bring their individual clothes, toilet articles and bedding. The scouts had a variety of instructors trained in biology, geology, swimming, camping, and other topics. The camp consisted of fourteen high-wall tents, each tent 16 feet by 16 feet. Each tent housed a patrol of eight boys. There was a large cook tent for meal preparation and of course a big campfire area.

Ray Stewart, Tonto National Forest district ranger, Dwight B. Heard and Governor Thomas Campbell all planned on visiting the scouts while they were in camp at Pine Air. On May 18, 1922, the Mesa Daily Tribune reported for the first time that the camp committee of District No. 2, Boy Scouts of America, Roosevelt Council had named the campsite "Camp Geronimo".