Summer camp at Camp Aliquippa in Champion, PA. was one of the highlights of my growing up. I got to get out of the city (small town, actually) and into the woods. I never went with a troop camping like most Scouts do today. There was a large contingent of Scouts who went to summer camp on their own. It was a great learning experience- always new kids to be with and I could set my own schedule and plan my own advancement.
We lived in the “Huts”. Living in the Huts put you right in the middle of all the activities. The center of the camp was set up like a lot of camps. There was a parade ground as the central focus. At the head of the parade ground was the flag pole. The staff lined up behind the pole and the Scouts completed a large rectangle for flag-raising and lowering ceremonies each day. At the foot of the parade ground was the pool. To the left were the Huts. To the right was the Camp Directors quarters (no one ever went there), the first aid lodge (no one wanted to go there), the Trading Post (everyone spent a lot of time there), the craft lodge (named after J. L. Hoyt who taught me a lot about doing things right the first time), and a staff stone “tepee”. I did spend a summer there, but I cannot recall the name of the place.
A Hut was a 12’x12’ structure with a roof and a floor. They angled down the slope of the parade ground. The roof and floors were supported by large telephone size posts at the corners. The sides of the huts were open to allow easy access to our home. When it rained, we had flaps that we dropped down on two sides. By the placement of the Huts each hut acted like a “wall” to protect the hut below it from the weather (in theory). Occasionally there were some windy rain storms that made life interesting. Depending on the number of Scouts without troops in camp that week, the number of Scouts who shared the hut varied.
From our domain in the Huts it was a walk of a couple hundred yards down a trail to the dining hall, about the same walk down a “road” to the Quartermaster shop and the Camp Craft area (Camping, Cooking, and Pioneering). Softball fields and the athletic areas were behind Camp Craft. The campfire circle was a short walk through the woods. The Nature area was behind the flag pole at the top of the parade ground. The only areas that were a bit distant were the rifle and archery ranges and for safety reasons that made sense.
The Huts concept is an idea that I have never seen at summer camp since I left Aliquippa. Maybe it is staffing and responsibility. We had two senior staff members who acted like our Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmaster. Maybe it is space. All the slots at many summer camps are allocated early in the season. Maybe it is time. Camps seem to be open for a fewer number of weeks than Aliquippa was open. Maybe it is scheduling. Our camp was opened continuously through the season. We had the closing campfire Saturday night and campers for the next week started arriving Sunday at noon. (Saturday night scrubbing the dining hall floor, go-cart rides, etc. was when the staff really built their group spirit, but as they say, that’s another story). I think that is too bad that this type of camping does not exist in more places. Scouts would have the opportunity to go to camp for more than just the week they went with their troop. Boys learn to interact and think on their own. They assume more responsibility. It can be part of the growing experience. It made summer camp a great time for me.
I was the manager of the Trading Post the year they shut down the large scale operations. It was my understanding that the patches were also going to change. I bought a number of Camp Aliquippa patches that were left when the store closed. If you read this article and went to Camp Aliquippa, I will send you a patch if you would like one.