Scouting History

Scouting History in the Heart of America Council - October 2016

by Andy Dubill, Council Historian

The Golden Broom Award

Camp Scoutmasters have employed many means to keep their campsites neat and tidy down at Camp Osceola (now the H. Roe Bartle Scout Reservation).  Ken Nolan (Sagamore Piercing Claw) recently related a story to me about the camping days of his youth on our beloved Reservation.

Every day at Camp Sawmill from 1958 to 1960, the Campsite Commissioners awarded one campsite with “The Golden Broom” award.  It was just an old broom painted gold - but his Scoutmaster Richard Wolfe of Troop 142 from the Westerners District was bound and determined that his troop in Campsite Elm would win the award every day.

Ken and his fellow Scouts in Troop 142 slept in large eight man tents that were about two feet off the ground. In their spare time they pulled rocks out to form paths through the campsite, raked leaves and other debris into neat piles and did military style police calls to ensure that there was no debris like Dixie cup lids or candy wrappers anywhere to be seen. Their camp boxes were always in perfect order and their sleeping bags neatly laid out on their cots. They were always ready for inspection.

When H. Roe Bartle built Camp Osceola in the 1930’s there was a tremendous spotlight placed on both campsite and personal inspections of Scouts in those campsites. A special felt triangular patch that was sewn on the Scout’s sash was issued to Scouts who passed the daily inspection. When the boy returned home and showed his parents his new camp awards they often shook their heads wondering what happened to their son (who they had to badger to clean his room on a daily basis) to drive him to “win” all those inspection patches.  It was one of Bartle’s selling points to get parents to send their sons to camp.

The commissioners made a big production of announcing the winner at the noon meal every day. Mr. Wolfe was always pleased when one of our tents or our entire campsite was awarded “The Golden Broom”.  Ken yearned to hike into Iconium to enjoy a peach float, but Mr. Wolfe would have no time for frivolous activities like hiking into Iconium until the campsite was spic-and-span or they won the award that day.

If you have questions about Scouting history that would be good topics for future columns email Andy Dubill at