Scouting History

Scouting History in the Heart of America Council - April 2017

by Andy Dubill, Council Historian

Camp Roosevelt - A Summer Camp Created for Veteran Scouts in 1929

The SeKan Council of the BSA had a densely wooded camp about seventeen miles west of Chanute, Kansas in a beautiful canyon on part of an old Osage Indian Reservation. The 150-acre camp was traditionally known as Camp Cauble to the campers of the SeKan Council. H. Roe Bartle had arranged for the camp to be renamed Camp Roosevelt in honor of Theodore Roosevelt, the Chief Scout Citizen and America’s finest Scout.

Only sixty Kansas City Scouts would be afforded the privilege of camping at Camp Roosevelt from June 20-29, 1929. To be eligible to attend Camp Roosevelt, the veteran Scout had to have attended two of the last three summer camps at Camp Dan Sayre.

An additional enticement offered in this summer camp experience was the fact that the Scouts would be sleeping in an old stone castle complete with a drawbridge over a moat. The feudal castle, perched high on a bluff commanding a view of the entire camp area had been built by the Chanute American Legion after the First World War.

Since inexperienced campers were not allowed to attend Camp Roosevelt, a full regimen of advanced activities had been planned by the camp staff: (Ernie Modlin – Camp Director, Dr. L. G. Soule – Education Director, E.T. Jennings – Quartermaster, John Lance – Athletic Director)

A volunteer group of Scoutmasters from the area had also volunteered to assist with activities. H. Roe Bartle would personally supervise the camp to make sure everything worked as planned. Three times a day, campers would retire to the assembly lodge and mess hall where square meals would be cooked on a metal grate in a huge stone fireplace and served to the hungry Scouts. After the meals, there were other enticements to keep the veteran Scouts occupied like the “old swimming hole.” The council had filled the bottom of the large swimming hole with gravel – making it the next best thing to a concrete pool. There was also an “Old Mill” with a creaking paddle wheel - a great place downstream to relax.

Scout Executive H. Roe Bartle said “he believed that the camp would be a dandy and felt that the local boys who encamped there would more than be repaid their expenditure of $20, the total fee for camp and transportation.

A felt patch was issued to the Scouts who camped at Camp Roosevelt. It was a blue circle with the word “VETS” stitched at the top and “29” at the bottom. This patch could be sewn on a Scout’s sash to prove that he was one of the lucky Scouts that had been at the great veteran Scout camp of 1929 at Camp Roosevelt.

If you have questions about Scouting history that would be good topics for future columns email Andy Dubill at adubill@aol.com.