Sinoquipe Scout Reservation: Builder of Youth

Scouting In The Council Service Area

From the formation of the first Boy Scout troop in Hagerstown in November 1910, Scouting has been an integral part of the communities that encompass Washington County, Maryland and Fulton and Southern Franklin Counties in Pennsylvania. With the formation of the Washington County Council in 1927 – covering all the troops then established in Washington County – and the formation of the Cumberland Valley Council in 1928 – covering the communities in Pennsylvania that would one-day be a part of the council’s service area – Scouting had found an organized place in the community, which would allow it to reach thousands of youth and adults in its 112-year existence. In 1939, the Maryland and Pennsylvania units joined forces to become the Washington Area Council; later renamed the Mason-Dixon Council in 1956 after the historical boundary line that ran through the council-service area.

Camp Sinoquipe

Starting in 1911, the various troops in the council went off to summer camp. Originally the camps were spread through the entire council service area and even beyond its borders, often only serving one or two troops during an entire summer. Once official councils were formed in the late-1920s, the camps would be utilized by multiple units at one time. During the early years the councils made camp at numerous sites including Maryland National Guard’s Camp Ritchie near Highfield, Maryland (1927 WCC), Sideling Hill Creek near Pearre, Maryland (1928-1944 WCC and WAC), Camp Rothrock at Pine Grove Furnace State Park in Pennsylvania (1928-1930 CVC), and Cowans Gap State Park in Pennsylvania (1940-1947 WAC), before eventually settling on camp’s present location.

In 1946, the Mason-Dixon Council (then called Washington Area Council) purchased around 200 acres nestled along Plum Run, a tributary of the Little Augwick Creek, in the mountains near Fort Littleton, Fulton County, Pennsylvania. This became the home of the Sinoquipe Scout Reservation, commonly called Camp Sinoquipe. Work on the campsite continued for the next two years to prepare it for the 1948 opening season.

By the first season, five campsites and a nine acre lake, the focal point of present-day Camp Sinoquipe, was constructed for the influx of 203 campers that made Sinoquipe home during the 1948 season. As work had not yet been completed on many of camp’s improvements, meals were taken the first year in an army surplus tent used as a dining hall near the former Ranger’s home, an old farmhouse.

The dedication of the oldest existing building in camp, Altenderfer Lodge, after Willis L. Altenderfer Jr., a Scout who had been killed in France while serving his country in the Second World War, took place in 1948. The following year marked the completion of camp’s dining hall called Benedict Lodge; dedicated in 1951 in the memory of John Downey Benedict who also died in France during the war.

As the Mason-Dixon Council started to grow in membership, the council’s camp needed to follow suit, laying the foundation of the Camp Sinoquipe Scouts would even recognize today. From the improvement to camp roads, including the first bridge into camp over the Little Augwick Creek, so vehicles would no longer be forced to ford the creek, to the creation of several program areas, Sinoquipe expanded by leaps and bounds during the 1950s.

During the summer Scouts would now have the opportunity to practice marksmanship skills on a rifle range located near the present parking lot, or try their hand at target practice on the nearby archery range. Athletic events were held on camp’s ballfield, and meals eaten in the improved dining hall. The Harry S. Wherrett Memorial Craft Lodge, constructed in 1951 in the small field past camp’s main gate, served as an administrative building, craft lodge and trading post. Camp would also have a well-equipped waterfront, a nature hut, and by 1953, a shower house for the comfort of campers. Friday night campfires occurred in the Council Ring at the “camp along a shining lake” that J. Warren Large mentioned in the newly penned camp song called the “Sinoquipe Rouser.”

By the end of the 1950s, the cook’s cabin, Winter Lodge (now called Wherrett Lodge), and Sagamore Lodge had been added to house summer camp staff, and three Adirondack shelters added to house campers during the off-season. A total of eight campsites by the beginning of the next decade would house the nearly 800 Scouts that camp saw each summer. The campsites had been named after local Native American tribes – Cherokee, Delaware, Iroquois, Seminole, and Tuscarora – and frontiersmen – Daniel Boone, Kit Carson, and Davy Crockett.

The Wells Valley Lodge, a new Health Lodge and a waterfront cabin fondly called the Aquatics Hut were all erected as a new decade begun. By 1961, 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 Wischalowe 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. The addition of a swimming pool, Lakefront Lodge, and a fifteenth campsite for female camp staff members rounded out the new additions to camp. With these improvements, Camp Sinoquipe looks forward to serving Scouts well into the new millennium.