Chester County Council

Chester County Council
Chester County Council
Chester County Council
Owner Boy Scouts of America
Location West Chester
Country United States
Scouting portal
For the County Council with its headquarters in Chester, see Cheshire

The Chester County Council is a Boy Scouts of America service council that serves members of the Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Venturing programs in Chester County, Pennsylvania and Northeastern Cecil County, Maryland. It is one of the oldest councils in the nation, and is one of three single-county councils left in Pennsylvania, the others being the Bucks County Council in Doylestown, PA and Chief Cornplanter Council in Warren, PA. (Philadelphia Area Council was a single-county council, covering Philadelphia County, but has since became part of the three-county Cradle of Liberty Council).



The Chester County Council was formed by a charter by the National BSA Council in 1919, and was charged with overseeing the Scouts in Chester County under the leadership of Dr. Arthur A. Schuck, who later became the third Chief Scout Executive in the BSA and who had previously been Deputy Chief Scout Executive under Dr. James West. In the early years, the council, forming in the wake of the armistice ending World War I, was able to consolidate the independent troops, despite most of the adults that were qualified were off in Europe.

In the 1920s, the council, under the leadership of Charles Heistand, underwent a metamorphosis that resulted in the acquisition of a new Scout camp, and the formation of its own Order of the Arrow lodge. Prior to the acquisition of the Reynolds Farm property on the Mason-Dixon Line near Rising Sun, Maryland and Oxford, Pennsylvania, Scouts attending summer camp were loaded up onto military trucks, and then shipped out to Camp Rothrock, the council's old summer camp property located near Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The council longed for a camp closer to home, and after being rejected by the former Philadelphia Area Council as being "too far", the council acquired the Reynolds Farm, then a moonshiner haven, and the new camp, the Horseshoe Scout Reservation, opened its doors in 1928.

Just a year before, Mr. Heistand inquired about starting an Order of the Arrow lodge in the council, and contacted Dr. E. Urner Goodman, who was then serving as the Grand Lodge Chief (now the National Chief of the Order of the Arrow). After a failed attempt in trying to get the Philadelphia Council's OA Lodge, Unami Lodge, to install its chartered members, Dr. Goodman himself conducted the first induction ceremony, at Camp Hillsdale, near West Chester. Mr. Heistand, Joseph Brunton (who later became the National OA Conference Chief and Chief Scout Executive), and several other members were inducted, and Octoraro Lodge #22 was born.

Since the opening of the camp, and the founding of the OA lodge, the council has seen its fair share of growth throughout the county, eventually extending down into Cecil County, Maryland with the formation of several Boy Scout troops and Cub Scout packs as far south as Port Deposit, Maryland. Most of this achievement was under the direction of Lewis Lester, who was the longest serving Scout Executive of the council (in the 1940s and 1950s), and was influential in expanding the facilities at both Camps Horseshoe and Jubilee (later to become Camp John H. Ware, III). More recent additions to the council included the relocation of the council service center from downtown West Chester to an office building just off of the U.S. Highway 202 bypass in Westtown Township, Pennsylvania, and the opening of the new "Cub Town" facilities at Camp Ware in 2004.


The council is administratively divided into four districts:

  • Diamond Rock District
  • Horseshoe Trail District
  • Lenni Lenape District
  • Octoraro District

Horseshoe Scout Reservation

Horseshoe Scout Reservation
Horseshoe Scout Reservation
Location Rising Sun, Maryland
Coordinates 39°43′N 76°07′W / 39.71°N 76.11°W / 39.71; -76.11
Founded 1928

The Horseshoe Scout Reservation is a Boy Scouts of America camp, owned by the Chester County Council, and located on the Mason-Dixon line separating Pennsylvania and Maryland. The name of the camp derives from the Octoraro Creek, a tributary of the Susquehanna River, that makes a meandering 4-mile horseshoe through the property.

The Horseshoe Scout Reservation is divided into two camps: Camp Horseshoe (in Rising Sun, Maryland), a Boy Scout-only camp, and one of the few long-term camps left in the United States that operates a 7-day program. The other is Camp John H. Ware, III (in Fulton Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania), known before 1985 as Camp Jubilee, which was first opened in the 1950s as an Explorer base, but later acquired permanent facilities.

The camp is a "multi-use" facility and hosts Boy Scout, Cub Scout, Venturing (BSA's co-ed Scouting) and other programs, including a Disabled Scout camporee, every year since 1994. In 2004, Camp Ware opened its "Cub Town," allowing barrack-style sleeping accommodations to Cub Scouts, while several "Webelos sites" allowed 4th and 5th graders to sleep on platform tents similar to those found on most of the tent sites at both Camps Horseshoe and Ware. Wood Badge, Powder Horn, and other adult leader training courses are held at Camp Ware during the off-season period.


The Horseshoe Scout Reservation opened for the first camp season in 1928 under the leadership of Charles M. 'Chief' Heistand. Chester County Council purchased the property from the Reynolds Family, who occupied the land since the late 18th century. At the time, the property was haven for moonshiners operating illegal stills. When officials from the council first visited, it is said that the moonshiners fled the camp having mistaken their uniforms and campaign hats for those worn by Pennsylvania State Troopers .

Visitors to the camp can see stones marking off the Mason-Dixon line.


Upon purchasing the property, the members of the council built three buildings, Browning Lodge on the old carriage shed foundation, the Allen Memorial Dining Hall (since expanded), and on the foundation of the old barn, the Kindness Center, a building built with funding from the ASPCA to remind the Scouts not to be cruel to animals. Other original facilities include an Olympic-size swimming pool (the largest pool east of the Mississippi River at the time), the Reynolds Family farmhouse (known as the "White House"), and five "stockade" sites: Sherwood Forest, Boonesboro (named for Daniel Boone), Kit Carson, Davy Crockett, and Bayard Taylor.

Since then, the camp has expanded to include the following sites: Octoraro, Timberline, (Harold) Schramm, (Col. Clifton) Lisle, Dan Beard, (Gilbert) Rothrock, and Owen J. Roberts. Five of the sites; Octoraro, Timberline, Schramm, Lenni Lenape, and Dan Beard, are tent sites, while Rothrock and Roberts have adirondack shelters. Lisle, originally a tent site, was converted to a site with large pavilions.

Other buildings at Camp Horseshoe include the Morrison Health Lodge (rebuilt in 2003), the Mahlon Rossiter Visitors Center, which is the Camp's headquarters, the Octoraro Memorial Lodge, which is the Order of the Arrow lodge for the Chester County Council, Schramm Lodge, McIlvain Lodge, Roberts Lodge (Horseshoe's Nature Lodge during summer camp), and Rothrock lodge. The camp's rifle range is located near Rothrock lodge, adjacent to the camp road, while the archery range is near the swimming pool, and an original Mason-Dixon stone marker.

The site for the "Trailblazer" program is located adjacent to the parking lot and Campcraft. This program is a first year camper program started by Tom Hillhouse that combines fun activities in every program area of camp with skill development for first-class rank. The C.O.P.E. (Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience) course is located near flag-pole hill and the chapel, adjacent to the main camp road, which was built in the late 1970s that replaced a road that was partially destroyed by Hurricane Agnes. New additions to the camp facilities over the past few years include a new Scout shower house, William R. Hess Trading Post (called Trader Bills), and a renovated Parade Field.


Retreat Ceremony This daily observance has changed little since the first season over 80 years ago. Scouts and leaders attend in full uniform. Scouts form as a troop, stand retreat, and pass in review. Leaders stand on the review line with the staff. Troops are judged on their marching skills and uniform appearance with a trophy awarded to the winner each evening. The judges consider if the troop is in step with a full stride, holds its ranks, executes a right column and two right flanks properly, and wears a complete Scout uniform.

Saturday Night Campfire A special closing campfire is held at "Achgeketum" circle. Named for G. Ernest Heegard's vigil honor name, the camp's director for 29 years. Achgeketum is the Lenni Lenape word for "Teacher". The entire camp assembles at the entrance to Sherwood Forest and follows a switchback trail to the circle. Following camp traditions, all Scouts who are attending Horsehoe for the first time are seated in the seats farthest from the fire while older scouts enter through the "Skull Gate" and are seated closer to the fire. The center and outer fires are ceremoniously lighted and Order of the Arrow pageant follows. Next, the Camp Director serves as the master of ceremonies awarding the Horseshoe patch and year segment to Scouts in order of the number of years they have attended a week of camp. After Scout leaders are presented their patch and segment, they remain in the circle to present the "Silver Buckle," The Silver Buckle is awarded to one youth member from each troop who, in the opinion of his fellow scouts, has above all others, demonstrated the finest example of Scout Spirit, the Scout Oath, and the Scout Law in his conduct throughout the week. The scout selected must be from a troop of at least eight members, been in camp all week, be under the age of eighteen, and never have received the award before. The Saturday Night Campfire closes with the staff singing the Horseshoe song.

Camp Horseshoe Song - The Loop of the Octoraro Bend
Words credited to Kevin Grewell and Vance Hein [1] Tune "Beaucatcher's Farewell" By Bob Zentz

It all began with the dreams of old
The Indian Brave and the Pioneer bold.
By campfire light old tales retold,
In the Loop of the Octoraro Bend.

Those early Scouts with their campaign hats,
Their pressed wool shirts, their boots and spats.
Rekindled the dream that had gone before,
In the Loop of the Octoraro Bend.

Chorus: They built a camp upon the Mason-Dixon Line
Historic land where values shine
Old Horseshoe you memory will 'er be mine
In the Loop of the Octoraro Bend.

The sun comes up over Flagpole Hill
Where Old Glory flew and is flying proudly still.
And we'll march to the call at the end of the day
In the Loop of the Octoraro Bend.

So let's hoist our packs once again my friend
Where the waters flow round the tranquil Horseshoe bend
And we'll hike and we'll camp in the old Scout way
In the Loop of the Octoraro Bend.

He served the camp upon the Mason-Dixon Line,
His years as chief numbered twenty nine,
Achegektum your lessons will e'er be mine,
In the Loop of the Octoraro Bend.

Camp John H. Ware, III

Camp John H. Ware III
Location Peach Bottom, Pennsylvania
Coordinates 39°43′38″N 76°7′18″W / 39.72722°N 76.12167°W / 39.72722; -76.12167
Founder John H. Ware, III

Camp John H. Ware, III is a Boy Scout and Cub Scout summer, winter, and weekend camp located in Peach Bottom, Pennsylvania on the Horseshoe Scout Reservation. It is organized by Boy Scouts of America. It shares the reservation with Camp Horseshoe, located on the other side of the Octoraro River. The camp, formerly known as Camp Jubilee, offers a wide variety of activities for young men to participate in while earning merit badges and advancing in rank.

The camp offers its accommodations in all seasons, however it is not staffed throughout the year. The only time when a full complement of staff is present is summer camp. During the winter camping season, the rangers staff the Trading Post, offering food and small souvenirs, including t-shirts and other supplies.

Summer camp

"Camp Ware Song"
Written by John Reilly and Bill Teodecki
Sung to the tune of "Lord of the Dance"

Listen all as this campfire burns
We ask ourselves what was our good turn
And what have I done and what did I learn
And what will I do 'till I return?

Camp Ware, at the bottom of the hills
Where values hold and scouts learn skills
I'll take what I learned and my duty I'll fulfill
At dear Camp Ware at the bottom of the hills.

As the bright sun sets in the azure sky
Darkness come as the embers slowly die
I'll keep my head and my spirits high
As I bid Camp Ware a last goodbye.


As I walk through life with scouting care
As I travel the land and the sea and the air
I won't forget what I learned at Camp Ware
The Scout Laws and Being Prepared.


On Scouting's 50th Anniversary
A camp was built in the land of the free
They took all the best, and they called it Jubilee
Deep in the hills of the land of the free.


This is the most popular time at Camp Ware. Many weeks the camp is filled up to full capacity (250 persons, not including staff), and every area of the camp is open for use. This is when scouts have the opportunity to earn merit badges toward their next rank, and the staff act as instructors and councilors to help them complete the requirements. The pool, while offering merit badges such as Swimming and Lifesaving, also serves as a recreational area for scouts when they are not working on another merit badge, or during scheduled free swims for each troop. Scouts are encouraged to use the pool often as temperatures can be in excess of 100°F. However, when it does reach these extreme temperatures, water coolers are set up at each area and everyone is required to drink plenty of water arriving and leaving (even at the pool). Troops staying during summer camp have seven campsites to choose from: Hawkeye, Pathfinder, Deerslayer, Mohican, Jubilee, Leatherstocking, and Trapper (the largest). The sleeping quarters consist of A-frame "butterfly" tents, with two scouts or adults per tent. In the off season, the tarps that cover the tents are stored until next year, as are the metal cots.

Winter camp

Winter Camp is usually not used for merit badges so much as bonding trips for troops who attend. Snowball fights are not uncommon in the parade field, and sledding is encouraged on the hill beside the rifle range. Usually troops make use of Macaleer Lodge (affectionately referred to by most as Cubtown, or the Red Roof Inn) during this time, because of its heating system and indoor facilities.

Notable people

Because of the council's history, members have gone onto higher office at the Area, Regional, and National levels of the BSA. A list of those who served at the national level, or in public office, is listed below.

  • Arthur A. Schuck – 1st Scout Executive, later the third Chief Scout Executive of the BSA
  • Joseph Brunton – 1st Lodge Chief of Octoraro Lodge, later National OA Chief
  • Bill Folger – President of the American Society For The Adoption Of The Metric System
  • Hon. Owen J. Roberts – Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court
  • Hon. John H. Ware, III – U.S. Congressman from Oxford
  • Harris A. "Hab" Butler – former Council and Area President, served, along with his wife, as a host couple for the annual "Report to the President." He also has served on the committees that created the new "21st Century Wood Badge," and the current (12th Edition) of the Boy Scout Handbook. He has received the Silver Buffalo award through the Council, and currently serves as Regional Commissioner for the Northeast Region of the BSA.[3]
  • William R. "Bill" Hess – Former Horseshoe Scout Reservation Director, served in various positions at the Area and Regional levels. A new trading post at Camp Horseshoe was named in his memory.
  • Dick Vermeil – Retired NFL coach and member of the council's executive board. His annual "Dick Vermeil Invitational" golf tournaments bring in over $1 million each year to help with council operations.

Octoraro Lodge

Octoraro Lodge #22 is the local chapter of the Order of the Arrow affiliated with Chester County Council.

Octoraro Lodge #22 supports Horseshoe Scout Reservation, including both Camp Horseshoe and Camp Ware, with thousands of annual volunteer hours of service and multiple fundraisers throughout the year. The purpose of Octoraro Lodge #22 is to support camping throughout Chester County Council.

The council's Order of the Arrow lodge, Octoraro Lodge #22, was formed in 1927 under the leadership of Charles Heistand and Joseph Brinton, with its first members being inducted by Dr. E. Urner Goodman himself. Octoraro #22 celebrated it Diamond Jubilee in the 2001-2002 season.

In 1946, in the spirit of the lodge's chartering by Dr. Goodman, members of the lodge traveled south to Norfolk, Virginia and inducted the first members of Blue Heron Lodge 349. Both Octoraro and Blue Heron share good relationships and invite members to each others fall fellowship weekends in September (Octoraro Lodge) and October (Blue Heron).

Octoraro Lodge, which takes its name from the Octoraro Creek, a tributary of the Susquehanna River, uses the Canada Goose as its lodge "totem" or symbol. Early lodge patches and pocket flaps had white geese, with the "W.W.W." stitched in the center and bisected with a horizontally-facing arrow, but since 1971, all flaps used real-colored geese, and a horseshoe (representing the Horseshoe Scout Reservation) diagonally bisected by a red arrow. Prized flaps include the "Cut-Edge Blue," which is the very first pocket flaps issued by the lodge in the mid-1950s, and the gold-bordered 50th Anniversary flap, issued in 1976 for the lodge's golden anniversary. Both flaps fetch over $100 at auctions.

See also



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