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Horseshoe Scout Reservation

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File:Horseshoe Scout Reservation.png
An early version of the Horseshoe Scout Reservation summer camp patch given to Scouts and leaders who complete a week of camping at the reservation

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 1982 as Camp Jubilee, which was first opened in the 1950's as an Explorer base, but later acquired permanent facilities.

The camp is a "multi-use" facility and hosts Boy Scout, Cub Scout, and other programs, including a Disabled Scout camporee, every year since 1994. In 2004, Camp Ware opened its "Cub Town," allowing barrick-style sleeping accommodations to Cub Scouts, while several "Cub Scouts (Boy Scouts of America)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 1700's. 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 .


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, is currently being converted to a stockade site, but with stockades designed with oversized roofs to eliminate the need for canvas flaps for rain protection.

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. course is located near flag-pole hill and the chapel, adjacent to the main camp road, which was built in the late 1970's 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, and renovated Parade Field.


Retreat Ceremony This daily observance has changed little since the first season over 75 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 paegent 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.

Camp John H. Ware, III

Their new facilities include seven tent sites, a dining hall, a health lodge (replacing an old trailer in 2002), swimming pool, and two winter lodges: Sloan and Lawrence. Camp Ware also has a fire circle, located adjacent to the Horseshoe/Ware swinging bridge adjacent to the Octoraro Creek, in which their ceremonies are held on Friday nights. During the two Boy Scout weeks, the Friday ceremonies feature in addition, the same program features like that of Horseshoe's, but also features an OA call-out ceremony, along with the presentation of the "Silver Buckle Award."

See also

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