S-F Scout Ranch

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The S-F Scout Ranch or "S Bar F" or "The Ranch" as it is commonly known, is owned and operated by the Greater St. Louis Area Council. It is located in Knob Lick, Missouri, which is about 12 miles (19 km) south of Farmington, Missouri. The 5,200-acre (21 km2) property sits in St. Francois County, Missouri and Madison County, Missouri. In its center sits Nim's Lake, and running through it is the Little St. Francis River.


A large portion of the former 37,000 acres (150 km2) of mine and farm lands owned by the Mine La Motte Company, later the Missouri Metals Corporation, was acquired by the St. Louis Area Council in 1961 through the efforts of the St. Joseph Lead Company and Mr. Elver A. Jones, and an initial gift of the Stix, Baer & Fuller Company by Mr. Arthur B. Baer. The name S-F was derived from the St. Louis department store Stix, Baer and Fuller due to their contribution to help buy the property. The property was dedicated during the Shawnee Lodge fall reunion on September 11, 1965 and opened for summer camp in 1966. The need for this Ranch became imminent as a result of the long range plan conducted by the council in 1959 and 1960. This plan, which encompassed a study of the traditional camp facilities of the council such as Camps Irondale, Lion's Den and Brereton, pointed out the need for an area that would be large enough for the council to grow on, and an area large enough to expand the program facilities on, and an area rich enough in history and tradition to offer the incentive for the Scouts of today and tomorrow. The property replaced the Irondale Scout Reservation in nearby Ironton, Missouri which had become too small to serve the needs of the growing Scout Council. Three of the five camps that operate on the property today were a part of the original dedication. Camp Gamble was dedicated on June 17, 1970.


The S bar F property contains five individual camps along with year-round camping for packs, troops, crews, and posts.

Camp Famous Eagle

Camp Famous Eagle was the first camp to be built. It opened in the summer of 1966. It was named for Morton D. May who was the chairman of the committee to develop the ranch. May had been a huge force in developing the Beaumont Scout Reservation ten years earlier. Because of his efforts the camp at Beaumont was named Camp May. Due to this fact the camp at S-F took the name Camp Famous Eagle, Famous for Famous-Barr (part of the May Department Stores) and Eagle for Eagle Trading Stamps, an in-store promotions at the time. The Fe abbreviation for the camp is also an homage to Camp Irondale through the chemical symbol of iron. A dining hall facility was added to Camp Famous Eagle, opening for the 2015 summer camp season, effectively eliminating patrol method cooking from Famous Eagle.

A brand new 16,000 square-foot dining facility was built at Famous Eagle in 2015. The building features seating for up to 300 people, commercial kitchen equipment, audio visual capabilities, and indoor toilets.

Camp Sakima

Camp Sakima was the second camp to be built, finishing in time for the first week of campers in the summer of 1966. Camp Sakima is named in recognition of Leif J. Sverdrup who headed the campaign to raise the funds for the Ranch to be built. The Camp was named Sakima, an Indian word for chief which was his nickname, after concern arose about Scout's perceived inability to pronounce his last name.

Camp Sakima was last open as a full camp in 2007. Currently, the camp is used for the National Youth Leader Training (NYLT) program. Camp Sakima has recently had some facilities issues, including the need to rebuild a drainage field. After a severe storm in 2008, the Camp Sakima bridge was badly damaged and never repaired. The final pieces of the bridge were demolished in 2014.

Swift High Adventure Base

The Swift High Adventure Base or "John S. Swift Base" also opened in the summer of 1966. It was originally the only camp on the property with a dining hall to serve meals to the campers. It was designed as a high adventure based camp to implement the year-long Exploring program, which would later become the Venturing Program. It is named for John S. Swift, who was the owner of Swift Printing Company. He believed in the value of the Scouting program so much that when approached by the committee to create the Ranch for funds, he happily donated the amount needed for the base.

Camp Gamble

Camp Gamble was dedicated on June 17, 1970. It was built to meet the ever-growing need of space for Scouts that was a result of the Post-World War II baby boom. It was named in memory of Theodore R Gamble who was serving as president of the Council when he died suddenly. He was also president of the Pet Milk Company.

Camp Gamble does not feature a dining hall and is a patrol-method cooking camp.

Other Accommodations

Outside the large camps multiple alternate forms of accommodations are available, many are available year-round.


Scout Lodge and Wenzel Lodge offer bunk beds. Each cabin sleeps a total of 34. Both have a refrigerator, stove, and dry sink and are heated by a woodstove. Water pumps and pit toilet facilities are located near each lodge. Scouting units must provide their own firewood and cooking gear.

Londe Adirondack Village

Here, Scouts can discover the world of Adirondack camping. These unique shelters have three sides and use a fireplace placed near the opening for warmth. The village includes five Adirondack shelters, a pavilion, and latrine facilities.

Swift Lodge

The Swift Base lodge is heated and has bunk arrangements for 35. A wood-burning fireplace, indoor water, full kitchen, showers, and bathrooms with flush toilet facilities are all included. Scouting units provide their own cooking gear and firewood.

Tree Houses

The Tree Houses at S bar F are the perfect spot for your unit to overlook beautiful Nims Lake. Five tree houses are available for use. Four of the houses contain eight bunks each. The fifth house, usually reserved for adult campers, is equipped with electricity and features six bunks. Total capacity for all five tree houses is 38. An outdoor fire pit, grill, water pump, and pit toilet facilities are available. Scouting units provide their own cooking gear and firewood.


Five authentic tipis are available to units whose leaders have participated in the proper instruction. Scouts get to put their skills to the test erecting and camping in these Native American structures.


A camporee area is available for year-round camping. Camporee areas are equipped with water pumps and outdoor pit toilet facilities.

Outpost Camps

Outpost trail camps are available along Three Notch Trail.


Eugene D. Nims Lake

The S-F Scout Ranch is home to the second largest privately owned man-made lake in the state of Missouri. The lake is an essential part of the aquatic program and was a primary goal held by the Ranch founders. This may be because of the failed attempt to create a lake at the Beaumont Scout Reservation. When the land for the Ranch was discovered it did not have a lake. Fortunately, Mrs. Nims stepped in and donated the $55,000 dollars needed to dam the Wills Branch of the Little St. Francois River. She donated the money in memory of her husband Eugene D. Nims. He was the founder of Southwestern Bell Telephone and the lake bears his name. The first attempt to dam the river failed. Sverdurp engineers designed a second dam that created the 270-acre (1.1 km2) lake. The lake has six miles (10 km) of shore line and seven coves. It is home to many aquatic program features.

Huck's Cove

Nims Lake features its own water park. It is on the southern tip of Nim's Lake near the Swift High Adventure Base. This water park includes: two slides, and a play area with numerous aquatic games and activities.


Canoes are available from April through October for troops, crews, and posts. Every participant must be a swimmer and wear a personal flotation device (PFD) at all times. Thirty canoes are available. If fishing, all participants 16-64 years of age must possess a valid Missouri State Fishing License.

Each of the camps is also equiped with canoes, kayaks, and other watercraft for use in merit badge advancement and camp activities.


Whether Scouts are casting from the shore or trolling from a boat, Nims Lake offers miles of excellent fishing right in the heart of S bar F Ranch. Units are welcome to use their own boats.

Three Notch Trail

This 21-mile trail consists of two circular loops and a cutoff, all completely within the boundaries of The Ranch. Units can choose to hike one or both loops. Upon completing the hike, Scouts may obtain a patch Scouts to celebrate their achievement.

Three Notch is a great backpacking trail and the perfect training warm-up for Philmont. This trail is rated for Boy Scouts, Venturers, and Explorers. It is not recommended for Cub Scouts or Webelos. NOTE: During high-water conditions on the Little St. Francois River, sections of this trail are not accessible. Trail maps are available at any council service center.

Rock Climbing and Rappelling

Experience the thrill of high adventure on the cliffs of Freedom, Ranger Falls, Collarbone, or Baby Snake. Scouts learn the ups and downs of safe rock climbing and rappelling while building new levels of confidence and overcoming the uneasiness of heights. Campsites are available cliff-top along the Little St. Francis River or near Castle Rock.

Scouting units must provide their own trained rock-climbing instructors. Climbing equipment is available for a fee.

Shooting Sports

In 2014, The Eagle Range was added to the property at S bar F. Generously funded by the Eagle Scout Association and NRA, the Eagle Range is a combination trap and skeet shooting facility. It contains five shooting stations at the trap field and eight shooting stations at the skeet field.

Archery and rifle ranges are also available on the property.

Challenge Course

This outstanding high- and low-challenge course is available year-round for troops, crews, and posts with trained leadership. It involves a series of outdoor tasks—beginning with basic group initiative games and progressing to more advanced low-course and high-course activities. Participants climb, swing, balance, jump, and think their way through a variety of physical challenges. These events put teamwork, as well as individual skills and agility, to the test.

Camping facilities are available at the course site.

Ron & Kathy Green STEM Pavilion

Located in Camp Famous Eagle, the Ron & Kathy Green STEM Pavilion has two covered open wings with picnic tables to conduct activities.  The storage building is stocked with materials to bring Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics experiences for your Den, Pack, Troop, unit meeting, or other event!

The following activities are available:  Ham radio, handheld microscopes/Vulcan notebooks, mineral science kits, electronic snap circuits, stomp rockets, Bloxels game design kits/tablets, drones, Lego engineering gadget sets, gravity maze sets, 3D pens, and Vex robot kits/laptops.

The building has lights for use in the evening.  Enjoy this great resource!

See also

External Links