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A Tribute - Camp Wauwepex

If the Great Architect of the Universe had been asked, while he was building this world of ours, to build a site that would answer for a Boy Scout Camp in future years, he could not have done a better job than was done down Wading River  way. Here amidst some 600 acres of rolling country, heavily wooded, will be found Nassau County’s Boy Scout Camp - Camp Wauwepex. Wauwepex is an Indian name given to a spring situated on the west side of Cold Spring Harbor near Sagamore Hill. In Indian language , Wauwepex means “a place of good water.” Here, like a gem, the lake lies in the center, surrounded by tree-lined and sloping shores, a sandy beach or two, ideal for bathing, and water that is crystal pure. The lake is large enough for the enjoyment of 500 boys, and yet small enough to hold its intimacy. It is deep enough to afford heavy feeding grounds for the bass and the pickerel and the lowly bullhead. There is good fishing here. There is not a cent of debt on this camp side, valued with its 20 buildings at more than a quarter of a million dollars. No serious accident has ever taken place on or in the water, and only one on land. The swimming and boating regulations are perfect. As now set up, the Camp accommodates 300 boys. This is what  we bought in 1926.

Hard by the lake in a perfectly natural amphitheater is the Council Ring with its seats build of “soul stones” - stones brought by those in attendance at a camp fire for the first time and laid around the Council Fire.  There are thousands of these stones set in concrete. Here every Friday night the Scouts build their fire by friction and conduct their Council in true Indian fashion. They do not imitate the American Indian, they follow his traditions. In winter’s cold as well as summer’s heat, there is something to this place “that draws you to it and then won’t let you go.” Thousands of boys and men have found this to be true. Here camping never stops. For seven weeks in summer the Camp is in full blast; every week and the year round the various buildings are in use by smaller groups. I have been at Camp with the thermometer below zero and have been comfortable, and I have sat on chief Covey’s porch with the thermometer at 96 and have not been uncomfortable. I have seen it in all its needs. Come down to a Council Fire some Friday night and see how they do it. But I warn you that in the closing ceremony when the boys circle the fire with arms around each other’s shoulders and the bugle blows “taps” which are echoed across the lake, you will feel a solemnity and an awe that you will really experience and never forget.

The outstanding event of the thirty years this history covers was, of course, the purchase of Camp Wauwepex at Wading River. During the summer of 1921, it is impossible to secure the present camp site so that Camp Wauwepex was operated for one season at Miller Place, Long Island, some nine miles distant, after which the Council was able to lease the present camp site until purchased in 1926.

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