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Gather 'round the (Virtual) Campfire:

Stories from Camp Read's Past

The Doctor(s) will see you now...

Bill Hamm

August 6, 2020

When I joined Troop 1, John Hindle was the scoutmaster. I do remember running into John at the Westchester Council offices.  He admonished me for wearing a Camp Read kerchief, rather than the unique and distinctive Troop 1 kerchief – white silk, with a red border. He was very proud of Troop 1.

I’m embarrassed to say that I never made first class.  Twice, I took the Morse Code test, and twice I failed.  The second time, the review board took pity on me, and merely required me to spell my name in code.

I attended Camp Read in 1954, 1955, and 1956 -- an experience I treasure. 


Among my most vivid memories from those years are:


(1) hikes to Pharaoh Lake, where we collected leeches in tin cans; 

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(2) in three years, never having sat at a table in the dining hall that won the Chief Fong award for neatness (correlation does not imply causation); 

(3) setting a tent-mate's bed so the legs were right on the edge of the tent platform, causing it to slip off the platform as soon as the victim sat down on the bed; 

(4) taking advantage of the fact that the heavy white mugs in the dining hall were always turned upside down when you took your seat for a meal; by filling a mug to the brim with milk, you could sometimes induce an unwary diner to unconsciously turn the mug upside down and drench the table (perhaps there was some causation involved in my never having had Chief Fong placed at my table); 

(5) evening taps; 

(6) bug juice -- the drink of choice at the dining hall; 

(7) the unbeatable aroma of Adirondack air; 

(8) what we lifeguards were told to do if a swimmer was struggling to keep his head above water: reach, row, throw, tow, go!;  

(9) "I know an old lady who swallowed a fly"; and 

(10) the camp staff, and all they put up with from the scouts.

I stayed with Troop 1 until my family moved to Ohio in 1957 – a few days after I graduated from East View.  (I learned more in three years at East View than I did in three years at Glenwood High School in Canton.) But I treasure the experience, and am saddened that scouting seems to have lost its luster in the 21st Century. Dr.Hamm

About the Scout:

Bill Hamm, Ph.D., 2nd Class Scout, Troop 1 White Plains, is an economics consultant at the Berkeley Research Group with high-level experience in both business and government.

Roger Gottlieb

August 8, 2020

I am an Eagle scout, as well as Order of the Arrow. I have only positive memories of the whole Boy Scout experience and think I learned a great deal about discipline, leadership, the outdoors, and teaching, which became my profession. 

I’m not sure about the troop number in White Plains. My vague memory is either or both 13 and/or 73. And also a vague memory of meeting at Ridgeway School but also at the conservative Jewish synagogue.

I have fond memories of the two summers I spent at Camp Read.

  1. I remember getting a root beer after dinner at the camp store and looking up at the mountain as the sky gradually darkened.

  2. I remember hiking up Mt.Stevens with my parents on visiting day—my mom struggled but my father was pretty spry for an old guy.

  3. I remember the overnight hikes—struggling hard through an area of large rocks, my pack heavy on my back, one of the senior leaders putting his hand under the pack to help me with the weight.

  4. I remember earning Lifesaving Merit Badge: the first time I couldn’t hold the struggling counselor but for the second test I let my nails grow. After I got him in the carry when he started to struggle I dug my nails in his armpit. “Ok,” he said, “you got it.“

  5. And I remember one overnight I wasn’t in the mood and they let me stay in camp and I read for hours from a book of great American plays.

  6. And I remember the test for Nature Merit Badge of identifying wild plants. I was pointed to something I thought might be purple fringed orchid—a highly endangered species with just 7 plants in the whole camp. I wasn’t sure, so I made as if I were going to pick it to look closely—the counselor grunted a warning. “Purple fringed orchid?” I asked, innocently.

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   7. Yes, and the great bluebrries on Mt. Stevens!

I'm wondering how many other ex-scouts see a direct line, as I do, from scouting to my counter-cultural, anti-authoritarian, politically very left (so far to the left I fall off the planet occasionally) adult life. What is a revolutionary but a grown up Eagle Scout??

About the Scout:

Dr. Roger Gottlieb, Ph.D. Eagle Scout, White Plains NY, Professor of Philosophy, is the award winning author or editor of 21 books of philosophy, religious studies, environmentalism, and contemporary spirituality. His latest book is “The Sacrifice Zone.”

For generations, summer after summer, scouts have been making memories at Camp Read. In 2020, the pandemic may have forced regular activities to pause, but campers from years gone by are sharing their stories here in an effort to fill in the gap. Read on to get your fix of Camp Read hijinks until we can safely fill a parade ground once more!


Have a story of your own? Please submit to!

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