Home » A Brief History of Camp Emerson » An Incomplete History (1994) » Camp Development Fund Drive Of The 1960’s

Camp Development Fund Drive Of The 1960’s

1959 marked the beginning of a Camp Development Fund for Camp Emerson and Camp Evans, Riverside, with a goal of $194,000. Kenneth K. Bechtel, President of the National Council BSA, attending the opening kickoff ceremony on May 6, 1959. It was run by a vigorous committee that went after donations and brought in over $250,000, principally from corporate donors. This drive’s success resulted in a building and expansion boom in Camp Emerson during the 1960’s.

In 1962 twenty acres on the northwest side of camp was bought from The School of Creative Living for $18,000. This involved a complex deal in which the Council bought 36 acres for $130,000 and immediately sold off 16 acres. This area became the site of Bearclaw Bowl, Lake Gallaher, the Harwell Rifle Range and the archery range. (map # 6)

A memorial flagpole was erected during the fall of 1961 in the small assembly area between Baden-Powell Lodge and the Simonds Flat campsire. It was known as the Fabing Memorial Flagpole, named after Charles Fabing, a member of the Executive Board. (illus. 30)

The Council purchased an additional 6.6 acres in 1960 on the southwest corner of the camp near the original entrance prior to building the Tweddle Gateway. This purchase was made from Dr. Max Krone, founder and president of ISOMATA. The Idyllwild School of Music and the Arts, and facilitated by Norm Mellor, ISOMATA Board Member for 10 years. This area was intended for family camping for the families of Scout leaders who were attending summer camp with their troops. (map # 6)

This land was partially developed, used for storage, and also had a building known as the Scout House or the Beuford W. Elmore Lodge. The Elmore Lodge was originally built as the first library for the town of Idyllwild and was located next to the old stone Town Crier building in Fern Valley, Idyllwild. Moved into the camp in June 1964 by the Idyllwild Rotary Club, it was named for its president, B.W. Elmore. Naomi Eggers said that she and Ranger Fred Eggers lived in it during the construction of the IWD sewer in 1969 and 1970, so that he could be close and supervise. He re-roofed it, replaced broken windows with plate glass, added a sink, water heater, and plumbing. This converted it from a library into a living quarters. Harvey Hoyt remembered construction. It had served as a home as well as the Scout House for T-96 and P-96, Idyllwild. A small family shower-toilet facility in the Family Camping Area was funded through the Kidston Fund and was due to be improved by the Wood Badge Committee in 1994. The Kidston Fund also financed the construction of the several other restroom facilities located throughout the camp. (illus. 31)

Also located in this new acreage was the Firestone and Hays Campsites. The Joy G. Jameson Memorial Chapel (Charter Executive Board Member 1920, President 1931, Silver Beaver 1933) was built in August 1961 with a gift from the Jameson family of Corona. This chapel was originally constructed to be shared with the members of the Idyllwild School of Music and The Arts, ISOMATA. (illus. 32)

During the arly 1990’s the Boy Scout organization was attacked by atheists in courts of law because they were not permitted to join the Scouts without having a belief in a God. There was also criticism of having only a Christian cross. The Jameson Chapel was jackhammered out in 1992 with the intent to move the place of worship to Tahquitz Bowl or another site..

By 1961, before the acquisition of Camp Brown in 1968, it was obvious to the Council that Camp Emerson would not be large enough to accomodate the anticipated growth to the year 2000. Executive Helmick asked Jerry Johnson, longtime Idyllwild realtor, for help in locating property down Garner Valley or up May Valley or anywhere else on the mountain. None could be found.

Camp Emerson adjoined the USFS land to the north which would later become Camp Brown. In 1956 Executive Helmick had negotiated to lease that land from USFS Supervisor John Gilman, but that was never accomplished. Helmick said, “The charge was to be $10 per acre and the USFS must keep horse trails through it”. These discussions were never finalized and Helmick did not give the reason.

The Council also owned 10 acres in Joshua Tree National Monument, Camp Anderson of 13 acres on the Colorado River, and Camp Evans, of about 5 acres on the Santa Ana River in Riverside. Executive Helmick, before a Riverside Historical Society meeting in 1961, said, “We are looking for something real big somewhere else for future expansion. To go to one reservation, we could sell off all the others.” As stated above, nothing was available.

In 1961, Norm Mellor published for the RC Council and The Idyllwild School of Conservation and Natural Science the “Checklist of The Animals of the San Jacinto Mountains”. The amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals were in alphabetical order for easy referral by the Scouts in the nature program. (illus. 33)

Dave Reuter (Eagle Scout XP-99, Riverside) was a conservation and nature counselor for four summers in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. Because of his outstanding work he was awarded the National Council Hornaday Award for Conservation in 1962, the second given in the Council. Bob Pepper (Eagle Scout XP-99, Riverside, Tahquitz Lodge OA Chief 1960) remembered that Reuter served the rattlesnakes for the last staff meal in 1961, after he had released all of the other amphibians and reptiles. He said that the Indian dance team was led by Don Fitzloff and George Agnew, who lived in a tepee that summer.

George White recounted a different rattlesnake story. He said that the Assistant Camp Director in 1928 was very macho, 6’4″ and 225 pounds. He wanted to prove that he could move faster than a rattler could strike. He persisted in waving one arm in the snakes’ cage until he had been struck and envenomated three times! He was hospitalized in Hemet.

The most unique rattlesnake incident occurred in the late 1960’s. Tom Harwell, nature counselor, was demonstrating a tamed Red-tailed Hawk on the stream side of Boyd Nature Lodge. A Tenderfoot Scout crossed the bridge while coming from the pool area carrying a rattlesnake in his hand. The hawk saw the snake and attacked it, knocking the Scout to the ground, with its talons into the snake–but one talon was through the boy’s finger (falconers call this “being handed”). The bird landed on top of the boy’s abdomen. The hawk then mantled (spread its wings over) its prey, the snake, to protect it from other predators. Although the boy tried he could not escape because the hawk was beating its mantled wings in order to keep its balance. Harwell grabbed the snake and hawk and threw them aside. The hawk finished its kill and ate the snake in front of the enthralled and excited audience. Ron Richmond reported that the nature lesson ended with the Scout at the first-aid station.

The Central Services Building or Main Lodge near the south camp boundary and Idyllbrook and Canyon Drives, was constructed at a cost of $45,000 by the Riverside County Building Contractors Association, supervised by Fred Nicholson and Jacques Yeager in 1961. This needed year-round facility was located just west of the original Ranger’s Lodge, a two-story building of wood construction which was demolished to make room. This site was selected on August 18, 1959, by a committee consisting of Robert Elliotte, Camp Engineer of the Los Angeles County Council, Carl Helmick, Riverside County Council Executive, and Elmer Buckholder (Silver Beaver 1959), Council camping chairman. For a 1976 re-roofing of the building Phil Lehman (Silver Beaver 1974) of Hemet recruited and supervised volunteers. (illus 34)

Bruce Parker (Eagle Scout, T-54 Medal of Honor for Lifesaving, Don Jeansonne (Eagle Scout T-35), Bill Mellor (Eagle Scout T-34, XP35) and Norm Mellor all of Temescal District, broadcast Camp Emerson to the nation. They were on Clem Glass’ Scoutmaster of the Air program on KFI, Los Angeles, on Sunday June 29, 1962. They discussed the hiking, camping, conservation and nature programs at Camp Emerson that featured the use of the Mt. San Jacinto State Park and Wilderness Areas. as well as other areas of the USFS.

The Boyd Nature Lodge was built in 1962 to serve as a natural history museum, and became an excellent training area, located on the north edge of the main meadow, south of Strawberry Creek. Mrs. Boyd had been a nature counselor at a girls school in New England. Phillip Boyd was the first mayor of Palm Springs, a California State Assemblyman and a regent of the University of California. They had donated the UC Desert Reserve and the Living Desert in Deep Canyon on Santa Rosa Mountain in the mid-1950’s. The nature exhibits at Camp Emerson were donated by Jim Wellman, who ranged cattle in the San Jacintos, by Charles Newcombe, Corona taxidermist, and by Norm Mellor. Wellman gave the camp hundreds of deer antlers, both shed as well as sawed from hunters’ kills. These were used for awards to outstanding patrols or troops competing in Scouting skills. OA members used some of them to make memorabilia. A three-dimension plaster model of the map of the San Jacinto and Santa Rosa Mountains was donated by the USFS. Unfortunately, a Bison hide, a complete live snake collection, a mounted Red-tailed Hawk capturing a Ground Squirrel, a glass-fronted snake box and a mounted Golden Eagle have all disappeared. (illus. 35)

After the construction of the Central Services Building, a need arose for a main flagpole near the building. In 1963, the Beaumont-Banning Lions Club erected a steel flagpole, under the leadership of Chuck Pierce. He and his father, Thomas Pierce Jr. (SM T-31, Silver Beaver 1954), also installed a 36″ pipe to drain the streets to Strawberry Creek and prevent flooding that had occurred from the Agnes W. Nelson Gate area down the meadow. In 1953 they had installed the butane heater at the pool.

In 1963, Norm Mellor and his son Bill, stayed at Camp Emerson for a week and practiced for the 11th International Jamboree that was held in Marathon, Greece, which they attended.

The Firestone Campsite was named in honor of Leonard Firestone (Silver Beaver, Silver Antelope, Silver Buffalo), a principal donor to the Council for many years. He had been recruited by Executive Carl Helmick for the Century Club. Upon the urging of then Congressman Gerald Ford (Distinguished Eagle Scout awarded in Washington DC, after his Presidency), he became an annual Benefactor. Firestone was the President of the National Council, BSA, after having been the President of the LA Council where CIEC Executive John Dudley was one of his executives. Upon his retirement from Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, he because the U.S. Ambassador to Belgium.

The Hays Campsite south of Firestone was named in honor of Howard H. Hays Sr., Chairman and Editor of the Riverside Daily Press. This was confirmed by Executive Carl Helmick and Executive Harvey Hoyt, although his son Howard H. (Tim) Hays Jr. did not remember it and no record has been found in the newspaper files. Tom Patterson, Riverside historian, and weekly columnist for the newspaper, said that Mr. Hays was always very quiet about anything of a personal nature.

Beginning in January 1964, the Conservation Committee, with the help of President Hugh Gallaher, started multiple formal requests to the Riverside County Flood Control and Riverside County Road Departments to stop the flooding that crossed the meadow to Strawberry Creek from the under-road pipe at the corner of Idyllbrook and Canyon Drives. An on-site meeting with these two department heads was unproductive. All requests failed, as did an appeal to the Riverside Grand Jury in 1972. The verbal reply received from a member of the Grand Jury was to the effect that, “The Road Department has been doing it for so many years it is not required to stop.”

Vi Amundsen, CIEC Executive for Camps, and Ranger Henry Negrete, in 1983, dug and installed a pipe from the road intersection north across the meadow to Strawberry Creek. Unfortunately, the previously created erosion channel, which angled south across the meadow, remained and deepened with each heavy storm, especially those of 1962, 1067, and 199s.

The Tahquitz Lodge OA had an Indian head patch as their totem from 1938.. Ron Richmond (Eagle Scout T-27, Martin, TN, Tahquitz Lodge Chief, Vigil Honor 1964, Silver Beaver 1984) was on staff in 1963 and 1964 and designed totems using wooden beads, plastic bones and a leather thong. The totem was adopted by Tahquitz Lodge and distributed in 1964. (illus. 36)

Terry Tyson related that OA elections and “tap outs” were held before and during the Wednesday night campfires throught the 1960’s. Parents were invited and were fed by their son’s units. The campfire was always started by a different magic trick after a costumed Chief’s (or shaman’s) incantation. One such method was to have an OA Warrior appear out of the dark from Strawberry Creek and run with a torch to Tahquitz Rock. There he lit a small trench containing diesel fuel which led to the fire that burst into flames. He said that one time the trench and fire contained napalm. Tyson also described use of the flaming arrow from the heavens, previously mentioned.

The most innovative fire lighter for OA ceremonies was Hank Schmel (Vigil Honor OA, Tahquitz and Cahuilla Lodge Advisor (sic), 1st Region XII A OA Advisor (sic) and on the National Advisory Committee for Indian Activities, 42-year Veteran BSA). In 1967 he used a paste of glycerin and potassium permanganate to look like it was dribbling out of the mouth of Tahquitz. This ran to a piece of quick match (black gunpowder impregnated into string, then wrapped inside a paper tube—carries fire at 250′ per second) which ran in a trench under a board to the fire, which would burst into flame. Frank Sydow said it looked like Tahquitz was spitting the fire. Once at an OA ceremony on Simonds Flat, Schmel used quick match to light three fires simultaneously.

Perhaps his most spectacular lighting occurred when he used wires coming from two trees, a car battery, and a rock that he dropped to cause the wires to short, and light the quick match. This created the effect of two lightning bolts striking the fire simultaneously from the heavens.

Schmel because a real firebug–a professional pyrotechnician–who staged annual Fourth of July fireworks on Mt. Rudidoux, in the Pasadena Rose Bowl and other cities. For five years he traveled as the pyrotechnician with the rock group, Kiss, and his show opened the World Cup Soccer USA, Chicago, 1994. At the 75th Anniversary Celebration Campfire he placed a string of quick match running under a board from the mouth on Tahquitz Rock to the campfire, ten feet away, which contained color-producing chemicals. Executive Helmick lit the match at the rock and the illustion was that he had lit the fire from that distance.

Ron Richmond remembered that in 1963 and 1964 he performed the Hopi Snake Dance using the authentic ritual and music, with a live Gopher Snake in his mouth (instead of a rattlesnake). That dance concluded the OA program. Frank Sydow said that he did that dance in 1966. They agreed that they used the largest Gopher Snake available and that they had kept it in the walk-in refrigerator to make it docile. The snake became more active as it warmed up and once Sydow was bitten on the cheek. They bleeding added excitement to that show! (illus. 44)

OA nights featured the reading of the Legend of Tahquitz, and the OA of XP-110 Indian dance team. The ceremonies closed when everyone joined hands and sang “The White Buffalo” led by staff in chorus (the white buffalo was revered as sacred by American Plains Indians). This was followed by the Scout Benediction, and Taps was played, after everyone was in bed.

=The White Buffalo=

(Score from the movie Rin-Tin-Tin, composer unknown)

There’s an old Indian Legend,

I was told long ago,

It’s about a special valley,

And the White Buffalo.

There are few who have seen it,

Though they’ve searched high and low,

For the trail is long and winding,

To the White Buffalo.

The legend says you’ll find it,

If your heart is brave and true,

And you’ll treat all men as brothers,

No matter what they do.

I have searched for that valley,

Since I started to roam,

I won’t stop until I find it,

And the White Buffalo.


Explorer Post 3, Mt Rubidoux District, researched, mapped, explored and was the first unit to complete the “San Jac 50-Miler” hike in 1964. This five-day trek started at Lake Fulmor and ended at Camp Emerson. Campsites were at Black Mountain, Deer Springs, Round Valley and Tahquitz Valley. Peaks climbed were Black Mountain at 7,772′, San Jacinto 10,804′ and Tahquitz 8,828′. The second unit to complete this adventure was T-96, Idyllwild, led by SM Jim Cochrane, USFS Ranger. Scouts who completed the hike earned a gold-colored medal on a green ribbon. The design of the medal showed overlapping stylized symbols of those three peaks.

The most unusual finish to the San Jac 50-Miler occurred on August 15, 1968 when the Riverside Mountain Rescue Unit (RRMU) helicopter-rescued two Scouts from the 4500′ level of the East Branch of Snow Creek. Mike Goldware (Eagle Scout XP-99, Riverside) the ASM T-33, Long Beach had just completed Wood Badge 45-1 at Camp Emerson. While on day two of the hike, with three Scouts of T-33, they left the trail to follow a contour line from Black Mountain Camp to Deer Springs. Instead of travelling southweast, they went east over Fuller Ridge at about 8000′ (became the Pacific Crest Trail) and down a tributary of the East Branch of Snow Creek. They finally realized they they were headed down the north face of San Jacinto Peak. On day three, they were stopped by the edge of a 300′ waterfall. When an airplane flew overhead, they waved a yellow poncho which was not seen. The high winds then blew that out of their hands and away from the cliff. They climbed over a ridge to their right and into the East Branch of Snow Creek.

The four had descended halfway down the mountain in the East Branch to the 4500′ level where, on day four, one Scout could not get over a 40′ waterfall. Goldware and Scout Shimel left the two others there (well stocked with clothing, food, water and gear) and successfully climbed down to the Snow Creek Gauging Station (the State Fish Hatchery was no longer there). Goldware said that he came in with live rattlesnake in his backpack.

Western Helicopters flew in six rock-climbing members of the RMRU team including Al Andrews (Eagle Scout T-13, Riverside) led by Walt Walker, founder and President of RMRU (SM T-600, Hemet). They constructed a helispot, climbed up to and then rappelled the two stranded hikers down the waterfall and flew them out. Goldware said, “No wonder the March Field observation biplanes could not find Harold Johnson. I flew as an observer in the RMRU helicopter and had great difficult even finding the canyon where I knew we had left our companions that day.”

Thus Mike Goldware and Scout Shimel made the third and fourth known descents of the north face of San Jacinto down Snow Creek Canyon, but by starting in the East Branch of Snow Creek instead of the East Fork (a longer and more difficult route) as had Johnson and Heath. Goldware was on the Executive Committee beginning in 1972 and received the Silver Beaver in 1981.

In 1991 Ted Green (SM T-46, San Jacinto, Silver Beaver 1991) worked to re-establish this hike and aware so that his troop could be the first to complete it. Permission to cross the private and otherwise closed community of Pinewood on Black Mountain was obtained by the conservation committee. Unfortunately, Green died in 1993 before his unit could accomplish the hike and no one else had shown an interest.

The March 1964 issue of SCOUTING carried an article, “Into the High Wilderness Safely,” by Norm Mellor. This was the same as the manual, “Guiding Principles for Safe Hiking” that he had written several years earlier for Camp Emerson and the Council. His participation in the Riverside Mountain Rescue Unit and the unnecessary death, on San Jacinto, of a Scout from an urban Council in Los Angeles had inspired its writing. In addition to outlining health and safety rules in detail, the article described altitude illnesses (AI) and high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE). These subjects had first appeared in American medical literature in 1961.

A very popular activity during camp was fishing in Strawberry Creek, but the volume of water and number of fish decreased yearly. Idyllwild was growing and the annual precipitation diminished with a continued drought, so there were increased demands on the stream as the water source. Under the direction of Bonner Owen of Riverside, and Bill Gruber, DE, Temescal District, a small dam was constructed in 1965 in the creek south of the A.N. Sweet Pool. A humorous note was some concern regarding the strength and integrity of the forms that had been set. After several assurances, the first load of concrete was poured into the forms and proceeded to run out the bottom. Adjustments were made and the pour was completed. In 1966, the pond extended approximately 30 yards east of the dam. It was stocked with trout for the summer and was truly enjoyed by the Scouts. During a following summer, a concerned camp staffer wishes to clear the cloudy water in the pond. He put a cheese cloth container of copper sulfate in the water which cleared up the pond. The aesthetic results were hampered by the appearance of a large number of dead fish floating on the surface. The pond was restocked.

Executive Helmick confirmed our memory that in 1969 Lake Gallaher was full. A lod of 9″ to 12″ trout from the White Water Hatchery was dumped in for the Scouts. Because the lake was murky with green algae, an executive also dumped in a sack of bluestone (CuSO4). That cleared the lake of the algae but also of the then oxygen-deprived fish. The history of the fish-kill in Strawberry Creek in 1966 had been forgotten and had to be repeated!

Subsequently, after construction of the main sewer line through camp in 1970, this dam was repoured in order to carry a connecting outfall line from the pool across Strawberry Creek to the sewer. That line was embedded in the dam, but the dam and this line cracked so the line leaked into the pond creating algae.

Bob Swartzel recalled that he suggested to Executive Maurie Kruze that he should put Mrs. Stewart’s Blueing, a blue dye, into the pool lavatory as a test. It showed where the pond leaked, so the pipe was abandoned and was later replaced down the north side of the creek to cross beneath the foot bridge and join the main sewer line. The pond behind the dam filled in with sand during years of drought and cleaned out during years with storms.

A very dangerous incident occurred at the camp on September 13, 1965. A forest fire of unknown origin consumed three acres of forest near the east end of what would become Gallaher Dam. Three USFS trucks and twenty-five men contained the blaze. Luckily, no structures were damaged because it did not spread.

=Lake Gallaher=

Hugh Gallaher (Eagle Scout 1930, San Diego, RC Council President 1964-1967, Silver Beaver 1961) believed that Council committees moved too slowly — like turtles. The theme of his regimen as Council president therefore was, “If you have any turtles on your committee, put wings on them.” While waiting to make his acceptance speech as president, which was to stress this theme, he made this sketch. As a result, a fellow Scouter carved flying turtle neckerchief slides and painted the shells and wings green, eyes red and the legs brown. All committeemen wore them with pride. Harvey Hoyt remembered that this slide became the one worn by all commissioners in the RC Council under Commissioner Harry Bristol. (illus. 38 and 39)

The construction of a lake in 1966 was a huge project which was accomplished largely by the driving energy, the engineering skill and the financial support of Hugh Gallaher. He moved a house trailer to camp where he, his wife, son Bill and daughter Carol spent long weekends for a lengthened summer while he supervised his paid crew to dig the lake and build the dam. He had surveyed and designed the dam. Mrs. Elna Gallagher believed that he spent over half of the summer at camp on this project. Lake Gallaher was located near the west boundary, north of Bearclaw Bowl, in the meadow of Beartrap Creek. Prior to this project, the area was a favorite campsite of many troops and was known as Hidden Valley, or as Camp Crow after Harry C. Kroh (SM T-4, Silver Beaver 1967). Ken McCormick (Eagle Scout T-52, Moreno) told of his surprised to find a lake in 1966 where his tent had been pitched in 1965.

The dam ran east to west across Beartrap Creek and had a compacted soil-cement core covered with soil. Underlying the dam was a twelve-inch steel drainpipe which began 120 feet upstream from the toe of the dam and ran under the dam and about six feet downstream from the downstream toe of the dam. A concrete spillway on the west end of the dam protected the top of the dam from erosion. The top of the dam was used as a road to the rifle range. This created a lake 10 feet deep, 200+ feet wide and almost 300 feet long. The beach on the east side made a campsite and contained the archery range and the Kidston Boathouse. Beginning in 1967 the boathouse was constructed under the supervision of Orvil Zappe (Chairman of the Palm Springs District) by volunteer labor, using Kidston Funds and other donations of money and materials. Steel racks for canoes and rowboats were placed on shore. At first there was a wooden foot-bridge across the northern end of the lake to make it easier to walk to the rifle range, but it later collapsed.

This lake had been the site of many events during the camping season, and was a welcome addition to the camp’s attributes. The ability to offer the canoeing merit badge and rowing opportunities during the season encouraged the boys to return. While constructing the lake, an island with trees was left in the northeast area of the water. A foot bridge was built to it., and it was used for many different ceremonies during Scout activities, but required many rebuildings. (illus.40a & 40b)

Few knew why Hugh Milton Gallaher was so “gung ho” when he participated in Scouting for 63 years. His son, Bill Gallaher (Eagle Scout T-112, Riverside) and his daughter, Carol Gallaher Payne (who attended everything she could at camp and wished she could have been a Boy instead of a Girl Scout), helped him recall the stories he had told them for years about his father’s scouting experiences in Africa, and about B-P and Mafeking.

Hi father, Hugh Miller Gallaher, was a scout for Colonel Robert Baden-Powell’s South African Constabulary after Mafeking but still during the Boer War. Gallaher was not in Mafeking (in Buralong means Place of Stones) during the siege. Major Fred Burnham as a British Army scout (although born in California), had penetrated the Boer lines five times, taking messages from Field Marshall Lord Roberts into Mafeking to B-P. However, later during the Boer War he could have met Gallaher, who had been born in Missouri. Thus these two Americans were both military scouts and were soldiers of fortune, scouting for B-P in the Boer War!

A flash flood of 2 1/4 inches of rain fell in one hour in July 13, 1967. The resulting increase in erosion necessitated the issuance of an addendum to the Conservation Master Plan which had been published earlier in July. Executive Carl Helmick took photographs of the damage to the meadow as it was occurring. Erosion channels on the face of Gallaher’s Dam necessitated re-terracing of the face of the dam and raising its southern top edge to tilt to the north, to force runoff into the lake. The entire dam was them replanted with rye grass.

Jimmy Taylor was a daring-type of Scout, according to Ken McCormick. In about 1967, Taylor really learned that no one should touch Tahquitz Rock because that brought bad luck. While walking from Wagon Wheel Campsite toward the Main Lodge dining hall half full of Scouts eating lunch, he threw a rock, striking Tahquitz. Yelling in protest, the Scouts poured out of the dining hall and carried the struggling Taylor to the pool, where he went for a clothed, cold plunge. Taylor later became a US Army paratrooper.

Steven Bryant (Eagle Scout T-303) swimming, marksmanship and nature counselor along with the Conservation Chairman, laid a half-mile, 35-post nature trail up Beartrap Creek in 1967, from what became the Kidston Boathouse. The first time a plant, track or scat was seen it was labeled. Farther along the trail it would have a question mark. Scouts took this nature trail with paper and pencil to test themselves and as a learning competition. None of the 4″x 4″x 3′ stakes remained because they rotted out.

A scorpion sting, in 1967, blew the opportunity for T-93, Edgemont, to win the Camp Doctor’s Safety Award for a week of no injuries. (Two “doctors” were actually active duty paramedics from the US Marines just back from the rigors of the Vietnam War.). Mike Warn recalled that a fellow Scout sat on a scorpion the last day of camp and thus lost the award for his troop.

Frank Sydow (Eagle Scout T-137, La Sierra, Silver Award XP-111, Vigil Honor Tahquitz Lodge, 15th Philmont Trek 1994, Silver Beaver 1990) was the driving force behind the two years that it took the Vigil Honor OA members to build the BBQ in Wagonwheel Campsite. Bill Gruber was the OA Advisor (sic) and Camp Director during that work, completed in 1967.

Don Fitzloff (Eagle Scout, XP-SIlver Award) took the name, Two Eagles, as his Indian name. For nine years he was the best Indian dancer and regalia maker in Tahquitz Lodge OA. In 1967 Two Eagles won the Woodiapi contest in Oklahoma with his performance of the Kiowa Eagle Death Dance. He had bested all of the native American competitors who had thought he was a native until he removed his paints. Frank Sydow said that Fitzloff conducted the ceremonial and dance presentation at camp. He was a striking figure as a role model for all participants. Sometime after 1968 the American Indians stopped all non-Indians from doing their religious dances or in using “war paints” which they considered inappropriate.

More fires threatened Camp Emerson but fortunately non ever reached into Strawberry Valley. In 1967 a fire just east of the Cranston Ranger Station burned uphill before it was stopped using a WWII aircraft as a borate bomber which was based at Hemet-Ryan Airport. A tragedy occurred when the pilot failed to pull up from a run and crashed. Firemen on the ground completed the control.

The Soboba Fire of 1974 was the most threatening to the communities of Pine Cove, Idyllwild and to Camp Emerson. This arson-proven fire started near the Soboba Indian Reservation, raced uphill, jumped Highway 243 at several places and jumped completely over the Val Vista USFS Station and the Long Beach Girl Scout Camp. It stopped on Indian Mountain four miles from camp, just short of Pine Cove, which is on the hill one mile above Camp Emerson. It had only more more hill to crest! 18,000 acres of brush and forest were burned and the west side of the mountain looked like one firewall when it was at its worst. A new, red-dyed, more effective fire retardant that did not kill vegetation and sterilize soil (as did borate), and that contained a plant fertilizer recently had come to use. WWII two and four-engined bombers, and helicopters left wide paths of the red dye marking the bombing runs. All helped with the massive ground crew effort.

After more than 50 years of almost total fire suppression on “the hill”, controlled burns to establish fire breaks and to thin the brush were begun in 1983 by the USFS. The Cahuilla had allowed lightning-set fires to burn or they purposely burned the chaparral when needed. This eliminated old. woody brush that could lead fires into trees and step-ladder them to become explosive crown fires. Don Bauer, USFS Idyllwild District Ranger in 1952 said that 100 acres of chaparral when burned released the energy of one Hiroshima-sized atomic bomb.

Mule deer survive better and are more likely to have twin fawns when they can browse young shoots from the regrowing chaparral whose roots survive fire. Some brush and many flowers are fire-germinated and require it for reseeding. Also, the ash contains minerals which are used in plant growth.

The Cahuilla learned these things after long observation. Using this knowledge they successfully maintained a vigorous deer herd on the mountain. They protected and managed their environment, and as a result, ate well and were well clothed.

The Chimney Fire of 1988 gave Camp Emerson a real scare. Started on Highway 74 it burned 500 acres and was stopped just short of the IWD sewer evaporation ponds immediately below ISOMATA. Many firemen on the ground were aided by bull-dozers and four-engine bombers as well as water-carrying helicopters. The Bee Canyon fire of 1990 destroyed 400 acres and went over the top towards camp before it was stopped. 45 acres were burned near the Lake Hemet pump on the North fork of the San Jacinto River and named the Cranston Fire of 1991. In 1993 three fires were lit along the Idyllwild Control Road, but burned only a total of 200 acres. Then in 1994, 66 acres burned in the Strawberry Fire plus the Strawberry Canyon Fire down down stream from camp.

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