By Joan Fudala
Countless Scottsdalians — past and present, homegrown and transplants — have fond memories of their days in the nation’s three major youth groups — Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Camp Fire (Girls).
These organizations can trace their Scottsdale troops/groups’ roots to the 1920s. Although the youth groups have different mottos, uniforms and structure, they’ve shared facilities, field trips, community service projects and fun for nearly a century in Scottsdale.
Let’s scout out a few items of local lore:
ν The Boy Scouts of America was founded February 8, 1910; Camp Fire Girls was established March 17, 1910; Girl Scouts was founded March 12, 1912.
ν “Scout executive Hiscox of the Roosevelt district with scout men from Phoenix will conduct a scout installation for the Scottsdale Boy Scout organization Friday evening at the high school. An invitation has been issued to the affair to all parents of boys of scout age. Refreshments will be served by the local PTA. Following is a list of Boy Scouts: Frank Burleson, scribe; Theodore White and Edward Tiewell, patrol leaders; John Pierce, Frank Bennett, Paschal Brown, first class scouts; Lloyd Schultz, Merwin and Lyn Sharp, Shirley Brown, Benton Brown, Arthur Wahl, Billie Cavalliere, Alvin Tidwell, Gordon Gill, Milton Giles, Fred Kruse, Alfred Fredericks and Azzaro Scarbrough,” reported the March 4, 1926, Arizona Republican, thus establishing the first Boy Scout troop in Scottsdale.
ν The Arizona Republican reported that the Olvawe Propodoles Camp Fire Girls held its weekly meeting in November 1927, with Mary Austin as guardian. Among the early members of Scottsdale’s Camp Fire Girls group was Thelma Steiner, who served as Scottsdale’s assistant clerk in the 1960s/’70s and was an active member of the Scottsdale Historical Society.
ν Scottsdale Boy Scout troop No. 70 was represented at the Arizona State Fair by Burson Donn and Dick Van Benschoten, according to the November 14, 1929, Arizona Republican.
ν During World War II, Scottsdale scouts and Camp Fire Girls took on many responsibilities to aid the homefront and support men and women in the armed services. Boy Scouts collected wastepaper in a big drive in February 1944. Camp Fire Girls sewed for the Red Cross through the Valleywide “Service for Victory” program and gathered magazines for disabled veterans. Girl Scouts tended Victory Gardens and collected costume jewelry (for soldiers to use in overseas areas where some local populations had no use for money but did like jewelry and trinkets). The Scottsdale area also gained a “scout celebrity” during the war, according to the January 30, 1944, Arizona Republic: “It is strange to think the national Girl Scout wartime program and the Papago Park prisoners-of-war camp are both directed from the same home here, but it is true. When Col. Alan H. Means took charge of the (POW) camp, Mrs. Means moved here too. She is the national president of the Girl Scouts of America.”
ν “I was a Camp Fire girl in the 1940s,” explained Eleanor Mowry Brierley, who was born and raised in Scottsdale, graduated from Scottsdale High and continues to serve as treasurer of the Scottsdale Historical Society. “Mrs. Austin was our leader. We did many crafts, but none stand out. What I do remember big time is going to summer camp in Prescott. Leaving on a big greyhound bus from downtown Phoenix, going the long way into Prescott. Remember this was pre-Black Canyon Freeway. The camp was southeast of Prescott and was a Camp Fire camp for a month then a Girl Scout camp. It was called Camp Wamatochick. Lots of games, food in a ginormous dining hall. Long hikes with snack lunches and blisters on the feet and the prerequisite campfire sing-along. Sleeping in cabins with four sets of bunks. Well, not so much sleeping. And outhouses with many, many daddy long legs spiders. I loved it so much.”
ν In 1948, Scottsdale Boy Scout Troop 101 worked with the Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce to survey town residents and businesses. Data collected was used to publish a directory and to establish the level of interest in obtaining natural gas service for Scottsdale. The boys also sold subscriptions to the new Scottsdale Progress newspaper to earn a portion of their fee to attend Camp Geronimo during the summer.
ν During the later 1940s/early 1950s, Boys and Girl Scout troops as well as Camp Fire Girls groups were among the beneficiaries of Scottsdale’s annual Community Chest/Red Feather Drive.
ν Members of Scottsdale’s Post 44, American Legion voted unanimously to sponsor a Boy Scout troop. According to the October 8, 1954, Scottsdale Progress, “a committee composed of William H. Bright, Robert Yount, George Cavalliere and George Botsford was appointed to represent the post in organizing the troop.” Since completion in 1948, the Post facility on First Street welcomed many scout meetings to be held there.
ν Goldwater’s Department Store supported and sponsored scouts and Camp Fire Girls in a variety of ways. The local store chain ran ads in the 1940s that were the Little Bear Girl Scout News, and held fashion shows at places such as the Westward Ho or Biltmore Hotels to benefit the youth groups and their summer camps. Scottsdale’s Bank of Douglas used its regular ad in October 1951 in the Scottsdale Progress to salute the Girl Scouts and Camp Fire Girls, saying, “Each of these great movements has helped make healthy, happy competent citizens out of three generations of American girls. We wish them every success in the future.”
ν In 1950, Alan Rousch of Scottsdale’s Boy Scout Troop 101 received the “God and Country Award” for service in the Methodist Church. He was the first scout in the Camelback district to receive the award, and only the eighth in the entire Roosevelt Council.
ν Throughout the 1950s, the Tower House of the old Adobe Guest Ranch, which had been purchased by the Civic Coordinating Council and turned into Scottsdale’s volunteer-run Community Center, was also called the Scout House. Girl Scouts met there and also held a summer day camp.
ν Since their beginnings in Scottsdale, the three youth organizations have participated in numerous community service projects. In 1950, the Odako group of Camp Fire Girls hiked up Mummy Mountain to gather tiny cactuses to make miniature gardens for children in the Arizona Crippled Children’s Hospital. During the polio epidemic of the 1940s/’50s, Girl Scouts participated in the March of Dimes fundraising effort. In 1956, Girl Scouts of Troop 371 made mittens to be sent to Hungarian refugee children. In 1957, Brownies and Girl Scouts planted trees donated by the Scottsdale Jaycees around the Little Red Schoolhouse, which was then serving as Scottsdale Town Hall. Blue Birds at Kachina Elementary made toys, which they donated to the children’s ward at County Hospital. The Scottsdale Association of Girl Scouts held a district sing at Saguaro High in April 1970, an event held every year as a service project.
ν Selling things to raise money for outings and for charity has also been a hallmark of Scottsdale’s youth groups: Girl Scout cookies and calendars, Camp Fire Girls candy, Boy Scouts Christmas trees and peanuts.
ν “I was in Cub Scouts and Webelos from third grade through sixth grade (early 1960s),” recalled Don Hadder, a graduate of Coronado High School, former city of Scottsdale planning executive and past president/current board member of the Scottsdale Historical Society. “My mother was our den mother. I collected a lot of badges, made crafts (I still have some bookends I made), and went on fieldtrips (one was to the AJ Bayless museum on Indian School Road just west of Central Avenue. Then we went around the corner to the Carnation ice cream plant afterward). I made two of the wooden race cars (got first place with one) and the wind-up balsa wood rockets that went on a tight string across the room. One year, we went to a big Jamboree with troops from across the Valley. It was held on what was then a vacant field at the southeast corner of Scottsdale and Osborn roads. Various groups made log towers, a stage, etc. There must have been over 200 tents across the field, from small to group sized. The big highlight was a massive bonfire.”
ν Scout/Camp Fire Girl field trips, outings and events have changed with the times. Scouts and media reports list among the favorites: Sphinx Date Ranch (1948), Ice Land Skating Rink, Legend City, Arizona State Fair, fashion shows, father/daughter dinners, hikes, campouts, cookouts, Grand Canyon trips and marching in Parada del Sol parade. Camp Fire Girls of the Ingleside district earned a week in Hawaii, according to an article in the June 10, 1975, Scottsdale Daily Progress. “Since September, four girls of the eighth-grade group have put their time and energy toward one goal: to make enough money for a trip to Hawaii… ‘We never quit,’ said Wendy Springborn to explain how they had done it…The girls earned $1,800 through bake sales, rummage sales, selling things at park and swap, selling stationery and collecting newspapers and aluminum cans.”
ν In more recent years, Eagle Scouts have undertaken projects in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and youth groups have continued to participate in patriotic ceremonies and community events as ushers and organizers. For many years, Brownies, Girl Scouts, Cub and Boy Scouts, Blue Birds and Camp Fire Girls have been invited by the mayor and city council to lead the pledge of allegiance before city council meetings.
Enjoy the memories of your own “scouting” years, and salute the scouts of today.