Way back in 1963, I joined the rest
of Troop 182 from Baldwin, New York, and headed off on my first trip
to summer camp. Our destination? Onteora Scout Reservation, located
in the Catskill Mountains near the town of Livingston Manor.
Click here for maps of the area, showing the general locations
of both Livingston Manor and Onteora.
Onteora is one of two camps owned by the Theodore
Roosevelt Council, formerly Nassau County Council, of Long Island, New
York (see below for details on the name change). The other camp is
Camp Wauwepex, located in Wading River, New York (They renamed that
property to Schiff Scout Reservation a few years ago, but evidently the
old name is also still in use.)
I was a summer camper at Onteora in 1963 and 1965, and
a counselor in 1968 and 1969. At that time Onteora was quite a massive
operation, for it was the third-largest Boy Scout camp in the country. I
also made many trips up there for Order of the Arrow events, the winter
campouts called Operation Igloo, and some weekends of fun with other
alumni over the years. I met a lot of good friends there and have some
great memories of the place.
Main Gate to Onteora Scout Reservation
"The Land in the Sky"
After my years on the camp staff I
moved to California, but I made sure to visit Onteora during some of my
trips back East. Unfortunately, I learned in 1997 that the Council had
closed Onteora a few years earlier, the victim of declining Scout
enrollment and a tendency for more upscale camping. This was a real
loss, for it was a great experience for me and I'm sure thousands of
others. Happily, the Council re-opened the camp in 1998 and has been
rejuvenating the property, with summer camp once again providing a great
outdoors experience to Scouts from Long Island. Many Boy Scout camps
have been lost over the years, but Onteora has the distinction of being
the only one to ever be re-opened. Now, thanks to an incredible amount
of hard work by volunteers and a dedicated camp staff, the future again
looks bright indeed.
I've had fun putting these pages
together to salute the glory years of Onteora, and to showcase the
vibrant camp it is again today. I would appreciate hearing from any
other OSR campers or counselors that would like to contribute. If you
have any pictures, maps or knowledge to share, please let me know.
Likewise, if you would like to be part of a mailing list of other
Onteora fans, please let me hear from you.
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Still reading? Ok,
here's the information on the council name change. Teddy Roosevelt,
well known for his charge up San Juan Hill and later as President of
the United States, was the first Commissioner of Nassau County
Council. When a different Theodore Roosevelt Council in
Arizona closed and gave up the name, Nassau County Council decided
to rename itself to honor his contributions to local scouting. Click
on the patch to go to the Council's official web site (but please
The page was last updated:
July 22, 2015. This website copyrighted
1998-2015 by Bill Cotter.
All rights reserved.