Wading River, NY
While Onteora was my favorite place to camp, I don't want to
ignore Nassau County Council's other camp, Camp Wauwepex. Located in
Suffolk County on Long Island, the 550-acre Wauwepex was an ideal place
for weekend camping trips. In fact, my first troop, Troop 182 from
Baldwin, would head out to Wauwepex almost every month. When it got too
cold for tent camping, there were some great cabins to spend the night.
Camp Wauwepex opened in 1921 in Miller
Place, then moved to the present location the next year. It has faithfully
served campers from Nassau County ever since. As might be expected of a
camp that old, it is steeped in Scouting tradition and history. For
example, as mentioned in the
history of Buckskin Lodge of the Order of the Arrow, the lodge had its beginnings in an
honor society founded at Wauwepex back in 1923!
Entrance sign - 2000
Ready to take a virtual tour of the camp?
First, you might want to get familiar with the property. Wauwepex is
located in the town of Wading River, NY, and is centered around the camp's
lake, Deep Pond. Here's an overall
Want to see Camp Wauwepex from
the air? Here's a satellite view: Deep Pond, by the way, is described by
the state as a glacial kettlehole, measuring 32 acres and having a depth
of 40 feet.
Camp Wauwepex - 2012
Here are several different maps of the camp you can
use to follow along during the tour of the camp:
The 1950 version is a bit rough, but it's the best
one I've found so far that shows all three of the camps at Wauwepex
Before we begin the tour, here are a few quick Wauwepex observations:
- There were once three separate camps
operating at Wauwepex, named Pioneer Division, Frontier Division and
Indian Division. The dining halls were named accordingly, as Pioneer
Hall, etc. The camp divisions are no longer used, and the dining halls
are now Hickcox (formerly Frontier) and Hayden (formerly Indian)
Halls. The old Pioneer Hall had been used for a while as a craft lodge
but has since been demolished.
- There was once also an outlying piece of
property used for overflow camping. This section of the camp,
which was formally known as the Ponderosa section,
was better known as "Inchworm Land", for it was full of
these tiny, wiggling and generally disgusting creatures. They would
hang from tiny threads and get in your hair, face and most of all,
your food. This 147-acre section of the camp was recently sold to the
State of New York. While it's nice to be rid of the inchworms, this
deal did call for the public to have access to Deep Pond. It will be
interesting to see what effect this has over time.
- Unlike Onteora, Wauwepex is no longer
used for summer troop camping. As mentioned on the Onteora pages,
attendance at Wauwepex had dropped in the late 60s, and by 1973, it
had to share the annual patch with Alder Lake. Finally, after years of
declining attendance, it was closed as a summer camp in 1976. The property does get a
lot of use during Summer though, as local groups use it for day care
and the Council holds Cub and family camping there. The property is
used throughout the rest of the year for a variety of Scout
activities, and local troops continue to use the cabins, lean-tos and
campsites for camping.
- The property has a new name these days: Schiff
Scout Reservation. When the famous Schiff camp in New Jersey
closed up, the Schiff family made a significant donation to the
Council for honoring the camp's namesake, John M. Schiff, and thus the
name transferred over to Wauwepex as well. The original Schiff Scout
Reservation had been named for his father, Mortimer L. Schiff. The
Council has had a long association with the Schiff name, as can be
seen on this time-worn plaque on the property:
Erected by the Boy
Scouts of America
Nassau County, New York
In Memory Of
MORTIMER L. SCHIFF
whose wise counsels and generous
gifts so greatly aided them in
securing for their permanent use
Scouts of America
May 6th to June 4th, 1931
Director for Nassau County Council
January 1st, 1920 to February 3rd, 1930
- The Council bought the property in 1926
for $250,000. Not a bad deal!
- Wauwepex means "Place of Good
Done with the history lesson? Then click here
to begin the tour.
I will be adding to this section, but
am looking for any additional information or pictures that anyone would
like to share. Please e-mail me
with your thoughts or suggestions. You can also find information on
patches from Camp
Wauwepex patches here.
You can also head back to
the main Onteora page.