Sinoquipe prepares for annual invasion by hundreds of area boys

April 15, 2001

Sinoquipe prepares for annual invasion by hundreds of area boys


FORT LITTLETON, Pa. - Ed Koogle says Camp Sinoquipe is where the pages of the Boy Scout Handbook come alive.

He would know.

Koogle wrote the history of the 500-acre Boy Scout reservation in Fulton County, Pa., for its 50th anniversary in 1998.

About 50 troops in the Mason-Dixon Council of the Boy Scouts of America, which covers Washington County, Md., and southern Franklin County, Pa., send boys to Sinoquipe every summer.

This year, approximately 650 Boy Scouts will invade Sinoquipe during its summer camping season, which runs from June 18 through Aug. 4. About half will come from Mason-Dixon troops and half from troops in the Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Harrisburg, Pa., areas, said Robert Holsinger, senior district executive director for the Mason-Dixon Council

In addition, about 225 Cub Scouts will spend a weekend at the camp. Explorer Scouts also come in during the summer.


Sinoquipe's only full-time, year-round employee is Jack Rhodes, the camp ranger. He lives in a house on the premises.

About 35 staff members run the camp in the summer. Half are adult senior staff members, mostly retired men or college students. The rest are junior staff members, all under 18 and all still Boy Scouts.

The week begins on Sunday with camp assignments, followed by orientation. There are health checks the first day, and a swimming test. The boys are kept busy all week with Scouting and fun activities.

Spread around the camp are the Mess Hall, where everyone eats their three meals a day, and archery and shooting ranges, a health lodge, an ecology lodge and a handicraft lodge, where the boys buy yards of shiny, vividly colored vinyl string known by every Scout as "gimp" to weave into rope, bracelets or whatever else their imaginations conjure up.

There's also swimming, boating and canoeing, horseback riding, climbing and rappelling, plus instruction on Scouting crafts and skills.

Scouts pick up four or more merit badges during a week at camp.

"A boy can get as much Scouting activity in a week at Sinoquipe as he can get in a whole year of regular troop activities," said William McKinley, a council volunteer and chairman of the camp promotion and scouting activities committee.

It costs $145 to attend Sinoquipe for a week. Boys can sign up by calling the council headquarters in Hagerstown at 301-739-1211.

The camp's annual operating budget is about $110,000 a year, Rhodes said.

McKinley said Sinoquipe's biggest competitors for a boy's time and resources are Little League and soccer.

"In today's fast-paced world, some parents make their sons chose between sports or Boy Scouts. That's unfortunate," he said.

"There's a lot of peer pressure to play sports, but Scouting can co-exist with Little League and soccer. Don't choose us out. You can do both and still benefit from the character-building that Scouting offers," he said.

According to Koogle's history, the Mason-Dixon Council was organized in 1927. Camping that year was at Fort Ritchie.

The first Camp Sinoquipe, which means "builder of men," was established in 1928 at Pearee near the Washington/Allegheny county line. It cost $5 for the week.

The camp moved to Cowans Gap State park on the Franklin/Fulton county line during World War II.

In 1946, the council bought 127 acres near Fort Littleton, the site of the present camp. It opened in 1948 and has expanded as more land was added.

A main feature is the 11-acre Sinoquipe Lake which is fed by Plum Hollow Run and empties into Little Augwick Creek.

Rhodes said the camp is applying for a $200,000 grant to improve an 8-mile area of the Chesapeake Bay watershed which includes Sinoquipe. The money, if it comes, will be spent on improving wetlands and stabilizing stream beds.

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