Woodworth Lake Scout Reservation
By: Bob Cudmore
Woodworth Lake Scout Reservation
By Bob Cudmore, Focus on History, Daily Gazette, 11-18-17
Retired Army Brigadier General Allen R. Kimball was principal speaker as 600 people attended the dedication of the Woodworth Lake Scout Reservation in Fulton County in July 1949.
According to newspaper accounts, General Kimball said young men needed the “citizenship training” of the Boy Scouts “to successfully combat communism and other ‘isms’ and keep the United States of America a land of democratic living.” Kimball had headed the U.S. Army quartermaster corps in Europe during World War II.
In 1949 Kimball was personnel director at Mohawk Carpet Mills in Amsterdam and mill president Howard Shuttleworth had provided financial support for the camp, which was operated by the Sir William Johnson Boy Scout Council.
Located eight miles north of Gloversville in the towns of Bleecker and Johnstown, the 1,100-acre site was at 1,800-foot elevation. The late Minnie Billingham had given the council 239 of those acres, including the land around Woodworth Lake, in 1944.
St. Johnsville knitting mill owner Joseph Reaney, who died in 1947, had conceived the idea of the camp. The camp lodge was named in his honor.
The George Duffy Health Lodge, named for a donor from Fort Plain, included a four bed infirmary. Gloversville doctors were in camp every morning of the summer.
Sending letters of regret for not attending the opening ceremony were President Truman, Governor Thomas Dewey and radio star Arthur Godfrey.
After a tour of the camp, Scout leader John Hanson supervised a waterfront show including several swimming races. The scouts also demonstrated that a boat filled with water could still support over thirty people clinging to it.
Later that summer there were overnight hikes, induction of boys into the Order of the Arrow, visits by the Kiwanis Club and various adult organizations.
In the 1950s Protestant pastors held weekly religious services at camp, Catholics were transported to Masses at churches in Gloversville. Rabbi Herman Grossman of Gloversville made arrangements for Sabbath observances for Jewish scouts.
New showers were installed in 1957. That year the Recorder reported, “An unusual program (was) carried out with a striped sea serpent” appearing in Woodworth Lake “for the fun of the campers.” The next year over 500 attended summer closing ceremonies.
In 1967 a new wooden gateway supported by stone pillars was dedicated. In 1968 the National Council of the Boy Scouts gave Woodworth Lake its highest rating for aquatic, scouting, field sports and handicraft programs.
In 1975 an official said a thousand people were expected to attend camp that summer, noting that the reservation was open to non-scouters. In 1980 a November training session was held at the Hindes Pond area of the Woodworth Lake reservation.
Woodworth Lake was a scout camp for over sixty years. Operations were reduced in 1992 and the camp was closed in 2013 by the Twin Rivers Boy Scout Council, successor to the Sir William Johnson Council.
The land was sold to New York Land and Lakes Development based in Oneonta. In 2015 the Adirondack Park Agency unanimously approved development of 24 land parcels at Woodworth Lake over the objections of some environmental groups.
Richard Mraz of Mayfield was at the 1949 dedication ceremony at Woodworth Lake when he was ten years old. Mraz became a Boy Scout but never attended the Fulton County camp.
However, Mraz and his wife Nancy’s four sons, who belonged to Boy Scout Troop 53 in Mayfield, did spend time at Woodworth Lake. Their eldest son Richard T. Mraz, an Eagle Scout who became an Air Force major now living in Colorado, has purchased one of the parcels of land at the former scout facility in Bleecker.