History of Camp Shenandoah
Much to the surprise of most members of Shenandoah Lodge the Camp existed probably before scouting came to the Valley. The original Camp Shenandoah was located at Island Ford on a farm, on the South Fork of the Shenandoah River owned by the Hedricks family. Interestingly, the family did not have a title to the land, rather it was a land grant and they had lived there for 11 generations. Initially the camp was sponsored in the early 1900s by the Rotary Club of Harrisonburg and it was open to many youth groups at the time. Several youth groups camped on their designated weekends. The earliest BSA Scouts there, located by the historical committee, Appeared June 1912 in the Times Dispatch (Richmond, Virginia). They were reporting on The Boys Scouts for Roanoke and Salem on a train. Wagons were waiting for them at the train station to take their baggage to the camp at Island Ford, where a number of tents were previously erected. The boys immediately formed a line and marched to camp under the command of the scout leaders. J. H. Creighton, Dr. C. M. Maxwell and Walter C. Treux.
A similar story was published in 1916 in the Roanoke Times, but this time is 50 boys from Roanoke who arrived at McGaheysville and from there they hiked to Island ford. It should be noted that the Stonewall Jackson Area Council was not formed until 1927. For reasons unclear at this time, the Rotary Club gave up running the camp and SJAC took over in 1930. Dr. Hedricks once reported that the family would have lost the farm during the depression had the Boy Scouts not leased it for $100 a year.
The Lexington Gazette reported on August,27, 1949, that S. Dexter Forbes of Charlottesville, the President of Stonewall Jackson Area Council, announced there was to be a new Boy Scout Camp. The camp was to be located 12 miles Southwest of Stanton in Augusta County. The camp was to replace the leased Camp Shenandoah at Island Ford. The Boy Scouts made the decision to construct and develop because the Executive Board had realized for many years that the location and type of program must eventually be changed. The time for making the change was considered necessary because the lease of the property was expiring in 1950 and could not be renewed.
Camp Shenandoah is owned and operated by the Virginia Headwaters (former Stonewall Jackson Area) Council, BSA, and is open for year-round camping. In 1999, approximately 150 acres were purchased adjacent to the main camp and to form the Wallenborn Conservation Reserve, which to this day is utilized and improved for wildlife habitat and ecological studies. Camp Shenandoah’s acreage now totals 456 acres.
This year marks the 112th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America, the 95th year of summer camping in the Virginia Headwaters Council, as well as the 72nd year at Camp Shenandoah’s present location. During the past seasons, thousands of Scouts have passed through the camp gates, carrying part of the Scouting spirit along with them into their daily lives.