2023 Ten Mile River Scout Camps Reunion

Johannes Knoops, Chairman of the Ten Mile River (TMR) Alumni Association and former Greater New York Council Alumnus of the Year, shares a great write-up about a recent TMR Scout Camps reunion and the organization. 

Founded sixty years ago out of the friendships forged at Camp Brooklyn – Ten Mile River Scout Camps, the Arrowhead was initially comprised of Shu-Shu-Gah Lodge Brothers of the Order of the Arrow, BSA’s honor society of cheerful service, whose activities were then primarily centered at summer camp. Wanting to maintain those links of brotherhood beyond camp and bring it to back home to New York City, they gather over lunches, dinners, and Florida bird walks each year. Through this program, the Arrowhead raises money to support the many programs at TMR, from new canoes to capital repairs.

For many years the Arrowhead held an annual reunion weekend at TMR where they swam, rowed, and sang their beloved song, “Old Rock Lake.” It begins:

Round the shores of dear old Rock Lake,
Camps encircling lie,
Nestled close to wooded hillsides,

Charming every eye.

This Brooklyn Scout song dates to when the various camps that made up Camp Brooklyn were sited around Rock Lake, one of the seven lakes that were once part of Ten Mile River Scout Camps.

Initially formed as the Brooklyn Arrowhead, in more recent years they have evolved into the TMR Arrowhead as they welcome and embrace other Order of the Arrow Alumni in support of Ten Mile River. Established in 1963, the Arrowhead looks to the future with hopes of bringing the cheer and friendship they experienced to the next generation of TMR campers.

The mighty effort to create Ten Mile River Scout Camps for the boys of New York City was led by no less than Franklin Delano Roosevelt, then a rising young man with a bright future ahead. This was prior to his Governorship and Presidency at a time when New York socialites evolved into morally minded social reformers seeking to improve the lives of immigrant youths and their families, particularly those of the Lower East Side. Thanks to his untiring dedication to the Boy Scout Foundation of Greater New York (as GNYC was then called in 1927), FDR led the effort to raise the necessary funds to assemble over 12,000 acres of majestic woodland in upstate Sullivan County, NY (a property equivalent to the size of Manhattan Island). At one time this legendary camp overlooking the Delaware River was the largest Scout camp in the world, and for many years after, the largest council-owned Scout camp in America. At the peak of its operation, it had a total of 13 camps serving thousands of Scouts each summer. It was once so large the reservation had to be divided into three Divisional Headquarters… Delaware, Crystal, and Schiff.

This year marks the 96th Anniversary of Ten Mile River Scout Camps and on this occasion the TMR Alumni Association honored the TMR Arrowhead for their sixty years of dedicated service. Greater New York Councils, under the leadership of their new Chief Council Executive, Saroya Friedman-Gonzalez, awarded the Arrowhead with BSA’s Council Alumnus of the Year Award with Harold “Hal” Rosenfeld accepting the handsome medal.

There are many colorful Arrowmen who make up the TMR Arrowhead. Hal who serves as its organizer (they shy away from ever having had a “leader”) after graduating CCNY in 1965 pondered the option of becoming an Engineer for the Camping Division of National BSA when it was then located in New York City. Instead, he led a distinguished career with New York City’s MTA (Mass Transit Authority) where he served as Deputy Chief Engineer for 33 years.

I’d also like to applaud Philip “Phil” Gittelman, who at 93 years of age was the eldest alumnus in attendance at our recent TMR Reunion August 4-6. Phil first attended Ten Mile River as an 11- year-old Scout in 1945… 78 years ago!… Brooklyn Division 1 – Camp Kotohke. Over the years, Phil and his wife produced, directed, and wrote numerous award-winning documentary films and programs for the likes of the Ford Foundation, the National Park Service, CBS, ABC, and others. (http://www.pgpfilms.com/home.html) Phil has sought to motivate people towards positive goals, help people see the commonplace in uncommon ways, and reach for the heart as well as the mind. His last project (2022) was a documentary on Marian Anderson, an African American international singing star who succeeded over racial prejudice to became an inspiration for America’s civil rights movement. (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt12407132/?ref_=nm_ov_bio_lk)

The TMR Alumni Association applauds all the men and women who’ve camped at TMR and continue to support its critical mission. May it live on for hundreds of years to come.

Prof. Johannes M.P. Knoops
Chairman Ten Mile River Alumni Association

FAAR, Assoc AIA, BF, IDEC, NCIDQ

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