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The Quapaw Area Council of the Boy Scouts began in 1913 and is the largest (in terms of area) in the state. It also serves the largest number of Arkansas boys.
The Boy Scouts of America began in the United States in 1910, and three years later, the Little Rock Council was chartered by the National Boy Scout Council as a second-class council—that is, one directed by a volunteer commissioner. In 1920, the Little Rock Council was reclassified as a first-class council, and in 1921, W. G. Moseley became the first council executive. Two years later, the Little Rock Council was renamed the Pulaski County Council to include membership in a wider area. By 1927, the council was renamed the Quapaw Area Council and covered several counties. In 1934, the Kanawha Area Council of Jefferson County was split between the Quapaw Area Council and the De Soto Area Council, which had a council office in El Dorado (Union County). Some early leaders in the Quapaw Area Council were Gordon Peavy, Myron Lasker, Henderson Madison Jacoway, John Eakin, E. G. Bylander, H. W. Clapham, Major Robert E. Coker, and Joshua Shepherd.
The first permanent camping facilities for the council were Camp Quapaw, opened in 1925 and located west of Benton (Saline County) on the Saline River; E. A. Bowen was the first director of the camp. Early facilities were limited, and in 1930, fifteen additional acres were purchased, and a mess hall was constructed. In 1931, an additional forty acres of land were purchased for a total of ninety-seven acres for the camp. Greater numbers of scouts attending camp created an overuse of the facilities at Camp Quapaw. At one point, the Army Corps of Engineers considered a dam on the Saline River, which would have inundated a portion of the camp.
To accommodate more camp activities, in 1975, the council acquired Camp Kiwanis, an unimproved site, and purchased over 2,900 acres west of Damascus (Van Buren and Faulkner counties) for the construction of the new Cove Creek Scout Reservation. The Cove Creek Scout Reservation opened as a permanent camping facility in 1976. Camp Quapaw was closed and later sold.
In 1981, a portion of the reservation used for permanent summer camping was designated as Camp Nile Montgomery, named for a previous scout executive. Also, a lake in the camp was named for Richard C. Butler Sr., a supporter of scouting programs. In 2001, the Cove Creek Scout Reservation was renamed the Gus Blass Scout Reservation in honor of Gus Blass II, whose family had been supporters of the Boy Scout program for many years. A portion of the reservation was later named in honor of Lieutenant Governor Winthrop P. Rockefeller for his support of scouting. Scouts from both within and outside Arkansas attend the camp.
The Order of the Arrow Quapaw Lodge 160 was formed in 1939. Membership is for Boy Scouts who excel in camping skills and indicate an application of the Scout Law and oath in their daily lives. It began with fifteen members in June 1939 and inducted sixty-two additional members during the summer of 1939. Today, the lodge has about 500 members and supports council camp programs.
In 1987, members of the council who attended the 1937 National Jamboree held a reunion at the council camp. The group formed Troop O45, which included members with over forty-five years service. The troop was to undertake programs to support the council activities. In 2001, the membership in Troop O45 was extended to all registered adult scouts who wished to join. Troop O45 sponsors the Quapaw Area Council Arkansas Museum of Scouting, which preserves scouting materials, displaying them periodically when requested.
Wood Badge Courses for adult leadership training were initially held in 1963 at Camp Quapaw. Subsequent courses were held there and later at the Cove Creek Scout Reservation. The council provides programs for Boy Scout–age boys and girls. Activities include camping, rank and badge advancement recognition, participation in civic and community services, and educational training in responsible projects.
In 2002, the Eastern Arkansas Area Council merged with the Quapaw Area Council. This enlarged the Quapaw Area Council from seventeen counties to thirty-three. Approximately 14,000 boys and 3,000 adult leaders are currently members of the council, and approximately 100 boys become Eagle Scouts each year. Council members who have received national honors include Dr. Ray Biondo and Dr. David Briscoe.
For additional information:
Quapaw Area Council of the Boy Scouts. http://www.quapawbsa.org/ (accessed August 14, 2014).
John G. Ragsdale
Little Rock, Arkansas
Last Updated 7/2/2015
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