Camp Fawcett

Camp Fawcett was the summer camp for the old Southwest Texas Council, headquartered in Uvalde, Texas.  This camp later became one of the summer camps of the Concho Valley Council and was used by them until 1996.  It is now used for weekend camping and other special events.

Early in 1928, at the 3rd Annual meeting of the Southwest Texas Council, President George E. Love explained to the council the need of the council to have its own property for a campsite and that a temporary site would be needed for the coming summer.  By March 30th, a special committee, headed by J. Q. McCorkle, stated that a site on the Nueces River, one mile from Barksdale, Texas, and forty-seven miles northwest of Uvalde, off the Rocksprings Highway, had been selected, as the site that met most of the twenty-one requirements of the National Office for a camp. 

The site was offered to the council for a summer camp without charge by the people of Barksdale.  A well was dug on the site by the folks of the community and the first summer camp there was held between August 1-7, 1928.  The name of the camp was to be "Camp Fawcett on the Nueces."  The camp was named for the President of the Council, E. K. Fawcett, and a tent was erected on the site for the President to stay in at camp.   And that he did quite often. 

A road was built into the camp, a trolley was placed over the swimming hole.  A bridge was built over a ravine and water was piped from the new well to the camp kitchen.  R. J. Nelson of Camp Wood helped to build the brush arbor used for the first week of camp.  They cut Sycamore trees near the river and used the big part of the trees for upright posts for the arbor.  The smaller limbs were used for the roof and the limbs with leaves on them were used to cover the roof.  The arbor was "about 30 feet wide and 75 feet long. "  They brought water from the river and stored it in wooden barrels. 

The swimming area had three diving boards.  One was four feet above the water, one ten feet, and one was twenty feet.  There was a pond and spring located north of the swimming area where they could catch bass.  They had no archery targets or bows, but learned to make arrows while in camp. 

The tents were pitched on the flats below the present dining hall in a semi-circle.  They had about 15 tents which were pyramidal tents.  In addition, Chief Red Eagle, pitched his tee-pee with real skins over the frame.  R. J. Nelson remembers them gathering on the flat below the tee-pee for campfires each evening and taking evening hikes up the gully to the NW side of camp.  These were called "survival hikes" as they had to find horned toads, grasshoppers, etc. to eat. 

One hundred and fifty boys spent a week at the camp that first summer.  K. N. Clapp of Lubbock ran the waterfront and Chief Red Eagle of Roswell, New Mexico, was there to assist and run the Indian Lore program.  H. B. Palmer, Scout Executive, was the Camp Director.  An ex-army cook and his corps of assistants provided the meals for the camp cooking over wood stoves.  At the end of the camp, 1,500 people attended a picnic there on August 7th.

Airplane Landing Field Built

Some fifty acres had been set aside on the south end of camp to build an airplane landing field by the Scouts.  The field was marked with stones secured from the river in letter ten feet high with the words "BOY SCOUT LANDING FIELD."  The stones were whitewashed so that the letters could be read from a great height.  Robert McNiel of Uvalde told the author, when presented with this bit of information, that he remembers moving rocks off the runway when he was a Boy Scout attending the camp.  Captain Robert C. Murphy of the United States Medical Corp, who was stationed at Fort Craddock at Galveston, TX, flew his plane to the camp in August 1929, according to a story in the Brownwood Bulletin.  Accompanying him was Lieut. Harry Fowler of Love Field.  They arrived in a large 12 cylinder Douglas Pursuit plane with a Liberty motor.   According to the story they were greeted formally by the Pecan Valley Council boys upon landing at the field maintained by the Fawcett Camp.

R. J. Nelson of Camp Wood, TX, remembers when the landing field was built.  The round rocks, which were about the size of your head, were brought to the site in old Chev or Ford trucks up from Lover's Lane in Barksdale.  The trucks could only carry about twelve rocks at a time. 

The rock sign is still there today although it is now on private land.  When we looked at it in 1989 it was interesting to note that the letters, which started out 12' high were only 8' high by the time they got to the word "FIELD", and the rock were somewhat smaller.  We also discovered a rock pile marker located on east side of the field to tell flyers where the end of the field was.

Mess Hall Built

The first permanent building was completed in time for summer camp in 1930.  A mess hall forty by twenty feet was built with a sixteen by twenty-eight foot kitchen and a store room.  The mess hall was build of reinforced concrete, railroad timbers, and covered with corrugated iron, along with tables and shelving.  The kitchen was screened but the mess hall was not.  The concrete floor for the dining area was not poured until 1931, the unskilled labor furnished by the neighbors and the men and boys from Buffalo Trail Council, Sweetwater, Texas, who helped with the concrete in return for use of the camp that summer.  The floor finishers and the carpenter agreed to work for $1.50 per day.  The original dining hall is still at the camp today. 

R. J. Nelson said that when the mess hall was built, it had a dirt floor, no screening and no water or electricity.  He worked in the mess hall the first year it was built and remembers cutting wood for the stoves.  The kitchen crew lived in tents located behind the dining hall on the north side.  He believe the tables had metal tops and separate benches for seating.  All the equipment for camp came from San Antonio and was World War I surplus, including the tents they stayed in.  The timbers for the mess hall were donated from the Southern Pacific Railroad Company.  There were a carload of timbers from bridge 290-D near Knippa.  The Uvalde & Northern Railway Company transported the railroad timbers from Uvalde to Camp Wood. 

Summer camp was held there until 1997.   The camp is still used for special events and weekend camping.

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