Old York County Boy Scout camp still teaching lessons

Camp Ganoga hasn’t operated since 1945, but the old Strinestown-area Boy Scout camp continues to evoke memories. Here, a group of Scouts sits on the Camp Ganoga waterfront – Conewago Creek. Background posts: Old Ganoga Bridge: ‘It is a highly unusual sight in York County’ and Once popular Ganoga Bridge now lightly used York County landmark and Big Conewago serves as physical, symbolic divider of York County culture.
Mixed-race gatherings weren’t an everyday sight in York County in the first half of the 20th century.
In collecting photos for my black history book “Almost Forgotten” at the York County Heritage Trust, I was a bit surprised to see photos of white and black campers at old Camp Ganoga on the Conewago Creek.
I asked around about that… .

This unidentified man is perhaps a camp cook. (Photos courtesy of York County Heritage Trust.)
Yup, Camp Ganoga attracted mixed-race campers.
Girl Scouting was popular among black girls in York as well.
That quest served as a reminder that race in York County is a complex topic.
You learn that some institutions – Crispus Attucks Community Center – formed to provide recreational and social opportunities for black people in 1931. After all, the center would not have formed if there hadn’t been a need.
Then you learn that some such mixed-race opportunities from institutional York County presented themselves.
These photos of Camp Ganoga are evidence of that.
As I’ve written before, York County’s status as a border county in a border state in the mid-Atlantic region where North literally meets South creates a swirling mass of complexities.

About Jim McClure

Editor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News, ydr.com and its many digital products. Journalism/history blogger: yorktownsquare.com. Author or co-author of seven York County, Pa., history books.
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9 Responses to Old York County Boy Scout camp still teaching lessons

  1. I was wondering what you have learned about the history of African-American Eagle Scouts in Central PA. I became an Eagle Scout through Milton Hershey School’s Troop 75 and was the first African-American in that Troop to receive the honor. Do you know of others from Central PA who have received the award?

  2. Jim McClure says:

    Sterling, You might have to contact individual district scout offices to get that information. I’m not sure where you can go to get such from normal historical sources. This link might interest you: http://www.yorkblog.com/yorktownsquare/2009/04/exhibit.html.

    • Ed Suggs says:

      If the local scout office cannot help you, try National or go to NESA.org and search for contact information. They will be able to get some sort fo answer for you. NESA(National Eagle Scout Association)

  3. George Hay Kain III says:

    As a youth member and later as Scoutmaster of Troop 37 in York PA, I am proud to tell you that we were a mixed-race, multiple-cultural troop of Boy Scouts from the first day of our founding in 1941 by Rabbi Alexander D. Goode. We’ve had well over 100 Eagle Scouts since then, and many were Black. We were the first Boy Scout troop in the United States to have boys earn religious awards in the Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish faiths. The troop continues those traditions to this day. Rabbi Goode later gave his life to save others as one of the Four Chaplains during the sinking of the troopship Dorchester in World War II.

  4. Jim McClure says:

    Well said, George. Thanks for sharing.
    Jim McClure

  5. Steve Newport says:

    As I understood it growing up, my great gandfather (James Benton Truett) ran Camp Ganoga for a few years in the 30’s at least. I recall seeing photos of my mother playing with some of the older boys, (she was about 5 or 6, they were about 12) on the steps of possibly an administration building/lodge there. He was Scoutmaster of one of the first Boy Scout Troops in York, can’t remember the Troop # anymore, and went on to obtain the Silver Beaver Award. I made it to Life Scout in Troop 94 in Shiloh, having been a counselor at Camp Tuckahoe in 1969. GREAT memories!

  6. Jack Truett says:

    J.B.Truett was Scoutmaster for Troop 19 at St. Pauls Church for several decades.

  7. Ed Suggs says:

    Does anyone know if the Boy Scouts still own the land that Camp Ganoga was on? Also, does anyone know where exactly the land was? I know it was by the bridge but which side of the bridge and which side of the creek? I am just a curious history lover and a Scouter!

    Ed,Here’s the description the current occupant of the old camp, who I believe owns the property, gave me. (He invited me there, but I haven’t gone yet.) The main camp east or south of the bridge, meaning you go under the old bridge. As I recall, there’s a gate there going back a lane to the old camp. It appears to be private property and isn’t very inviting. That area upstream, west or north of the bridge, is an interesting region, with that old mill and all. I haven’t been up there since the new bridge was built so the lay of the land might have changed./Jim

  8. Ed Suggs says:

    Thanks. Next time I am back in York I plan on checking it out. Maybe do some canoeing down to the area. I spent most of the 70’s at Camp Tuckahoe and made Eagle in 1980 out of Troop 64 North York, Pa.

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