Pipsico Scout Reservation

(The following text is adapted from a draft history prepared by the author for the 50th anniversary of Pipsico Scout Reservation. Due to difficulties in gathering historical materials, that history was never published.)

The land now known as Pipsico Scout Reservation has been known by many names over the years. These include Burrows’ Hill, Smith’s Mount, Four Mile Tree, Browne, Dillards, and Calhouns.

After purchasing Pipsico Scout Reservation from the Calhoun family in 1960, Tidewater Council set about developing Boy Scout camps on the property.

Throughout the 1960s Camp Kiwanis was the primary summer resident camp on Pipsico Scout Reservation. Campers stayed in one of eight campsites or pitched their own tents in an open troop camping area. Program features included an obstacle course, semaphore, archery golf, and over a dozen merit badges. In addition to the standard merit badges and camp activities, Camp Kiwanis offered a weeklong junior leadership course. For a fee of $9.00 per boy, Patrol Leaders were permitted to arrive at camp a week ahead of their troop for a series of leadership training activities.

The discovery of Ketone pesticide contamination in the James River in 1975 proved disastrous to camping at Pipsico Scout Reservation. Improper disposal and processing techniques at a chemical plant upstream at Hopewell, Virginia caused dangerous quantities of the chemical to seep into the river. Within a few months of the seepage being discovered, the Governor of Virginia ordered a ban on fishing the the James River. Meanwhile, as state regulatory agencies worked to crack down on the production of Kepone and determine the extent of contamination, Tidewater Council was faced with the realization that one of its most valuable resources at camp was threatened. At that time the James was used for aquatic activities ranging from canoeing to the mile swim. Tidewater Council was finally compelled to close Camp Kiwanis in 1977. Pipsico Scout Reservation would not host a long term summer resident camp again for ten years.

 

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