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Bsa camps garvies point 2011.p65Early Boy Scout Camps
Garvies Point, Glen Cove, NY
Two Boy Scout camps operated at “Appleby’s Grove” (aka “Appleby’s Woods,”now the Garvies Point Museum and Preserve, in Glen Cove, New York) in the early 20 Century. The earliest, started in 1915, was known as “Camp Coogan,”and served boys from New York City. The second, called “Camp Gra-Mor,”was constructed by Boy Scouts from Glen Cove in 1919.
City HistorianCity of Glen Cove, New York Camping has been an integral part of Boy Scout activities ing located near (or, apparently, under) McLoughlin Street.
since the inception of the Boy Scouts of America in 1910.
It is clear that “Appleby’s Grove” was used as a camping Period luminaries like Theodore Roosevelt and Daniel Carter ground prior to the establishment of the Boy Scouts of America.
Beard promoted the importance of outdoor activity for a healthy In 1906, a 12 year old boy named Edward Airey was acciden- lifestyle, and “roughing it” was and is a valuable tool in teach- tally shot to death with a rifle by a 14 year old boy named Hugh ing youth self-reliance and confidence. It was also recognized May “at a camp in Appleby Woods.” The article mentions “the as an excellent method of inculcating a respect for nature in other members went on a cruise yesterday and left May in charge of the camp” but fails to identify what group or organization To fulfill the needs of Scouts for a site on which to camp, the “other members” represented. (NY Times 1906) The ar- at least two different camps were established in Glen Cove.
ticle notes that both boys were residents of Manhattan’s infa- Both camps were located inside an area called “Appleby’s mous Hells’ Kitchen area… an area dominated by overcrowded Grove,” a large wooded parcel of in what is today the Garvies decaying tenements packed with impoverished families. It was Point Museum and Preserve. The earliest of the two camps, an extremely violent area, controlled by gangsters and rack- established in 1915, served a troop of Boy Scouts from the eteers of the basest order. American journalist Herbert Asbury Hell’s Kitchen area of Manhattan. It is possible this camp also called Hell’s Kitchen “most dangerous area on the American served other scout units, as information on its activities is scant.
Continent,” and did so without exaggeration. Regretfully, none The second camp, constructed in 1919, served both Boy Scouts of the Glen Cove newspapers of that era have survived to pro- from Glen Cove as well as the Hell’s Kitchen troop.
vide additional information on the use of Appleby’s Grove as a Appleby’s Grove – also known as “Appleby’s Woods” – was part of the sprawling waterfront estate owned by CharlesEdgar Appleby, one of Glen Cove’s early “Gold Coast” mil- “Camp Coogan”
lionaires. Although he had trained as an attorney, Appleby hadmade his fortune as a real estate speculator. He purchased a To date, the earliest reference found to Boy Scouts using sizeable tract of land south of the Glen Cove steamboat land- Garvies Point as a camp ground dates from July 1911 – a mere ing (which was located at the western terminus of Landing Road) year after Scouting was organized in the United States – when on a high bluff overlooking Hempstead Harbor. The bulk of 32 boys from Troop 2, Mount Vernon, NY spent a week camp- the estate was located between modern-day McLoughlin Street ing there. The Scoutmaster was Rev. Harry Baettis of the Chester and Garvies Point Road, with Appleby’s summer mansion be- Hill Methodist Episcopal Church,. (NY Times, 1911) Daniel E Russell
Early Glen Cove Boy Scout Camps
In July, 1915, a troop of Boy Scouts affiliated with the ered. Newspaper reports state that “the boys were provided with Holy Cross Church, under Scout Master Rev. John J Coogan, a launch, and have been taught to familiarize themselves with journeyed to Glen Cove to spend a month camping under the seamanship. They also have a fife and drum corps. The boys trees of Appleby’s Grove “through the kindness of Mr Appleby”.
are from 12 to 15 years of age and every boy in the troop could In addition to Scout Master Coogan, an assistant Scout Master, swim. Regular orders were carried out every day in military and 35 out of 40 boys enrolled in the troop, they brought with style. Field mass was held every morning in the camp.” (GC them a trained nurse and a matron. (GC Echo 1915) Echo, 1915) They broke camp and returned to Manhattan about Coogan was described by the New York Times as “the the 21 of August. The Glen Cove newspapers make no men- first Catholic priest in the United States to receive the commis- tion of Coogan’s troop returning to camp at Glen Cove during sion of scout-master in the Boy Scouts.” (NY Times 1924).
of summers of 1916, 1917 or 1918. While it is possible that the After attending St Francis Xavier College, St Charles College, local press simply ignored mentioning the camp, major events and St Joseph’s Seminary, Coogan had been ordained a priest may simply have prevented the return of the Scouts. A major in 1905. He served as Chaplain of the New York Catholic Pro- epidemic of poliomyelitis (“infantile paralysis”) was sweeping tectorate, then served at the Church of the Annunciation and St the New York City area during the summer of 1916. It was not Jerome’s Parish before being transferred to Holy Cross Church uncommon during that July to find newspapers reporting more Street, in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen. There he served than 100 new cases of polio each day in New York City. At its as assistant to Father Francis Patrick Duffy, the famed priest peak, the disease killed 39 people a day. The mechanism by who had served as chaplain to the Fighting 69 Regiment dur- which polio was transmitted was still poorly understood; pub- ing World War One and who, as pastor of Holy Cross Church, lic health authorities urged parents to avoid allowing their chil- was fighting the poverty of Hell’s Kitchen. Coogan also served dren to congregate together in large groups. (NY Times 1916).
as Roman Catholic Chaplain for the New York City Police De- The Town of Oyster Bay (of which Glen Cove was still a part) passed a series of draconian measures in an attempt to stem the The Glen Cove camp was (at least informally) referred to epidemic. One law – similar to laws enacted by many commu- as “Camp Coogan,” a name which even appears on a period nities to prevent New York City from shipping thousands of postcard of the camp area (see Figure 1, below). To date no possibly contagious children into the countryside - prohibited description of the physical camp and its layout has been uncov- anyone under the age of 16 from entering the town of Oyster A circa 1915-1920 postcard showing three boys at “Camp Coogan” standing on the bluff at Garvies Point overlooking Hempstead Harbor The Glen CoveBreakwater, located at the western end of Landing Road, is seen towards the horizon. (Courtesy of the Glen Cove Public Library Robert R Coles Long IslandHistory Room, Warren Griffen Collection) Daniel E Russell
Early Glen Cove Boy Scout Camps
Bay without a written health certificate from New York City Boy Scout troops within the City of Glen Cove were adminis- tered by a Glen Cove Scout Council. Within a few years, how- The summers of 1917 and 1918 appear to have been simi- ever, administration of the troops would be transferred to a larly inauspicious for Coogan and his boys to return to Glen county-wide Council, and eventually the county-wide organi- Cove for a month of camping. As the United States entered zation would be broken up into district councils. ] There was World War One, the Boy Scout movement across the nation also a drum and bugle competition among the scouts, with Fred concent-rated its activities on supporting the war effort, espe- Miller winning the drum competition and Duane Wagnell win- cially devoting great energy to selling war bonds and war sav- The editor of the Glen Cove Echo observed that “every- thing is arranged for the comfort of the boys.” Tents and cotswere provided to the boys free of charge, although boys “Camp Gra-Mor”
overnighting at the camp had to provide their own blankets.
While the boys were permitted to bring their own provisions With the end of the war, regional scouting units were able and cook them over an open fire in true Boy Scout style, the to return to some semblance of normalcy. By the summer of camp also provided a camp cook to prepare meals for any of 1919, the scouts could turn their thoughts from raising funds the scouts who desired it. Prepared meals were offered at cost; for the Liberty Loan to camping. Permission was secured to breakfast cost 15¢, lunch 20¢, and dinner 25¢.
build a camp in Appleby’s Grove for the use of the Glen Cove The camp was offered at no cost to the boys, except for scout troops. It was decided that the camp should have more whatever meals they purchased while at camp. In addition to than merely tent sites in the woods for the boys, and a dining serving as a tradition summer camp for the scouts, it was planned hall, kitchen and store-room were designed into the construc- that the new camp would also serve as a “summer headquarters for Troop meetings”. During the remainder of the summer of The camp was constructed by the boys themselves. The 1919, all of the Glen Cove troops gathered together every primary “build team” of Scouts who worked full time on con- Wednesday night at 8 p.m. at Camp Gra-Mor for a mass meet- struction of the camp buildings consisted of Joseph Reynolds, ing followed by a “special entertainment at the camp fire.” (GC Joseph Stanco, Fred Miller, Augustus Wheeler, P. Taylor, Rob- ert Borum, Fred Sandfort, and John Czick, with numerous other While the boys who attended camp were allowed to Scouts assisting in their spare time. (GC Echo 1919a) come and go as they pleased, the daily life at camp was fairly By the second week of July, the Glen Cove Echo could structured. A typical day’s schedule would be as follows: The Scouts have finished building their camp at Appleby’s Woods and are now ready to enjoy the fruits of their labor… The camp site is a beautiful one and the boys who have seen it are all enthusias- tic about starting the camp. The entire work has been done by the Scouts themselves who have labored diligently during the past week. The kitchen, storeroom and dining room are all completed and four tents are ready to receive visitors. (GC Echo 1919a) Boys would be allowed to camp out at the new camp whenever they wanted during their summer vacation. Boys who had full-time summer jobs – which was not uncommon in that era – could stay overnight at the camp during their weekendsoff.
The newly constructed camp was officially dedicated at 2:30 on the afternoon of Sunday, 13 July 1919. (GC Echo, 1919a). It was christened “Camp Gra-Mor.” (Local attorney Robert P. Lynch wrote in to answer on the meaning of Camp Gra-Mor’s name: “No great mystery there at all. The wordsgra mor are Irish Gaelic and mean ‘Great Love’. ‘Gra’ is the Irish word for ‘love’, and ‘mor’ is the word for ‘great’.” ) Rev. Coogan and his troop did return to camp again at “The band played, the flag was raised, speeches were in Appleby’s Grove in 1920. By that year, the Hell’s Kitchen troop order and the Scouts defeated the [Boy Scout] Council in a had burgeoned, and he was able to bring 75 scouts to Glen game of baseball.” (GC Echo 1919b) [At the time, all of the Cove to camp for a month. The Glen Cove Echo reported that Daniel E Russell
Early Glen Cove Boy Scout Camps
the scouts “are living in true Boy Scout style and they tell us they are having the time of their lives” (GC Echo, 1920a) For Rev. Coogan died suddenly in August, 1924 after being boys who only knew the squalor of New York City’s tenements, hospitalized for a few days with “abdominal trouble” (GC Echo, a summer in the clean air and sunshine of Glen Cove must have 1924) As the Roman Catholic Chaplain of the New York City been a memorable experience. They were not the only New Police Department, Coogan was accorded a Police Inspector’s York City troop to use Appleby’s Grove for a summer camp; in funeal. More than 5,000 spectators crowded the streets to August 1920, Boy Scouts from Troops 73A and 73B from Our glimpse his funeral procession, which was escorted by 400 New Lady of Victory Church on Throop Avenue in Brooklyn were York City Mounted Police and 400 foot patrolmen. Father Duffy encamped at Camp Gra-Mor. Their Scout Master was James A It is not known when “Camp Coogan” and “Camp Gra- Mor” ceased operating. Research is continuing on the use ofAppleby’s Grove as a summer camp.
39 Die of Paralysis; Highest Day’s Toll Boy Scouts Find Glen Cove an Ideal CampGroundGlen Cove Echo, 21 August 1920 Preliminary Draft 5 September 2010
Daniel E Russell
Early Glen Cove Boy Scout Camps
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