Tahlequah Daily Press


February 19, 2010

Scout supporters aim to revamp camp


Since 1923, most Cub and Boy Scouts in eastern Oklahoma have made memories of a lifetime at Camp Fred Darby.

A new Friends of Darby group has organized and is working to improve the historic Scout campgrounds, starting with a bathroom and shower facility. It isn’t necessary to become a Scout to volunteer with the Friends group.

“We wanted a way for the money we raise to go directly to Camp Darby,” said Tom Russell, president of the Friends of Darby.

A scoutmaster and Venture Scout adviser, he’s lived at the camp a little more than a year.

“The camp has no flush toilets in it. Restrooms with a shower facility will be first, and we need to build a new kitchen,” Russell said. “We need to fix the water lines. They were put in right by the road, so they tend to break.”

They’ve been loaded a backhoe and are looking, he said, for people interested in joining the club or doing some volunteer work.

“Anyone at all can help; they don’t have to be or have been a scout,” he said.

A first fundraiser will begin in March, with $5 tickets for a 42-inch HD flat-screen television to raise money for the restroom project.

“It’s a really cool camp,” said Shelley Norman, Cub Scoutmaster at Cherokee Pack 734.

“It’s the oldest camp west of the Mississippi,” Norman said.

The site on the Illinois River near Boudinot and Welling has a fascinating history.

It was first explored in 1596 by the Spanish. Then the area became home in 1830 to a western Cherokee settlement, and a mission was established by Rev. Samuel Newton. The Civil War Battle of Barren Fork was fought there in December of 1863. By 1903, the Ozark Club, an outing club of Tahlequah and Muskogee citizens, was established.

When the Boy Scouts were looking for a permanent camp site, the Rev. A.E. Moody, pastor at First Presbyterian, and Chief John L. Templeton explored for a site. When Wilbur Hyatt became Scout executive, the three made arrangements to get the property, which J. Fred Darby bought. The benefactor also built Darby Hall.

The first summer camp was held in 1923, with supplies and food arriving on the train and being hauled to the camp on a horse and wagon.

“It’s awesome,” Norman said of the camp. “We have access to the creek and the river.”

Norman sees the improvements as appealing to more campers and their parents, although she doesn’t mind the primitive accommodations.

“It’s insane they’ve never had a restroom,” Norman said. “Sometimes you find dead possums in a latrine and have to poke it with a stick. A lot of mothers come to camp with their sons, and they don’t want to bring their little boys out there or come with them sometimes.”

There’s a bathroom in the dining hall, but no shower.

“We have to hose the boys down sometimes with warm water from the faucet there,” she said.

Other projects to update the camp include plumbing that doesn’t freeze; electricity to the buildings; and improving the roads , said Becky Knox, assistant Scoutmaster with Troop 743. “We want to make the roads drivable into the campgrounds in a normal car, not a four-wheeler or truck.”

Betterment of the camp is the goal, according to Knox, a 12-year volunteer with the Boy Scouts.

“It just has a natural beauty with all the wildlife and trees, and a variety of both,” she said. “Foxes, raccoons, cougars we hear but don’t see, and there are owls, vultures and eagles.”

The Friends of Darby is for everyone, whether they want to become Scout volunteers or just help with a project, Knox said.

At least every other month, she camps with scouts at Camp Fred Darby.

“Any adult, neighbor, mom or dad or grandpa can help by being there for a child,” Knox said. “At camp, this is his special time.”

Scouting is a way of giving back, Knox added, “of investing in our community and future.”

Get involved

Friends of Camp Darby meet the third Wednesday of the month at ICTC at 7 p.m. Contact Tom Russell at (918) 616-1132 to volunteer.

Text Only
  • Dream, Brewdog’s to host music festivals

    One sign of spring’s arrival is the scheduling of music festivals, and 10 bands will visit a Tahlequah venue May 24, the Saturday before Memorial Day.

    April 17, 2014

  • rf-Zoe-thing.jpg Conference attendees get words of encouragement

    Words of encouragement and door prizes were bountiful Saturday morning at the annual Zoë Institute’s Women’s Conference.
    Ten women shared words of wisdom in areas from happiness to health, and 100 gifts were given out, including the grand prize of gasoline for a year.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • sp-symposium-art-panel.jpg Panelists discuss impact of Southeastern art

    Until recently, most people had a certain expectation of American Indian art – and it didn’t include images familiar to people in and around Cherokee County.
    “A lot of times, when people think about Native art, they immediately think of Plains art or Southwestern art,” said Roy Boney (Cherokee), Tahlequah artist and moderator of the panel discussion “Southeastern Indian Art: Building Community and Raising Awareness,” held Friday, April 11, at the NSU Symposium on the American Indian.
    Boney and the other panelists are frustrated by the divide between mainstream expectations of Native American art and their need for genuine self-expression.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • rf-Teacher.jpg Dickerson believes in putting the student first

    As a child growing up in Elk City, Cherokee Elementary teacher Debra Dickerson lined up the neighborhood children and animals to play school.
    “I’ve been a teacher ever since I could talk. My mother always said she knew where I was because she could hear me bossing everyone,” she said.
    The classroom then was a blanket tossed over limbs of her big cherry tree on Eisenhower Street. Recess was spent tree-climbing, running, riding in the bus (her red wagon) and being creative.
    “Those were the days before video games and TV,” she said.
    Dickerson, 2013-’14 Cherokee Elementary Teacher of the Year, believes a classroom should be a safe haven for children, because school is often the best part of their day.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • kh-trash-pickup.jpg Cleaning things up

    Lowrey was part of the Cherokee Nation’s Career Service Center contingency of 11 volunteers. Other volunteers cleaned up trash along the roadway from the Cherokee Casino to the NSU campus.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • SR-NinthAmendment.jpg Right to privacy leans partly on Article 9

    While the other articles of the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights are straightforward – at least, enough for Americans to bicker over in court – the Ninth Amendment might cause a bit of confusion.
    It reads: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
    There are no rights enumerated, and it might be difficult to argue one’s Ninth Amendment rights in court, though it has been done successfully.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • stickball-2.jpg Stickball

    The American Indian Science and Engineering Society and Native American Student Associationat Northeastern State University hosted a traditional stickball game as part of closing cultural activities during the 42nd annual Symposium on the American Indian Friday. Participants included, from left: Nathan Wolf, Disosdi Elk and Chris Smith.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • green-bldng.jpg City council to discuss ‘green building’

    Tahlequah City Council will hold a special meeting Friday, April 11, at 5:30 p.m. to discuss, among other items, applying grant money to renovate the city’s “green building” at the corner of Water and Morgan, near Norris Park.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • alcohol-info.jpg Alcohol screening can be critical

    It has been decades since Prohibition brought Americans gangsters, flappers and speakeasies, but statistics for alcohol addiction are staggering.
    Millions of Americans suffer from alcohol addiction and abuse, which affects families and friends.
    Today, April 10, is the annual National Alcohol Screening Day, and raising awareness through education, outreach and screening programs is the goal, according to the website at www.mentalhealthscreening.org.

    April 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • jn-CCSO-2.jpg Law enforcement agencies to get new facility

    Area law enforcement agencies will soon have a new training facility in Cherokee County.
    The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office is building the new training room near its gun range, located north of the detention center. Sheriff Norman Fisher said tax dollars were not used for the building.
    “This is something we’ve been trying to work on, and it was built with no money from the taxpayers,” said Fisher. “It was paid for with drug forfeitures and gun sales.”

    April 9, 2014 2 Photos


What to you think of a state Legislature proposal to forbid cities from raising the minimum wage? Choose the closest to your opinion.

The federal government should set the minimum wage across the board.
States should be allowed to raise their minimum wages, but not cities.
Both states and cities should be allowed to raise their minimum wages.
Cities should be allowed to raise their mimum wages, but not states.
There should be no minimum wage at all.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest