Sunday, July 15, 2001

Scouts return to renovated camp

Former campers help restore dilapidated site

The Associated Press

        FRIENDSHIP, Ohio — A Boy Scout camp that was closed six years ago for safety reasons is thriving again because some of its former campers were able to give it a second chance.

        About 450 boys will attend sessions over a four-week period this year at Camp Oyo, a 52-acre enclave surrounded by 50,000 acres of the Shawnee State Forest in southwest Scioto County.

        The site, about 12 miles west of Portsmouth, was closed in 1994 because the Simon Kenton Scout Council decided its buildings were too old and unsafe.

        The council directs scouting activity in 17 central and southern Ohio counties and northern Kentucky.

        “We argued with them,” said Richard Applegate, 73, a retired insurance agent and former scoutmaster. “They said they had too many camps and wanted to get rid of this one.”

        Mr. Applegate and other former staff members at the camp formed the Camp Oyo Alumni Association and asked the council for a second chance.

        “They were going to bulldoze it,” said Carl Clark, 70, of New Boston, the association's treasurer. “We had quite a revolution here.”

        Aided by the Portsmouth Fire Fighters Association and other volunteers, the group put on new roofs, installed new windows and doors, and rebuilt porches and fireplaces.

        The camp was established in 1926 by Harry Wagner, an official with the Scouts from the 1920s to the 1960s.

        It features six cabins built during the Depression that are made of American chestnut trees that had succumbed to blight.

        The camp reopened in 1999 on a limited basis.


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