Farewell to Woodworth Lake

You don’t have to drive far into the hills outside Gloversville to be in the Adirondack Park — and just within the park’s boundaries is Woodworth Lake Scout Reservation.

Woodworth Sign

 I’ve spent many chilly nights in cabins at Woodworth, nights punctuated by breathtaking trips to even chillier latrines. The days were filled with sledding, hikes, games of Risk and meals prepared by the scouts. Some adult leaders — and I’m not naming names — would bring their own food to avoid the scout cuisine. O ye of little faith!

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Those winter weekends are a thing of the past now, as the Twin Rivers Council has quietly sold the 1200 acre camp to an undisclosed buyer. And I can’t say I blame them.

Nationwide, scouting has faced declining membership and skyrocketing expenses. Add to this the damage the Boy Scout’s public image has suffered in recent years, and you’ve got a tough situation. When Woodworth opened in 1949, scouting was in its heyday. Today, they have too much property and not enough scouts.

Consolidation like this, while painful, will help the council survive.

In the cabins and dining hall at Woodworth, generations of Boy Scouts have left their mark and memorialized their visit with inscribed plaques. Some are very elaborate, and others crudely etched in scraps of wood and bark. Many of those scouts are now grown men who have children of their own; I hope that their kids get to experience the same great things as the thousands of children who have passed through the gates at Woodworth.

18 responses to “Farewell to Woodworth Lake

  1. R. Baden-Powell

    I was also melancholy about the sale of Woodworth….having shared those frozen latrine trips and only recently benefitting from the hands-free technology of the hands-free head lamp…! Word on the street is that it may still be possible for scouters to camp there for a little more $$…but after some renovation and sans mouse holes/droppings/trails/remains…. and btw – my meal choices were determined by my Doctor…. who said I should cut down on Ptomaine/E-Coli platters… 😉

    • I’ve also heard there may be some areas available for camping, but I was unsure if these were the cabins or tent sites. I would assume that the cabins, in their prime waterfront locations, may be prime sites for development.

      Headlamps and baby wipes. Two essential latrine tools…

  2. I am saddened to hear that Woodsworth Lake Scout Resevation is being sold. In the summer of 1971 I spent my first summer camp there. My older brother and dad were with me there as well.It das a really bonding time for us. My dad passed away 5 years ago this month. So,Woodsworth Lake is a very seat memory of my time with him.I hope and trust there are other men remember,too. Thank you to those who made it great.

  3. I was at the site the year before the campsite opened. My troop stayed in the old farmhouse that winter across from Hines Pond. Also camped there the first year it opened. Work wasn’t quite finished when we moved in.

  4. I was the Aquatic Director at Woodworth Lake in 1967, and the Program Director in 1968. Ed Clark was Camp Director. It was two very special summers for me. We had a great staff, and troops from the New York city area made the trip up to the Adirondacks to camp for a week. Great memories. I stopped by there in 2013 and enjoyed seeing the place again. Sad that it is no longer an active summer camp. I now am Camp Administrator of Camp Mountaineer, near Morgantown, WV.

    • Interestingly, I’ve only been there in the winter. I made many a midnight dash to the latrine on some very cold nights.

    • Robert Olmstead

      Van, You may remember me as Turtle – a nickname Ed Clark gave me at one of the water carnivals. I was on staff for three summers. Well, two summers and a few weeks during the third summer. You wisely failed me for Scout Lifeguard because I was in poor shape and had no business going after someone thrashing around in the water. I was able to pass Lifesaving Merit Badge, though, and get my Eagle Award, and Ed was at my ceremony. I remember a year or two later when a friend, Jed Lawrence, who actually passed Scout Lifeguard in the same week that I failed it, was in the local paper for putting those skills to work and saved a man from drowning. Nice to see you’re still serving Scouts! God bless…

      • Bob: Yes I do remember you! This has been a great week for finding WLSR staff from the 1960’s. I made contact with Steve Smith on Monday, who worked with me in aquatics. We are getting together later this month after 48 years. There were some really great people on staff those years. I don’t know if you knew, but Ed Clark passed away about 8 years ago due to melanoma. Send me an Email, as i would like to reconnect: van.anderson@scouting.org.

      • Steven Twardzik

        I heard an add on the radio for discount land sales at Woodworth Lake. Turtle , you may remember a troop leader and a camp director after Ed Clark, his name was Mike Twardzik , my dad. Sadly he passed away August 1971 while we were hiking at Phimont in New Mexico. He’ s probably rolling over about the demise of the great Woodworth Lake Scout Camp. Many great memories there from 1969 to 1971 for me. Turtle I remember you from the dining hall calling out “waiters, get your whatever food it was you called out. And the troops water front competitions , swamp the canoe and the greased watermelon event.

        • Van Anderson

          Yes, Steven, there were lifetime memories to come out of Woodworth Lake–where I spent my first summer in the Adirondacks. Some of the finest Scouts and Scouters I have ever associated with shared that special place.

    • Mr Donald S Kitchen

      My Grandfather “Shorty” was the Ranger there. I remember you and Ed as I would spend most the summers there.

      • Donald: I fondly remember Shorty. What a great guy he was! He loved Genessee beer, and one night a bunch of us staff members went out of camp and decided to get him three cases of it, sneak into camp late at night and stand all of the bottles, one by one on, all over the camp pickup truck that he used to drive down into camp for breakfast. Obviously, Shorty was late for breakfast that morning–but he was in a great mood. Send me an Email, I’d like to pursue this. van.anderson@scouting.org

  5. Spent many years there attending and working. In the process of purchasing a chunk of land come this weekend..

  6. I can not even count the number of times I stayed at Woodworth. In the early 80s it was my summer vacation, one year I stayed 4 weeks straight! I have to say it was one of the most foundational experiences in my childhood. Fondly remember Troop 545, the “Beast”, getting buzzed by A10s in the lifeguard tower, the Mir debris contest and old man Hines. It is very sad to see it go, but the memories will last a lifetime.

  7. Does anyone know where all the TROOP 50 plaques went. After, Many years of Camping at Woodworth Lake in the early 80’s to 86 for me (Both Summer Camp & O/A Stuff) and Camping from the mid 70’s and 80’s for my father and older brothers. My old TROOP 50 made some beautiful Amsterdam plaques, With a working Windmill in some, Thanks to dad. We were informed that the Troop my Dad led and I and many other boys became an EAGLE SCOUT in, disband shortly after we moved to Florida in the late 80’s./ early 90’s, not sure when. With my father ROBERT WIESZCHOWSKI Passing away last year. It would mean a lot to me, to maybe see a pic of any of those old plaques.. My Dad put a lot of Time & Effort in with me and the other boys and my brothers making a decade or two Worth of them. We put them in the dinning area every year. If, anyone knows where they went, please let me know… Unless, some how they got destroyed, In which case, I don’t want to know.

    • Hi. Just read your email about Troop 50 from AmsterdamNY. I was in that troop from approx 1969 to 1972. My dad, Mike Twardzik was the Scoutmaster of Troop 50 and an administrator at Woodworth Lake during some those same years summers. We camped in the lean toos at campsite B. I too was recently wondering what happened to the Troop. 50 plaques even from my era. It’s hard to get info about Woodworth Lake as a scout camp. My dad passed during August, 1971 while we were in The big scout camp in Philmont , New Mexico. I too later earned my Eagle Scout in 1972. Feel free to email at stwardzi@nycap.rr.com

  8. Well, here we all are. I am perhaps late in joining the hike trough memory lane, but I couldn’t by pass this article without sharing. My name is Victoria Marro Rath. My late father was Vincent Marro, a former scout ranger at Woodworth Lake from 1967 to 1980. My brother Mike, was also an eagle scout. All my fondest childhood memories are embodied within that sprawling piece of land. I spent the first 10 years of my life there and I’m sure if you went there as a scout in those years, you might remember a cotton headed ragamuffin, riding her pink huffy like a wild thing through the pine forest.
    To this day, I venture up that familiar dirt road just to have a peek at the old place. Though it has changed over the years, to me, it still feels like home. Kinda sad.

  9. My 4 older brothers all went to Woodworth Lake Scout Camp — and they all became Eagles….my two younger brothers weren’t as lucky, but they still became Eagles as well. I was the black sheep. My family owned a camp on Mountain Lake which is on the same road to Woodworth Lake. We had horses and would ride the two miles to visit. Such good memories! If I were rich I’d buy it, just because…..

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