More than just this new activity center, Maple Dell Scout Camp has been made over in the last several years so that you might not believe if you didn’t come to camp and see it. Some of the many improvements include:
- High COPE Ropes Challenge Course
- Zip Lines over the Lake
- Expanded Lake with a large beautiful sandy beach and large obstacle course inflatables.
- New Eccles Nature Center with hands-on displays.
- 3-D Field Archery course
- New Technical Skills Instructional Area for Welding and Automotive Maintenance Merit Badges.
- Digital Media center at the Clyde Lodge for Digital Photography and Moviemaking including computer editing and presentation skills.
It is truly amazing for someone who worked there in the 1980’s, but there is no surprise when you consider the camps history.
The History of the Maple Dell Scout Camp
The location of the Maple Dell Scout Camp was favored by Ute Indians because of its fresh springs and abundant food supply. The canyon stream (Peteetneet) was filled with fish and the area abounded with wild game. Insects, reptiles, small rodents, rabbits, porcupines and other larger animals provided food, clothing, tools, weapons and other usable materials. One small pond held water year round. These Native Americans wintered along the shores of Utah Lake, and the canyon served as a route between winter hunting and camping grounds to the summer ones near Indianola. The location was used by Chief Wah-ka-rah as a campsite or hiding place during the “Walker War” of the 1850’s. Many artifacts recovered during the past decades make clear the presence of Native Americans in the camp. For that reason, Indian lore has been an appropriate part of the camp’s program.
The earliest record of white settlers indicates that Isaac and George Hancock came up to the area in 1908 or 1910. They planted potatoes and watered them by the springs that came out of what is now Scout Lake. In 1919 Joseph Townsend developed Townsend Park on the 160 acres that is now the Scout camp and leased or sold cabin and house sites. A dance pavilion was constructed in 1920 which is currently used as the camp’s trading post. Fish rearing ponds were built and a circular boating pond was set up. A swimming pool was built to the southwest of the pavilion (now the Trading Post).
The Townsend family continued to extend the development for a few years, and finally sold Townsend Park to George A. Brown and his wife Julia in 1923, who operated the park as Maple Dell Ranch and were first to use the Maple Dell name. In 1940 they sold Maple Dell Ranch to C. G. McDonald and his wife Margaret. The McDonalds lived in Long Beach, CA, and used the facilities primarily as a hunting camp.
The Maple Dell Scout Camp was founded in 1946 when the Maple Dell Ranch was purchased from the McDonalds for $7500. This was a monumental cost and effort for the Council. That year campers used the camp, but the following year, for the LDS Centennial Celebration of the pioneers arriving in Utah, the camp lay fallow. In 1948 the camp was back in business.
In the years that followed, the National Engineering Service of the BSA designed buildings and created a master plan with seven large campsite. In the 1960’s, the camp hit its stride, when the Clyde Company built the Clyde Lodge, Staff Lodge and swimming pool and of course, pit toilets.
As we moved into this century, Payson City, who owns our water added a chlorinator and we added two huge water tanks to store that water. To protect water sources pit toilets were replaced with new flush toilets and portapotties. The pool lived its life-cycle and was removed in 2008, but the refurbished lake, waterfront and beach are easily as popular as the pool was.
With the impetus of Blake Barney dredging the lake during the winter 2013–14 a complete renovation of the lake was accomplished with the help of Al Schellenberg, Clyde Companies , CLAS Ropes Course and InsideSales.com.
Blake Barney and Clyde Companies did not stop there, they didn’t want to just fix the lake, but make it better. More hours, money and manpower were poured into adding a sandy beach front, new dock, safety fence and boulders were brought in to stabilize the swim area. With the help of 400 volunteers from Inside Sales the project from then on, including painting every building, replacing benches, and installing the lake features, was finished over a 3-4 week period.
Like frosting on a cake, InsidesSales.com also paid for an inflatable “wipeout” obstacle course on the lake and the new COPE cube, designed, and installed by CLAS Ropes Course at wholesale cost for materials. Both installation have created a new atmosphere of fun and adventure at the Scout camp.
In 2015, the Eccles foundation added a nature center and we began refurbishing the old staff lodge to accommodate food preparation for both staff and campers.
The new stake activity center at camp is the newest addition to facilities, but program at Maple Dell remains king.
Author: Darryl Alder | Strategic Initiatives Director, Utah National Parks Council, BSA. He has been a Pack Committee Chair, Cubmaster and Den Leader in two different LDS Ward Packs.