Susquenango Council

At the invitation of Rev. Alvin C. Sawtell and the Scoutmasters of the Binghamton troops, a meeting was held February 8, 1918 at the Chamber of Commerce, to discuss the Boy Scout situation in Binghamton and its vicinity. The group decided to organize a local council. Ten days later Daniel Carter Beard, the National Scout Commissioner, inaugurated the organizational meeting of the "Binghamton Local Council."

The first year's budget was set at $5000. Elmer A. Barrett accepted the position of Scout Executive at a salary of $2000 on April 2, 1918; three months later he resigned to enter the U. S. Army. The first office secretary was hired in July 1918 at $10 per week. In September, L. R. Mathews took the Scout Executive's position at a yearly salary of $2200. At this time, a yearly subscription to Boys' Life magazine cost 90 cents; the Boy Scout Handbook sold for 30 cents.

By 1919, the Council's budget had increased to $7000. The Council's offices, shared with Robert S. Wickham, were in the Binghamton Press Building. The region served by the Council was the City of Binghamton; Endicott and Johnson City were known as "affiliates" of the Council. Camp Roosevelt, which was not owned by the Binghamton Council, was used for summer camp.
A Field Scout Executive was hired in March 1920 and the next month, at the insistence of the National Council, the name was changed to "Susquenango Council." By this time, the Council had two camps - Camp Russell (weekly fee $7) and Camp Kiwanis (weekly fee $3). By November of 1921, Endicott and Johnson City (including Vestal, Maine, and other outlying areas) separated to form the "Fair Play Council."

In June 1922, Susquenango Council moved from the Heath Block to the Berry Block in Binghamton. It was formally incorporated on December 7th, 1922 and notarized by C. Addison Keeler on February 1st, 1923. In June of 1923, a Council Scout cabin was built on Deyo Hill.

Chenango County was invited to join the Council in September 1924. A campsite on Cincinnatus Lake was purchased in January 1925 and named Camp Spalding (March 1925) in honor of the Council President, R. Z. Spalding. In July of that year, the camp operated for four weeks. In December, C. Fred Johnson donated $500 for a fireplace at Camp Spalding. The camp increased its operation to six weeks in 1926. By 1929, the weekly fee was increased from $6 to $7. In 1930 an Indian Village with tepees was added.

Sea Scouting and the Cub Scout programs were organized in 1931. On February 28, 1933 the Fair Play and Susquenango Councils were merged. With the merger, the Fair Play Council's Camp Kiamesha ("Land of the High Beautiful Waters") was leased to Susquenango Council for two years; in 1935 it became the property of the Council.

July 1935 was a time of disastrous floods. The road into Camp Spalding was washed out and the dam at the end of Cincinnatus Lake was swept away. With the drop in water level, the camp docks ended up 100 yards from the lake. The Council offered to donate $1000, but the reconstruction of the dam was never accomplished. Thus, in 1936, Camp Kiamesha became theofficial summer camp with Camp Spalding reserved for Troop camping. By 1938, the Council had moved to the Old State Armory in Binghamton. The records for 1939 show net losses for both camps: $63.75 for Camp Kiamesha and $12.47 for Camp Spalding.

World War II brought gas and food rationing; summer camp operations were consolidated at Camp Spalding by 1942. The Council headquarters had moved again, and again - to the Security Mutual Building in Binghamton and then to 27 Main Street just west of Binghamton Central High School. There it remained until 1955 when the new service center was built on Jensen Road in Vestal.

Camp Spalding and Camp Kiamesha were sold in 1953 and Camp Summit (now the Tuscarora Scout Reservation) became the Council camp. (The United Way required the sale of the two camps before a capital development campaign for Tuscarora could be initiated.)