History of Camp Geiger
the early 1900's, the Scouting Movement began to grow rapidly across the United States.
Troops in St. Joseph
were organized as early as May, 1912, with the chartering of Troop 1 at the
YMCA. There was no official Scout Council at that time, nor was there an
official summer camp.
July of 1916, several troops had organized, and a group of the city's business
and professional men met at the Chamber of Commerce to organize the St. Joseph
Council, Boy Scouts of America. At that time, no paid Scout Executive was
employed. Summer camps were held at various locations, including Bean Lake
and Garrettsburg, for several years following.
summer camping became a mainstay of the new program, the need for a permanent
camping location grew. In 1918, a group of Scouting organizers located a high
ridge of wooded property, or "hog back," as it was called, near
Excitement grew as they realized the thirty acre tract would make an excellent
permanent summer camp.
land was owned by a local farmer, W. E. Brinton. The owner was at first
hesitant, as he had ‘dealt with city boys‘, and felt justified in suspecting
and mistrusting them. Experience had shown him they had tendencies to take
fruit, to damage property, to annoy and injure livestock. But the little group
of men struggling to develop Scout work here named a committee to talk the
matter over...and seek temporary use of the ground…”
the farmer agreed. Following the first summer, Brinton was of a changed mind.
He enthusiastically agreed to continue loan of the ground ...each summer, and
...within a few years, he voluntarily deeded the tract over to the
council...Camp Brinton, as it was known, became the first permanent summer camp
of the St. Joseph Council. By 1925, attendance had grown steadily, but nothing
would prepare the Council for what was to follow. The new Scout Executive, just
arrived from Wyoming,
would popularize Scouting and summer camp in a manner never seen before. He
would provide an exhilarating experience for boys which continue to the present
day. His name was Harold Roe Bartle.
arrived in January of 1925, and worked diligently at expanding the Scouting
Movement. Within a short time, boys were clamoring to join the Boy Scouts in St. Joseph, and to attend the
summer camp at Agency. Camp
Brinton was remodeled and
improved each year in an attempt to keep stride with the growing attendance. Bartle's
intense energy involving the community in Scouting, and his innovative summer camp
concepts, including an Indian Lore honor camper program called Mic-O-Say, began
to fill the little summer camp beyond its endurance.
began to look about for a new summer camp which could be acquired. When Bartle
was transferred to the Kansas City
area in 1929, his successor, Rex Gary, continued the search.
December of 1930, an exciting news article appeared in the St. Joseph Gazette.
It was announced that a local physician, Dr. Charles Geiger, would make a gift
of his old boyhood home to the Boy Scouts to be used as a summer camp. The
beautiful river bluff property he had explored as a youth would be rediscovered
by countless others. It would be called Camp Geiger.
and building on the new property began as soon as possible. A Dining Hall and
Caretaker's Cabin were fashioned from the many rocks found in the area, and a
stream was dammed to form a swimming hole. A colossal bridge was built to
traverse the ravine between the main ridges of the camp.
quarters were constructed of rock and wood and canvas. By 1935, Camp Geiger
was officially opened as the summer camp of the council, and work was begun on
a new swimming pool, to be built high on the bluff above the camp.
additions would follow as the new Camp
Geiger enjoyed more than fifteen years
of immense popularity to the Scouts in the St. Joseph and surrounding areas.
the early 1950's, it was clear that the ever-increasing camp attendance had
once again outgrown the facilities. Additional land purchases allowed the
beginning of a new camp, to be located to the north, high on the river bluffs.
In December of 1950, it was announced that Harry Block of St. Joseph would donate the first new
building. The Block
Center would serve
primarily as a Dining Hall. Construction of this building marked the beginning
of the "new Camp
Geiger" located on
the northern river bluffs. Additional buildings were donated by civic-minded
organizations and individuals, including the Headquarters and Trading Post
building. Camp was officially moved to the new area in 1952. Handicraft Lodge
(the nature lodge that is no longer standing) was donated in 1954. Goetz Lodge was dedicated in 1956,
and the Maryville Health Lodge was built in 1965. By the late sixties, the old
swimming pool had served for over 35 years and construction began on a new
facility on the northernmost property in 1970. In the early 1990's, the
property adjacent to the camp entry road was purchased. On this land called "Chieftains'
Corner" now reside the Dining Hall and Headquarters/Health Lodge buildings
built in 1992.
seventy-five years, Camp
Geiger has served
thousands and thousands of Scouts as their summer home away from home. If one
hikes southward from the present camp, down into the Valley toward the old Waterworks Road,
he'll find the remains of the old swimming pool. The foundation of the first
Camp Geiger Dining Hall is still visible, and one can locate several of the
rock-based campsites. A stone corner and fireplace mark the old Caretaker's
Cabin. On a quiet day, the wind seems to echo the laughter of young boys. It
carries their hopes and dreams to mingle with ours on the northern bluffs. For,
though Camp Geiger has enjoyed the reputation of
ever-changing programs and fun for so many decades, we have kept the concepts
and traditions with which we began. The future – and the past – are alive at Camp Geiger.
Click here for a printable form of the History.