Camp Tom Wooten

Remembrances


 
Bob Reitz:   Camp Tom Wooten Staff 1966 - I’m Bob Reitz from Dallas and I became a Freshman at the University of Texas during the summer of 1965. I attended the university on a Scout scholarship from Circle Ten Council.  I was an Eagle Scout and on the camp staff at Camp Wisdom in Dallas in 1963. 

I was in the spring pledge class of Alpha Rho chapter of Alpha Phi Omega, and was “hired”  to teach Scoutcraft at Camp Tom Wooten during the summer of 1966. For Pioneering merit badge, I had the Scouts create a 2 ½ foot long thin rope, called a “whang string,” by one of the founders of Scouting, Dan Beard, which they had to wear on their belt, tied with a Lark’s Head knot. 

They were “required” to have the rope on their belts at all times. If I saw them at any time on camp, they would have to tie me a knot, (a good training exercise for their merit badge). The only exceptions were when they were wearing a swim suit. I told  them while they were at the pool  check out  the Aquatic Staff’s toes, as they were only hired to work at camp “because they all had webbed-feet.” The Aquatics Staff just “loved” me. 

I think you could buy manila rope from the Trading Post for a penny a foot. I had each of them buy twenty-five feet of rope to work on lashings. I taught them how to “break-in” or soften their rope by rolling it in the dirt and dragging it through the brush to take out the stiffness. I also set up targets and taught them how to lasso. 

We had great songfest every day after the evening meal in the Dining Hall with Donaly Brice from Lockhart playing guitar. He now works for the State Archivists office in Austin, still plays guitar for his church, and both of us have presented papers at the West Texas History Annual symposiums. 

After dinner on Friday night I would come out dressed as the “Spirit of Dan Beard” complete with campaign hat, to challenge the Aquatic Staff to a race with a raft the Pioneering Merit Badge boys had made. They chose a boy to man their boat, as  we gathered on Saturday morning at the Swimming Pool. 

Our lashed-together coracles and canvas-covered kayaks were no match  for the Aquatic Staff’s  small plastic children’s swimming pool which was held afloat by empty bleach bottles lashed to the side and powered by a handmade double bladed paddle. Halfway across the pool our efforts became undone, split into many parts, only to rise up and issue the challenge again next week. 

After camp I spent a couple of days at my college boarding house at 21st and Rio Grande on the west side of campus. My parents had came down from Dallas to pick me up, and we were loading my duffle bag into the car when someone came running up 21st street yelling “there’s a sniper in the Tower!” Charles Whitman was shooting people from atop the UT Tower, the aftermath of which changed the campus forever.

Afterwards I ended up serving in the Navy. Returned back to Dallas, got married, and started a family.

I got back into Scouting when my son turned eleven. I have worked on many district and council activities since then. I have served on the staff of the National Jamboree in 2005 and the World Jamboree in 2007 in England. I am a Vigil Honor member and a Silver Beaver recipient. I am currently the curator of the Harbin Boy Scout Museum at Camp Wisdom in Dallas. 

“Root’n toot’n, (in spirit), I’m still a camp staff member at Camp Tom Wooten!”   

Gordon Hardin:  I first attended Camp Tom Wooten in the Summer of 1962.  I remember that RR 2222 was just two lanes wide at the time and the camp seemed to be a LONG way out of town. I still remember the monkey bridge that was set up on the parade ground. It was very exciting to a 12 yr.old.

My home troop was not that well organized so I paid the extra $3.00 or so to be in provisional troop.  We were in the cabins at Austin Campsite.  Brian Shenk was provisional Scoutmaster.  I remember three things very vividly. First is how uncomfortable the bunkbeds were.  We had to scrounge cardboard to put under our sleeping bags to keep the springs from hurting.  Second was how bad the latrine smelled, even when walking within 50 feet of it.  And third was how good the cold white and chocolate milk tasted from the machine on the Trading Post porch.  It was cold and incredibly refreshing.

I have other memories from that year.  I remember Bob Breckenridge showing me how to make a lanyard from plastic lace.  He was working on one with a lot of strands, 16 I think.  I later made several with 16 strands and wound up giving most of them away to friends.  I learned basic leatherwork, and got pretty good at it later on.

I also remember that I was totally miserable for the first four days or so.  I didn’t really know anyone else in the provisional troop, and it seemed that there were an awful lot of rules to follow.  At the rifle range it took a long time to get to fire off 5 rounds, and it seemed like they called for a buddy check every two minutes at the pool.   The food wasn’t all that great, and it was HOT.  But somewhere along the way, either I or the camp itself underwent a magical transformation.  By Thursday I was having fun and I still remember that magical walk to the Wolf Ring on Friday night, the smell of the smudge pots and the cedar trees.  As I recall, I finished all the requirements for First Class during camp, and progressed from the beginner part of the pool to the deep end.

After the Indian Dancing and the OA Tapout I was HOOKED on Scouting and on Camp Tom Wooten. I would have stayed another week if I could.   I could hardly wait until the next year. 

In 1963 I was in provisional troop again but I think we were in a different place.  I don’t remember who the scoutmaster was that year.  I think I completed the swimming merit badge and a couple others.  I remember spending quite a bit of time exploring the place.

In 1964 I was an explorer and in provisional troop again.  I remember earning Lifesaving Merit Badge.  I think Michael Schless was the guy I had to bring in and he put up quite a struggle.  The highlight of that week for me was being called out for the Order of the Arrow.  In those days you did your pre-ordeal that night, so I didn’t get much sleep.

In 1965 I was accepted as an In Training Counselor.  My tentmate was David Bell, with whom I worked for several years on staff later on. David went on to become an integral part of aquatics on the National level, earning an acknowledgment in the Swimming Merit Badge Pamphlet.  Frank Hilton was camp director.  I was there for staff training week and came back for the last 4 weeks, but as I recall they cut camp short a week that summer.  They paid us the princely sum of $2.50 per week (less taxes), an increase from the $1.00 they had paid the year before.

In 1966 and 1967 I worked on JLIT and Conservation Camp Staffs, and returned to Wooten in 1968 to serve as Dining Hall director.  1968 was a year when a lot of new staff members were hired, including Greg Guy, later National OA Vice Chief.  It took us a little while, but once we kinda got it together, several of us formed the core of Camp Tom Wooten staffs until 1971, the last year of summer camp there. Jack Swenson was Camp Director, and to say he was a character is an understatement.  That first year, he had to be pretty hands on, with all the newbies, but in later years he allowed us to assume more and more leadership.  He even let me lead the Friday night campfire program in 1970 and 1971.  The highlight of the campfire was the singing of “Dem Bones” (this  was before the age of political correctness)  Clyde Liesman was Camp Ranger, and he was excellent.

I don’t remember all the names, but that group included Larry Lindsay, Greg Guy, Craig Borchardt, Bill Fannin (all of whom served as lodge chiefs), David and Clarence Bell, David Weber, Nick Rios, Jimmy Tomlin, James Bartosh, Mike Liesman, Sidney Hughes, Stanley Trekell, Mike Wilfley, Steve Wilkins, David Lamme, and Larry Gindler (Some of these worked the first few weeks at Wilderness Camp, then came over to Wooten).  If anyone who reads this can add to the list, I would appreciate it.  I understand that now they have to limit the hours a staff member works..  We would never have dreamed of limiting the time we spent.  It was a labor of love, and we felt truly honored to be part of it.  On Friday nights we all put on our best uniforms, OA sashes, and medals for the closing flag ceremonies. We felt that all the campers looked up to us, and I think most of them actually did.

One of the really fun parts of being on camp staff in those years was the nightly volleyball games.  We played a different troop every night and usually dispatched them pretty easily.  On one night each week, we played the Scoutmasters and usually had a pretty easy time for them except for the second week.  There were several Scoutmasters who always came the second week, and they took the volleyball game VERY seriously.  As I recall we won the match two of the four years I was there, and lost two years.  It always went down to the last game and they were always very close.  I don’t remember all the Scoutmasters, but I remember John Hamilton from Cuero, Kay Buckner from San Marcos, and Elgin Heinemeyer and Billy Mikesh from Gonzales.  The next morning in the dining hall was always a bragfest by the winning team. 

One of the best things about camp in those years was the food.  Marie Cox was the head cook, and she loved being there.  I worked closely with her in 1968 and 1969. She was quite a character, with a big smile and hearty laugh.  She was a school cook the rest of the year.   I ran the front of the dining hall and she ran the kitchen, along with a couple of other ladies.  We served family style, and it was no small feat to get the food cooked and in bowls, but meals were almost always right on time.  We kept ice (which was delivered in big blocks, 100 pounds, I think) in an icehouse, and Marie wound up marrying the man who delivered ice.  (She had previously been widowed, I can’t remember her name before she married Mr. Cox).  We crushed the ice in a machine which would surely never pass an OSHA inspection in later times.  We cut off big chunks and dropped them in the machine, and filled large metal pitchers with the ice, later filling them with “bug juice”. 

We usually ran between 150 and 180 campers per week, but some weeks we had over 200, which strained the capacity of the dining hall.  We always sang songs at meals, some serious, some fun.  There was always an opening campfire to get things started off with a bang.  One night there was some sort of campwide game.  At some point we moved the family campfire night to Thursday, because some troops were packing up on Friday nights and going home. 

1969 was pretty special for me, because I was serving as Lodge Chief that year and got to do the OA tapouts.  We were pretty short on Indian Dancers that year, as the older hands had moved on to college and the younger group was still getting things going.  I guess all lodges go through that now and then.  I borrowed a costume and sort of shuffled around during the dancing part, then led the tapout ceremony. 

In 1968, we put on a special camp for underprivileged (we used that term then) kids which I think was sponsored by the Austin Council of Churches.  It was poorly planned and understaffed.  It was one of the few bad times from those years.

One year (I think 1969) we had a “Superactivities Camp” after regular summer camp.  We taught motorboating, rapelling, and other skills that we didn’t teach at regular summer camp.   Unfortunately, it didn’t draw much attendance, but we all had a great time.

In 1970 and 1971 we got a Department of Labor Grant and ran two weeks of camps for underprivileged kids, and this time the camps were organized and much better staffed.   We had a few bumps, but those kids at least got a taste of Scouting.  I can only hope that it helped them in some small way.

I served as camp business manager in 1970. It was a pretty cushy job all in all, and I had a great time. I spent a lot of time visiting with Scoutmasters and got to know them all pretty well.  I made a few extra bucks serving as director of the Lad and Dad weekends, so I hardly left camp all summer.  By that year, we were all aware that what is now Loop 360 was about to put an end to the camp.  The surrounding areas had already become developed and the some campsites were within earshot of the music from the houses which had been built across Bull Creek.  Motorboaters were a constant sight on the creek, making OA ceremonies alongside it  almost impossible.  Our hearts wanted Camp Tom Wooten to go on forever, but our heads told us it was no longer suited for Boy Scout camping.

1971 was the last year of summer camp at Camp Tom Wooten.  Jack Swenson got very involved in getting Lost Pines ready (he was a master brickmason, and he and Clyde Liesman did much of the work on the original buildings there), so I served as Program Director, and two professionals, John D. Johnson (who later became Council Executive in Midland)  and Fred Tull, were nominally camp directors for half the summer each.  By then, the staff had been together so long that the camp pretty much ran itself.  John D. and Fred mostly drank coffee with Scoutmasters and helped with some of the business side of things. I worked Lad and Dad that summer too. 

On the last day of regular summer camp I had them hoist an old flag, planning to keep it as a memento.  Fred Tull heard about it and actually presented it to me in a little ceremony.  I still have it.  That was a wonderful moment for me, a fitting end to my years at a wonderful, no, a MAGICAL place, where generations of young men learned skills and lessons and made friendships which often lasted a lifetime.

austexguy2000@yahoo.com

CDR. Roger Scarborough: I attended Camp Wooten for two weeks in the summer of 1944, one week each in 1945, 46 and 47.  I was a Life Scout, having joined Troop 20 in 1944, and finishing in Senior Troop 50 in 1950.  With little to do this evening, I stumbled on the subject site, bringing back a lot of memories, especially to see my friend Leo Lee in a number of photos.

I was, over the years, a close friend of Glenn Lee Corrigan, one of the legendary scoutmasters of our troop. When he passed away, he made sure that his son gave me all of his memorabilia. Most of this I gave to the Austin History Center, but I believe that I have some very early photos of some leadership camps held at Wooten.  I also have a 5X7 of the Troop 20 people at camp about that time. We were in one of the tent sites that year. 

Troop 20, Austin, Texas
Camp Tom Wooten, Summer 1946

Back Row, L to R:  Wm "Bruder" Bohn, Bruce Wilson, David Pope, Jimmy Horn, 
Roger Scarborough, Chandler Cass
Kneeling, L to R:  Conrad Werkenthin, Skippy Bohn, Lauchlin McLaurin, Albert Holck, 
Rector Allen, Roland Caldwell. 

Tom E. Norris, MD:  My first trip to Camp Tom Wooten was for summer camp with my troop (Troop 116) in the summer of 1960.  I really enjoyed it, and I was a trainee on the staff (Dick Givens was the ranger and John Pounds the camp director) in the summer of 1961.  I worked on the staff teaching cooking and fieldcraft during the summers of 1962 and 1963.  Bill Haney was a good friend of mine, and I was at camp when the coral snake bit him.

After years in 116, and then some time as an Explorer, I graduated from high school, got a degree in Biology from SWT, and graduated from medical school at UTMB in Galveston.  I am a family physician, and I practiced for 2 years as a Navy doctor, for 10 years in a small town in Montana, and for the last 20 years as a medical educator at the University of Washington.  I've always been thankful for what scouting (and my days at Camp Tom Wooten) taught me.  I now have three grown kids, one of whom is an Eagle Scout (he's in dental school), and one who was a Sea Scout.  Hopefully one of my two grandsons will catch scouting fever.

Paul Nix:  I moved to San Marcos with my mother in 1962 from Houston (after my father died), having just turned 12, and went through Junior High, High School and some college there. During the mid 60's I was active with the Boy (and later Explorer) Scouts in San Marcos and that included several summer sessions at Camp Tom Wooten.

What do I remember of Camp Tom Wooten ? ...

Canoeing (having to upright a flooded canoe over the gunnels of mine as part of Merit Badge work) .... the dining hall ..... the Scout on 'Staff' who kept a pet tarantula spider on his shoulder (he brushed its hair with a tooth brush) ... breaking-in new boots on 'practice hikes' at Tom Wooten before going to Philmont in  July 1967 ......  being out all night under-the-stars as part of the Ordeal being inducted in the OA (I didn't sleep a wink that night and laid on a light blanket watching the Milky Way wheel overhead ..... in 1967 your could see it from Tom Wooten).

Somewhere I have a couple of "Tom Wooten pencils" that have never been sharpened ...... :)

In my mind's 'ear' I can hear the 'thump' that came from the hull of the aluminum Grumman canoes at Tom Wooten when they were bumped with a paddle while out on the water.

One weekend in December we came from San Marcos to Camp Tom Wooten for a 'winter camping' experience and stayed in a campsite that had rough rock buildings with metal bunk frames (no mattresses ... just the bare springs to lay our sleeping bags on). At about 2 AM we all got up .... our sleeping bags weren't well enough insulated for the cold temperature being experienced ..... so we built-up the campfire
and spent the rest of the night talking and laughing. (granulated sugar sparkles nicely when tossed into a campfire) It was a wonderful place ...... I hope the kids now have something as nice.

Jeffrey Givens: (Note: Jeff is the son of former Camp Ranger Richard Givens, and is now working in law enforcement.)  I was pretty young then.   I remember when we came home after dark, dad shined his lights on the parade ground and would say "keep your eyes peeled for deer!"  And there they were.  I remember the winter it snowed.  Getting dressed for school in front of the fireplace.  WW's macaroni and cheese.  Hanging out with Zillman "Zeke" Smith.  Driving around camp with dad in the camp truck.  I remember him moving block ice at the dining hall.  Mom made ice cream with the snow. Stubbing many toes on the road between the our house and the trading post. Our dogs Happy and Lulu. Indian dancing at the campfire. I've been dancing for almost 30 yrs now.  Kevin's birthday parties that turned out the entire camp staff.  Kevin (Jeffert;s brother) is in Round Rock, has a 7 yr old girl and a 2 yr old boy.  Swimming in the pool when camp was in and out.  Canoeing.  TxDOT blasting 2222. Great place to spend a few years growing up.  I went back after the courtyard was built...I cried.  I don't recall that I've been back since even though I patrol in that area quite frequently.  I do drive up past Eagle's Nest and I've been told that some of the original OA smudgepots are still up there. 
 

George Finch:I was staff worker-aqua director- at the old Tom Wooten from '63 till I started working on the Lost Pines building the camp before it opened -- I will try to find any pictures as well the words of dembones--I did the song for Jack after he passed away but was warned not to use it because of the NACCP felt it was wrong --my room was the left side of the Old A building that is at Lost Pines ,during the special summer camp for the Deaf school some 500+ scouts.   There were cabins that end up burning up because of state school scouts were using them for campout --- we also made a national movie of a special education child lost in the woods--involving Texas Rangers, DPS, sheriff and scouts looking for him----I was the SM and Greg Guy was my SPL and he problary has the other scouts names involved---we could find the movie---he may know the name of the movie my memory is not working at its full force---we all have photographic minds it is just some of us do not have the film there----haha---check with Ty Starr -- he is writing a book on the Capitol Area Council Scouting Years--
 

Leo Lee: I do remember my boyhood camp directors: Floyd Davis and George Pehacek.  During the 1955 to 1959 that I worked for the Capitol Area Council I was Camp Director in 1967 one of these summers for Marshall Monroe our Assistant Scout Executive.  The new dining hall was being built the summer that I was Camp Director.
 

Jim Tarr:  I have quite a lot of memories about the camp.  I was a camp director at least part of the time in 1942.  George Pechacek and I took a tank on a trailer that was full of what had been emptied from latrines.  We went way back on the property, spread it all over some how and poured gasoline all over it.  We had a minor explosion that was temporarily terrifying.  Somehow we got it under control.  It was quite a conversation piece between us for a few years.  As I recall, we never did tell Herb Gaskin about it. 

It was always quite a challenge to drive over the Mt Bonnel winding road back and forth.  Another event that I recall was a Junior Leader Training event directed by Captain W.P. Knox.  He prepared a special dinner for everyone.  After the dinner as he started the program he told everyone that he had served dog meat.  Some began to get sick, at that time he changed what he said he had served to coon meat. 
 

Marshall Monroe:  Chief Venne - One spring we were having a particularly difficult time getting a satisfactory reading on our water system from the Travis County Health Board.  Each time the test was made at a hydrant neat Chief Venne's house the reading came back "CONTAMINATED".     The contamination was Ecoli!!  In desperation I took the then Volunteer Board Member who was the Sanitation Officer at Bergstrom AFB out to Camp to see if we could determine what caused the contamination.  The "test process" was simple.  A CLEAN cup was provided by the County Health Board and the process involved drawing water from one of the Camp Wooten water faucets.

       We, Chief Venne, the AF Officer and I went to the nearest Camp water tap.  I gave Chief Venne the "test" cup.  Chief Venne took the cup and hooked his thumb over the lip of the cup, pressing his remaining 4 fingers against the outside of the cup.  This seems quite routine.  However, the AF Officer asked Chief if that was the way he always took the "water sample". Chief replied, YES.

       The AF Officer then pointed out to me, and the Chief, that by putting the thumb inside the cup where the water was to be sampled contaminant on the Chief's thumb would be immediately transferred to the WATER SAMPLE IN THE CUP.

       Bottom line, the ecoli was coming from underneath Chief Venne's thumb nail!!!!    Problem solved!  From then on either I or another properly instructed professional staff member drew the "water sample".  To my knowledge we had no further problems with our periodic water tests!

Unveiling of Statue of Liberty Although not directly related to Camp Wooten, there is another "Chief Venne" incident that will always live in my memory.  This had to do with the time when the BSA Nationally was encouraging the placement of a copy [small, but life size] "Statue of Liberty" statues on State Capitol grounds.  Under Herb Gaskin's leadership, money was raised and permission received to place one of these "Statue of Liberty" statues on the Capitol grounds in Austin.  The original location was on the west, front grounds of the Capitol.  The "Statue" arrived and was on display for a short time during one of our Scout Shows at the then, Austin Coliseum .  It was necessary to transport the  "Statue" to the Capitol following the closing of the Scout Show.  Chief Venne brought the Camp Wooten truck to town and the "Statue" was placed, facing forward, at the front end of the truck bed and securely tied down. Statue On Texas Capitol GroundsFor an unknown reason, Chief Venne went to Mr. Gaskin's home in South Austin with Statue "in place".  Now comes the "point"!  Chief Venne left Mr. Gaskin's home in the suburbs and headed for the Capitol. What the Chief failed to be aware of was the old oak trees behind Mr. Gaskin's home that overhung the street.

       I and some Scout dignitaries and workers  were at the Capitol grounds awaiting the arrival of the truck with Statue.

  As the truck came into view we saw, with horror, a Statue of Liberty, leaning forward, clutching a "whacked" stomach.  Chief Venne had driven the truck, with statue, squarely into one of the old oak limbs that overhung the street!!  Needless to say, we could not put this deformity on the Capitol grounds in its present condition.   Fortunately there was at that time there a Smithy, a Mr. Wanger [sp?] on East First Street in Austin. He offered to try to straighten the damaged Statue of Liberty.  After a lot of time and effort, the "fixed" Statue was placed on the Capitol Grounds, but with easily identified stomach problems!  That Statue was moved to the rear of the Capitol Building and can be seen there to this day!

       A final remembrance, for the moment, of Camp Wooten involving Scout Executive Herb Gaskin.  Mr. Gaskin was a "Get It Done!" person.  He had always dreamed of a new and more fitting Dining Hall for Camp Wooten.  Mr. Gaskin was great a fund raising and in a short time had adequate money to finance the new Dining Hall.  Careful plans for the structure were made and the necessary permits issued for its construction. The plans were drawn and approved.  It was to be placed on the upside of the open field, giving a great view of the "Field" and Lake Austin in the distance.    I was on duty at Camp Wooten when Herb came out to check on the progress of the new Dining Hall.  We went over to the construction site.  The general  of the structure had already been determined and there were stakes, flags and string outlining the "footprint".  Mr. Gaskin looked over the entire site and seemed somewhat displeased.  He ordered me to get some string and stakes, which I did immediately.  At that point Herb said "It's not big enough!" and proceeded to extend the outer limits of the right side of the structure a significant distance.  When he was satisfied, he had me place the stakes and strings to accommodate the "new" size!

       I personally learned a lot from those who preceded me, particularly Herb Gaskin and Jim Tarr.  Scouting is today, what was envisioned by these and the many other early Scouters I was privileged to know.

Paul Snider:  I have in my collection several black & white and color 8mm movies of the camp and its scouts.  An old friend of mine, C. A Schutze, was involved as staff at the camp in the 40s and upon his death his widow presented me with all of his scouting items due to our past freindship...among the items were the "home movies", patches, and a stack of photos.
 

J. David Haines:  John Pound was the camp director when I worked there.  I believe it was in 1962.  I was on the staff at Rickenbacker, now Bear Creek in the Alamo council the next year.  I know Dan Hemingson.  He was our Chapter Chief in 1961.  I had that position the next year.  My base troop was 32 at Crestwiew Methodist Church on Marrow St and Woodrow in what was north Austin.  When we moved there Anderson Lane was a two lane road without a curb and only a horse ranch and cotton fields until you got to Coxvill Zoo out Lamar, also know as the old Dallas highway also only two lanes.

John Lusk, who died two years ago, was the head of all the aquatics.  I believe that the great flood that did take all the canoes and boats down lake Austin was in June of 1959.  I remember it was on a Sunday night, I rolled off my air mattress into about 5 inches of water in our umbrella tent.  Dick Corbin was our scout master and later Oney Chaffin. 

Of the notable people I remember in OA were Don Renfoe, a real brother. Tim Shane who had been our Lodge Chief, Don Johnson (Lief Johnson's heir),  Brian Shenk, who taught at Austin High for years, and so many more that I can only remember their eyes and voices.  I probably participated in 20 or more tap-outs and Friday night dances during the three years I was active in the dance team and later the Jade (ya-dee) post dance team over at Terrytown Baptist Church. My father was Rev. Lester Haines. During our time in Nixon and Austin he was a very active scouter, being awarded the vigil honor, and silver beaver while in Austin. 

My brother Lester was also active in Post 5 and active in the Order of the Arrow as well. I think one of my most graphic memories had to do with work days and an old vintage Dodge duce and a half with a winch on the front pulling huge trees we had cut out of a gully to use as seats in the council ring. Why no one got hurt or killed is beyond me. I remember several camporees that based out of Wooten.  One was based around the Hiking merit badge and Camping merit badge.  The whole group at the camporee had to carry a 40# pack, if it didn't weigh that much they put rocks in it until it did, and we hiked over the top of Cat Mountain and to what I remember as a part of the old Davenport ranch, which would have about two or three miles west of the old gravel pit Mesa (I think) Jr. High is today.  More than just a few blisters on feet and shoulders for everyone.  While we were there we actually found the footprints of a black bear that used to hang around out that way several times a year. 

That whole area between 2222, Spicewood Springs Road, which went from Burnet Road, over suicide hill, down the stream where I caught many fish, to the entrance of old Tom Wooten near the  Bull Creek Lodges, and the old rail road (MoPac) was our play ground as Scouts.
 

Frank T. Hilton: I served on the camp staff a couple of summers while a student at the University of Texas.  Our Alpha Rho Chapter of Alpha Phi Omega would go out to the camp and work on service projects and helped put on an outdoor Junior Leader Training weekend.

One week during summer camp, a Scout came down with Polio, which in those days was very serious.  They took all the leaders into town so they could call the parents to come pick up their kids.  The staff job was the meet the parents at the Headquarters building and go get their kids and bring them to the office.  The parents were in a panic and just went down, grabbed their kid and took off.  It was strange to see parents act like wild animals that night, no regard for anyone but themselves.  I stayed on in camp the rest of that week, being as I had no place to go, and the Travis County Health Department came out and sprayed the camp.  That Sunday, the camp reopened as if nothing had happened.

Another time, Scouts from one troop in camp started coming down sick.  The Scoutmaster immediately blamed the food in the dining hall as the problem.  The Health Department was called, came out, inspected the kitchen and gave it a clean bill of health.  They then started looking at the campsites and discovered where the problem was.  That one troop had a cooler of water and had one cup that all his kids drank from.  One of his kids had come to camp with the sickness and thus had spread it to all the other kids in the troop from the one cup.  Needless to say, we had one red faced leader.

And I remember the time that a nature staff member, Bill Haney of San Marcos, tried to catch a snake by splashing kerosene on the snake to get it out of a cedar tree.  He then grabbed the snake but the snake was slippery because of the kerosene and slithered through his hand and bit him between the fingers.  It was a coral snake and he had to be taken to the emergency room for treatment.  He survived and later was accepted at the Air Force Academy.
 

Bill Haney:  Camp Rangers at Camp Tom Wooten:  between Charlie Robinson and Dick Givens came Johnny Adams.  I believe Johnny came out of Austin's Police Department. He had a real nice wife, a little boy and a younger girl.  I remember his telling the newly assembled camp staff that he had a personal problem, "cussing", that he was trying to overcome.  He asked us to mention it to him when he was cussing, not to make a big deal out of it in front of campers or scoutmasters, but in private.  Kind of impressive to a staff trainee, but by the third week of camp I can't recall his cussing being any worse that the rest of us.
 

Note:  We are looking for addtional stories about Camp Tom Wooten.  If you have one, or have photos of the camp, contact the Webmaster.  His e-mail address is on the bottom on the home page.


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