Hughes Aquatic Base

Buffalo Trail Council

View of lakeThis unique aquatic base is located just outside of Colorado City, TX and is owned by the Buffalo Trail Council, BSA.  The site of the base used to be a property owned by Cosden Oil and Chemical Company and used for a recreation site for its employees called Col-Tex Club on Lake Colorado City.  Cosden had become American Petrofina, or FINA and had decided to deposed of the property.  It was located on 1.76 waterfront acres on the east shore of Lake Colorado City in Mitchell County, Texas.

Sam Honeycutt, a Scouter and official with FINA, had been given the assignment to handle the disposition of Col-Tex.  He had heard of the council's need for an aquatic camp and contacted upper management of the company about their need.  The decision was made by FINA to donate the property and facilities to the Buffalo Trail Council.  The Council received title in October of 1980.

While the camp was being developed it was call the ColTex Aquatic Base or for short, Camp Col-Tex.  The camp was later named in honor of G. Newell Hughes by the Council Executive Board and is known today as the Hughes Aquatic Base.  Mr. Hughes was responsible for helping to plan the camp, supervising  the workmen and hiring and supervising any contractors that were needed to complete the development of the camp.  There was much work to be done to recondition the facilities and bring the property up to the standards required for a first class Boy Scout camp.  Development funds were raised for badly needed renovation of the existing building, the building of a dock on the pilings sticking out of the water and the acquiring of additional acreage.

BoatsNumerous patrons made possible the acquisition of an additional 400 feet of waterfront to add to the original gift of 400 feet, and a 8.25 acre tract of non-waterfront property that is now the tent camping area.  In addition to acreage, other facilities built or acquired included another dock, a mobil home, two coed restroom/showers facilities and the Von Roeder Memorial Chapel.  The Camp Ranger's cottage was a gift by Lyle Deffeback of Snyder, and was moved from Lake Thomas where it had been his lakefront cottage.  This was adequate for a one hundred camper base.  They also developed six pads and hook-ups for RV camping. 

According to the Big Spring (Texas) Herald, dated February 8, 1985, the new facility was scheduled to open officially on July 14, 1985, for a week long experience for the Scouts in the Buffalo Trail Council.  The camp director was Glenn Cochran, a member of the Buffalo Trail Council staff.  The program consisted of all kinds of aquatic activities and instruction.

SailingThe camp itself was officially dedicated on March 19, 1988 as the G. Newell Hughes Aquatic Base and Training Center in honor of G. Newell Hughes.  A skilled retired engineer and a volunteer Scouter of great dedication, Newell Hughes spent untold hours of non-paid time in the original development of the area.  Almost daily for weeks on end, he drove from Midland to Lake Colorado City ot supervise workmen in the construction.  He was skilled in getting two dollars in value for every one dollar spend, and wa active not only in developing the plans and supervising the work, but also in the successful negotiations for the purchases of the additional land.

The tent camping area was named the "Marie Hall Camping Area" in honor of Marie Hall of Big Spring for her excellent support of the renovation of the base.  The main building was name the "Dr. Clyde E. Thomas Activity Center" in honor of Dr. Thomas, a long-time leader of Boy Scouts in Big Spring, as well as the first recipient of the distinguished Eagle Scout award in the Buffalo Trail Council.  The waterfront area was named the "Bassham Waterfront" in honor of Mrs. B. D. Bassham of Colorado City for her support of the development.

DiningOther major patrons of the base, which includes FINA, have been recognized with plaques displayed on the front outside wall of the Thomas Activity Center.  The Thomas Activity Center serves both as an activity and dining hall building, and was part of the original gift, had a major facelift, which included developing and equipping a modern kitchen able to handle the preparation of food for large groups of people.

Extensive landscaping and paving of parking, service roads and a recreational vehicle parking area in 1986 was part of the development.  Buffalo grass was planted and a chain link fence was put around the waterfront area of the camp, with the planting of conifers along the fence.

The Base is under the care of a resident Camp Ranger (also called a "Harbor Master" by some, as befitting an aquatic camp), who is trained by the Boy Scouts of America to be skilled in camp care and program management.  He maintains the facilities and assists the campers who use the Base.

The base is used for many different activities today.  They have Wood Badge training, College of Commissioner Science, Junior Leader Training and of course an Aquatic Camp.  It is used for Cub Scout Day Camps, adult leader training, family camping and activities, individual Troop, Pack, Venturer and Explorer Post camping.  There is swimming, sailing, canoeing, boating and other aquatic activities available to Scouts and Explorers at this unique base built from a former recreation area.  Since the original gift, the Buffalo Trail Council has spent over a half a million dollars, all contributed, in the development of this Base.

College of Commissioner Science

The following was taken from the Colorado City Record, around March 20, 1988  The dedication was held on March 19, 1988.

More than 200 person were present Saturday at Lake Colorado City for the dedication of the Hughes Aquatic Base and Training Center of the Boy Scouts of America

Charles A. Spence, president of the Buffalo Trails Council, was master of ceremonies for the even which included a barbecue luncheon prior to the dedication ceremonies.  Spence is president and publisher of the Midland Reporter Telegram.

The center, formerly the Col-Tex Club before it was donated to the Boy Scouts by American Petrofina, has been constructed as part of the developmental program of the Buffalo Trail Council.

Five areas of the facility were dedicated Saturday including:

  • The Maric Hall Trent Camping Area named in honor of Marie Hall of Big Spring, a Scouting supporter.  Mrs. Hall was present for the dedication;
  • Thomas Activity Building named in honor of Dr. Clyde E. Thomas of Big Spring, a longtime Scouter and Eagle Scout.  He and Mrs. Thomas were present.
  • Deffebach Ranger Residence named in memory of Lyle Deffebach, past council president from Snyder.  His two brothers, Tommy Deffebach and Arthur Deffebach, and a daughter, Mary Williams, were on hand for the occasion.
  • Von Roeder Chapel named in memory of Nolan Von Roeder.  Von Roeder's son, Max and his wife Ann and their children Nolan and Andrea were on hand for the occasion as well as Lucy McGill of Colorado City.
  • American Petrofina was also honor as being the original donor of the initial camp property.  Representing Petrofina was Sam Honeycutt of Big Spring.
Also recognized were H. C. and Buddy Lindsey for the work they have done at the camp and Faye Burchett, camp caretakers.

Other Scout executives taking part in the ceremonies were John Dee Johnson, Scout Executive; G. Newell Hughes, development supervisor for the Scout camp was named; and Stephen D. Odom, retired Scout executive.

Dedication remarks were made by Melvin R. (Pete) Cook, area director, South Central Region of the Boy Scouts of America.

Gerald Petty, assistant Scout executive, gave the dedication prayer.

Base is Closed in 2010

Upon careful review of usage over the past several years, a review of historical challenges, a careful analysis of income versus expenses, and a review of the mission application for HAB, the facilities review task force has made the recommendation for Hughes Aquatics Base (HAB) to be permanently closed and disposed of as quickly as possible.  

Hughes Acquatics Base was permanently closed on January 19, 2010 by a unanimous vote of the Executive Board of the Buffalo Trail Council.  The board is comprised of members of the community from throughout the Permian Basin including representatives of the Lone Star District where HAB is located.  Majority of board membership was present during this meeting.

For the complete oral history interview of G. Newell Hughes on Hughes Aquatic Base and Training Center go to:


| Earlier Camps of BTC | Camp Ed Murphy | Camp Lake Colorado City | Buffalo Trail Scout Ranch |

| Camp Lake Swweetwater |

Information for this story was taken from recollections by G. Newell Hughes in an interview given by him in 1993 to Steve Odom in an oral history.  Steve Odom was Scout Executive of the Buffalo Trail Council from 1970 to 1987.  This appeared in Scouting Adventure June 26, 1997, a special edition that was published in cooperation with the Big Spring Herald, the Midland Reporter Telegram, the Monahams News and the Odessa American. We want to also thank David O'Neill for providing us additional material for this story. Addtional material appeared in a newspaper story following the dedication of the Aquatic Base in 1988.  We want to thank Kevin Morris for permission to use the photos from the Tatanka Lodge web site.

Last Updated:  March 2, 2010
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