G. Newell Hughes

G. Newell HughesOn November 19, 1987, the Executive Board of the Buffalo Trail Council, BSA, passed a resolution naming the council's camp on Lake Colorado City the "G. Newell Hughes Aquatic Base and Training Center."  This was a greatly merited honor, bestowed on a remarkable man with many years as a volunteer working in Boy Scouting.  Never a man of great means, Newell Hughes' - unselfish expenditure of time using his unique talents has benefited many youth, not only in west Texas, but throughout the nation.

G. Newell Hughes is affectionately known as Newell.  The G. stands for George, but very few people know this.  He was born on October 17, 1908 at Hereford, Texas.  He was reared and received his formal education at Lubbock, graduating from Texas Tech in 1930 with a degree in Architectural Engineering.  Musically inclined from the start, he was a member of the Texas Tech Marching Band, and after those years he played professionally as a percussionist with dance bands throughout the United States and Europe, including a stint with the Lawrence Welk Band.

In addition to his part-time music engagements, he was employed as a surveyor and engineer, working in Texas and beyond.  In 1946, Newell was in Pecos, Texas doing an engineering job for the city, when the paving contractor he had on the job invited him to go deer hunting at the contractor's ranch in the Davis Mountains near Balmorhea. Newell, who at that time was a volunteer Scouter in Hereford, knew the Buffalo Trail Council didn't have a Boy Scout camp.

He persuaded some of the volunteer Scouters he had become acquainted with in Pecos to look at this ranch, and then later toured the ranch with other Scouters from throughout the la-county area of the council, including Big Spring and Snyder.

As a result, the Buffalo Trail council purchased the approximately 6,000 acres for $75,000 in 1947, bringing into being the Buffalo Trail scout Ranch, which is now recognized as one of the premier Boy Scout camps in Texas, attracting campers from as far away as Houston.  Newell became a resident of the Buffalo Trail council when he came to Midland the first of January 1950, to work for the city as a design engineer and to set up an engineering department. He became a Scoutmaster and was very active in the development of the facilities at the Buffalo Trail Scout Ranch, using his engineering skills and contacts.

The stories are legend about how Newell helped get the road to the Ranch paved, the water well drilled, a water storage tank and distribution system developed, and the swimming pool constructed, to name just a few things of many.  Somewhere along the way, Newell found time as a volunteer to lead week-long events for, training other volunteer adult Boy scout Leaders, known as Wood Badge courses. He was scoutmaster of these courses on a national level and an international level, having been chosen to lead a Wood Badge at Gilwell Park in England where Wood Badge training began.

Newell later joined the Texas Highway Department as an engineer and right-of-way purchasing agent, retiring in 1974. He did not retire, however, from his contribution to youth in scouting through the Buffalo Trail Council. He took on the non-paid volunteer job of supervising the development of what is now, for short, called the Hughes Aquatic Base.

In October, 1980, FINA gave the ColTex Club, an employees recreation facility located on Lake Colorado city, to the Buffalo Trail council.  The property included a large activity/ dining hall building, some picnic shelters and the pilings on which at one time there had been a dock. It was ideally located at a point on the lake with waterfront footage on the main body (the Morgan Creek channel) and footage on a cove. 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. 

The Council named this gift as the ColTex Aquatic Base, but it was usually called the ColTex camp and is now the Hughes Aquatic Base.  Immediate efforts were begun to acquire development funds 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.
Newell spent untold hours of volunteer time in the original development of the Base.  Almost daily for weeks on end, he drove from Midland to Lake Colorado City to supervise workmen in the construction, and the landscaping of campsites.  The Buffalo Trail council had the resources of the National Boy Scout Council Engineering service to help in the planning, but at best, they could only confirm Newell's plans. Most of the time he was way ahead of them. Be was skilled in using the money provided by the patrons whose contributions made the work possible, getting two dollars in value for every one dollar spent. Be was active not only in developing the plans and supervising the work, but also in the successful negotiations for the purchases of the additional land at reasonable prices.

Newell began his scouting as a 12-year old on October 17, 1920 when Daniel Carter Beard presented his Tenderfoot Badge at a Boy Scout Troop meeting in Hereford, Texas. His adult scouting began when he became a Scoutmaster of a Troop in Lubbock in 1926.  He was only 18 years old, not old enough to be a Scoutmaster according to the rules, but the Troop flourished under his leadership.

In 1957, the Buffalo Trail council awarded Newell the Silver Beaver Award, the highest honor a Local Council can give to a volunteer. On January 19, 1994, the Midland Lions club recognized him with the Ray Gwyn Humanitarian Award, for being a "Top Humanitarian." But of all the accolades received, Newell will tell you himself the greatest has been to see the benefit his work has been in the lives of young people.

We want to thank David O'Neill for providing us with this story from the Buffalo Trail Council history files.

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