WALKER — Camp Kootaga had its 100th Anniversary Saturday as past, present and future scouts gathered to celebrate.
“Camp Kootaga is the place, for the last 100 years, where a scout could, over the course of a week, learn a variety of life skills that will serve them well in being prepared for all of life’s challenges.” Vernon Criss, chairman of the Kootaga District Committee said during the opening ceremony.
Don B. Lowe purchased 500 acres of land in 1922 in Walker, West Virginia. The first summer camp was held in 1922, a few Parkersburg troops participated that year. In 1929 Lowe hired a Native American of the Kiowa Tribe by the name of J. Dougannah to help with the camp. He described the camp as a place for ‘good friends’. In Dougannah’s native language ‘good friends’ translates to ‘kootaga’, and the camp has been called Camp Kootaga since.
The day began with the presentation of the colors at 11:30a.m. and brief comments from scout officials Kathy Wise, marketing and communications volunteer, Ed Evans, camp director, Jeff Purdy, Buckskin Council Scout Executive, Vernon Criss, chairman of the Kootaga District Committee, and James Bennon, chairperson of the Camp Kootaga maintenance and improvement effort.
Attendees were then allowed to venture around and experience the camp. The Trading Post at the lower level of the lodge offered a variety of 100th Anniversary items along with the standard merchandise. A branding iron created from a competition the year before with the 100th Anniversary logo was available to brand items. The Order of the Arrow, Kootaga Chapter of the Takhonek Lodge 617 was there to offer a hot dog lunch to guest for a small donation.
At 2 p.m., the Kootaga Indian Dancers performed behind the lodge, and the camp fire was lit in the Curley Camp Campfire ring at 3 p.m., where participants were given the opportunity to tell stories and share experiences. The campfire was extinguished at 3:45, with a scout blessing, and the day came to an end.
Scouts is no longer just for boys. It is open to everyone.
“Nowadays there are no barriers.” Purdy said. “Girls can be at camp. Girls can be Eagle Scouts, and they can have that same experience. Now, dads can do that with their daughters. I know a lot of dads who had daughters who wish they could have done that. Now, they can, and that’s important to know.”
Anyone interested in Camp Kootaga, or in joining the scouts, can visit their website at buckskin.org.