In less than two weeks, the woods of Middle Grove will be echoing with the voices of men far older than the average Boy Scout whose cries might fill the summer air.
In what organizers are calling an “Old Goat Cramporee,” dozens of senior citizen Boy Scout leaders and former leaders will gather for a weekend reunion Sept. 13-14 at Camp Boyhaven in rural Saratoga County.
A camporee is what Cub and Boy scouts participate in, while a “cramporee” refers to what may happen to old muscles sitting on hard benches or low logs.
“It’s basically a reunion of old-timers, a walk down memory lane,” said Bart Shabot of Schenectady, one of the organizers.
Shabot has been involved in Scout leadership for the last 33 years, including spending both summer and winter days at Boyhaven.
More than three dozen old Scouts have already signed up for a steak dinner and activities to take place Saturday, and a good number are expected to bunk in or roll out a sleeping bag and stay until the next morning, when breakfast will be served.
The Twin Rivers Council, which owns the camp, is helping with logistics.
“These are guys who spent many years helping boys, helping boys get to camp, and more than anything else, it’s about showing respect to these men and what they’ve done,” said Mike Mrozinski, council liaison for the event.
By mid-September, Boyhaven is normally being locked up for the season after a summer of hosting young Scouts from throughout the Capital Region, but the mess hall and bunk house will be open to the old-timers.
“We have pretty much full use of all areas of the camp,” Shabot said.
Among activities, there will be a “walker race” — another bad pun originated by the organizers — and age-appropriate activities like horseshoes and bocci.
“We are not going to have uniforms, because some of the guys can’t button them,” said Shabot, 75, a former scoutmaster of Troop 72 in Schenectady and former Boyhaven campmaster.
Boyhaven, which was founded in 1924 and sprawls across 320 acres along the Kayaderosseras Creek between Rock City Falls and Middle Grove, has hosted thousands of campfires, dozens of wintertime Klondike Derbies and untold numbers of adventures for both Scouts and leaders.
The camp was originally founded by the Schenectady County Boy Scout Council, but following a series of mergers it is one of the few camps left in the Twin Rivers Council, which serves 13 counties. Today, Boyhaven is used almost exclusively by Cub Scouts and Webelos, some of whom are having their first camping experience.
“I just made so many good friends, and I thought it would be fun to sit around the campfire,” Shabot said.
Rick Stellrecht, a former Gazette sportswriter who has been involved in Scouting for more than 50 years, might even recall a campfire favorite from his days of leading the storytelling, “The Legend of the Carnivorous Frog.”
“I would lead the singing in the dining room and the campfires and things,” said Stellrecht, who first attended Boyhaven as a scout and later returned as a leader. “I have great memories for myself and of watching young leaders come up and develop through the ranks.”
Most of the food for the weekend has been donated, so any money raised by the event will go toward a Twin Rivers Council scholarship fund for future campers.