The site now known as Camp Pioneer was first used by the Boy Scouts in 1916. That summer, approximately 20 members of Texarkana’s Troop 1 held a ten-day summer camp at the confluence of the Mountain Fork River and Two Mile Creek. At that time, the location was the Railroad Y.M.C.A. campground. The Troop traveled by train from Texarkana to Hatfield, then hiked the last five miles to the campsite. Over the next few years, Troop 1 and other Texarkana Troops used the campground for their summer camps.
In the fall of 1919, the newly formed Texarkana Council obtained the Y.M.C.A. property for use as their Council camp. George Powell, the Council ‘s first Scout Executive, named the site “Camp Pioneer.” They held the first Texarkana Council summer camp in June of 1920, with approximately one hundred Scouts attending the ten-day session.
As the Council grew, becoming Tex-Ark Council in 1926 and then Caddo Council in 1937, so did the camp program and facilities. Because of bad roads, several low water crossing and ferry stations, most scouts traveled from Texarkana by train. The Council even arranged for a special train fare that could be added as part of the camp fee. In 1936, a ten-day summer camp session cost $8.50, which included $1.50 for the 180-mile round trip train fare. Scouts continued to travel by train, usually getting off at Potter, until the early 1940’s.
Through the mid 1950’s, most activities centered on the main camp area and the structure known as the “Big House.” Scouts stayed in cabins around the edges of the main area, 10 scouts and one junior staff member in each. They held swimming in the Mountain Fork River or in Two Mile Creek. The entire camp had family style meals together in a wood frame dining hall. Most of the field skills/merit badges took place in the Activity Yard, across the road along Two Mile Creek.
In the late 1950’s troop they developed campsites and the Scouts began to stay in tents. By the late 1960’s Pioneer routinely hosted Troops from other Councils in the surrounding states. Today, through continuous attention to program and facilities, Caddo Area Council’s Camp Pioneer is the most utilized Boy Scout camp in Arkansas. For example, in 1998 the summer sessions at Camp Pioneer served 2453 Scouts and leaders from 16 Councils and five states.
If you would like to learn more about Camp Pioneer or Caddo Area Council’s history make sure you visit the Old Timers’ Museum.
For more information about Camp Pioneer’s history or the Old Timers’ Museum, please contact:
Images top to bottom:
Troop 1 at Two Mile Creek 1916
Original ‘Big House’ Circa 1952
Cabin in Main Area Circa 1951
Dining Hall Circa 1953 which preceded the Stillwell Dining Hall (same location) that is now the J.D. Jones Handicraft Shack.