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Camp Archbald
Girl Scouts of America
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A great camp for young girls

Camp Archbald is a camp with one main goal: for each girl to develop skills, progress from basic to more advanced programs, interact with other peers, and have fun as she grows. Perhaps what makes this camp so fun is the mere friendships and bonds created with fellow campers. Maybe its the fun and enjoyment of the programs. Perchance it is the challenges of everyday camp life that is so exhilarating.

The staff at camp Archbald consists of enthusiastic, young-at-heart adults who have been trained to work with younger kids in the out-doors. They are college students and young adults from across the world.

For the younger children that may be afraid of out-door life or the thought of sleeping in a tent, the camp provides cabins for the younger girls to catch their bearings until they are older.

Camp Archbald programs include swimming, boating, canoe trips, crafts, games, sports, theatre performances, and many more. Each day brings new and exciting adventures.

Camp Archbald History

Camp Archbald did not develop overnight from the touch of a magicians wand. It has taken many years of work and thought to make it into the modern and well-equipped organization it is today. Mts. Thomas F. Archbald was chairperson of the camp committee in 1920, at the time when the council purchased the site of land of the present camp. It was through the efforts of Mrs. Archbald and her committee that the dream of several years was realized. The site was named Camp Archbald in her honor.

Camping began for the Scranton Girl Scouts in 1918. The first established camp was at Lake Coxton, directed by Miss Mable Christ. Girls went to the campsite where they pitched tents, cooked meals, and enjoyed a waterfront program. The site was not suitable for development so Mrs. Archbald and her committee began searching for a better site.

The committee was out looking for a campsite in Susquehanna County and lost their way. They stopped at the Brooklyn Post Office and met Mrs. T. Oliver Williams who suggested they look at the lovely lake near Brooklyn called Lake Ely. The committee immediately investigated it and while walking around the lake, were completely awed by the natural beauty of the site. The Narrow strip of land on which the first camp was erected was rented from Shirley Stevens who lived in a neighboring farmhouse.

In 1921, the first tents were pitched on this site of rented land. One year later, 49 acres were purchased for $1250. Mrs. Frank Kaiser was in charge of land deals and raised the money through private subscriptions. In 1926, campgrounds were enlarged when 154.5 acres were purchased from Luther Ely for $8500. Again in 1959, Scouts contributed by delivering new books for the Telephone Company, receiving $0.22 for each out-dated book they returned. So in 1959, the camp committee purchased another parcel of 84.5 acres from the Ely family for $12000. There are now 288 acres of forests, woods, and open fields, which provide summer fun for at least one thousand girls each summer.

The first camp year of 1921 was an eight-week session and 76 girls were enrolled every week. Today campers arrive in cars and vans, but in 1921 and for some years later, they came to camp via the Northern Electric Trolley from Scranton and stopped a mile from camp, from which point the girls hiked with their bedrolls to camp or may have been brought down by truck. The cost for attending was $7 a week. Miss Florence Yost was the camp director. A row of tents was pitched in army fashion where Schoonover Hall and the flag pole now stand. Large tents were used as a dining hall and administrative quarters.

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The Story of Taps

Taps is a traditional song sung at the end of evening flag just before lights out. Here's the story behind it.

Taps was devised during the Civil War. In 1862, the Union Army of the Potomac, under Major General George McClellan, was transported to the Virginia Peninsula to launch a campaign against the Confederate capital at Richmond. The Army met stiff resistance at the outskirts of Richmond. After a series of battles, McClellan, a cautious general by nature, and misinformed as to the strength of the Confederate army confronting him, elected to "change bases" - a carefully worded synonym for retreat - to a site to the south, on the bank of the James River.

During this retreat, the Army of the Potomac was forced to stand and fight the pursuing Confederate army at Malvern Hill. The Confederate army, rather unwisely, charged the Union line and was defeated. The battle of Malvern Hill was fought on June 28 - July 1, 1862.

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On July 2 (134 years ago today), in a miserable rain, the Army of the Potomac completed its depressing and embarrassing retreat to Harrison's Landing on the James River. The retreat was a grim disillusionment for the North, which had expected a short war. For the Army of the Potomac, it was its darkest and saddest hour.

Encamped at Harrison's Landing that summer was Brigadier General Daniel Butterfield. He was the commander of the 3rd brigade of the 1st division of the Army of the Potomac's 5th corps. A fairly undistinguished officer otherwise, General Butterfield had an ear for music. Previously, he had observed that his brigade's bugle call caused confusion in camp, because it could not be distinguished from that of other brigades. So he devised a unique bugle call for the 3rd brigade.

Now, in camp along the James, he noted that the regulation evening bugle call for lights out was neither musical nor inspirational, nor tranquilizing. He devised a alternative tune for his bugler, which, after a couple of attempts, became Taps. The tune became popular, and soon the entire Army of the Potomac was using the call in place of the regulation call for lights out.

Eventually, Taps was adopted by all Union armies, and became official army regulation. Taps remains regulation to this day.

The story of Taps is particularly appropriate for July 2, given that today is the anniversary of the Army of the Potomac's long retreat to the Harrison's Landing camp.

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