I’m sure you’ve noticed the Camp Dale Ressler sign on US82 -- the Scout camp behind the water towers
– but did you know there’s a larger presence of Scouting in the Sacramentos?
Over US 24, past Weed and Sacramento, down the Agua Chiquita, and off a dirt road along Potato Canyon is Wehinahpay Mountain Camp.
We know Lord Baden Powell founded Scouting in Britain in 1907. In our country, February 1910 is recognized as the birth of Scouting in the U.S. Soon, trendsetting New Mexicans in Roswell formed the first troop and initiated Scouting in the state. Next, that same group of leaders purchased and built Wehinahpay Mountain Camp (WMC) which opened its gates in 1927, offering its first season of three 10-day sessions. (Did they know about the rainy season?) Each camper was charged $25 and got a horse during their stay at camp – I’d want to go!
Over the generations, the camp grew with the eras, and with the construction of buildings in the 1940’s and 1960’s. Nestled in a landscape originally spanning 40 acres, WMC has expanded to 356, including a parcel swap with the Forest Service for the benefit of our Spotted Owls.
And what is the origin of that unusual word, We-hin-ah-pay? The Light of the Rising Sun: a fitting tribute to the camp’s scenic surroundings. You can read more about the history in Saga of Potato Canyon available at the Nivinson Library.
WMC is still owned and operated by the Conquistador Council (Roswell) whose area spans most of the southeast of this state and some of Texas. One might wonder, our Cloudcroft BSA troop is overseen by the Yucca Council, based in El Paso: why? It’s not uncommon – councils often maintain camps outside their boundaries – isn’t camping getting away from home? Nevertheless, there is a generous history of collaboration between the two councils.
Even today, Scouts BSA is expanding along the Agua Chiquita. The recently donated Hay Canyon Adventure Base is preparing a more rugged camping experience.
Considering how many mountain residents may have worked at these camps or have developed a love for these mountains, I know I have.