Camp-Fire Club of America Hallowed Ground

Steve Watts and I were the fortunate guests of Shawn Orbanic and Camp-Fire Club of America (CFC) for their June Outing these last four days. On this hallowed ground where the likes of Ernest Thompson Seton, Daniel Carter Beard, Warren Miller, Gifford Pinchot and many other Master Woodsmen of yesterday walked, we enjoyed the best of fellowship and witnessed the CFC Master Woodsmen of today practice their craft.

In addition to Steve being the guest speaker Friday night, we took the time to fulfill Steve’s longtime desire to visit Medicine Rock in what was once Ernest Thompson Seton’s Wyndygoul estate in Cos Cob, CT. There, we toured Standing Rock Village and grounds, and in a special tribute (and moment), Steve made fire with a bow drill in the very spot where Seton started the Woodcraft Indians (the start of youth Scouting) and was the site of the early Camp-Fire Club of America Outings.

We also explored the Daniel Carter Beard exhibit at Bear Mountain State Park and paid a visit to Beard’s grave where Steve paid homage to “Uncle Dan” by doing a traditional flint & steel fire.

Please enjoy these first couple of early photos to set the stage to our trip. I can’t express enough gratitude to Shawn, Jeff, and the members and staff of the Camp-Fire Club for their tremendous hospitality.

Ernest Thompson Seton and his Woodcraft Indians perform a council and war dance at Medicine Rock circa 1905.

CFCA 1910 Outing at Wyndygoul.  Seton is on Medicine Rock with Dan Beard just below.

CFCA 1910 Outing at Wyndygoul. Seton is on Medicine Rock with Dan Beard just below.

Steve walking up to Medicine Rock at Wyndygoul.

Steve Watts walking up to Medicine Rock at Wyndygoul for the first time.

Watt Bow Drill at Medicine Rock. Homage to Seton who introduced and taught the technique to the Boy Scouts and more.

Watts doing the bow drill at Medicine Rock. Homage to Seton who introduced and taught the technique to the Boy Scouts and I would argue, the world.

Steve to Flame

Steve at Alter

Steve Watts (left) with our friend and Camp-Fire Club host, Shawn Orbanic.

Steve Watts (left) with our friend and Camp-Fire Club host, Shawn Orbanic.

The lake at Wyndygoul.

Pipestave Lake at Wyndygoul.

What's left of Seton's house at Wyndygoul feels like ruins. The City of Greenwich did an excellent job.

The ‘shell’ of Seton’s house at Wyndygoul feels like ruins. The City of Greenwich did an excellent job.

Steve Watts presenting a "Frontier Connection" to Classic Camping of which many CFCA member were instrumental.

Steve Watts presenting a “Frontier Connection” to Classic Camping of which many early CFCA members were instrumental.

Main cabin fireplace at the Camp-Fire Club.

Main cabin fireplace at the Camp-Fire Club.

Daniel Carter Beard original Buckskin Men flag at the Camp-Fire Club of America.

Daniel Carter Beard original Buckskin Men flag at the Camp-Fire Club of America.

Going through some of the many archives at the Camp-Fire Club of America.  (Thank you Jeff!)

Going through some of the many archives at the Camp-Fire Club of America. (Thank you Jeff!)

Daniel Carter Bear grave in Spring Valley, NY.

Daniel Carter Beard grave in Spring Valley, NY.

Homage to "Uncle Dan" with the Flint & Steel.

Homage to “Uncle Dan” with the Flint & Steel.

About Christian Noble

Chris Noble is the founder of MasterWoodsman.com and Woodsmoke Camping Company. A Master Naturalist, he holds a Bachelor of Science in Forestry and has worked as a Registered Forester and Certified Burn Manager in several states. Chris is also a Wilderness First Responder and since the late 90’s has been “practicing primitive” skills and taking lessons from numerous Master Woodsmen throughout North America. An advocate for Conservation, teacher of Wilderness Living Skills, and happily married, he enjoys passing what he has learned thus far to others, especially his 2 children, Emerson and Duncan.

8 Responses to Camp-Fire Club of America Hallowed Ground

  1. stevewatts@cityofgastonia.com'
    Steven M. Watts June 8, 2015 at 6:30 am #

    Thanks, Chris and Shawn for making this happen.

  2. Jmbushcraft@gmail.com'
    Tim Smith June 10, 2015 at 8:48 am #

    Great write-up Christian. Fantastic heritage. Steve Watts is a true gentleman. Huge respect for him for showing such huge respect.

  3. Christian Noble June 10, 2015 at 8:28 pm #

    Back at you Tim. Huge respect for you my friend, I know how much you appreciate our roots too.

  4. Anonymous February 11, 2016 at 7:18 pm #

    The Main Cabin and Council Hall still look the same.

  5. misf1re@yahoo.com'
    Black Wolf July 18, 2016 at 2:11 pm #

    I am an eagle-scout and never really knew how lucky I was to camp there when the Tucmans still owned the land and had a particularly nasty care-taker. “ninja-leave no trace camping” was one such clandestine pleasure of childhood, and for some reason that rock and several other spots fascinated my friends and I.
    That new trail of present was created not long ago and I am sad to see that in the span of about a year it has become desecrated by recalcitrant hoodlums as the impudent snobs who run the Town here (in greenwich CT) find the BSA’s policy’s “offensive”.
    I am so happy to see people like you who have come and had a great experience and brought your extremely positive vibes, however, In just about year this hard fought work went towards enabling a legion of ungrateful degenerates (the rock is defaced again so I must clean it….ya know…cheerful service)

    Please write the Town Of Greenwich CT, as well as the Black Wolf Scout Lodge here (named after “Black Wolf Seaton”), that something needs to be done to prevent vagrants who superficially ‘love the wilderness’; who seek only its obfuscation from the prying eyes of the law: graffiti, litter, and cooking things on spoons that are a bio-hazard. Even a garbage can would be useful, but the town onl does things when prodded to move.
    I am pursuing research in their to see what remnants still exist from Seaton’s ‘Indian villages’ and discovered this desecration.

    • stany@indios.cz'
      Robin September 19, 2016 at 7:04 pm #

      Me and Georg “Čiksika” Macek, members of the Czech League of Woodraft visited Wyndygoul and the Medicine Rock in October 2014.

      http://www.greenwichtime.com/local/article/Czech-ing-in-European-visitors-scout-out-Seton-s-5979112.php

      The Medicine Rock and the POND are an even more important spots to be preserved then the ruins of Seton´s house itself. This whole area is a treasure of a youth movement history. Magical place. It is truly the real Birthplace of the worldwide Boy Scout movement.
      Seton started youth camps on this spot in the spring of 1902 … and continued doing camps until 1912 when he moved few miles further to Lake Ave where he he lead camps until 1930. (By the way, that area is worth to be researched and preserved as well, since many of Setons buildings are still intact there and even the old council rings might be still there…!!) Please get in touch with us, we would like to be of some help by preserving the place.

      I´m really sorry to find out Steve Watts passed away. He was one of our blood. I thought, we wll be the first ones to bow drill fire at the medicine rock after so many decades by our next visit. He did it. And was good so..

      For those who might be interested – in Czech Republic (10M people) there is 40.000 Boy Scouts but also 1.000 woodcrafters who carry the legacy of Setons Woodcraft Indians in the pure original way..

      There is a short feature (czech narration) about it
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ReW1dOvCOc4

      Robin “Šišokah” Renelt stany(at)indios.cz

      • Christian Noble September 20, 2016 at 10:22 am #

        Robin, what a great post and sincere thank you for the comment. I will be reaching out. Chris

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Steven Miles Watts - - March 25, 2016

    […] The thoughtful man that Steve was, he called me right after he saw the photo below just to tell say how much he loved the trip we took together and especially that photo. The trip was an incredible visit to the Camp Fire Club of America, Dan Beard’s resting place, Bear Mountain State Park, and Wyndygoul; Ernest Thompson Seton’s old homesite in Connecticut. The pilgrimage to Wyndygoul, and it was a pilgrimage, was especially magical, as in the woods stands a lone sentinel that one could argue marks the birthplace of scouting, Medicine Rock. […]

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