Category Archives: Boy Scouts of America

Camp Tracy

Published / by Maverick Stoedter / Leave a Comment
Camp Tracy historical marker

Written by Maverick Stoedter 

Placed by: Great Salt Lake Council, Boy Scouts of America.

GPS Coordinates: 40° 41’ 38” N, 111° 45’ 2” W

Historical Marker Text:                                    

“Because of his love of boys and their love of the great outdoors this large area was given to the Boy Scouts of the Salt Lake Council by Alvin V. Taylor May 21, 1918 as a perpetual campsite.”

Extended Research: 

Nestled in the Wasatch mountains, Camp Tracy has benefited tens of thousands of scouts and provided valuable access to fundamental life skills and a basis for further learning. For over a century, scouts have enjoyed a host of activities meant to enrich them, such as hiking, snowshoeing, archery, swimming, and team building exercises. Generations of Scouts at Camp Tracy have told harrowing tales into the night, turning tradition into history.

Camp Tracy was made possible by the philanthropic efforts of many. Alvin V. Taylor, president of several mining companies, used his fortune generated from Utah’s booming mining industry to invest in the scouting community. In the spring of 1918,  Alvin V. Taylor generously gifted an 1100-acre tract of land in the Mill Creek Canyon known as the Taylor Flat to the Boy Scouts of Salt Lake. [1]   Two years later, on May 14th, 1920, a formal ceremony took place at a scout jamboree. [2] During this ceremony, the campground was officially christened, “Camp Alvin V. Taylor.” It was presented to Robert C. Gemmell, chairman of the scout council, who would then transfer it to the scouts.[3] It became the first permanent scout camp for the Boy Scouts of Salt Lake.

The camp had been constructed for a number of cultural and political purposes. It provided a rapidly growing urban population of Boy Scouts in the Salt Lake Valley a nearby campground in the Wasatch mountains where scout leaders could help boys grow into men. The rapid urbanization of the early twentieth century had changed the traditional rural upbringing of white, young men in the United States. The Boy Scouts emerged in 1910 as a powerful cultural and political force to aid in the crafting of white masculinity.[4] The Boy Scouts of America’s nature-based programs offered urban youth opportunities similar to that of rural apprenticeships. It sought to instill positive, manly characteristics that would help scout age boys become successful leaders in society. [5]

Tracy wigwam

Camp Alvin V. Taylor thrived for a variety of reasons. The campground had been well received by the community; local newspapers boasted of the Scouts’ enthusiasm and recognized it as a dream come true for the Boy Scouts of Salt Lake. Across the valley, Scouts were eager to engage in feats of skill, scout tests, and sports of every sort. [6]   The camp presented an enormous opportunity for growth within the Boy Scout community. It caught the attention of the charitable, Russel L. Tracy, president of the Tracy Loan and Trust company. Tracy graciously financed the construction of the $10,000 “Wigwam”, a lodge that measured 35 by 70 feet. It had the capacity to accommodate 100 scouts and quickly became known as the canyon home of the Boy Scouts of Salt Lake. Taken from Indian lore, Wigwam signified a council of representatives that met to discuss the values in which they strive to live. Tracy presented the lodge to the Boy Scout council of Salt Lake at the Chamber of Commerce, December 7th, 1923. [1]

Sign entering Camp Tracy

Tracy encouraged all scouts to make use of the wigwam. In the year 1924, membership in the Boy Scouts of Salt Lake council had swelled more than any year. There were 135 Scout troops with a total membership of 2,520.[6] During this time, the wigwam was accommodating 30-50 scouts every weekend. Camp volunteers were often members of the LDS church and dedicated to furthering scouting.[7] Russel L. Tracy passed away in 1945. In his will, he re-affirmed continued financial support to the campground that had been centered around his wigwam. Camp Alvin V. Taylor was often referred to as the Mill Creek camp and was later renamed Camp Tracy.

By the year 1945, Camp Tracy was considered a fine, all-year camp, with superb facilities, and worth many thousands of dollars.[8] Due to the generosity of Russel L. Tracy and Alvin V. Taylor, the camp cost nothing to the Boy Scouts of the Salt Lake Council. In addition, several businesses and individuals took it upon themselves to maintain the quality of the facility by supplying required materials and funds. By 1945, in addition to the wigwam, 11 additional buildings had been constructed as well as toilet facilities and an outdoor pool. During World War 2, Camp Tracy was used to rehabilitate injured war veterans. [8] Camp Tracy has always been accessible to scouts regardless of social status; the low cost and nearby location proved itself to be a valuable asset to the Boy Scouts of Salt Lake. The campground continues to contribute to the scouting tradition, creating history in the process.

Footnotes:

[1] Boy Scout “Wigwam” Is Finished Gift of Russel L. Tracy Accepted Scouts’ Faces Wreathed in Smiles. (1923, December 7). Salt Lake Telegram, p. 2. Retrieved March 12, 2019, from https://newspapers.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s6795cdm

[2]Scout Jambouree Includes mystery. (1920, May 14). Salt Lake Herald, p. 16. Retrieved March 13, 2019, from https://newspapers.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s6ks7xgt/10348841

[3] Christening for Boy Scout Camp. (1920, May 14). Salt Lake Telegram, p. 2. Retrieved March 15, 2019, from https://newspapers.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s6th9v2s/19134748

[4]Jordan, Benjamin René. 2016. Modern Manhood and the Boy Scouts of America: Citizenship, Race, and the Environment, 1910-1930. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press. http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=1074884&site=ehost-live.

[5] Produces Interest S. L. Scouts. (1924, December 19). Salt Lake Telegram, p. 2. Retrieved March 13, 2019, from https://newspapers.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s6pg30pn/16023982

[6] Scouts Duplicate Robin Hood Stunts. (2019, May 16). Salt Lake Herald- Republican, p. 9. Retrieved March 11, 2019, from https://newspapers.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s6b86f2x/10349246

[7]Frederick S. Buchanan, Salt Lake City, Utah: An interview by Everett L. Cooley [Interview by E. L. Cooley]. (1992, December 28). No.434 Frederick S. Buchanan, 57-58. Retrieved March 15, 2019, from https://collections.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s6b86sbn/793310

[8] Example of Community Enterprise. (1945, August 20). Salt Lake Telegram, p. 4. Retrieved

March 12, 2019, from https://newspapers.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s6z04hhn/17208983

Primary Sources:

Frederick S. Buchanan, Salt Lake City, Utah: An interview by Everett L. Cooley [Interview by E. L. Cooley]. (1992, December 28). No.434 Frederick S. Buchanan, 57-58. Retrieved March 15, 2019, from https://collections.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s6b86sbn/793310

Christening for Boy Scout Camp. (1920, May 14). Salt Lake Telegram, p. 2. Retrieved March 15, 2019, from https://newspapers.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s6th9v2s/19134748

Produces Interest S. L. Scouts. (1924, December 19). Salt Lake Telegram, p. 2. Retrieved March 13, 2019, from https://newspapers.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s6pg30pn/16023982

Many Boy Scouts Enjoy Advantages of Wigwam. (1924, February 19). Salt Lake Telegram, p. 2. Retrieved March 16, 2019, from    https://newspapers.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s6st8xkr/15443764

Example of Community Enterprise. (1945, August 20). Salt Lake Telegram, p. 4. Retrieved March 12, 2019, from https://newspapers.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s6z04hhn/17208983

Scout Jambouree Includes mystery. (1920, May 14). Salt Lake Herald, p. 16. Retrieved March 3, 2019, from https://newspapers.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s6ks7xgt/10348841

Secondary Sources: 

Scouts Duplicate Robin Hood Stunts. (1920, May 16). Salt Lake Herald- Republican, p. 9. Retrieved March 11, 2019, from https://newspapers.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s6b86f2x/10349246

Jordan, Benjamin René. 2016. Modern Manhood and the Boy Scouts of America: Citizenship, Race, and the Environment, 1910-1930. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press. 2016.