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Camp Emerald Bay - History - 1925  
before 1925  <  Camp Emerald Bay history on other pages  >  1926-1929    1930's    1940's    1950's

  The Beginning of Summer Camp on Catalina

          In early January of 1925, the Crescent Bay Council Board of Directors agreed that Camp Kee-Koo-Too-Yeh in the Santa Barbara Mountains near Saugus, site of the 1924 Summer Camp, was simply "too hot".  A cooler location was needed and Donald Monroe, Bert Davies and Dana Burkes were dispatched to check out a new proposed site in Sycamore Canyon beyond "the Malibu". For reasons unknown, that location did not pan out.
          Two weeks later, the Council began floating an idea for holding it's annual summer camp on Catalina Island.  After all, Scout troops had been camping on Catalina Island going back to the early 1910's before Crescent Bay Council had even formed. Responses from Scoutmasters and Scouts were favorable, leading to discussions with the Santa Catalina Island Company, primary landowner, to secure a suitable location. A campsite was chosen and announced by Scout Executive Donald Monroe on February 18, 1925.

Santa Monica Outlook Article
February 18, 1925  pg. 16

Picture published in the newspaper was taken from the original location of Crescent Bay Council's first Summer Camp on Catalina.
Three-masted silhouette of the "Ning-Po", a Chinese junk built in 1753, can be seen grounded in Ballest Point lagoon.

                                                                                                          Santa Monica Outlook Article (continued)
          What is not commonly known is the original location chosen for the Catalina Camp was not at Emerald Bay. Donald Monroe selected (or had been offered by the Santa Catalina Island Company) a beach near Ballast Point lagoon, across Isthmus Cove, in what today is known as Catalina, or "Cat", Harbor.

                         Topo Map
           Isthmus Cove, Catalina Harbor
                         Ballast Point


          The site had recently been used by a Hollywood "moving picture company" as the backdrop for a South Seas tale. Movie props including Hawaiian coconut palms, thatched
huts and a building with wide veranda were left behind; all available for use by the Scouts.
          As an additional attraction, a Chinese junk built in 1753 called the Ning-Po ("Peaceful Water"), sat grounded in the shallow lagoon across from the campsite.


  Original Color Postcard
Mid 1920's

Ning-Po shortly after arriving on Catalina Island.
(original print)

Looking North up Catalina Harbor. Ning-Po grounded in Ballast Point Lagoon. Original Crescent Bay Catalina Camp location was towards the Isthmus on the right (East) side. Cat walk was built in 1920's for sightseer access to the ship.

Camp Emerald Bay  Catalina Island Ning Po           The vessel, which had served at one time or another as a merchant, smuggler, slaver and pirate ship, arrived at Catalina in 1917 and was abandoned in Ballast Point Lagoon around 1920. It was then pillaged for souvenirs by Island visitors until it met its demise in 1938 when, according to some stories, it burned after being rammed by a run-a-way flaming prop ship used during the filming of another movie. In 1952, Explorer Sea Scouts located the remains of the Ning-Po's main sub-mast during an extreme low tide. They sawed it into small pieces for trading items at the 1953 Boy Scout Jamboree at Irvine Ranch, CA.

                               Plans Develop for First "Camp Catalina"
camp emerald bay
          From the beginning, the summer camp on Catalina Island was referred to as Camp Catalina or the Catalina Camp. Among the Scouts, it was also referred to as CC'25. Crescent Bay Council's camp also soon became known as Crescent Bay Camp to differentiate itself from Pasadena Council's camp on Catalina Island at Cherry Valley. But despite the various references and names, Camp Emerald Bay was not the name of the camp when it started in 1925.
          Transportation of Scouts, equipment and  supplies to Camp Catalina was anticipated to be more involved and expensive than previous "drive-in" summer camps held by Crescent Bay in 1922-24.  The initial plan included taking campers by bus from Scout Headquarters in Santa Monica to the Wilmington Terminal in San Pedro, where they would board either the Steam Ship Avalon or Catalina for travel across the channel. Upon arrival at the Island port in Avalon, transfer to Isthmus Cove would be made on a smaller boat where campers were then supposed to hike a mile across the Isthmus to the campsite with their blankets and personal gear. Scouts would camp in small tents to be supplied by the Council (not the eight-man pyramid tents used in previous years) along with all food, mess gear and everything else needed for camp life.
          In an ambitious move, Donald Monroe announced that Catalina Camp would be open three full months, from June 15th until September 15. Troops were assigned specific weeks but Scouts were welcome in camp any and all times during the summer.
       The cost for a week-long period plus transport
was set at $15 and additional weeks in camp were $10 each.
  A savings program was devised where campers bought 25¢ stamps from the Council which were then pasted onto a special card. The card held $15 worth of stamps and when full, was turned in to Scout Headquarters along with a registration application.
Crescent Bay conducted a relentless marketing Catalina Camp Stampscampaign for months, encouraging Scouts
to purchase stamps and come to summer camp. Articles, cartoons and listings of camp attendees were published in the weekly Council newsletter called the Signal Tower, promoting sign-ups for CC'25.
          Arrangements for Camp Catalina continued through the spring of 1925. The length of the camp session was expanded from a week to 10 days. Sometime in March, the idea of providing small tents for the campers was abandoned in favor of using the Council's 8-man pyramid tents again. However, the pyramid tents were still at Camp Kee-Koo-Too-Yeh, retrieval of which led to an ill-fated expedition during Easter break that dumped the tents and other camp equipment into a steep ravine. A second attempt to get the tents and equipment out by hand proved successful and everything was shipped to Catalina by barge.
          In early June, A. L. Reese, of the Venice Boat Company, presented two row boats to the summer camp and the Council rented two canoes and a motor boat to round out the 1925 camp fleet. Crescent Bay District Council also announced a full daily Catalina Camp program in the local papers:
                                                              Daily Camp Program for 1925
6:00  Reville-blankets out to air.
   11:00  Ocean swim
   5:30  Retreat-Lower flag
6:10  Ocean swim or exercises
   12:00  Mess (lunch)
   6:00  Mess (Dinner)
6:30  Colors-Raise flag-canon salute
   12:30  Letter writing-camp store
   6:30  Vespers-discussions
7:00  Mess-Personal inspection
   1:00    Patrol Leaders conference
   7:00  Club meetings
7:45  Fatigue-police & clean camp
   1:30    Activities-Hikes-Games
   7:30  Campfire-Indian,Pirate,Cirque
8:30  Inspection of quarters
   4:00    Ocean Swim
   9:00  Tatoo (unknown what this was)
9:00  Scout advancement periods
   5:15    Inspection of quarters
   9:15  Taps

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                              Camp Catalina Relocates to Emerald Bay

          During the first week of April, 1925, Crescent Bay switched locations from Ballast Point in "Cat" Harbor to Johnsons Landing at Emerald Bay. The historical record is missing as to exactly why this happened. Given that few, if any of the Scouts or Scoutmasters were familiar with either location, it probably was inconsequential to troops that were simply looking forward to spending a summer vacation on Catalina Island. It has been reported the camp site was changed when it was discovered that "Cat" Harbor was filled with sting rays. But Johnsons Landing had its drawbacks too. The Emerald Bay parade grounds leading out to the waterfront were covered with cactus. And other than a big Eucalyptus and three fig trees, there was almost no shade, the primary reason why the Council did not want to return to Camp Kee-Koo-Too-Yeh.
          But whatever the reasons, Emerald Bay was undoubtedly a superior location. Scouts, equipment and supplies could be brought directly into camp without hiking overland. And the waterfront opened directly to the Pacific Ocean, providing unsurpassed dramatic beauty and immediate access to the Island coastline. After the decision was made to relocate the camp, a Camp Manual was printed and distributed to Scouts within Crescent Bay Council as a promotional item to recruit attendees. It included Camp rules, programs, awards, songs and personal equipment lists.
                                                        Camp Catalina Manual
                                                          First Year  June 25-September 3, 1925
 Camp Committe & Staff

   Inside Cover
  First Emerald Bay Song
  Page 1
Program & Bedding

Page 2
Camp Regulations
  Page 3
Camp Veteran Visitors & Mail
  Page 4

Page 5
Merit Badges & Scout Tests
  Page 6
Program & Bedding
  Inside Back Cover
Farewell Song

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                                First Staff of Catalina Camp

     The original staff of Crescent Bay's camp at Emerald Bay was announced in May, 1925.

                                                             Camp Directors

Donald Monroe
  C. B. Cantrell
  D. Scott Field

  Bernaar Bates
Asst. Director

donald monroe   c b cantrell  
  bernaar bates   w bernard bates

Crescent Bay District Council
Scout Executive

Asst. Scout Executive
Santa Monica Headquarters
Asst. Scout Executive
Inglewood Headquarters
Crescent Bay District Council
Top Scout

                                                              Junior Officers

Mart Bushnell
  Onward Cochran
  Carl Fossett
  Alfred 'Al' Miller
mart bushnell   onward onnie cochran   carl fossett   al alfred miller skipper 
   Staff also included Junior Officers: Happy Maule (Quartermaster) • Henry Tsuruntani • Barker Bates • Earnest Samuelson • Parlane Nuller • W.J. Salisbury (Camp Doctor) & J.W. Malone (Cook)
           Donald Monroe's hope to open the 1925 summer camp by mid June did not come to pass but an advance group of staff left for Catalina on June 29, in preparation of hosting the first group of Scouts on July 5. The advance team included Monroe; Cedric Vernon; Happy Maule; Henry Tsurutani; Bernaar Bates; Barker Bates; Earnest Samuelson; Onward Cochran; Carl Fossett and Parlane Nuller. (Note: most of the members of the 1925 staff were members of the Crescent Bay Council's merit badge troop of older Scouts called Tribe of Pequawket).
          The original leadership plan had Donald Monroe,
C. B. Cantrell and D. Scott Field splitting the Camp Directorship duties among the various camp periods. But in mid July, Cantrell took a promotion to the Region 12 Scout office in Los Angeles and Scout Executive Monroe felt the need to stay back at Scout Headquarters in Santa Monica to take care of business and be with his young family. That left Bernaar Bates, age 18,  and D. Scott Field, age 27, to run the first summer of Camp Catalina at Emerald Bay.

                       Transport to Camp, Layout & Facilities

          When the Scouts arrived at Johnsons Landing in summer 1925, there were no permanent structures or docks and only four trees as far as the eye could see. Everything necessary to create a habitable location including tents, cots, tables, cooking gear and all supplies had to be barged or shipped over from the mainland. Travel to the Catalina Camp started with a steamer boat ride from Wilmington terminal in San Pedro harbor to Avalon, followed by transfer to the Betty-O for the final trip to Emerald Bay. Total transit time was said to be well over five hours.

Mainland to Catalina Camp Emerald Bay
(original photo prints)

 Steamship Catalina

Scouts Pulling in to Camp on the Betty-O

Betty-O Docked


Scouts boarded the SS Catalina in Wilmington, San Pedro harbor, bound for Avalon.
  Once off-loaded in Avalon, everybody transferred to the Betty-O for an hour long ride to Crescent Bay Catalina Camp on the west end of the island.

An empty Betty-O sits ready to return Scouts to Avalon and then the Mainland at the end of the campers' session.

          Since there was no pier or dock at Emerald Bay, Scouts, complete with their blankets, clothes and gear, walked a rickety wooden gangplank floating across the water surface 30 feet or so to the beach.1925 Camp Emerald Bay Catalina
           They were greeted by a flag pole erected by the staff where a ravine entered into the bay and the big Eucalyptus tree off to their left. Just under the tree to the south and on a knoll overlooking the beach was a tent that housed the senior staff.  A Sea Scout tent and general headquarters tent rounded out the immediate entrance into camp. 200 feet up from the beach was the group of three fig trees, between which was a make-shift outdoor dinning area marked "Mess". The cook's tent was ocean side of the fig trees as was another tent labeled "Cash Inn" which housed the camp store.
          The  Campsite area was located another 200 feet beyond the fig trees, barely 450 feet from the water. It consisted of nine pyramid tents that Crescent Bay Council had purchased and used at it's previous summer camps beginning with the first at Temescal Canyon in 1922. A tenth tent housed the Junior officers and was located twenty steps south and uphill of the main tent encampment. Later in the summer, the Junior Officers tent was moved in line with the camper tents.
         Just North of the campers' tents was a foot bridge over a narrow ravine to an open flat where camp fires were held. The ravine, nicknamed "Main Street" by the staff, served as a major thoroughfare, void of cactus, all the way back to the waterfront.
          While no photos of the camp layout from 1925 exist today, a panoramic photo shot by Bill Van Slyke during an early or pre-summer camp session in 1926 shows the Crescent Bay Camp layout virtually the same as it had been drawn and published in the Santa Monica Outlook in August, 1925.

Camp Emerald Bay in the Beginning
From Atop Arrow Point Looking Southwest
Early Summer, 1926

           This original print photo taken by Bill Van Slyke, (while standing west of North Hill atop what would later
be known as Arrow Point), is the only known image from 1925/26 that captures the entirety of what Camp Emerald Bay looked like at the beginning.
           Tents in the front half of camp are laid out just as diagrammed in the August 23, 1925 Outlook news article. However, the campers' tents in back-camp show a slightly different configuration into two rows with no tents enclosing the western end. It is not known if these changes were new for 1926 or also used at different times during the 1925 summer camp. .
           Conspicuously absent are any boats, canoes, a dock, lifeguard tower, swimmers or even other Scouts milling around, suggesting this image was taken during the staff set-up week before the 1926 camper season started.
The eucalyptus & three fig trees (where smoke is headed) are the only trees visible in any direction.
                                 (compare to  >  image of Johnsons Landing taken around 1900)
              All other trees currently existing in camp today were planted by the Scouts in the early 1930's.
Smoke emanating in front of the cook's tent is coming from a fire pit where dinner might have been in the works.

          The primitive facilities of the 1925 camp were a sharp contrast to the Emerald Bay Camp of today. There was no electricity, lights, or running water. The camp also lacked showers. Staff and campers bathed in the ocean and rinsed with buckets of water from a shallow well. The well water was too rich in minerals and sulfur for drinking and cooking so fresh water was brought by canoe from Howland's Landing in old fashioned milk cans weighing over 40 pounds each. Meat, fresh vegetables and other food stuffs were regularly ferried into camp from the Isthmus, also by canoe.
          And for toilet facilities, staff and campers used a green wooden, six-hole, open-air kybo built over the old Bouchette mine shaft. The lack of privacy at the "Green Castle" led to all kinds of hilarity and stories over the years including strange contests, late night singing and even retrieval of a horse that fell part way in during the early 1930's.

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                                                       Camp Life & Activities


The first period attended by 72 scouts was a sell-out,
occupying every cot in emerald bay 1925 Each tent was assigned a Junior
Officer and tent mates elected their own leader to supervise discipline and inspections. While some troops were able to attend as a unit, most attendees came as individuals and were assembled with similar individual scouts into provisional patrols, together in one of the eight-man pyramid tents.

                                            Catalina Camp 1925


                      Tent mates assemble for inspection in front of their pyramid tent.

          Just like today, there was lots of fun stuff for Scouts to do while at Camp Catalina. Activities included swimming, fishing, boating, hiking, mapping, handicraft, and general horsing around. Singing was a popular activity in those days and there were camp songs published in the Camp Manual, led by the staff at evening camp fires. Unlike today, there was no internet, phones, television, biking, scuba, sailing or any of the many things that today's teens do to keep themselves occupied and entertained in the summer. Given the context of the times, the Crescent Bay Camp of 1925 must have seemed like an extraordinary adventure for boys to be away from home and on their own. As stories began to circulate from Scouts returning from their ten days on Catalina, the summer camp was soon dubbed a "Mecca" for local Boy Scouts.
          New historical research has revealed there were several activities unique to the summer of 1925; not to be repeated over the near-century of summer camps since.
          In July, a wild goat was captured by Donald Paxton, a camper from Inglewood, CA. The goat apparently liked hanging around with the Scouts and was adopted as the camp mascot, being aptly named Captain Kidd. This spurred staff and camper interest in pirates and buried treasure under the faulty belief that the real Captain Kidd roamed the waters off Santa Catalina Island. These stories, while making good press, were wildly inaccurate. Captain William Kidd (1645-1701) was a Scottish pirate in the latter 1600's whose cactus gossip camp emerald bayrange included the Caribbean but there is no evidence that he ever saw the Pacific Ocean, let alone sailed in it.   However, in another strange coincidence, it is commonly believed that Kidd did bury treasure on another Catalina Island, that being Catalina Island off the coast of the Dominican Republic. Piracy enthusiasm reached it's peak at Emerald Bay when the entire camp dressed up like buccaneers and held a Captain Kidd costume show.
"Captain Kidd"
1925 Camp Mascot
(original print)

An unlikely wild goat, seen here in this photo taken from behind the fig trees
and looking towards the beach, would meet notoriety among Scouts in 1925
as the camp mascot. Also seen on the left side of the trees is the back of
the "Cash Inn" camp store and Indian Rock faintly on the horizon.

          A camp newspaper called "the Cactus Gossip" was also published in 1925 (there are no surviving examples known today). It started out as four pages and had editorials, news, movies, sports and society sections. Leslie Howells served as editor-in-chief. Other staff members included: Mazda Browne; George Montgomery; Edward Buchanan; Kelly Dale; Boyd Crabtree; Harry Hoefle; and Jack Catrer.

                                            Camp Veterans

Camp Veteran Pin
    In the 1920's, pins were referred to as badges.    
                                                                                               (see all the Camp Veteran pins)

         Camp Catalina continued the Camp Veteran program started after the first Crescent Bay summer camp at Temescal in 1922. It had some similarities to the Good Camper program started in 1929 and known to most Scouts attending Camp Emerald Bay to the present day. In the Veteran program, Scouts earned points for showing the proper spirit in cooperation, advancement, entertainment, and camp improvement. Points won at previous camps, (Temescal in 1922, Russell in 1923 and Kee-Koo-Too-Yeh in 1924) counted towards the more advanced "badges" in 1925. There were five different pins in all, each color signifying a different level of achievement. There are no records documenting exactly how points towards Camp Veteran badges were earned but it appears the final determinations were made and awarded by the Camp staff.

          The inaugural summer at Emerald Bay came to a close on August 24, 1925. In all, five separate 10-day camping periods were held with almost 300 Scouts participating. No major problems or catastrophes were reported and the Catalina Camp was deemed a huge success. After the final contingent of campers returned to the mainland, the encampment was broken down completely. All tents, equipment and supplies were rounded up, loaded on a barge and returned to Santa Monica. It has been said that nothing was left behind to indicate the Scouts had ever occupied Johnsons Landing. With the intention of returning to Camp Catalina in 1926, Council leaders were hopeful that Donald Monroe's dream of finding a permanent summer camp for Crescent Bay Scouts would finally become a reality.

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