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Council Events - Pow Wow - History  

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 Council Camp-O-Rals & Camporees 1933-1945

          Crescent Bay Council developed an impressive schedule of events and contests for local Scouts prior to World War II. Future first Crescent Bay Scout Executive, Donald Monroe, organized a Federation of troops at a meeting held at the Sawtelle Chamber of Commerce on October 22, 1921 (two months before Crescent Bay Council was formed). The Federation meeting is generally considered to be the start of Crescent Bay Council and included troops from Beverly Hills, Culver City, Ocean Park, Santa Monica, Venice, Sawtelle (West Los Angeles), Sherman (West Hollywood), Inglewood, El Segundo, Redondo Beach, Lawndale and Hawthorne.
          It was decided to hold quarterly Pow Wows and the first one was held at the Sawtelle Boulevard School a week later on October 29, 1921. The Saturday night event pitted Council troops and patrols against each other in Scouting skill contests. Six troops were able to enter the Pow Wow on short notice: Venice Troops 1 and 3; Santa Monica Troops 1 and 2; Culver City Troop 1; and Sawtelle Troop 1. Each scout was asked to bring a guest and over 175 people attended.

                                                                  Santa Monica Outlook
                                                                                October 29, 1921  page 1


                                             The 1921 Pow Wow, is credited as the beginning event of Crescent Bay Council.

          Pow Wow's were comprised of different scouting competitions . Events included: Fire Building; Drills; Knot Tying; Water Boiling for time; Inspections; Signaling; Races; Bugling and Tent Pitching. crescent bay council pow wow
          Three more Pow Wows were held in 1922. For the 5th Pow Wow in January, 1923, a handsome silver cup, donated by W.H. Hinderer of the Santa Monica Sporting Goods Company, was awarded to the winning patrol. Trophies, Pennants, Ribbons, hand-made Leather awards and even cakes were presented to winning patrols as the Pow Wows developed though the 1920's.


          The leather awards precede patches and are among the earliest insignia known from Crescent Bay Area Council. Scrap leather was readily available and commonly used during the 1930's because leather insignia and ribbons could be made in small numbers at nominal cost.
          Initially, the Pow Wows were held quarterly. But the number of scouts and troops within the Council was expanding beyond what the original Pow Wows were able to accommodate.  Following the January Pow Wow in 1923, it was decided to hold District Pow Wows instead of a Council Pow Wow for the spring. At least three separate Pow Wows were held at Santa Monica, Inglewood and Redondo Beach during May and June, of 1923.
          Apparently, as a result of that experiment, it was decided to return to one Council Pow Wow for 1924,
(jump to the list of all Council Pow Wows ) while continuing District Pow Wows as preliminary events to determine which troops and patrols would compete at the Council Pow Wow. All Crescent Bay scouts were invited to attend the Pow Wows but only those patrols that won a "first Place" at their district Pow Wow were then invited to compete in that same event at the Council event.
          One interesting change at the 1924
Pow Wow was banning the practice of using Scout neckerchiefs as bandages during first aid events. They were replaced with "regulation" bandages from that point forward.  
          When the events and program for the 1925 Council Pow Wow were published in the May 22, 1925 Council newsletter called the Signal Tower, they were basically the same as the original Pow Wow in 1921. A "First Call" warning was played a few minutes before the Pow Wow began. Troops marched to pre-assigned locations on the field where the colors ceremony began. Following colors, troops marched past the judges for inspection. Events had qualifying rounds with the winners competing against each other in the finals.

Events for Annual Pow Wow
Published in Crescent Bay Signal Tower
May 22, 1925  Vol 1  No 22  pg.3

      Scout Race (Pace) Relay -  A patrol event with each scout running about 1/8 mile based on precision time.

Knot Tying - Speed and accuracy patrol event tying 8 of the 15 knots in the scout handbook, one knot to each scout.

Fire by Friction - classic scout event creating fire for time.

Water Boiling Contest -  Patrol speed event. Council provided wood, water pails and soap. Contestants provided knife, ax, and two matches.

First Aid Race - Patrol event in teams of four. Victim team member posted in front of judges grandstand with list of injuries in sealed envelope. Other three members line up 35-40 feet away. On signal, team runs to victim, treats injuries listed, makes stretcher and returns victim to start. Judged by accuracy, workmanship and finishing prior to maximum time set for event.

Secret Event -  Could be dressing race, shoe scramble, wheelbarrow race, spider race etc. as determined by judges.

          Point Scoring

First Place - 5 points
Second Place - 3 points
Third Place - 1 points

most total points wins

          The 1926 Pow Wow held at Santa Monica High School made some changes to previous events. Pace Relay was dropped while Wall Scaling and Signaling events were added. 1926 was also the year that Crescent Bay Council split in three pieces. Inglewood, Redondo Beach and the rest of the southern section formed a new Council called Centinela District Council. Venice scouts  decided to leave Crescent Bay and join Los Angles Metropolitan Council after Venice voters agreed to be annexed by the City of L.A. (They would return to Crescent Bay later that year.)
          None-the less, what remained of the original Crescent Bay Council had expanded to more than 35 troops after the split and attendance at the 1927 Pow Wow was expected to top 750 participants. Over 500 scouts attended along with parents, family and visitors, pushing the total turnout to well over 1,000. Ribbons were awarded for each event (possibly for the first time) and winners in the seven different competitions received bronze plaques and medals .
          The 1927 Pow Wow began at 1 P.M. on Saturday, May 14th, with a "striking parade where scouts from 27 uniformed troops, preceded by a vanguard drum & bugle corps and color bearers, marched in formation from 2nd St. and Wilshire Blvd. in Santa Monica, to Lincoln Junior High School", a distance of more than a mile.
                                              Pow Wow Parade up Wilshire Blvd.
                                                                                May 14, 1927

Venice Troop 34 color guard marches up
Wilshire Blvd. from 2nd Street near the beach.

Scouts follow color guard, drum & bugle corps heading north on Wilshire to
Lincoln Junior High School.

                                    Pow Wow Events at Lincoln Junior High School
                                                                                May 14, 1927


Colors ceremony on athletic field of Lincoln Junior High School
kicking off 1927 Pow Wow.

Judges confer as scouts compete
in the Fire by Friction event.

          Troop 17 of Beverly Hills won first place in the 1927 Pow Wow. They would go on to win four more consecutive Pows Wows through 1932, setting the all-time record and becoming the most dominant troop in the Council's Pow Wow history. 
          The 1928 Pow Wow venue moved to Uplifters Ranch at the mouth of Rustic Canyon. The Ranch was host site to the 1927 Region Twelve Scout Executives Conference and was located at the western fringe of development in Los Angeles at the time, accessible only by unpaved roads and the recently completed Sunset Boulevard. (See > Uplifters Ranch and history of Camp Josepho)
        1929 saw the Pow Wow moved to a more central location at Los Angeles Municipal Playground in Sawtelle (West Los Angeles). For reasons unknown, the competition was also referred to as a Field Meet that year. The line-up of events remained the same as previous years although this final Crescent Bay Council Pow Wow of the 1920's would prove to be the last one where patrols competed against each other for points. Points earned at the 1929 Pow Wow became part of a broader points program for troop activities throughout 1929 that included hikes, test passing, attendance at troop meetings and other troop development criteria. It is thought that the Crescent Bay Award medal (shown above) may have continued to be used for the expanded program that year. This change in troop incentive contests also coincided with the shake-up of the Camp Veteran awards and the introduction of the Good Camper program at Emerald Bay and High Sierra Camp.

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         For the first time in the history of Crescent Bay Council, no Pow Wow was held in 1930. Why the Pow Wow was skipped in 1930 remains a mystery.
         Council Pow Wows resumed in 1931 at the Los Angeles Municipal Playground. A new format for points was introduced. Patrols now competed against "set times" in each event instead of against each other for best times. This became known as the Time Standards format which continued throughout the 1930's. A new addition to the Pow Wow card of contests for 1931 was the Air Circus where scouts built model airplanes, flying them for the judges and spectators for speed and distance. Perhaps the most interesting competition ever held at a Pow Wow was called "Skin the Snake". The 1931 event is self explanatory.
          1932 marked the 5th consecutive and final time the Pow Wow was won by Troop 17 of Beverly Hills. It was reported they set a record for points in a Pow Wow with 47, a mark which stood for four years. The Model Aero events were further explained as being in three divisions: workmanship, flying and flight duration. It was also in 1932 that Crescent Bay Council decided to expand its events by adding the Mobilization to the calendar. This move signaled an interest by Crescent Bay scouts to meet for additional Council-wide functions during the year in addition to the annual Pow Wow.
          The Crescent Bay Pow Wow expanded to a two-day event for the first time in 1933. A second day was added to include a Model Boat Regatta and an adult training conference at Camp Slauson in Topanga Canyon. The Model Regatta was held at Pt. Mugu Lagoon, 9 miles south of Oxnard, CA. The new boating events were likely inspired by the success of the model airplane events and gave the Sea Scouts of the Council an opportunity to participate in the annual Pow Wow. Over 25 model sloops, yachts, ketches, schooners and yawls were launched in a sailing competition for the Barden Perpetual Trophy awarded to the individual winner and a pennant for the Sea Scout Ship with the most points. Model boats were to be 30 inches or less in length and limited to 800 or 1000 square inches of canvass depending on type.
          As part of Crescent Bay's interest in expanding the number and type of events for scouts in 1933, the first Camp-O-Ral was organized. Designed as an overnight campout with competition in camping skills, the Camp-O-Ral proved very popular, surpassing that of the Pow Wows by the late 1930's.
          The 1934 Pow Wow was held as a combined event with the Council Camp-O-Ral and was noteworthy because it ended in an argument that escalated all the way up to the Council Board of Directors. First, for reasons that are not clear, it was decided that points awarded in the Bugling event  (won by Troop 34 of Venice) would not be counted. Secondly, the points for the Tent Pitching event were recalculated on a technicality. The 2nd place Troop, 12 of Santa Monica, protested bonus points that were awarded the first place Troop 34, for establishing a new record in that event. For years, extra points were awarded to those troops and patrols that established a new record in any event. Apparently, the existing record for Tent Pitching had been omitted from the published Pow Wow instruction sheet. Troop 12 argued that based on the omission, Troop 34's bonus points for their record in tent pitching should not count. The Crescent Bay Board of Directors agreed, resulting in a tie for first place between Troops 12 and 34, the first such tie in the history of the Crescent Bay Pow Wow.
          The Pow Wows returned to Lincoln Junior High School for 1935 and 1936. It was also in 1936 that the dates of the Pow Wow were changed from Spring to late Fall, presumably to shift them away from the Council Camp-O-Ral dates. Several new events were were added including: Fire by Flint and Steel, String Burning, and Pyramid.
          It was also said that the best Pow Wow team ever to compete was the Grizzly Patrol of Troop 11 in Santa Monica. Not only did the Grizzlies set a new record with 51 points in the 1936 Pow Wow, but they also broke four event records in winning that year, a feat that had never been accomplished before or after.

                 Pow Wow Score Card

          The 1937, 1938, and 1941 Pow Wows were held at Beverly Hills High School. Culver City hosted the 1939 Pow Wow where Junior and Senior Divisions were adopted with winners in all events in each division.
          By the mid 1930's, Pow Wows were also routinely marred by disqualifications and seemingly arbitrary judging decisions. In several of those years, the chaos materially changed the outcome. There were instances where group disqualifications of event winners allowed troops not placing in the top 5 to be declared winner, thereby overtaking other troops in overall point totals.

          As the 1940's began, interest in the Pow Wows waned. In the "that-never-happened-before" department, Troop 34 won the 1941 Pow Wow without winning first place in a single event. The point totals for the top troops that year were the lowest in Pow Wow history.
          At the same time, Crescent Bay scouts were increasingly focused on the annual Camp-O-Ral/Camp-O-Ree. Looking at the overall Pow Wow record of winning troops going back to 1921, one can't help but notice that the same few troops always seemed to be the winners while most of the Council's troops never placed in the awards brackets. It is easy to imagine that after a while, many of the troops lost interest. The outbreak of World War II may have been the final factor that brought an end to the Crescent Bay Council Pow Wows in 1941 after a twenty year run as the original, and once most-popular, Crescent Bay annual event.

                                                    District Pow Wow Patches


                                                    see  >  more District Pow Wow patches and leathers

          Some Districts continued to hold Pow Wows after World War II but by the early 1950's they faded away as well. Camporees and Scout-O-Ramas took center stage as the popular events in Crescent Bay Council. By the mid 1960's, there weren't any scouts other than a few old timers, having any recollection of the Pow Wows from the Council's early days.

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