Columbia Star

1963        Celebrating 60 Years      2023

Camp Barstow celebrates 80 years



If you’ve ever spent a summer as a counselor at Columbia’s Camp Barstow, the Boy Scouts of America are looking for you.

On June 5, the local Boy Scout camp that has served eight counties of the Scouts’ Indian Waters Council is celebrating its 80th birthday and the promoters want to gather as many former scout leaders and camp counselors as they can, according to Tripp Clark, former camp director and volunteer coordinator for the event.

“We’ve gotten the word out through mailings and the internet,” he said. “Our biggest challenge was identifying former staff members and then finding out where they are today.”

Clark said that while nearly 500 former staff members have already been located, there are probably at least that many more for whom they have no contact information.

“People move and mail gets lost,” he said. “We’d just like to have as many staff members from all generations as we can gather at this reunion.”

While this is the camp’s 80th reunion, it is also the Boy Scouts of America’s 100th anniversary, Clark said.

“I’ve heard from several people who were counselors in the 1930s who are now in their 90s,” Clark said. “Then we have last year’s staff as well so if some of the original people come we will have people from 90 to 15.”

Camp Barstow started out in 1930 on a 211–acre tract of land that is now part of Fort Jackson.

“It was sold to the Federal government in 1940 to expand what was then Camp Jackson into a fort as part of the preparedness program for World War II,” Clark said.

From there it moved to an almost 10,000 acre tract of land in the Gaston area, and then in 1996 the camp moved to its present location of 250 acres on Lake Murray and opened its first summer camp there.

“When the camp was still in its conception, they had just begun to build Lake Murray, and the organization wanted to buy land on the water,” Clark said. “Ironically, they were told the lake was just for electricity and wouldn’t ever be used as a recreational lake so they bought the land near the fort. Now, 80 years later, here we are on that lake.”

Since 1930, more than 50,000 boys have passed through the camp’s gates to spend a week or more of their summers camping, swimming, and boating. They also learned about ecology and the environment, had various craft classes, and were taught first aid. Archery and shooting sports and all the safety rules of both were part of the camp’s curriculum, Clark said.

The June reunion will be at the current Lake Murray site. Former staff members can get all the details and register at the Indian Waters Council website at or by calling (803) 750-9868. Registration deadline is May 26.

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