North Florida Council - BSA
Camp Shands
The Baden-Powell Scout Reservation
North Florida Council

The Baden-Powell Scout Reservation was purchased in the 1960's with a plan for it to be the home for the new summer camp of the North Florida Council. The Council's main summer camp at that time, Camp Echockotee in Orange Park, had become surrounded by development as the city grew. On a quiet night, Echockotee campers might even hear the sounds of traffic and radios coming from nearby houses that had encroached on the once isolated camp. There was also Camp Francis Johnson off of Blanding Boulevard (FL 21), but it too would soon suffer the fate of surrounding development.

Legend says an old recluse owned the property around Lake Osborne (at one time called Gin House Lake, and is known in the State as Lake Loyal) before the council bought it. The Sadler Lodge (known as the Brownsea Lodge pre-1980's) had dings in the brickwork by the fireplace that the old hermit put there with his shotgun. He was supposedly shooting at the ghosts of the stuffed animals that decorated the lodge.

In 1965, two years before Camp Shands opened for summer camp, the Baden-Powell Scout Reservation had its central lodge constructed (The Meninak Lodge). The building served as a central meeting area with limited cooking facilities, storage, and the trading post. The building was a gift from the Meninak Club of Jacksonville, Florida.

The early campers did not have a dining hall or tent platforms to ease their stay. The Taylor Dining Hall was built in 1980-81 and platforms made their appearance about the same time. Prior to the dining hall, campers ate in their sites, preparing their own meals with the help of patrol kitchens that were checked out from the commissary. Young Scouts were often sent back to the commissary for a "left handed smoke shifter" allegedly missing from the patrol kitchen. (The equivalent of a "snipe hunt" quest for the unaware.) Of course resourceful staffers in the commissary made up some "smoke shifters" and sent the young Scouts back to camp to turn the tables on the pranksters.

From the establishment of the camp in the 1960's through the 1970's and 80's the infrastructure and facilities at the camp slowly grew.

In 1978 and 1983, the Echockotee Lodge of the Order of the Arrow built an obstacle course and council rings for Section Conferences hosted at the camp. Additionally, the Order of the Arrow was involved with building the rifle range, ecology building, handicraft building, the dining hall and the waterfront shelter.

In the early 90's, our Project C.O.P.E. program was established thanks to the efforts of our volunteers, the Florida National Guard, and the Telephone Pioneers of America. To this day, it is one of the best in the Southern Region.

Camp Shands is an attractive and appealing camp destination hosting a large number of national, regional, and council training events. Our staff training is always a priority and the camaraderie is second to none (to match our facilities). We look forward to a bright future for the Baden Powell Scout Reservation.

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Order of the Arrow
Echockotee Lodge 200

Echockotee History

Echockotee Lodge was founded in 1941, with an initial Ordeal held at Camp Echockotee on May 9th of that year. The first Ordeal class of 36 candidates was made up of youth and adults selected by a council committee, for their prior service to Scouting and the Summer Camp program. The initial totem of the fledgling Lodge was the alligator, but in an organizational meetings that summer, the totem was changed to that of the left-handed handclasp, and the name of the camp was adopted as the Lodge name ("Echockotee" is a Seminole word meaning "we are brothers"). For many years the Lodge was active with Summer Camp activities, holding meetings at the end of camp or occasionally at the Seminole Hotel in Jacksonville during the year. Echockotee hosted the first state-wide gathering of lodges, called Area Meetings in 1945, 1946 and 1947 (among the first such gatherings in the country). Not until the mid-1950's did regularly scheduled lodge weekends take place away from Summer Camp, as Echockotee does today.

The Lodge undertook a major portion of the maintenance of Camp Echockotee at Fellowships and Service Days, and did the same when the North Florida Council developed Camp Shands as a new summer camp in 1967. Since then, the Lodge has held all of its fellowship weekends at Shands. Besides the work done to make Shands the facility it is today, the Lodge worked hard to dominate many of the inter-lodge competitions held at the Area Conferences, building healthy rivalries and traditions that continue to this day. The development of the Dance Team started in the late 1950's and many members have won awards in the Area (now Section) and National level in this field of competition.

In the 1970's, Echockotee built on its legacy of service with additional fixtures at Camp Shands, building the obstacle course and council ring for Section Conferences hosted by the Lodge in 1978 and 1983. Other facilities at Shands that bear the Stamp of Echockotee involvement are the rifle range, ecology and handicraft buildings, the dining hall and the waterfront shelter.

Members of Echockotee have been recognized by the National OA Committee for their service to the program with the Order's highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award. Recipients from the Lodge are Kevin Holloway (1977), Jack Butler (1986), Kelly Roberts (1988), Todd Leonard (1994), Greg Hazlehurst (1996) Todd Turner (1998), David Strebler (2000), and Courtney Allen (2004).

While so many things about Scouting have changed since the Lodge was founded in 1941, some principles remain constant the most salient being the dedication of Echockotee to the principles of the Order, service to Scouting and devotion to the camps ad camping programs of the North Florida Council.