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Remembering Woodworth Lake

By: Bob Cudmore

Date: 2018-01-27

Memories of Boy Scout camp
By Bob Cudmore, Focus on History. Daily Gazette, 01-27-18

Two readers have contributed memories of time spent at Woodworth Lake Scout Reservation in Bleecker.

A recent column recounted the history of the camp, opened in 1949. Located eight miles north of Gloversville, the 1,100-acre site was at 1,800-foot elevation.

Amsterdam native Steven Twardzik, now a Guilderland resident, was a member of Amsterdam Troop 50 in the late 1960s and early 1970s. His father, Michael Twardzik, was Scoutmaster and a camp commissioner for a couple of those years.

Twardzik said there was a great waterfront at Woodworth Lake, “The troop learned how to sail, canoe, row a boat, lifesaving, swimming and fishing. There were many arts and crafts, opportunities to earn merit badges, hike, learn archery and there was also a rifle range.”

Wednesday night parents could visit and the Order of the Arrow built a big fire. Twardzik said there was a camp store, “The scouts could buy needed items for the vast array of classes and we could buy soda and snacks.”

Three meals a day were served in the mess hall. Each troop had its own table and one Scout was the table waiter. Twardzik still remembers that the dining hall director would announce, "Waiters now go get the potatoes, or salad or whatever he called out.”

On the last day of camp in the mess hall each troop would make a memento that was put up on a wall or a post with the troop number and date they attended.

Twardzik said, “Troop 50 always camped in campsite B which was up a hill in lean-tos. There was a morning flag raising and an evening flag lowering if I remember correctly. “

Twardzik said he did attain the rank of Eagle Scout, “I graduated from Wilbur H. Lynch High School in 1975. I am now 60 years old and I will never forget my memories of Woodworth Lake scout camp.”

Journalist Jimmy Vielkind, who works for Politico, said he went on his first Scout trip (when he was in the sixth grade) in the winter of 1996-97, “We had a blast. There was always snow there. One night we went on a nighttime snowshoe and I will always remember how big and clear the moon was as we shuffled across the frozen lake.”

A member of Troop 6 at Jonesville United Methodist Church in Clifton Park, Vielkind made trips over several years to Woodworth Lake on his way to becoming an Eagle Scout in 2002. He said the camp in Bleecker had “great snowshoeing, great sledding.”

Woodworth Lake was a scout camp for over sixty years. Operations were reduced in 1992 and the camp was closed in 2013 by the Twin Rivers Boy Scout Council, successor to the Sir William Johnson Council, the entity that originally built the camp.

The land was sold to New York Land and Lakes Development based in Oneonta. In 2015 the Adirondack Park Agency unanimously approved development of 24 land parcels at Woodworth Lake over the objections of some environmental groups.

Fred Vandebogart of American Legion Post 701 is credited with removing rust and repainting the naval gun and cannon balls at Amsterdam’s Fairview Cemetery off Steadwell Avenue.

The story of the gun, researched by city historian Robert von Hasseln, was featured in a recent column. Forged during the Civil War, the gun was installed in 1906 to mark the veterans’ plot at the cemetery, which had been established in 1899. The project was endorsed by members of E. S. Young Post 33 of the Grand Army of the Republic, an association of Civil War veterans.