Cachalot Scout Reservation

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Cachalot Scout Reservation, usually known as Camp Cachalot, is a Boy Scout camp located in Plymouth and Wareham, Massachusetts. It is owned and operated by the Narragansett Council Boy Scouts of America.

History

The property that became Cachalot Scout Reservation was purchased in early 1946 by the New Bedford-based Cachalot Council of the Boy Scouts of America, after a multi-year capital drive and consideration of several other properties. Prior to its purchase, the Cachalot Council used a combination of multiple facilities, including Myles Standish State Forest; the local Boys Club's Camp Maxim; the camp of the neighboring Fall River-based Massasoit Council, Camp Noquochoke; and its own small property on Rock O' Dundee Road in Dartmouth, Massachusetts for its year-round and summer camping activities. Camp Cachalot, as it was then formally known, opened for summer camping in the summer of 1946, with Roland Denault as the camp director, and has operated continuously since.

In May of 1964, a large portion of Camp Cachalot, including several buildings, was destroyed by a large forest fire that moved in from the west. This fire, the result of arson in neighboring Myles Standish State Forest, occurred while hundreds of Scouts and Scouters were in camp for the spring Camp-o-Ree, all of whom fortunately were evacuated without injury. In addition to the property damage and deforestation that resulted, the summer camp program for 1964 and 1965 was reduced to an outpost camp whose role was primarily cleanup and reconstruction, with most of the traditional program held in concert with the program at fellow Boy Scout Camp Squanto to the immediate north. As of 2007, Cachalot no longer shows any lingering effects from that fire, although smaller fires have continued to occur in and around the property, as one would expect given its pine barren forest.

The name of the property was officially changed from "Camp Cachalot" to "Cachalot Scout Reservation" in 1967, although Camp Cachalot is still the most common colloquial usage.

In 1971, the property was added on to with the purchase of some abutting cranberry bogs, extending the camp into Wareham and securing all water rights to the largest pond in Camp.

In 1974, Cachalot Council and its neighbor Massasoit Council merged into the Moby Dick Council. Controversially, for primarily financial reasons, the program at Camp Noquochoke was merged into the program at Cachalot in the late 1970s, with Camp Noquochoke being sold in 1980. The Moby Dick Council merged with the Narragansett Council in 2002.

Cachalot today is used as a year-round camping facility, with multiple campsites, 3 large cabins, and several smaller cabins and Adirondack-style shelters seeing use year-round. It also runs both Boy Scout summer camp program and Cub Scout day camping in the summer months, in 2005 serving 483 youth with a staff of 45 during 4 weeks of Boy Scout summer camp.

Cachalot is taken from the Portuguese and French term for Sperm Whale.

Geography and Environment

The camp property occupies approximately 880 acres, predominantly in southern Plymouth. There are 4 medium- to large ponds on the property (Five Mile Pond, Little Five Mile Pond, Abner Pond, Little Long Pond) along with numerous smaller ponds and vernal pools. Much of the forest is typical of a pine barren, with pitch pine, scrub oak, and low-bush blueberry among the dominant plants, growing in very sandy soil. Much of the outer property is a wildlife management area, created as a result of a 1998 conservation restriction agreement with the State of Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.

Facilities

There are seven large camping areas with tent platforms (most of which are divided into 2 or 3 named sites for units during summer camp), one site with seven three-walled Adirondack shelters, a site used by the staff ("Magee Village", named for George Magee, a benefactor of Scouting in Massachusetts) with a number of small cabins, and numerous smaller tent camping areas. Most camping areas have ready access to flush toilets and showers, although sites for year-round use also have access to several dry-pit latrines.

A dedicated waterfront area for swimming and boating is on the southeastern shore of Five Mile Pond, including a wooden dock system and lookout tower.

There are a number of buildings in use as well:

  • the 21 Club, the oldest building in camp, used year-round for camping
  • two concrete block cabins used mostly for year-round camping
  • the Phillips House, which is the residence of the Camp Director during summer camp and is used as the Campmaster Corps residence in the off-season
  • the Dining Hall, used primarily as the kitchen and dining area for the summer camp program and for occasional off-season activity
  • the Fox's Den Trading Post and Scouter's Lounge, named for Scouter Gerry "Grey Fox" Sylvester
  • the Boathouse, which serves as boat storage during the off-season and as program and administrative space during summer camp
  • the Maintenance Shed, which garages camp vehicles and equipment and serves as a workshop and office for the resident ranger
  • the Health Lodge, the medical facility and residence of the camp nurse during summer camp
  • "Commissioner's Corner", a small cabin near the waterfront that has served multiple uses over the years but is now primarily storage
  • the former trading post and admin building, recently converted into a multiuse building that most recently housed the Handicraft Area during summer camp
  • a duplex serving as staff residences during the summer and available for year-round use
  • a residence for the camp cook, adjacent to the dining hall

The camp's resident ranger has a 2 bedroom, 1.5 bath cabin near the winter cabins.

References