Lake Erie Council History

Lake Erie Council was formed on January 1, 2017, under the direction of the Scout Executive, Marc Ryan. The council spans from Sandusky to Conneaut, Ohio and covers a total of seven counties. The council combines the former Greater Cleveland Council, Greater Western Reserve and Heart of Ohio Council.

Overall, Lake Erie Council serves over 15 thousand youth and adults in programs such as Cub Scouts, Scouts BSA, Venturing, Exploring and Sea Scouts. Our programs are supported by our three outstanding camp properties, which are located throughout northeast Ohio. 

Beaumont Scout Reservation in Rock Creek is the home to the Scouts BSA Summer Camp Program. Firelands Scout Reservation in Wakeman, Ohio is home to Cub Scout Adventure Camp, Webelos Resident Camp, and Wood Badge Training. Camp Stigwandish in Madison, Ohio is the primary home to training including National Youth Leadership Training, Cub Scout Adventure Camp, and Red, White and Boom, our premier Fourth of July celebration. 

Coming together as one family has not only allowed us to impact more youth across our seven counties but has allowed us to share resources, and ideas as we are now stronger together as the Lake Erie Council.

Little did a group of men know how much of an effect they would have lives of youth and adults when the met on February 19, 1912. That was the first meeting of the Greater Cleveland council and was attended by Chief Scout Executive James West, and Scouting's founder, General Robert S. S. Baden Powell. Samuel Mather was elected to lead this fledgling youth movement.

Service to the community by these new young Scouts was featured in their troop programs. In 1912 it was the anti-fly campaign and during World War I, they sold liberty bonds, planted war gardens and collected books for Army Libraries.

Howard T. French became the first Eagle Scout and early visitors to Greater Cleveland scouting were President Taft and National Scout Commissioner Dan Beard. The first headquarters was opened in the Williamson building in 1914 and was called the Cleveland Local Council. Legend has it that a gentleman, with an office in this building, who represented three steam ship companies, bought $30,000 in Scout circus tickets.

John Dean, Scout executive in 1920, said that "the lack of trained Scout leaders is the only reason that the Scout movement does not touch more boys."

In 1919 the Chagrin reservation of 71 acres was acquired to become the council's first permanent camp. The council moved into a new office on Payne Avenue and remained there for 25 years. An allocation of $27,000 from the welfare fund was its first donation and as early as 1927 the Scout board voted to raise at least a half million dollars to ensure the future of the Scouting movement in Cleveland.

Service projects continued including a city clean-up campaign in 1919. A new innovative scout advancement system was initiated. Its aim was to give Scouts a chance to take tests, pass, and advance.

The public auditorium was the location of the first council wide circus in 1929. At a place near the end of the Detroit streetcar line in the Rocky River Reservation the first annual Patrol Camporee was held. A special committee was appointed to study a new Cub scout program.

Although not much has been said about money it was very much on the minds of council leaders. In 1930 the council had to tighten its belt with financial troubles caused by the great depression. It was voted to mortgage the headquarters building in order to secure funds needed to make improvements on council properties.

The first Bean Feed was held, it is said, as an event to cheer many saddened by depression happenings. It is now 1930, and studies of Cub scouting continued.

The first Silver Beaver awards were presented in 1930 and included Samuel Mather, Dr. B. H. Broadbent, father of Dr. Holly Broadbent, who was a member of the board and past council commissioner serving as council camping chairman of 30 years and camped on all proposed camp properties.

Beginning in 1932, and carried on for nearly 50 years, the Scouts collected thousands of tons of clothing for the Goodwill Industries, titled "A hundred thousand good turns for Goodwill."

The first pack of Cub Scouts was organized in 1933 at Shaker Heights, Lomond School. The Statler Hotel hosted the first merit badge show sponsored by the Cleveland Rotary Club.

The Cleveland police department joined with the council to organize seven troops in the Tremont area. The area was thought to be the home of several notorious criminals and the policeman became the scoutmasters. A Holy hour for Catholic Scouts was help of the first time.

The number of troops in the area increased from 15 to 50 in 1940 due largely to funds received from the Cleveland foundation. The council was one of leaders and serving inner city youth. In 1940 the Binghamton training center was opened at Lake Shore Boulevard and Coit Road and Elliott Ness, famous crime fighter joined the council board.

269 acres of Land on the Grand River in Ashtabula County were purchased in 1941 with an additional 225 acres acquired in 1943. The camp was named Beaumont reservation in honor of, Commodore Louis D. Beaumont, a co-founder of the May Co. Construction began in 1945.

In 1945, local Scouts again answered the call to support the war effort. Eisenhower medals were awarded for waste paper collections. Scouts collected nearly six million pounds. A new headquarters was opened in the Hanna building in 1944. Due to the increasing financial needs, the council instituted the first sustaining membership campaign in 1948. Ellsworth Augustus was elected council president and went on to serve both locally and as national president.

A national conservation good turn in 1954, accounted for 1,500 conservation projects and George Greene ended 27 years as the council's Scout executive. The Eagle Scout association and Cuyahoga Lodge of the order of the Arrow were organized in 1957.

The council announced the purchase of two properties within six months of each other. 100,000 square feet of urban renewal land was purchased during the summer of 1957 followed by the purchase of 1,700 acres on Lake Clendenning. One half years later the council purchased 436 acres in Lorain County near Beldon, Ohio. The council continued a tradition in 1960 and 520 Scouts and leaders attended the national Jamboree. In 1960 the Leonard Hanna fund gave $400,000 for the construction of a new Scout service center which was dedicated in September of 1962. Ben Hauserman was the chairman of that committee. The council accepted the Tinnerman fishing Lodge in Canada for a canoe base.

In 1965 a full troop of Scouts with Gene Weakland, Scoutmaster, served in various service capacities at the world's fair. 700 Cub Scouts traveled by train to Greenfield Village, and 67 Scouts went to Philmont. Col. John Glenn became the Eagle scout sponsor and 130 tons of clothing was collected for Goodwill. In April, 1966, Scoutmaster James McReady and troop 115 was the first troop to earn the Hornaday award in the council.

A record number of Eagle Scouts attained the coveted rank in 1967 with 210. The 62 acre Chagrin Scout reservation was sold to the Metroparks and the master plan for Beaumont began to take shape. Membership reached an all-time high in 1967 with 32,736 youth in 1,996 units and council assets increased to nearly 5 million. Troop 207 of Fairview Grace United Methodist Church spent two years in laying out the 72 mile Emerald Necklace trail.

The '70s continued at a fast pace with contending service projects such as S.O.A.R. and the anti-litter campaign. 33 Scouts attended the world Jamboree held in Japan. Operation REACH, a drug prevention program began in 1971. Neil Armstrong spoke to the 1971 class of Eagles and a balanced budget was made for the 12th straight year. A "Together We Organize" dinner in 1972 had commitments from 117 perspective chartered organizations. Again, a large delegation of 600 Scouts went to the 1973 Jamboree. The Scouting for Handicapped division was formed in 1973 with a full-time staff member.

Several programs were started in 1975: a family camp at Beaumont, co-ed camping, a cooking fair at public square, and Cub-O-Rama held at five shopping centers. A self-service area in the headquarters building was opened. Beaumont sub-camps were renamed: McCahill for Charles McCahill, council president during the initial development, Broadbent for Dr. B. H. Broadbent, Sr., and MacIntosh for Henry MacIntosh, council finance chairman during the Beaumont development.

In 1976 Eagle Scouts served as honor guards for the Freedom train and JAMBO 76, a bicentennial campout, attracted 6,000. The intersection of East 22nd and Woodland was designated Scout Way Corner by then Mayor Ralph Perk. Horses were added to the program at Clendenning and the Exploring program received a shot in the arm when the staff was reorganized to specialize with this high school age program.

In 1977 the first Camporee for physically challenged Scouts was held at Beaumont and the Robert Corning campership fund was established. The 1978 SME campaign was launched in a United Airlines DC 10. The first physically challenged Scout reached Eagle rank in 1978, and Flip for Scouts, a pancake breakfast on Chester Commons, to help needy youth attend camp was started.

Ground was broken for Cub Scout World at camp Beaumont. The downtown historical trail, Spirit of '76, was designed by the Order the Arrow. The cooperative building of leadership program was launched. Local Explorers won 17 gold medals at the Explorer Olympics, and 100 Scouts hiked the mountain trails of Philmont.

Cleveland State University supported the inner-city program and sponsored a merit badge clinic. Cross-country skiing began at Beaumont and in 1983 the Boy Scout leader training was updated and titled 440 training to coincide with the council number. The first group of Tiger Cubs and their parents met at the zoo for a special program. 165,000 pounds of clothing was collected for the Salvation Army and 2,000 Scouts from several states attended the Mormon encampment Beaumont.

Past presents of the council were involved in the development of a $2.5 million endowment fund and the program kicked off during the summer of 1983. 260,000 pounds of food was collected in the "Fight Hunger Day" and a special tribute to longtime scouter Bill Klein added $5,000. The in school scouting program in the Cleveland public schools had 300 youth registered and all restrictions were lifted to expand career awareness exploring in the council. A new film, "Everybody Wins", was developed by the Parker Hannifin Company to expand the CBOL program. The council was selected to become a national experimental council for Cub Scout outdoor programs.

In 1985 the new outdoor camp Big Bear was established for 8 and 9 year olds. Over 5,000 attended the rainy tri-council Jubilee held and the Brecksville Reservation and the first meeting of the Heritage Society took place. $5,000 dollars went into the campership fund from the "Flip for Scouts", as McDonald's contributed all the food. In 1986 a needs analysis for capital projects totaled $1,400,000 and the George Qua family contributed $10,000 to build a COPE course at Beaumont. Studies were conducted on the council office building which resulted in the approval of a Scout distributorship. Troops participated in "Organ Donor Good Turn Project." The council finished 1986 with the fifth straight year in membership gain and was designated a national quality council.

It has been many years since that small group of men in 1912 established Scouting in the Cleveland, Ohio, area. To them we dedicate the past, to the youth and leaders of today, we dedicate the future.