In August 1969, a celebration was held in Logan County to dedicate property to the Boy Scouts of America, becoming one of the most popular camps over the next 30 years for the group. The monumental endeavor began when a few movers and shakers in the community saw an opportunity to not only supply a much needed water source for the City of Russellville, but to provide an environment where young boys could flourish and learn how to become honorable men.
The idea soon grew support by the Scouts, the community, and others in the Audubon Council areas such as Hopkinsville, Owensboro and Madisonville. After a Capital Campaign raised a half a million dollars, the camp became a reality.
It was written in the News-Democrat that the camp was dedicated for the “next generation of voters.” William M. Elmer, an American Industrialist spoke at the dedication about the principles of individual effort and self-reliance taught by scouting.He compared in contrast the indoctrination of communism taught the youth in Russia. He called for “greater use of scouting to teach Americanism.”
One of the gentleman who helped make the camp a reality in Logan County was Judge William G. Fuqua. The retired circuit judge was approached by two of his friends soon after his return from serving his country. Fuqua was working as city attorney for Russellville at the time when L.J. Northern and Mac McCutchen approached him on the idea. Northern worked for the soil conservation district while McCutchen was very involved with the Boy Scouts. Both men had sons in the scouts.
According to Fuqua, who remembers events like they happened yesterday, said he loved the idea of trying to get a camp in Logan County from the get go. Not only would the camp be beneficial for the scouts, but by building a lake, the City of Russellville would have the municipal water source it so desperately needed. At the time the camp came to fruition, the City of Russellville was getting its water from Lake Hancock, which was never built to be a long term source, eventually drying up completely.
“It was a win-win situation,” said Fuqua. “The project even won a national award.”
According to Fuqua, the City of Russellville facilitated the deeds to the property surrounding the lake. Retaining ownership of the lake itself, the city sold 740 plus acres to the Boy Scouts of America for $85,000 in 1968. From that point on for the next 30 plus years the camp flourished as roads were built, structures erected, and a swimming pool dug. Scouts from all over Kentucky, as well as other states, poured into Wildcat Hollow. The camp was crawling with youngsters and their leaders who taught life skills education, leadership development, citizenship, and values training. The Boy Scouts unique methods of program presentation is designed to help build youth with strong character who are physically fit and prepared to be good citizens.
Over the past 10 years, however, the camp has suffered from lack of use and is in need of an overhaul. The swimming pool has been filled in and the structures themselves are in need of a little TLC. But the pristine beauty remains.
In 2005, the Shawnee Trails Council in Owensboro, who oversaw Camp Wildcat Hollow, considered closing the camp and selling it to help fund Roy C. Manchester, another scouting camp located on Kentucky Lake and one the council wanted to focus on. Currently Roy C Manchester is considered one of the best camps run by the Boy Scouts of America. Both camps are now under the direction of the Lincoln Trails Council.
The Boy Scouts of America decided to keep Wildcat Hollow and in 2006 an improvement campaign for the camp began. But this was only a band-aid plan to the already declining use of the property, as more boy scouts were drawn to other camps and timbering of the property soon took place. The camp has been utilized recently by church groups and some scouting events.
Once again, the camp may possibly be up for sale. The Logan County Fiscal Court recently voted to offer $1.1 million to the Boy Scouts to purchase 758 acres of the camp. The Lincoln Trails Council will be meeting in March. The vote to try to obtain the camp was 5-2 with magistrates Dickie Carter, Jack Crossley, Jo Orange and Thomas Bouldin voting yes, along with Judge Executive Logan Chick and magistrates Barry Joe Wright and Drexel Johnson voting no.
“I think this would be a great opportunity,” said judge Fuqua. “This is the greatest asset in this county. I have traveled all over the world and the lake and that camp are jewels that cannot be replaced.” The City of Russellville is not selling the lake.
Fuqua believes the county owning the camp would be an extraordinary economic tool if the Boy Scouts decided to sell. Fuqua, who was involved with bringing Logan Aluminum to Logan County, said places like Wildcat Hollow are a draw to industry and people who want to live here.
“You have to have a vision,” said Fuqua. “This camp has so much potential for growth. But once it’s gone; it’s gone.”
To contact Chris Cooper, contact [email protected] or call 270-726-8394.