Cradle of Liberty Council

Cradle of Liberty Council
Cradle of Liberty Council
Cradle of Liberty Council
Owner Boy Scouts of America
Headquarters Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Country United States
Coordinates Coordinates: 39°57′32″N 75°10′32″W / 39.959°N 75.17552°W / 39.959; -75.17552
Founded 1996
Scout Executive Thomas Harrington
Scouting portal

The Cradle of Liberty Council (#525) is a Boy Scouts of America council created in 1996 with the merger of the former Philadelphia Council (covering the city and county of Philadelphia) and the former Valley Forge Council (covering Delaware and Montgomery counties).



Valley Forge Council shoulder patch
Philadelphia Council shoulder patch
50th anniversary patch

The present council is the result of the 1996 merger of Philadelphia and Valley Forge councils. Philadelphia Council was founded in 1911. In 1913, the Council opened one of the earliest Scout camps in the United States, Treasure Island Scout Reservation, near Point Pleasant, Pennsylvania. Two years later, Dr. E. Urner Goodman and Carrol Edson founded the Order of the Arrow there, inducting the first members on July 16, 1915.

The Valley Forge Council began operation in the 1910s as Delaware and Montgomery County Council, although the council office was never within the council boundaries (in Center City Philadelphia until the 1960s when it was moved to Valley Forge in Chester County.) The council was renamed "Valley Forge Council" in the early 1950s. The council was named for the George Washington's historic winter encampment of 1777-78 at Valley Forge. The council opened Camp Delmont (later called "Delmont Scout Reservation" as of the early 1960s) in 1916 in Green Lane, Pennsylvania.

In 1955, some 4,600 acres became available in Marshall's Creek. Site of a hunting facility, it was found admirably suited for Scouting purposes and purchased jointly by the "Federation" of Philadelphia and Valley Forge Councils to create Resica Falls Scout Reservation. Joint development and use occurred until 1965, when Valley Forge Council bought out Philadelphia Council's interest and the federation was dissolved. When the two councils merged in 1996 to create Cradle of Liberty Council, scouts from Philadelphia, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties once again camp together. Valley Forge council was also host to the oldest[when?] annual Scouting event in the nation, the Valley Forge Pilgrimage and Encampment, which is still sponsored by Cradle of Liberty Council.

During the 1980s and 1990s, much of Philadelphia's population moved to the suburbs. Although most Philadelphia area businesses were headquartered in the city, most of their senior managers lived in Delaware and Montgomery Counties. This caused Philadelphia and Valley Forge Councils to raise funds from the same funding base. Accordingly, the two councils' executive boards began the merger process in 1993, which was finalized in 1996.[citation needed]

When councils merge, so do their Order of the Arrow lodges. Philadelphia's OA lodge, Unami One, was founded in 1915 on Treasure Island, and recognized as the first lodge nationally. Valley Forge Council's OA lodge, Delmont Lodge 43, the much larger of the two lodges, was founded in 1929 at Camp Delmont. When the councils merged, Delmont decided to merge with Unami Lodge and retain Unami's name.[citation needed]


Properties and facilities

Council offices

As a result of the merger of the Valley Forge and Philadelphia councils, the Cradle of Liberty Council maintains two offices - the Bruce S. Marks Scout Resource Center in Philadelphia, and the Roger S. Firestone Scout Resource Center, in Wayne, Pennsylvania.

The Bruce Marks Scout Resource Center in Philadelphia was built in 1929. The Beaux Arts style building was designed by architect Charles Klauder.[3] At the time city fathers invited the Scouts to move their offices to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.[4] The building was built and paid for by the Scouts, and turned over to the city with the understanding that the Scouts would be allowed to remain in it rent-free "in perpetuity."[5][6] The building is located at 22nd and Winter Streets.[3] The first copy of the R. Tait McKenzie sculpture The Ideal Scout stands outside the building.

The Roger S. Firestone Scout Resource Center, the former Valley Forge office, serves as the suburban access point. It is located in Wayne, on the northern fringes of the Main Line area. Most[which?] of the council's activities and training sessions occur in the suburban office. Due to its size and flooring area, and it has been slated for expansion since the merger.[citation needed] The city office, which houses the Scout Executive and District Executives for the districts within the city limits, has less space for training, and has been maintained mainly for easier access to city residents.[citation needed]

Headquarters controversy

The City of Philadelphia tried to evict the Council from their city-owned service center building on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The Historic Landmark building laden with Scouting symbols was built and paid for by the Scouts on city land at the city's request in 1929 and the cost of maintenance and renovation has been borne by the Boy Scout council ever since.[7]

This resulted in the Cradle of Liberty Council, Inc., Boy Scouts of America, v. City of Philadelphia also known as Cradle of Liberty Council v. City of Philadelphia, [2:08-cv-02429RB] which was a U.S. Court case involving the Cradle of Liberty Council versus the City of Philadelphia. The case was filed on May 23, 2008 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Judge Ronald L. Buckwalter presided over the case. The Boy Scouts were represented by Drinker Biddle.[7] The case ended with the court ruling in favor of the Boy Scouts of America that the City of Philadelphia illegally attempted to abrogate the Council's federally protected civil rights.[8][9] Under federal Civil Rights Law, the Cradle of Liberty Council Council is also entitled to collect its legal costs (estimated at one million dollars) from the city's unlawful action. As a result, the city and the Cradle of Liberty Council are engaged in negotiations to transfer the building from the city to the council in exchange for the council not collecting those legal costs from the city[10]


Cradle of Liberty Council operates two camps in Pennsylvania: the Musser Scout Reservation (from the merger of Delmont Scout Reservation and Hart Scout Reservation) near Green Lane, and the Resica Falls Scout Reservation, which is composed of Camp Firestone and Camp Big Springs, north of East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania on the edge of the Poconos. While Camp Big Springs is still an active summer camp, the declining attendance and enrollment of the Camp Firestone summer program has caused Firestone to close. Resica Falls is situated near the controversial Tocks Island Dam project of the 1960s, now the present-day Delaware Water Gap National Recreational Area.

The twin camps of Hart and Delmont had been operated by the Philadelphia and Valley Forge councils respectively before the merger. Their consolidation under the name Musser Scout Reservation was a tribute to Pete Musser and the Musser family, long-time Scouting supporters.

Until recently the council also operated Treasure Island Scout Reservation, sometimes called TI. The camp was damaged by Delaware River flooding in 2005 and again in 2006, forcing its closure for the 2005 and 2006 summer camp seasons. In September 2008, the Council Executive Board ratified the recommendation of the Camping Committee and the executive committee to close Treasure Island effective October 1, 2008.[11]

Other facilities

The council no longer owns any properties in or near Philadelphia. In 1929, Henry W. Breyer, Jr., purchased the abandoned Lindenhurst property once owned by John Wanamaker in Cheltenham on York Road, below Washington Lane. Breyer donated the former Wanamaker land to the Boy Scouts of America for use as a wildlife preserve.[12] The camp was accessible to city-scouts by taking the train to the Jenkintown station. Camp Henry W. Breyer (40°05′07″N 75°07′52″W / 40.0853°N 75.1311°W / 40.0853; -75.1311) was sold by the Philadelphia Council in 1990 and is now the site of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry.

At one point, the Philadelphia Council was also given a tract of land near the Roxborough Reservoir at Port Royal Avenue and Eva Street (40°03′20″N 75°14′38″W / 40.0556°N 75.2438°W / 40.0556; -75.2438).[13] and was called the Dale Sea Scout Base. This land was eventually sold and is now part of the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education.[14] Also, the Philadelphia council also owned Camp Biddle on the Darby Creek (Pennsylvania) in Marple Township. (39°59′48″N 75°21′18″W / 39.9967°N 75.3550°W / 39.9967; -75.3550). The camp was named after Anthony J. Drexel Biddle.[15]

Unami Lodge

The Cradle of Liberty's Order of the Arrow Lodge, Unami Lodge One, was where the OA began at Treasure Island Scout Reservationin 1915, and in 2005 celebrated its 90th anniversary.


See also


  1. ^ BP District website
  2. ^ General Nash District
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^ Outline History of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway 1871-1935.
  5. ^ Pirro, J.F. (2007-01-10). "Scouts' Dishonor". Philadelphia City Paper. 
  6. ^ Slobodzian, Joseph A. (2007-12-04). "Scouts ignore gay-policy deadline". Philadelphia Inquirer. 
  7. ^ a b Slobodzian, Joseph A. (May 27, 2008). "Boy Scouts sue Phila. to stay in headquarters". Philadelphia Inquirer. 
  8. ^ "Pennsylvania: City Cannot Evict Scouts for Gay Ban". The New York Times. 2010-06-24. 
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ [1]
  12. ^ Cheltenham Township, Montgomery County PA, Elkins Park, 19027
  13. ^ Raab, Jonas (2007-01-10). "Cityspace: Protect and Preserve". Philadelphia City Paper. 
  14. ^ Saffron, Inga (2004-12-05). "Changing Skyline". Philadelphia Inquirer. 
  15. ^ History of Cradle of Liberty Council #525
  16. ^ DaGroomes, Kathy Vilim (March — April 2006). "Dodgers Icon Shares Love Of Baseball and Scouting". Scouting. 

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