History of Camp Royaneh

As related by Bob Anino, Joe Eherman, Larry Teshara, and others

In 1925, The San Francisco Council purchased a truly wonderful piece of property. With this purchase a treasure of memories that have endured for over 90 years was begun In 1925. Camp Royaneh opened at this newly obtained site, the Watson Ranch located on East Austin Creek in Sonoma County. At that time the Watson’s lived above the camp, and the camp utilized only about 40 acres of the property. Everyone lived on the other side of the bridge beyond the dining hall.

 From the very beginning Royaneh was an extremely popular place. The dominant factor, and the man who made the camp what it has ultimately become, was the Scout Executive, Mr. Raymond O. Hanson - The Chief. The Chief added the perfect ingredient - happiness. This was a happy camp. The chief’s personality was such that it was impossible not to like the man. He was in his office when he had to be, but more often than not he was out among the campers. It is important to remember that Scouting was still in its infancy at this time and was going through many changes.

The Executives who came after The Chief were more business type individuals. Later executives didn’t have the personal touch with the Scouts that Raymond O. Hanson had, but their functions were different. Today the idea of a Scout Executive being the Camp Director - as Raymond O. Hanson was - is not nearly as feasible, since the responsibilities of each position have changed considerably.

Among the campers he was always known as The Chief - very few people know him as Raymond O. Hanson. It was the rare Scout who could correctly identify him by name.

The Chief was deputy fire chief appointed by the state fire marshal and as a result he was entitled to have a siren on his car. He had a Buick convertible and every time he went in or out of camp he would sound that siren and the Scouts all knew what it meant - The Chief was coming in or going out. When they heard the siren - no matter where they were - they would all yell out “Hello Chief” or “Goodbye Chief.” The second of the siren meant that the Chief was either coming or going.

Sometimes when Raymond O. Hanson came into the dining hall, the Scouts would cheer and yell and then they’d start to chant “Chief wants to dance, the Chief wants to dance.” This was in the days when the Charleston was very popular. So he’d do a few steps of the Charleston and the campers would go crazy because they idolized the man. It was really unbelievable the impact this man had on the Scouts - and the Leaders.

In the early days, a small session was about three hundred boys, and occasionally there might have been close to six hundred in camp. Generally, the average was around four or five hundred a session. At this time there were two two week sessions per season. All of the boys came for a two week stay. Camp Royaneh had no one-week campers. On occasion they attempted to have a third session, but generally it only produced about 150 boys, rather small.

When camp began here in 1925 the cost was roughly seven dollars a week. This included room and board. In the early years, all the Scouts were from San Francisco or San Mateo, as the San Francisco Bay Area Council did not come into being until 1965.

In addition to Royaneh, the council also operated Camp Lilienthal (1929–1973) located above the town of Fairfax in Marin County. The original Camp Lilienthal (1919-1925) though was located on the current site of Sigmund Stern Grove in San Francisco. The Scouts assembled at the Ferry building in San Francisco and then proceeded by ferry boat over to Sausalito, where they continued the trip to Royaneh via a North Coast Pacific narrow gauge train. The entire encampment would assemble at the Ferry Building with the Scout Band at the head of the group and the boys would line up with their leaders according to Troops or companies. As soon as everybody was ready the Scout Band, which was also headed for camp, would strike up the official camp song - “Three Cheers for Camp Royaneh” - and everybody would march onto the boat. It was really quite spectacular.

When the boat arrived in Sausalito there would be a locomotive, two or three baggage cars, and sitting car for each company. All of this for a special roundtrip price of $1.50. Soon after the train departed from Sausalito, the camp bankers would come through the train, stop at each car, and collect the spending money that the Scouts had brought with them because campers were not allowed to have spending money at camp. They turned in all of their money to the bank, it was recorded in the bank book, and they were giving a receipt. Each day the Scout was allowed to withdraw fifteen cents for his spending. If he wanted to buy craft material or something similar, he had to obtain special permission to withdraw this extra money. Most of the boy’s brought up about two and a half dollars for the session. A dollar and a quarter a week in the 1920’s was a pretty good sum of money. Not surprisingly, many of the Scouts found ways to access their money right away, by claiming it was for a craft activity, and hence were a little “short” for the balance of their stay.

The train paralleled close to highway 101 on its way north to Fulton. At this juncture it turned west and hit most of the river points. The highway that we ride on now from Fulton (River Road) was the train right-of-way. There was rather narrow automobile road alongside the train. It would stop at Mirabel Park and the Scouts would wave - especially at the girls, as it was Summer time - and then from Mirabel Park it would go on to Rio Nido, continue on right through the main street of Guerneville where it stopped for a long time. People would come out to see the Boy Scout train on its way to camp. Just outside of Monte Rio the train stopped at a place called Moscow (which is still there today) to switch to the narrow gauge railroad. They then proceeded along Austin Creek toward Cazadero. Upon arriving at Watson Station, (latter Royaneh Station) located near the Cazadero Realty office, the Scouts disembarked, the baggage was removed, and the boys would hike up where the parade grounds are now - near the flag pole. There was one camp truck, and in the 1920’s it was operated by a caretaker named Henry Rothmus. The Staff was all assigned to baggage detail so they would load up that trunk with all the gear and shuttle back and forth. It was about a two and one half hour trip in all and the Scouts arrive in time for lunch.

1934 was the last year trains did the transportation, so the camp decided they were going to have some type of Ceremony involving the train. On the last day the campers rode the train, the entire camp came down for the morning colors as usual and then, while the whole camp was assembled, the Chief and his Staff arrived at the parade field in a handmade train. The train had a locomotive with wheels and a couple of cars. They came down the road and had a brief celebration commemorating the demise of the train and proceeded to set the train afire on the parade grounds. After a few rousing cheers the boys set off down the hill for the last train to Sausalito.

During the ensuing years the scouts came by bus. The busses lined up on Bay Street near Galileo High School. Every camper reported to his troop’s bus and when all was ready, they went to camp. South of Petaluma the busses pulled over to the side of the road where everyone got off to stretch their legs, since rest stops were still a few years away. Then they boarded the busses again and continued to the east side of East Austin Creek. There the boys carried their gear to the waiting truck on the other side of the stream and hiked up into the camp. In camp every Scout had a beanie (a kind of cap), a badge, and a neckerchief and every day he wore them with his shirt and shorts. That was the uniform for the entire day. It looked like a camp that was together. No long pants or jeans
were ever worn.

When they registered for camp all Scouts bought a name badge; the first-year campers had a green badge with his name on it; the second-year boys had a red badge; third-year had a dark blue badge; and forth-year had a light blue badge. After four years he was then a leader. An Assistant Scoutmaster wore a gold badge while the Scoutmaster wore a silver badge. During these early years there was no registering as a troop. Each boy would go down to the council office and complete has own registration and pay his fee. He would then purchase the camp essentials, a badge, his camp neckerchief, and his beanie - a blue and gold cap - with the words “Camp Royaneh” on the brim. His neckerchief was blue with the Royaneh Indian Head on the back.

The camp setting was really quite military. There was a morning Ceremony, and an evening Retreat with the band marching back and forth during the lowering of the flag. Retreat was very formal. Everybody attended in uniform. They’d march into the music of the band and they’d have formation, they’d report to the adjutant, then they’d have a “pass in review” in front of the Chief. The band would go first, then every troop, then they’d march right up to the mess hall. They had a band troop. Anybody who could play an instrument was invited to play at camp. The band was led by Carlo Lastrucci, who later became a professor of psychology at San Francisco State. At one time the council had an excellent ninety-piece band. It wasn’t just a drum and bugle corps, it was a band. The band was so good that they would put on concerts in Monte Rio and Rio Nido. The band would put on complete musical programs. They also went to the Berkeley Camp before it was a music camp - when it was the Berkeley Municipal Camp - and entertained there. The band had a specific living area and they played for the morning colors and the evening colors. In addition to the band, there was also a bugler for the camp. Each year a competition was held in the city prior to camp. The winner and the runnier-up were given two weeks at camp and performed the bugling chores for their respective sessions.

During this era there was a Spring Rally, and a pre-camp rally to promote Royaneh. It was always held at one of the city schools. The Scouts would meet in the school auditorium and the Chief would speak and introduce some of the fellows who were going to be on the staff. There were skits and camp songs and in general the council would promote the camp. Then after Camp, in the fall there was a post-camp rally and at that time the camp leaders gave out all the awards. Awards were not given out at the Royaneh closing campfire. They gave little gold baseball winners, little shoes to the track winners, little emblems to the swimming winners, and other awards earned in camp. When camp closed for the season formal ceremonies were held on what we now call the parade grounds. At noon time all of the companies, or troops, lined up for the lowering of the flag. They’d play “Colors”, the cannon would be fired, and the Chief would say “Goodbye-farewell-aloha…” and then the boys would all yell back and they’d wait for him to place himself right by the trail that went down to the train, and as each leader and each camper marched by in single file, they shook his hand-and the last one said “Goodbye, Chief.” It was really quite a ceremony.


At one point there was a person called the Camp Adjutant. He was a little Englishman by the name of Arthur Clark. He was very intense, and most of the Scouts were afraid of him. In reality, he was as nice as anyone could be, but he was very strict and very military. Every evening he ran a guard mount where the campers tried out to be the Chief Aide. On one momentous occasion it is believed that some staff members (or was it a group of disgruntled campers?) decided to “shake up” the little Englishman. There was a small cannon in Camp which fired blank shotgun shells. The canon was mainly used during retreat every night. During the campfire program one evening, the loaded cannon was placed under the floor of the headquarters tent, directly under adjutant Clark’s bed. A heavy string was attached to the trigged of the cannon and then stretched across the gully to one of the band tents. A good sized rock was tied to the end of the string so that it could be thrown far from the tent of the perpetrators. At about 2:00 AM, when all the camp was asleep the string was yanked, firing the cannon. The sound of the shot in the quite of the night was quite tremendous. It took Adjutant Clark less than five minutes to get out of his pajamas, into uniform, and roust out the entire camp to find out who had fired the cannon! As might be expected, “nobody” knew a thing, since “nobody” did it. While Adjutant Clark was holding his middle of the night inquire an unknown Scout crept into Clark’s tent and purloined the Adjutant’s red polka dot pajamas. At the next morning’s parade, while the band played the National Anthem, the flag was raised and as it rose to the top of the flag pole it unfurled, followed by the Camp Royaneh flag and then the red polka dot pajamas!

Every Scout in camp wanted to be the Chief’s Aide at some point in time during his camp stay. Adjutant Clark ran the guard mount where the campers were inspected. Many Scouts brought up extra or new cloths that they wore just for that guard mount in an attempt to become the Chief’s Aide. This was a very prestigious appointment. The chosen Scout received a silver star, he was given a red beanie that had “Chief’s Aide” inscribed on it, he wore a red neckerchief, and he was allowed to sit on the platform where there was a table for only three people - the Chief, the Chief’s Aide, and the Officer of the day. Each day a different company commander would be Officer of the Day. The Chief’s Aide held his job for twenty-four hours. He was selected because he was the neatest Scout, which is why the Scouts brought new clothes. They wouldn’t dare wear the uniform until the evening of the inspection. They’d even put on new shoes or newly shined shoes and they’d walk down so that they didn’t get any dust on them. The two runners-up in the competition for Chief’s Aide were headquarters Orderlies. There was a headquarters tent right by the parade grounds under the supervision of the Assistant Scout Executive. His name was McFadden. He was a little fellow who was a wonderful person. The Orderlies were his Aides at headquarters - they worked for the headquarters as messengers and helpers.

It sounds as things were run in a very military manner during these early days, and they were. After all, this was not too long after World War 1, and as you recall, the founding fathers of the Boy Scouts were military types. In order to maintain the cohesion and unity that was needed, it was imperative that there was some sort of legitimacy to the chain of command. This carried over into the living quarters as well. At the outset, the living areas did not nave names such as Frontiersman or Plainsman, rather there was Company A, Company B and so forth. In fact the villages themselves were not opened until 1938. The size of then various companies was based on the size of each troop. In those early days there were a lot of big troops that brought a large number of Scouts. Troop 14 would bring in excess of 40 or 50 boys, as would Troops 17, 20 & 104, which was led by Scoutmaster Fernando Ovara. Eight or nine troops would come for each two-week session. The smaller troops were made into provisional troops. Every day the staff would hold inspections after breakfast, usually around nine a.m. This was not just a simple campsite inspection, it was also personal inspection. Every Scout had to be in front of his tent and extend his hands for a fingernail check, and every individual scout in camp was inspected by Mr. George I. Turner. In these early days of Camp Royaneh the Staff were all volunteer’s. Mr. Turner inspected every person as well as every tent. It was a very military inspired task. In later years the camp progressed to granting more individuality in allowing the Scouts to monitor themselves with an appropriate adult

Scout Executive Raymond O. Hanson started the Knights of Dunamis, an Organization for Eagle Scouts, on April 19, 1925. The organization was devoted to service. Ten Eagle Scouts formed the original chapter during the organizational meeting that night. The word "Dunamis" (pronounced Doo'-na-mis) is derived from the Greek word meaning power. "Knights" came from the tradition of chivalrous service begun in medieval times as in Knights of the Round Table. The official emblem consisted of an Eagle, sword and shield. The Eagle symbolized service, the sword represented the power of leadership through service and the three sided shield signified the three parts of the Scout Oath; Duty to God & Country, Duty to Others and Duty to Self. The neckerchiefs were white for general membership and royal blue for national officers (starting in 1949) with the emblem centered on the back. Members also had special hats. There was a special award within the group called the "Knight Eagle Award" that was created in 1927. It was the society emblem and had added a special wreath of eagle feathers around it. Less than two hundred were awarded this award after it was created. There were five qualifications to receive the award. They existed for many years and a grove above Scanlon Ridge called K. D. Grove still exists to this day with a plaque stating “Knights of Dunamis Grove Dedicated April 20, 1940 To Raymond O. Hanson Founder.” This was Chapter Number One because it was the founding chapter. They met in San Francisco once a month and had a very big ceremony at camp each summer. Forty or Fifty people would come up for K D Day on Sunday. Just before the noon meal, when everybody was in the Dining Hall, the KD’s would come marching in with their banners and white neckerchiefs and the Commander with his cape. They sat down at special tables set in front of the Dining Hall. The Knights of Dunamis produced the Saturday night campfire program in the amphitheatre between the first and second weeks of camp. Because the production included many older fellows who had come to camp for K D Day who were not on camp staff, the presentations were new and featured some fine talent. This tradition continued through the 1950’s. 

The present administration building is dedicated to Raymond O. Hanson. The original building - the center section - housed the camp director, program office and the business office. The old camp hospital was located near the creek below Buffrey Flat. This old building was eventually split into two parts. Half was moved down and added to the admin building to form what is now the health lodge, the funds to do this being provided by the Rotary Club of San Francisco. The other half of the building becomes the Chalet. The admin building was completed in 1958 with the addition of the building housing the trading post and the Chief’s Room which was contributed by the Royaneh Lodge of the Order of the Arrow. It was dedicated to the memory of “Uncle Ed” Dike. Unfortunately, much of the porch of the new wing was lost to the winter of 1986, but a new porch was added to the main wing of the building in 1988.

In 2008 The Royaneh Stock Holders renovated the Trading Post by turning the Post into a walk in building. The Trading Post now has many different items like Rabbit Furs, Soda machines and other new items that were added in 2008. Also during the same year the Council built a Porch on the side of the Trading Post, and a Soda storing shed for the two outdoor soda machines.   


Until the late 1960’s, Ralph Benson, like previous camp directors, lived in a lodge on a flat across from the amphitheatre. The building had two small bedrooms and a sitting room with a fireplace. It was often used as a prep area for staff amphitheatre production. Time and weather, along with changing camp philosophies, necessitated its destruction.

The old Watson ranch house above the pool served as the Scout Executive’s cabin. It was a two bedroom room with a large sitting room and kitchen area. It was destroyed by fire during the winter of 1989 and replaced with the current structure.

The “bunk house” located below the archery range was originally the ranger’s home for the Bar-H Boys Ranch and later Camp Royaneh. The single bedroom home with an outhouse was later enlarged by covering part of the porch with an additional room and adding indoor plumbing. Ranger Jim Wilkens lived there prior to his marriage and the construction of the larger home on the lower field. That home was replaced in 1989, and the current ranger resides there.

*The Diamond “R” Corral, Trail Rides and Powder River Joe Rodeos* The Watson Property was adjacent to the Bar-H Boy’s Ranch. When the Bar-H property was purchased by the council, Horsemanship became a permanent part of the Royaneh program.

The original Diamond “R” Corral was just below the archery range. The bunk house was the home of wrangler and caretaker Jim Wilkins. The rodeo ring was on the site of the current archery range, and the barn was on the clearing to the right of the dirt path below the house.

The current Diamond “R” Corral was opened in 1961 and is dedicated to the memory of Lucy Stern of San Francisco. “Powder River” Joe Fleming presided over the grand opening ceremonies. The corral is currently managed and operated by Jackie “Cougar” Crow, who has used her many abilities to enhance the current popularity of the horsemanship program.

Royaneh Rodeos were a program highlight for over forty years, and after Powder River’s death they were dedicated to him. Originally they were held on Visitor’s Day Sunday, and later as Saturday evening attraction. Special events included Scoutmaster Burro Races, Greased Pig Scrambles and Chicken chased for the eleven year olds, as well as sheep-dog demonstrations. $1.00 Trail rides were a Royaneh tradition through the 1960’s. A special treat was an “attack” by neighboring Indians! Royaneh owned a great stagecoach that led all-day rides to Cazadero. A major feature of the 1950’s, the ride cost $3.00 per horse or $1.00 for passage on the stage. Ralph Benson had connections with the Bohemian Grove and every year for over a decade (1953-1964), Andy Devine, Mel Blanc, and other celebrities entertained the Scouts at the evening campfire. Andy and the troupe were greeted at the Camp gate and rode up to the parade ground in the stage. 


The Dining Hall has always been large enough to accommodate the entire camp at one sitting. During the 1920’s, each tent or patrol was assigned a certain table in the Dining Hall. The Dining Hall was a long wooden building with wire screen windows all around. Each tent had to assign two boys for Dining Hall duty or K.P. Those assigned each day had to be at the Dining Hall one-half hour before each meal. They would get the dishes and silverware for their table and set it. The dishes were very heavy chinaware. The cups were mugs without handles. With a little practice a boy could carry all eight cups for his table in one hand while his partner carried eight plates and bowls. At meal time all of the patrols would file in only after having their hands checked for cleanliness and then take their seats at their tables. They sat quietly at their tables until the Chief, his “aide”, and the Officer of the Day would take their seats on a small raised platform at the front of the hall. Someone would then say grace and the K.P.s would make a mad scramble for the kitchen serving counters. They would bring the platters of food to the tables. It was then served family style. There were strict rules about not taking more than your share when the food was passed around.

If someone asked you to “pass something” no one would dare help themselves to the food while it was on the way to the one who asked. If he did he was liable to have to stay and do the clean-up duties in place of the K.P.s.

From the 1930’s to the 1950’s, campers sat at long, oil-cloth covered tables. Dining Hall Stewards set the tables and served the meals. When a bowl of food was empty it was held aloft by a camper and a Steward would take it to be refilled. In the old Mess Hall before they had a porch, the steps were very steep and the inside was very dark. There were long tables for twenty-four diners. Wherever there was a Rookie - a first-year camper - the old-timers would always pick up the side of the oilcloth table cover to form a trough and they’d pick out one Rookie. Then they’d pour bug juice in the trough and let it come down to him where it would run out of the trough and wet his pants. This was just a little harmless entertainment for the older fellows. During the 1950’s the long tables were replaced with smaller ones that seated ten people - eight from the patrol, one troop leader, and one staff member. These tables are still around today. The patrol members took turns waiting tables. They were known as “Table Trotters” - “TT’s” for short.

In late 1981 a tree fell on the Dining hall during a winter storm. The newly rebuilt kitchen was unhurt but the eating area was destroyed. During the summer of 1982, meals were transported by truck from the kitchen down to the Quonset hut near the barn. On a hot July day it made for interesting condition during meal time. The modern structure of today, with its laminate arches and fire place made from stones that used to line the San Francisco cable car tracks, is a much pleasant place to enjoy your meal. In 2006 the SFBAC Council hired a company to purchase and prepare the meals for the campers at Royaneh. Since then professional chefs cook all the meals at Royaneh. 

Clarence Rapides was the chief at Royaneh for an extended period from the late 1950’s through the early 1970’s. He was a chief at Stanford and worked for Ralph Benson every summer. He was a real favorite of the staff. Elmer Eckhardt served as Commissary Director, along with Rollie Benson, Ralph’s son. Elmer ran a camp store to sell fresh foods to the many troops who cooked their own food in designated campsites: Fricot Meadows, Scanlon Ridge, Buddy Point and Kiwanis Grove. These campsites all included a kitchen-dinning building where troops could cook and serve their own food. The Scouts paid $1 per week for this program. Following the departure of Clarence and Elmer, Royaneh food service was provided by a variety of food companies, none of which proved too satisfactory. Many thought that when the old dining room was destroyed in 1981-1982, it might mean the end of dining hall service, if not the end of Royaneh itself.

Early in 1982 the Council announced its intention to build a new dining hall on the site of the old one. This presented a minor problem however, namely where to serve meals during the summer of 1982. What the staff decided was to have all the Camp meals at the Royaneh “Dinning Pavilion”, otherwise known as the Quonset hut. The food was prepared in the kitchen, which had been spared by the falling tree, and trucked down the hill. Grace was said on the parade grounds and the boys filed down to the Quonset to be served cafeteria style. The first two weeks weren’t too bad, but by week six it became quite interesting. The use of the Quonset gave birth to the idea of using this area as a staff lounge, but eventually this too was not sustainable.

The arrival of Pierre Berard that year proved to be an added boon to the culinary area. Pierre decided that if he could survive the Quonset, he could handle anything. The new dining hall was opened during the summer of 1983, although some unusual and unexpected summer showers and the roofless structure proved a poor match. The building was completed for the 1984 season and Pierre and his salad bars, Christmas dinners and famous soups were part of Royaneh through the summer of 1990.

Next in line was Wilburt Givens. Wilburt was recruited from Burlingame High School to come to Royaneh during his summer vacations. He was very well received by Scouts and Scouters, and his meals were always first rate. Wilburt passed away in February of 2000.

Until 1938 the Scouts slept in four or six-men canvas tents with a wooden floor. The canvas sides of the tent were rolled up and then at night those flaps were rolled down. The opening of Plainsman Village in 1938 marked the beginning of the roof-type wooden shelters. This was the prototype and they were able to learn from the mistakes. This is where Troop 17 has always stayed. If you look closely at the Plainsman Village you may have noticed that if you put your cots sideways the cots will stick out towards the entrance. As a result they made the shelters wider and for eight. Each cabin had a cabinet for the Scout to put his clothes in - two cabinets on either side of the bed. After Plainsman they built Frontiersman, Foresters, and finally The Pioneers, the home of Troop 14, on the top of the hill. It should be noted that the various campsites acquired their names in a variety of ways Plainsman, Forty Niners, Frontiersman, Foresters, and Pioneers, were all named for a type of adventurer and, for the most part, consist of wooden buildings. The strictly tent sites - Lion’s Den, Kiwanis Grove, and Rotary Rancho - are named for various fraternal benefactors. Anonymous donors are responsible for such tent sites as Buddy Point, Rifle Camp, Bear Gulch, and tree Haven. Individual families are responsible for the naming of Fricot Meadows, Scanlon Ridge, and of course Murphy’s Gulch. But that is another story.


In the early years most of the senior staff was housed in Staff Village comprised of three four-room cabins located across the creek from the administration area. A fourth smaller building housed toilet facilities and a shower. One of the buildings also included a Chaplain’s office. Bob Anino commissioned improvements on his favorite cabin in the village which included the addition of a porch and the removal of partitions to create the meeting area. These luxuries quickly earned the building the name “Royaneh Sheraton.” To provide competition, the neighboring staffers dubbed their place the “Royaneh Hilton”, but it was like comparing a motel 6 to the Palace Hotel. The third cabin was named “Sleepy Hollow.” The facility building was the first to fall to time and disrepair. Two other cabins were destroyed in the late 1980’s. Bob’s beloved Sheraton -rebuilt by the Royaneh Stock holders during the spring of 2007 - is now a 3 room cabin where the Nature Glen Staff calls it home for the summer. *Pneumonia Gulch* Before the cook’s cabin was built near the parade grounds, the commissary and aquatics staffs shared three screened cabins situated in the gulch between the mess hall and Frontiersman Village. The area was so shaded that it was named “Pneumonia Gulch.” It was destroyed in the late 1960’s and the staff area above the pool (called Vahalla) opened at that time.

Mocking bird hill, the staff area located below the chalet was constructed to accommodate the Scoutcraft Staff who, during the 1950’s, lived in a demonstration campsite on Buffrey Flat. This was later expanded to incorporate the Handicraft, C.O.P.E., and Mountain Man staffs. “Other” Buildings There were two rest rooms in the camp, “Egypt” and “Little Egypt.” “Egypt” was located about thirty yards above the bridge from the Dining Hall. It was a long wooden building with a door at each end. It had toilets and a urinal but it had no wash basins or showers. The urinal was one trough which ran the length of the building and was known as “The River Nile.” The wash basins were located a few feet away from the building and consisted of a long trough with a row of faucets. “Little Egypt” was located farther up the hill and was quite a bit smaller then “Egypt.” All the Showers were also up the hill inside a fenced enclosure. On Visitor’s Day (Sunday) “Egypt” was designated as a ladies rest room. One Visitor’s Day the boy who was assigned the job of putting LADIES signs on “Egypt” and GENTS signs on “Little Egypt” made a “mistake” and put a LADIES sign on one end of “Egypt” and GENTS sign on the other end. This led to quite a bit of excitement later in the day.

The quartermaster shack on Buffrey Flat was dubbed “Fort Scoutcraft” during a Scoutcraft competition with a cowboy theme in the 1970’s. The name has stuck until this day. The shack was originally a meat locker for the commissary, hence its thick double walled interior. It was then moved below the administration building to issue supplies to Troops. With the building of the new Admin wing in 1958, it was moved to its present location on Buffrey Flat.

During the 1930’s Vic Sharpe was a very important part of this camp. He was builder. Vic was a Deputy Scout Executive under Raymond O. Hanson and he took care of the physical properties of the camp. The camp used to go on overnight canoe trips. They would take as many Scouts as they were able to obtain canoes for. The canoe trips started with Vic Sharpe around 1938. The Scouts were taken by truck down to Guerneville and from there they’d paddle all the way down to Jenner where they would camp overnight. On the return trip the campers would sail back! They put all kinds of sails - towels or any other cloths they had.

The swimming pool was a gift of the Lucy Stern Estate. It was constructed in what was the orchard and was opened in 1953. Starting the pool was impossible, however, until the completion on Scanlon Road in 1952 because the necessary earthmoving machinery could not be brought into camp on the old road. The Lshaped pool was designed specifically for a youth organization. Elementary and beginning swimmers can stand up almost anywhere along the length of the pool and the diving area is away from the main swimming area. At the beginning there was only a rope around the pool. Everyone had to go through the bathhouse to enter the pool - no one was allowed to pass under the rope. No one did.

Boating and/or canoeing were not available during the early days of Camp Royaneh, as the waterfront area at Austin Creek was the only area available for swimming. It wasn’t until the swimming pool was built in 1953 that a fleet of rowboats and canoes was developed at the waterfront. The main swimming area was the Roman Plunge which was upstream from what once was the Canoe Base. Over to the left of it was the beginner’s pool - which was dammed up every year. Down by Watson was the Watson swimming hole where the leaders took their boys. These were the areas used for swimming prior to the building of the pool.

Due to the discovery of an endangered species of shrimp on East Austin Creek in 1990, Camp Royaneh is no longer permitted to erect dams. Thus Royaneh lost its waterfront and the summer of 1989 proved to be the last canoe base on the waterway. During the summer of 1990 the Canoeing Merit Badge was offered on the Russian River, but over the long haul the logistics of this program proved to be impractical. The theme of the summer of 1990 was “The Year of the Shrimp.” With the inspiration of director Dan Paul, and under the direction of Nature Director Greg St. John, campers were made aware of the importance of ecological systems to the well being of all of us. A special logo and patch were designed to commemorate the year. A search for the best way to resume some type of boating at Royaneh continues to this day. During this period the “River Tamers” program under Hovey Clark was put to use. *Handicraft* Given the Indian tradition surrounding Royaneh, the teaching of the Indian Lore Merit Badge has been a camp feature since the 1960’s. Notable contributors to this effort in the 1960’s were Harvey Michelle, a woodcrafter, and Chief Venne, a Sioux Indian Chief who lived in his teepee below the amphitheater for the summer. It was Chief Venne who introduced the R-O-Y-aaanehh, chant. John Power championed the area in the 1970’s, but the quality of the programs depended upon the availability of staff.


The summer of 1991 saw the addition of a new program area - Mountain Man. Located on the road above the rifle range. The Mountain Man logo was the design theme for the 1991 patch. Rick St. John, complete with beard and coonskin cap, was Royaneh’s first Mountain Man. This entire area was also greatly enhanced by the presence of Ed Lindquist, field sports director, whom was responsible for the re-building of the rifle range during that same summer, as well as the introduction of shotgun and black powder shooting. Indian Lore, complete with teepee and a hatchet toss area was moved to that area, along with black powder shooting.

The Challenging Outdoor Physical Encounters - which stands for C.O.P.E. - course was introduced to Royaneh in the summer of 1985 by Dave Dunakin, and was initially operated by Robin Praeger and Charles Bryant. It was an opportunity to add a program feature for older Scouts and also make use of the Dead Horse Flats area. It is a ropes course featuring both high and low course events and culminating in a high wire event.


The Baden-Powell program was initially introduced by Rich Whitney and Jesse Teshara as a Commissioner area. They held programs for Scoutmasters that was later continued by Mike Wrenn. This area shifted focus in 1992 when the BSA moved from skill awards to the present “Trail to First Class” program. The present Baden Powell program was instituted by Jim Schiechl. 


In the late 1920’s and the early 1930’s when camp first opened the young fellows from Cazadero challenged the Camp Staff to a baseball game. It soon became a tradition that every year there would be a game with the Cazadero Sheiks - and it was always played in camp. The people from Cazadero would come up in trucks and cars and they would bring a big cheering section and we played down at the lower ball field. The Cazadero Sheiks were very famous because they played a lot of games throughout the area. Initially they only played once a year but then they played every session. These were very good ball games. This tradition continued into the early 1960’s.


In the early 1930’s Camp Royaneh used to have a hike into Guerneville. On the Guerneville hike day the whole camp would go down to the creek, and go up over the hill across the creek. Past Mr. Rufino’s ranch - his family still lives there. Mr. Rufino used to let the Scouts go over the hill - all the way up over the hill and down the hill and they were in Guerneville. They’d picnic down there and do a little swimming, and then they’d hike back by the road and the camp truck would shuttle back and forth to pick the Scouts up.

Early on there were hikes over the hill to Cazadero. That was a trek that was made by many of the campers. There were also hikes to Pole Mountain, which was considered part of the fourteen-mile hike a Scout had to make to become First Class. They went down to the main road, up the old road, and then up over the hill to Pole Mountain.


During World War 1 there were magnesite mines opened about twenty miles from Camp Royaneh, and we are still able to see the path of the narrow gauge railroad that went up to the magnesite mines. Its path was right adjacent to the camp boundaries. When the railroad was abandoned, they didn’t want to drag out one of the engines so they pushed it over on its side and buried it near the Canoe Base. When the camp was opened here it was one of the traditions to take a hike to the magnesite mines. A portion of the trail went through private property. Some of the residents did not take kindly to the idea of Scouts hiking through the area, so gradually these hikes came to an end. With a little luck you can still find a forgotten piece of track or rail in this area.


Visitor’s Day was a big event in camp. The camp didn’t have to do anything - initially the parents brought their own meals and enjoyed a picnic lunch. Later the camp started serving meals in the Mess Hall feeding the Scouts first and then the visitors. After awhile they had barbecues in the amphitheatre area.


The Cairns were introduced to Royaneh sometimes in the late 1950’s by Ralph Benson. It is believed by some historians that they were inspired by Ralph‘s Jeep rides over the fire trails. He would take Scoutmasters on “Tours” of these fire trails which is essentially now the Cairn Hike. The word “Cairn” is a Scottish term relating to rocky landmarks. It was become a very popular activity for both Scouts and their leaders.


The camp also had an event known as President’s Day. This celebration was on either a Saturday or one day during the week, but never on a Sunday. The President of the council and members of the board would come up to visit the camp. The Chief made quite a big deal of it and said we’re going to have a big President’s Day and we’re going to surprise the President. So when the President was coming out of Monte Rio, word was telephoned to the camp to let them know that he’d probably arrive in about fifteen minutes. Then they had an assembly and the whole camp hid in Clark Grove. Then the Chief would give the signal when the cars were coming up. There were a whole lot of cars - maybe twenty or thirty members of the board and the President of the council. The Chief would step out to greet them and then word was given and the whole camp would rush down to the cars and cheer for the President. It was very popular with the Scouts. Then the President would have the presidential treat. He’d treat all the Scouts to ice cream. Then the board members would have lunch, give a couple of speeches and visit the camp. Then they went home.      ​        

Camp Adjutant


The Knights of Dunamis

Admin Building, Health Lodge, and Trading Post

Chiefs Lodge, Executive Cabin, and Bunk House

Dining Facilities

Famous Chefs of Royaneh and the Dining Pavilion


Staff Quarters and Staff Village 

Mockingbird Hill 



Mountain Man 


Baden Powell 




Magnesite Mines 

Visitor's Day 


President's Day 


During the early days of Camp Royaneh there would be a big camp-wide campfire program every night. Individual troop or campsite programs as we know them today did not exist. The Scouts would sit on the round sloping towards the current corral location below the parade grounds. There was a little platform near the bottom and that’s where they had the campfire programs. Then the campfires moved up to three different locations near the area where the amphitheatre is now located. One year the campfire was held on the side of the hill near Pioneer’s. That was big enough for 500 people. A few of the bigger campfires were held on the parade grounds

Boy’s Day was another important tradition. Scouts who wanted to run for office would petition and they would be placed in one of three parties. The whole campaign was based on a pie; the three parties were the Upper Crust, the Middle Crust, and the Lower Crust. One candidate for each office would be from each of the crusts. There was a campaign night held at the amphitheatre. All the Scouts who were running for the five or so offices would get up and campaign. The three campers for mayor, for instance, would talk against each other - like a debate - and they’d try to get the kids in camp to vote for all the Upper Crust party. They’d say things about the Middle Crust being no crust at all, just filling, and the Lower Crust being soggy. The others would say the Upper Crust used to get all the files. The candidates always showed a great deal of originality in their campaign speeches. The following morning election booths were set up, ballots were provided and the campers voted, and then the winners were announced.

Following the election, Boy’s Day would be declared and the winners would change with the Staff. The mayor of the camp would be the Chief for the day, and he would sit on the platform in the Dining Hall; he would have his own Aide; he’d have his own officer of the day; and he would sit up there for the three meals and he’d run the camp. It was particularly funny because the chief used to have a special kind of shorts. So the first thing the chief would do is give the Mayor his neckerchief. Give him his name badge “Chief of the Camp”, give him his Scout leader’s hat, give him his swagger stick - and then the kids used to yell, “Give him the shorts, give him the shorts”, so the Chief would take off his shorts - he had another pair of shorts on underneath - and he’d allow the boy to put the shorts on and he wore them the whole day. About four or five of the camp leaders would also exchange with the Scouts up on the platform. The campers supposedly ran the camp for the day. All the leaders would change with Scouts - a Scoutmaster would pick 3 little troop members to be the Scoutmaster for the day for his troop. All the leaders were table waiters in place of Scouts so some of the boys messed up the tables more than normal to give the leader a tad more work to do but it was all good, clean fun. Sometimes campers overdid it but all in all it was a successful tradition.

Another unusual event was the Pajama Parade. The story goes that one morning all but one troop arrived on time for the flag raising ceremony. The tardy troop said they didn’t hear the bugle. And the adjutant, the little Englishman A. G. Clark, called to them “Come down whichever way you are.” “Come down right now.”
History of Camp Royaneh So they came down in their pajamas. The Chief thought that was a good idea and so every year from then on the last morning parade was the Pajama Parade. All of the troops, with very few exceptions, came down to the ceremony in various styles and colors of pajamas. Eventually it got to the point where it began to look like a costume party. Some of them brought long nightgowns and the sleeping caps with the tassel and all that. With very few exceptions, every troop participated. Oh, there were a couple of sour people about the thing and they didn’t come down. One fellow said, “I will not let my boys desecrate the colors by coming down dressed like that.” It was really very harmless and nothing was wrong and it was a very popular thing. It lasted for many years, but like a lot of things, it faded away. Every couple of years Troop 17 will arrive in pajamas but not on a regular basis. The staff still comes down in pajamas a couple times a year.

On Sunday the camp had religious services for virtually all faiths. A Priest would come in for Catholics, a Rabbi for Jewish, as well as a Protestant Minister. Christian Science readers would be present, and an Episcopalian Priest would be on hand as well. They had services all over the camp in different areas. With the advent of one-week sessions, these services were no longer needed.         

Boys Day 

Pajama Parade

Religious Services


People In 1938 Raymond O. Hanson went to Los Angeles to become the Scout Executive of Region 12 - six Southwest States. He was replaced as Scout Executive of the San Francisco Area Council by Jon Tilden. Tilden had been Scout Executive in Minneapolis. Jon Tilden came up to camp but he did not have the contact with the Scouts that Raymond O. Hanson did. It was a happy group but it didn’t have the feel of the Chief there with you. Up in the Chief’s lodge, located across from the amphitheatre near where the Nature Glen is located Jon Tilden had a small room that he used as his office. In this office he had a Dictaphone, a desk and his typewriter, and from here he conducted his business with the office downtown. Jon Tilden also changed the name of the camp. He returned it Camp C.C. Moore (a council president in the 1930’s) because it was thought that C.C. Moore’s widow was going to make a sizeable donation to the camp. Mr. Tilden had a Deputy Executive named Harwood Jackson who was Director of Camping. Between them they brought the Order of the Arrow here from the East. 1944 was the first year there was an Order of the Arrow in camp. Then in 1947 and 1948 when Bob Anino and Joe Ehrman were back from serving in World War 2, they were inducted into the Order of the Arrow. Thus began the spread of the Order of the Arrow in this area.

From 1945 to 1958, Martha and Nicholas (Nick) Schneider, who was the caretaker, lived in the cabin above the swimming pool. Nick maintained the camp property all year long. During the summer he helped the Scouts bring their packs up the hill on his truck. During the summer a very low temporary wooden bridge spanned East Austin Creek enabling vehicles to enter the camp. But winter rains raised the water level in East Austin Creek and washed away the bridge so the Schneiders had to leave their car in a garage on the east side and walk a suspension bridge over to the camp on the west side. Nick drove an old, black flat-bed truck around the camp, and he would carry campers gear from the bottom of the hill (Where the busses would stop) into the camp. He transported building materials, and he took the garbage from the kitchen to the dump at the top of the hill behind his cabin where it was burned. One breezy day a spark jumped into the high grass and the blaze quickly spread toward the Schneiders residence. While the camp was at lunch, Martha came running down the hill yelling “fire.” The staff, trained for such an emergency, went to the fire and saved the cabin and the surrounding wooden area. By the time the Cazadero Fire Department arrived most of the blaze had been extinguished. Regretfully, this old house did burn down during the winter of 1989.

In 1946, Joe Ehrman, than Assistant Scoutmaster of Troop 14, joined the camp staff as “Morale Director.” Under the direction of Camp Director Bob Anino and program director J.D. “Denny” Brownlee, Joe edited and published the newsletter, FOREVER MOORE which, when the name of the camp was changed from C.C. Moore to Royaneh, because ROYANEH FOREVER. A copy of the newsletter was given to every camper and leader at lunchtime. Exceptionally important to Camp Royaneh during these years was Bob Anino. He handled campfire programs and when there was an athletic program he ran that. He ran the baseball league, the track league and things of that type. Little by little he was given more responsibilities until in 1940, 1941 and many of the years following World War 2 he was Camp Director. Bob Anino attended Camp Royaneh for more than fifty years. Joe Ehurman of Troop 14 also has been coming to Camp Royaneh for more than fifty years. The outdoor display boards and picnic tables are in a fenced area built in 1968 and known as Bob’s Bend, named in honor of Bob Anino.

Denny Brownlee was a phenomenal story teller. At campfires his deep voice held every camper spellbound as he related a tale of mystery and imagination. During that summer Joe and another staff member, Al Moorbrink, wrote, directed, and produced a campfire program called “The Red Allen Show” based on the then popular Fred Allen radio show. The memorable “Anino at the Bat” was a part of the program.

A few years later a young physician, Art Carfagni, became camp doctor. He spent most of his summer at camp and had his private facilities arranged for him, including a special place to park his car. He was a showman by his personality. Art and Joe Ehrman created a duet that was known as “The Gruesome Twosome.” Art strummed a ukulele and during campfire programs they sang original verses to the tune of the Lucky Strike cigarette commercial. At the end of each verse Joe played a musical “bridge” on a Tonette. The subjects of the verses were members of camp staff, camp program, camp places. Little escaped the clever wit of the writers and the campers delighted in every word.

Oscar Alverson, a round, portly, glad-hander who sported a campaign hat, became Scout Executive in 1948 and Camp C.C. Moore reverted back to Camp Royaneh

In the early 1950’s Jim Wilkens was hired to take care of the horses. He lived in a cottage above the corral until the new barn was eventually built below the parade ground. When Nick Schneider retired Jim became the camp caretaker. The staff liked Jim and enjoyed his guitar strumming in the Dining Hall.

“Uncle Ed” Dike was the Nature Director. He taught various Nature Merit badges. His main badge was Beekeeping (which no longer is a Merit Badge). It was taught on the lower part of the Scoutcraft flat which is now across from the Moon Bench. Friday was test day and the boys in the class had to pull the screen up and identify the various bees and point out the queen bee. Occasionally the bees would get loose or a young Scout would get nervous and drop the screen and the bees would go in all directions - and so would the class. “Uncle Ed” would get his smoker - the one that’s in the Chiefs Room now - and smoke the bees. He had a big net on and amazingly this old man got the bees calm down. Then he gave two blasts on his whistle - that meant the class was to come back and sit around on the side of the hill again and the next kid would pull out the screen. In variably on Friday - test day - the class would disband and reassemble half a dozen times.

Among “Uncle Ed’s” other great contributions to camp was the morning news. It wasn’t an act - he gave the sport news and anything else he deemed important. His favorite song was “I Don’t Want to March over Germany - I Don’t Want to Fly over Germany.” This must have been a World War 2 song, and he’d ask everyone to hoist their cups when he sang the song. Hot chocolate would fly all over the place but “Uncle Ed” didn’t seem to mind. He coined the phrase “Have Fun in the Sun at Camp Royaneh”. In 1958 the Order of the Arrow dedicated the new Chief’s Room to the memory of “Uncle Ed” Dike

In the late 1960’s a District Scout Executive, Gil Buffrey, was Scoutcraft director. He established a camping and pioneering area below the pool. It originally had been an orchard that had a lot of cherry plums and some apple trees. Campers used to pick and eat the cherries and apples and then, because they had eaten so many, they became sick. It was finally cleared and made into Scoutcraft area which was then named Buffrey Flat in honor of the man who created it. Gil was a professional Scouter. He displayed the Lord Baden-Powell image, dressed immaculately in a beautiful uniform, always wore a campaign hat, had a wonderful trim waistline (most men his age no longer had one!) a distinct military bearing, and excellent posture. On top of that Gil was very talented. He was a real outdoorsman and he knew how to teach and the boys in his Scoutcraft classes learned a great deal. Gil was the “Pioneering and camping expert.” Many Scoutmasters required their boys to take Pioneering from Gil Buffrey and no one else in order to become Eagle Scout. It was said he could do an eye splice behind his back with his eyes closed.

One summer there were two young Iranian Scouts on Gil’s Scoutcraft staff. They made their Camping Merit Badge students get up at six every morning to salute the flag of Iran and then go back to bed and get up at seven o’clock and salute the American Flag. At one time we had fire trucks in camp. They had fire hoses and the Iranians would squirt down the tents and say “it’s raining, it’s raining, prepare for the flood, prepare for the flood, it’s raining.” Obviously it wasn’t raining, but was the power of the hose that knocked over the tents. Through it all Gil Buffrey tolerated their playfulness. He was Mr. Scoutcraft. When he made an announcement the kids would all yell “Not one, not two, Buffrey.” His motto was “There’s the right way, the wrong way, and the Buffrey Way.”

The Director of Camping and Camp Director during the 1960’s was Ralph Benson. He was nicknamed “Mr. Royaneh” because of the many things he did for the camp. Royaneh was his pet. His ashes are spread over an unknown hillside somewhere in camp. After his death the camp wanted to do something for him so they redid the amphitheatre and they named it after him. Every time someone on staff or in camp says “At the Ralph Benson’s Memorial Amphitheatre” the entire staff and some campers will reply “Erected by his friends.” He did much to promote the camp. He was one of few real active Executives at Royaneh after Raymond O Hanson. In spite of the fact that he was head of all the Scout camps when they had Lilienthal in San Francisco, Wente in Willits, Diamond-O in the High Sierra, and Los Mochos in Livermore, his heart was at Royaneh. Many of his memories are still in camp. The “This-a-way, That-a-way” sign, the “Diamond-R Coral” sign, are but a few of the many things around camp that were handmade by Ralph Benson. He spent a lot of time here year round working and loving the camp.

Ralph Benson was the consummate showman. He loved camp and loved kids. He was so respected by the National Scout council that they brought him to the National Jamborees and many World Jamborees to put on shows. In fact, his favorite part of camp was probably the amphitheatre and that’s why Camp Royaneh named the amphitheatre for him. “Benson’s Bells” was one of his famous little stunts which he took to different Jamborees. He had all the Scoutmasters stand up with different colored bells - each color sounded one of the eight notes on the scale - he put on a paper hat and led the group in different melodies.

He played the accordion, told Robert Service stories, and led campfire. He was an outstanding showman. When Jim Wilkins would play the electronic guitar, Ralph and Dr. Frank would “dosey-do” around the Dining Hall. At Ralph Benson’s invitation, motion picture star Andy Devine would come over from the Bohemian encampment every summer and with various celebrities entertain the Scouts at the amphitheatre. Sunday was the family day picnic and many of the Scout’s families came, since virtually everyone was at camp for two weeks. At a camp-wide barbecue the staff served beans and had to look nice and wear uniforms all day. Ralph Benson loved that barbecue. One of Ralph’s favorite people was Bob Anino. They hit it off right away as they really had a lot in common. It’s hard to know if Bob taught Ralph things or if Ralph taught Bob things, but they would always complement each other. 

 Ralph Benson brought the cannon back to the Retreat ceremony. One of the traditions was that one the smallest boys in the service troop fired the cannon. Four big Scouts formed the Color Guard and one Scout blew the bugle, if the troop had a bugler. One of the more memorable staff capers was the placing of the cannon under the camp office porch.

The camp at one time had a Beachmaster - a Navy surplus public address system - which was used to make all of the announcements to the entire camp. Often music was played, sometimes marches for retreat and sometimes popular music for the staff. For example, “Love letters in the sand” a big hit by Pat Boone during the early 1950’s - “On a day like today we pass the time away” - was played five minutes before breakfast - that’s when the staff had to arise. As might be expected young staffers being a bit restless at times, sometimes get an inch for extra-curricular activity. About three o’ clock one crisp morning the Beachmaster was rigged to play music. It started blasting sound throughout the camp and the staff started yelling at John Nichols, the camp clerk, to turn off the Beachmaster before the neighbors complained. John came running out of staff village in his pajamas, opened the door to the office to turn off the sound - and the cannon went off under the porch beneath him. The cannon was eventually discontinued again after carelessness caused an injury.

Volunteer Camp Commissioners were very active during Ralph Benson’s years at camp Royaneh. They inspected the campsites daily, provided guidance and training for troop leaders, and participated in the camp program. One summer Mr. Benson asked them to judge the effectiveness of a new deodorant he was using in the campsite pit latrines. The results of their inspection were then described at a campfire, sung to a Bernstein tune. Both the campers and Ralph Benson were delighted. Commissioner Service continues to this day. Memorable recent volunteer Commissioners include Sheridan Rom and Rollie Warner.

Several years after “Uncle Ed” died, aquatics director Gary Brown adopted the name Granny Kroger and gave the news. The name was derived from an Ingleside District woman who had murdered her husband and burned him in the basement. Her name was Kroger so the news media nicknamed her Granny Kroger. Gary had a little woman’s wig and some old print dresses and he got up in the morning as Granny Kroger. “Good morning, kiddies.” After doing this for a couple of summers Gary wanted to add baseball scores to his news. He then asked Larry Teshara to assume another character and Uncle Zeke was created. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday was Granny Kroger and Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday was Uncle Zeke.

Eventually Bob Anino decided there should be a marriage and so one summer there was a big ceremony and one of the younger members of the staff was the parson. Bob made him a large Linconesque stove pipe hat and everybody was invited to the wedding which was held during every two - week session. There was a wedding and Uncle Zeke and Granny Kroger married. Eventually Granny bit the dust and Uncle Zeke did it all.

“Powder River Joe” Fleming was a retired professional Scouter who led the horsemanship program. He was a squat, stout fellow who did not look the least bit like an athletics horseman. Joe’s wife, who the camp staff thought resembled George Washington, was the hostess at the Family Camp. The Family Camp was located beside East Austin Creek and housed the families of Scoutmasters. Her hobby was polishing rocks. She had a little can and she would walk round the camp shaking rocks in it. She told us that she was polishing them. She shook rocks every day for the whole ten weeks we were there but no one ever saw a polished one. “Powder River” was probably the most colorful of all the counselors - the staff liked him, he was unique. The picture in the Chief’s Room portrays him well; he wore a beautiful cowboy hat and stirrups every day as his regular attire. He announced “trail rides tonight, partners.” He would always end up with “Let’er buck” and then he’d make a whinny sound and all the staff would make a snorting sound. “Powder River Joe” was a wonderful man - very, very kindly as was Uncle Ed. He was the MC on the rodeo day which was known as the “Powder River Joe Rodeo” and he led his little chant which was “Powder River, a mile wide, an inch deep, flows uphill a-a-all the way.” The rodeo was a very big event that was held on the Saturday night between the two-week sessions. Since most boys came to camp for two weeks, this was the layover activity. They had bunting all around the arena. 

A group of young men dedicated to Camp Royaneh and Ralph Benson served as members of the staff for several years between 1958 and 1966. For them Royaneh was their second home and Benson their summer father. This group included Gary Brown, Steve Cornell, Elmer Eckhardt, Carson English, Jerry Flattum, Willie Gianquinto, Gary Heil, Ross Heil, Matt Mc Cabe, John Nichols, Steve Pulverman, Bob Soper, John Strebel and Larry Teshera. They served Royaneh during their high school and college years. Several became teachers and many continued on as adult leader The “Tin Can Five”, a musical combo featuring Pulverman on the gut bucket, an inverted wash-tub basis, entertained the campers with Kingston Trio tunes at the campfires and in the dining hall. Other contributors were Gianquinto, R. Heil, Soper, and Flattum. The group introduced the theme of Good-Bye Campers to the tune of “As We Travel.” They were a personal favorite of Benson and were reunited in performance at his retirement from Scouting.

From the early 1970’s to the mid 1980’s a dedicated group of young men from San Francisco and Daly City (Serra District) served as the nucleus of the Royaneh staff. Among this group were Dave Brennan, Nick Borthne, Steve Gallagher, Chip Hansel, Doug Kapovich, Chris Kanelopoulos, Jack Kilmartin, Jack Laws, Dennis Logan, Ed Nave, John Power, Mike Power and Robin Praeger. They served in a variety of capacities during that critical era of change at the council level.

Of particular note during this period the contributions of Chris Kanelopoulos who rose to become Camp Director in 1986. Among those he personally recruited were his brothers Mike, Dean and Ted, and a number of fraternity brothers from UC - Davis.

The Tenure of Charles Bryant began during this same time frame, Donned in his campaign hat and bells, “Sir Charles” served in many capacities and roles and his showmanship made him a favorite of the campers.

Steve Gallagher’s many contributions to Royaneh include his artistic talents which remain today in the form of most of the Royaneh Thunderbirds displayed around camp, the camp sign and the great staff awards. Another talented craftsman, John Power, created the Scoutcraft sign that welcomes Scouts to Buffrey Flat.

Gallagher, Kilmartin and Ed nave were an outstanding nature team that was responsible for building our current nature glen. Their rattlesnake demonstration and astronomy displays were well known to campers. 

Jack Laws is responsible for the Royaneh Nature Trail and wrote and illustrated our guide to Royaneh nature. Campfire programs excelled during this era and perennial favorites such as BoBo Belinsky and the Bufango Brothers were enhanced and improved. Borthne made famous his rendition of “Pies” and “Furd.” In the late 1980’s “The Skinks”, an air band presenting Beach Boy tunes were introduced, turning the amphitheatre into a rock pavilion. In recent years they have become a live band.

As a staff this group was instrumental in welcoming the new, at that time, director of camping Dave Dunakin to the Royaneh family. Dave inherited many problems and as a true professional he was able to achieve the cohesiveness that this group thrived on. He was also the person who started the career of the current Camp Director, Steve Erle in 1984. This group continues service to the camp and was the nucleus for the formation of the Royaneh Alumni Association.    


Benson's Boys and the Tin Can Five

The Later Years

Miscellaneous Awards

Metal belt awards, similar in size and shape to the skill awards of the recent past, were given out at the two-week session if a Scout had earned ten stenciled belt awards. These were for things that were done by the Scouts. When a Scout did these particular things such as a Good Turn for the camp or for keeping himself clean for the two weeks, he was given a little mimeographed or dittoed slip of paper by the fellow on the staff who gave out, for example, the Nature belt award. The staff member would sign the slip and write “Nature Belt Award.” At the end of the evening after supper, the log cabin, which was located just above where the Staff village was, would open and that was belt award time and the camper would take his belt off and present the slide and the Staff member would paint on the belt award by means of a stencil. After he received ten of those belt awards he received a metal belt award. Many Scouts wore awards from several years on their belts.

Every Friday in the Dining Hall was a Board of Review for all the Merit Badges earned in camp during the previous week. All the Staff members and leaders were asked to be there and they sat at different tables. “Daddy” Stein who was the Program Director and Advancement Director would have all the Merit Badge applications. The Scouts would attend, sit in front of the platform, and Stein would get up there and he’d read out a camper’s name. He’d say “John Jones, Path finding Merit Badge go to Mr. Ybarra.” The Scout would take the application card and go to Mr. Ybarra and he would review him on his badge. They did that with allthe Merit Badges that were passed. There were quite a lot of them. Every Friday after supper without fail there was a Board of Review. It would run to eight o’ clock.

The automobile highway that we use to come to camp was the train right-of-way. The old road into Cazadero was on the other side of the creek. The road into camp before Scanlon Road opened in 1952 ran from the cattle guard to the main gate by the Canon Base. It was the only way you could get into the camp by vehicle and it was a rough one-way road. A telephone system was set up to control the one-way traffic, especially on Sundays when there were a lot of people coming into camp for Visitors Day. The line of cars would be kept down below until a group came down. On the telephone the message was sent that the last license is such and such - when that goes by then you can send cars up. They alternated directions until everyone was where they needed to be. A lot of people got stuck on the road because it was pretty steep and pretty rocky. Several people got stuck trying to ford the creek as that was the only way you could get across. There was one particularly steep section of road and one day the milk delivery truck, bringing in the ten-gallon milk containers, got stuck on that section. It started up again with a jerk and all the milk cans fell over, the tops came off, and the road was soaked with milk. That section was called “The Milk Run” from then on.

In July, 1952, Scanlon Road, named for its benefactor, was opened. Now vehicles could enter the camp directly from the highway without first crossing the creek on the harrow temporary wooden bridge. Austin Dell Resort, downstream from Camp Royaneh, had for many years wanted to dam the creek to form a swimming pool for its guests. But because the impounded waters would flood the camp bridge the dam could not be installed. At 3:00 P.M. when the ceremonies officially dedicated the new road, Austin Dell closed its new dam and the waters began to rise. Everyone arriving in camp for the dedication came in via the old camp road and left on Scanlon Road. But one driver who was used to the old road returned that way, and his car stalled on the little bridge with the impounded waters of the creek rising all around him. He was rescued. Some Scoutmasters are slow learners.

Eagle Eye was an important event at camp. Eagle Eye represented what was good in this camp. Every Scout that came into this camp for the first time was initiated. Initiations are no longer allowed by the Boy Scouts, but the Eagle Eye ceremony was very harmless. The Chief had a branch which he dipped in water and as the Scout went by and passed Eagle Eye’s grave he was doused just a little bit by the Chief who would say, “No longer a rookie.” That initiated the Scout into the camp as a regular camper. Eagle Eye was a big tradition in Camp Royaneh. For the most part it died off when Raymond O. Hanson left - although efforts are occasionally made to revive it. The latest telling was in 1992. It is believed that the story of Eagle Eye was written by Raymond Hanson.

The Scouts were told that there were Indian tribes in this area. There were many non-believers but the campers were told that if they looked into the Merit Badge handbook they would see that in the Northern California area there were several Indian tribes and the Maidu tribe was a prominent tribe here. They lived just a little bit north of here. The Maidu tribe was used as part of the Eagle Eye ceremony at camp. The Scouts were told that the members of the Maidu tribe living around Cazadero were very upset with the Eagle Eye ceremony because it included the disturbing of the bones of a dead chief. The Scouts were warned not to discuss the ceremony with anyone because if a Maidu overheard he would make trouble for the camp. At noon on the day of the Eagle Eye ceremony Indians would ride into camp on horseback and while the camp watched from the Dining Hall, they would converse with Chief Hanson and other camp leaders. Suddenly, a tomahawk was seen to come down and one of the Scouters fell to the ground. The Scouts were then told that the Maidu had heard about the ceremony because some Scout had talked too much and the campers were warned never to go around camp along that afternoon in case some Maidu were still watching. Scaring the campers was part of the Eagle Eye ceremony. That evening in the amphitheatre, Raymond O. Hanson stood on a stump in front of the whole camp. He was dressed in white deerskin regalia (costume) with a very beautiful headdress. He wore the headdress on the night of Eagle Eye’s ceremony and sometimes he wore it for the last campfire. It was said that he had received it from one of the tribes. He was made an honorary member of the tribe.

Now (according to the Eagle Eye legend) the Maidu tribe were very peacefully and they did the things that were needed to support themselves and they planted their food and they did their fishing and their hunting and they were always very peacefully. However, they were attacked many times by the Wintun tribesmen who lived up in the area of Point Reyes. The Wintuns were a warring tribe. As much as possible the Maidus stayed away from groups like that. The chief of the Maidu tribe was out one night on an expedition down by Freestone. He and his men were camping there and one very early morning, a runner came to tell the chief that his wife had given birth to a baby and that it was a boy. It was the custom of the Indian chief to name his son after the first thing that he saw when he received the announcement of his son’s birth. The first thing he saw was the sun coming over the hill. So he named his son Rising Son. Rising Son grew up doing un-Scout like things. He did everything wrong; He lied and cheated in the games and he did not learn how to take care of himself in the out-of-doors. He represented everything that was the opposite of what a good person would do.

According to the Maidu tradition, when a boy reached a certain age he would set out on his mission of manhood. He was sent out for a certain period of time without any weapons or anything to defend himself and without clothing. Then if he returned in good health and proved that he could take care of himself he was welcomed into the tribe with honor and accepted as a leader of that tribe. Rising Sun went out on his mission and he never came back. After waiting for a while the Maidu decided to go out and look for him. They found the body of Rising Sun, still naked, and with a Wintun arrow through his heart. Rising Sun had failed to learn his lesions and in doing the wrong things had paid with his life.

Later on the chief’s wife had another baby and this baby was called Eagle Eye. Eagle Eye was the antithesis of Rising Sun - he was good, he was fair, he was athletic, he could do everything that was right. He did everything a good Boy Scout would do. When he went out on his mission he came back fully clothed, with weapons he made, and with enough deer meat to feed the entire tribe. He was welcomed back by the Maidu and was acknowledged as a future leader of the Maidus. 

Then one day the Wintun tribe came and attacked the Maidus. They pillaged and they ravished and they killed all the leaders, including the chief, and they captured Eagle Eye because it was a big prize to have Eagle Eye - a future chief. So Eagle Eye was kept with them and he thought he’d play along with them until the right time came for him to avenge the killing of his father. He was sent out on hunting expeditions with the other men of the Wintun tribe because he always knew the best way of doing the hunting skills. Then one time as they were approaching the area here by Austin Creek, Eagle Eye saw shadows of men were Maidu tribesmen. He gave the secret sign of the Maidu and was recognized as the lost son of the chief. So he led the Wintun down by the creek where the Maidu attacked and killed them. All but one of the Wintun tribesmen were slain. He escaped and the Maidu didn’t know where he was.

That night down there by the creek where we celebrate our Eagle Eye ceremony now, Eagle Eye was standing - talking to his men - right there by the fire - and he was telling them plans that he had for the Maidu tribe. As he was talking an arrow sped through the air and pierced the heart of Eagle Eye. It was the arrow from the lone Wintun tribesman that got away and Eagle Eye fell dead to the ground - into the fire. And Eagle Eye was burned with great ceremony and the rites of a dead chief. Many years later some Scouts on a hike found what seemed to be some human bones and these were determined to be the bones of Eagle Eye. From that time on in the camp the first-year campers would go to look for the bones of Eagle Eye because they disappeared each year. They found the bones and as the Scouts buried the bones the whole camp would pass by and the rookies would no longer be rookies. And that is the story of Eagle Eye. 

​In the 1960’s and 1970’s the camp employed counselors from other countries. In 1968, one such Scout was Patrick McLaughlin from Scotland. He enjoyed the Royaneh experience so much that in 1969 he returned as the Scoutcraft Director. During camp pre-week, Patrick informed his staff that at the end of the 1968 season, he had gone to Disneyland where he saw the pirate ship Columbia. It was his intent to have a pirate theme during 1969, and that the center piece of the area was to be a pirate ship.

This pirate ship was an ongoing project for the pioneering Merit Badge. It was constricted of lashed spars. Toward the end of construction, camp director Ralph Benson delivered a box of rope to Patrick and advised him that this was the last one, as his Scoutcraft staff had used 3 miles of rope. The ship was approximately 15’ wide and 80’ long. The stern of the ship could sleep six Scouts. The bow cabin was the closet for the staff. Above the stern cabin was a deck with a wagon from the corral, which when turned operated a rudder. Atop the box cabin was a plank for use during the weekly pirate Days Competition which ended with a pool staff member walking the plank into a large water filled pit. The main mast was 52’ high, with a crow’s nest 30’ up. When in the crow’s nest, a member could act as a lookout for the pool.

Patrick McLaughlin (mentioned above), was a Scout who was enamored of Royaneh. He started a similar program on Seal Island in Scotland. Camp Duncan operated like Camp Royaneh, including Order of the Arrow Ceremonies. 1971 was the first year of operation, and his Assistant Camp Director was Jan Quigstad, a foreign Scout he had met at Camp Royaneh. In 1972, Lars Olander, another foreign Scout friend of Patrick’s brought over his entire troop from Sweden. That same year Pat added Doug and Sue Kapovich from the Royaneh Staff. In the third year the camp moved to Lake Garda, Italy, where 200 British Scouts were flown in each week. The staff consisted of persons from Scotland, England, Sweden, Norway, Ghana, Germany, and of course, Camp Royaneh.

Russian Gulch In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, many boys participated in the “Russian Gulch Trek.” Ralph Benson “Conspired” to make this otherwise land-locked and unusable area a challenging outdoor camp. The camp utilized this area, known as “Russian Gulch”, for a week devoted to camping, cooking, and other outdoor activities, under the direction of Jerry McDonald. This property, which was not used after the Cazadero Ridge Fire in the 1970’s, is located on the route to Jenner and is accessible only with a 4 wheel drive vehicle, or by hiking into it. After a week of living in the woods, Scoutmasters picked up the well worn boys for their return to the civilized confines of Royaneh. The Council still owns the Russian Gulch area although it's currently not in use.

The Road

The Tale of Eagle Eye

SS Thunderbird

Euro Royaneh

Russian Gulch

Other Miscellaneous Information of Interest

Where did the name “Royaneh” (or, as it is presented in documents dating back to 1930, ROYA-Neh) originate? There are several facts, beliefs, and myths regarding the origin of the name.

One interpretation is “Camp of Good friends.” Another is that it is from an Indian Tribe name. In the “Constitution of the Nations” it is stated “The woman heirs of the Confede-rated Lordship titles shall be called Royaneh (Noble) for all time to come. The woman of the Forty Eight (now fifty Royaneh Families) shall be the heirs of the Authorized Names for all time to come.” In old Iroquois lore it seems to translate as “Everlasting Tree Belt

Some speculation exists that when a contest was held in 1924 to name the camp; the winner could have been Roy A. Hen and merely transposed his surname. Other’s think Royaneh to be a local Indian name and might be connected with California’s Klamath Canyon’s “Happy Camp” town name. The name does not specifically fit the vernacular of local Indian Tribes, thus casting shadow upon the origin being along the Pacific shores.

In a rather contradictory statement, information surfaces that Mr. Raymond O. Hanson (an attorney from San Francisco) purchased a piece of property that was both the Col. Watson Ranch as well as the property of C.C. Moore, hence the reason for the East Austin Camp first being named after Moore. It is stated that Mr. Moore was the President of the Pan-Pacific International Exposition held in San Francisco in 1915 and was very active in Scouting. He eventually became President of the San Francisco Boy Scout Council, and latter became the National Vice President.

Prior to the purchase of Royaneh, arrangements had been made by the San Francisco Council to camp at George Montgomery’s Elim Grove in Cazadero. In July of 1923, the Scouts were involved in fighting a fire that started in Cazadero, and were in charge of other camps located in Mill Valley, Olema, and Elim Grove.

Another belief is that after leaving Moscow, the train backed its way up to Cazadero, but information supplied by reasonably reliable old time railroaders debunk this notion. After all, even thought there was a single track, there was a turnaround in Cazadero. San Francisco’s Order of the Arrow Lodge was named Royaneh, for the camp. Its flap number was 282, and its totem was the Indian Chief. The Royaneh flap, one of the first of the multi-colored variety was designed in 1958 by Ross Heil Jr. With the merger of the Oakland Area Council (Machek n’ Gult Lodge) and the San Francisco Council (Royaneh Lodge) they merged to become the Achewon Nimat Lodge in the new San Francisco Bay Area Council (SFBAC). Royaneh became a village of Golden Gate District in the SFBAC. Achewon Nimat means “Brothers across the Bay”. Achewon Nimat Lodge has two Totems. The Indian Chief from the former Royaneh Lodge, and the Golden Bear from the former Machek n’ Gult Lodge.

Troop 14 of San Francisco has attended Camp Royaneh almost continuously since 1925 and has probably spent more time here than any other troop. It can safely be said that Troop 14 is the true caretaker of the Pioneer campsite. They have adopted and nurtured this area for many years.

In recent years maintenance of the camp has often been too expensive for the Council to underwrite and there is always something that needs to be done. This has required a number of people to form work parties to assist the Camp Ranger. Among the founders of the work party concept were Ralph Benson (who created the “Fix ‘n’ Mix Corporation”, Paul Predovic (who constructed the Dining Hall), Henry“Hank” Hansel (electrician), and the late George Boxer, who for many years led work parties from the Sunset District. Also the “Royaneh Stockholders” helps build buildings in camp. They built the Nature Glen shed and the staff Sheraton, Scoutcraft and Baden Powell sheds, the Shower House near the Mess Hall, and the new cabins in Plainsman and Frontiersman plus other buildings in camp were built by the “Royaneh Stockholders.” Excellent meals are provided for the workers and the survival of a safe and well-maintained camp is assured for the Boy Scouts of the SFBAC, as well as the many out of Council Troops that avail themselves of an always memorable Royaneh experience.

From time to time gifts of major importance are made to Camp Royaneh. Acknowledgement of these gifts can be noted on the bronze plaque in Bob’s Bend, as well as on plaques affixed to other non-monetary gifts, such as the flagpole and Rifles donated to the Rifle Range.