Three Harbors Council

Last updated

Three Harbors Council (#636)
The Walter And Olive Stiemke Scout Service Center - panoramio.jpg
The Walter And Olive Stiemke Scout Service Center
Owner Boy Scouts of America
HeadquartersMilwaukee, Wisconsin
Map of Wisconsin highlighting Milwaukee Racine Kenosha Counties.png
CountryUnited States
MembershipDecrease2.svg 3,260 (Youth June 2021) (24,806 Youth 2011) [1]
Scout ExecutiveAndrew Hardin [2]
PresidentPat Stiff
Council CommissionerLucia Cronin [3]
WikiProject Scouting fleur-de-lis dark.svg  Scouting portal

Three Harbors Council is a local council of the Boy Scouts of America serving three southeastern Wisconsin counties: Milwaukee County, Racine County, and Kenosha County. Its name and logo refer to the three major port cities of Milwaukee, Racine, and Kenosha (in those three counties of the same name) on Lake Michigan.



In 1915, the Milwaukee Council (#629) was formed, changing its name to the Milwaukee County Council (#629) in 1929. In 1917, the Racine Council (#631) was formed, changing its name to the Racine County Council (#631) in 1927. In 1917, the Kenosha Council (#623) was formed, changing its name to the Kenosha County Council (#623) in 1929. In 1961, the counciol changed its name to Kenosha Council (#623). In 1972, Kenosha Council and Racine County Council merged to become the Southeast Wisconsin Council (#634). [4]

The council was formed from a merger of Southeast Wisconsin Council and Milwaukee County Council in 2011. [5] Southeast Wisconsin Council was itself formed from a merger of the former Racine County Council and Kenosha Council in 1972. [6] [7]

Milwaukee #629
founded 1915 [7]
Racine #631
founded 1917 [7]
Kenosha #623
founded 1917 [6]
Milwaukee County #629
name change 1929 [7]
Racine County #631
name change 1927 [7]
Kenosha County #623
name change 1929 [6]
Kenosha #623
name change 1961 [6]
Southeastern Wisconsin #634
merged 1972 [7]
Three Harbors #636
merged 2011


The council is subdivided into the following administrative districts:

[8] [9] [10]

Service Center

The Ideal Scout statue outside the Walter and Olive Stiemke Scout Service Center near Milwaukee, Wisconsin. TheIdealScout1915.jpg
The Ideal Scout statue outside the Walter and Olive Stiemke Scout Service Center near Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

In 1911 Milwaukee established a Scout office on East Mason Street between North Water Street and North Broadway. As Scouting became more popular, a larger office was leased in 1959 at West 37th Street and West Wisconsin Avenue. The need for a new building became apparent as a result of a long-range study completed by community leaders in 1977; after several years of study and planning, the architectural firm of Plunkett Keymar Reginato designed the building. In 1980, an initial gift of $220,000 from Wayne F. Weiss Trust enabled the council to purchase and begin to develop the property. Other funding came from a variety of sources—-the largest contribution of $500,000 being from Walter and Olive Stiemke. Upon the completion of the building in June 1985, the employees of Gammex Inc. donated a replica of The Ideal Scout . [11] The bronze life-size sculpture of a Scout in uniform is 5 feet 10 inches (1.78 m) high and rests on a brick pedestal. It is a copy of the 1915 original and was cast in 1985. [12]


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Three Harbors Council camps (click on markers for Geohack maps)

Indian Mound Scout Reservation

Indian Mound Scout Reservation (IMR) is named for the 'turtle' Native American mound at the camp in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, off of Silver Lake. During the summer months, IMR caters primarily to the council's Cub Scouts. IMR hosts several Cub Scout day camps in cooperation with several nearby councils, including Northeast Illinois Council and Potawatomi Area Council. On a year-round basis, Scouts BSA, Cub Scout and Venturing units (and non-Scouting groups) can rent the cabins and other facilities. [13]

The reservation is split into two different camps: Camp Lazynski to the west and Camp Doerr to the east. Camp Lazynski was donated by Walter Lazynski in 1975 and contains 5 lakes named for his wife, Erma, and daughters, Barbara, Jane, Mary and Katherine. [14] The main attractions of the camp include a mine-themed program area, which after a National Order of the Arrow Service Grant Project from Mikano Lodge in 2005, now includes a panning for gold stream named Turtle Creek. The camp also features a castle, a wooden land ship, mini golf course, and a beautiful sand beach at the aquatics area.

Beginning November 1, 2022, Three Harbors Council will cease operations at Indian Mound Scout Reservation. This decision came in part due to increased financial obligations in response to the BSA's Chapter 11 Bankruptcy case. [15]

By June 2, 2023, the 292.5-acre property was sold to the Forest County Potawatomi Community for US$6.5 million. There were no future plans announced upon the purchase of the property. [16]

Camp Oh-Da-Ko-Ta

Camp Oh-Da-Ko-Ta, located in Burlington, Wisconsin, offers complete year-round facilities for Cub Scout packs, Scouts BSA troops, and Venturing Crews ( 42°36′32″N88°17′41″W / 42.608816°N 88.294639°W / 42.608816; -88.294639 ). The camp encompasses 185 acres (0.7 km2) of beautiful rolling hills and woodlands including waterfront on Dyer Lake.

After camping at the lake in 1927, [17] 73 acres of farmland were purchased by Kenosha businessman Charles Nash (of Nash Motor Company) and donated to the Kenosha council in 1929. Buildings were constructed in the spring of 1929, and the campground was named Oh-Da-Ko-Ta in a dedication ceremony on July 21, 1929. [18]

Former camps

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Journal 1
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Journal 2
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Journal 3
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Former camps of Three Harbors and its predecessor councils (click on markers for Geohack maps)

In the early years of Scouting, troops would often receive permission to set up temporary camps on privately owned land. For example, the early Racine council set up a cabin they called "Wigwam" in the River Bend area above Horlick's Dam ( 42°45′53.9″N87°49′33.0″W / 42.764972°N 87.825833°W / 42.764972; -87.825833 ), which was a popular place for camping by families and local clubs. [19] [20] Eventually, councils began buying or renting land to form larger and more permanent camps. This table summarizes the camps that were used over the years by Three Harbors Council and its parent councils. (Details and sources can be found in each subsection below the table.)

CampBeganEndedDuration (yrs)
Backuscirca 1925after 194723 or more
Chickagami1916 or 1920193617 or 21
Davidson (1)193319386
Davidson (2)before 1956before 2011unknown
Freeman1947before 1956unknown
Journal (1)1922194625
Journal (2)1946197227
Journal (3)1972199726

LeFeber Northwoods Camps

Main entrance to LeFeber in 2011 Lefeber scout camp entrance.jpg
Main entrance to LeFeber in 2011

Three Harbors Council decided in 2015 to close its LeFeber Northwoods Camps, which had served the Boy Scouts of the Milwaukee County Council and then the Three Harbors Council. [21]

The property is located near Laona, Wisconsin on Hardwood Lake ( 45°30′38″N88°45′50″W / 45.510535°N 88.763860°W / 45.510535; -88.763860 ). The camp had an extensive history as a logging camp prior to its purchase and donation to the council in 1930. It primarily served Boy Scout summer camps and featured an excellent program drawing in campers from Michigan, Illinois, and several councils located in Wisconsin. The property is 1,120 acres (5 km2) of sub-boreal Wisconsin wilderness around Hardwood Lake with a deeply ingrained history in the region's timber industry. The camp was established in 1930 on land formerly owned by several timber companies, nestled in the midst of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, where Scouts had access to hundreds of miles of hiking, biking, and boating opportunities.

When it was operated by Milwaukee County Council and Three Harbors Council, it offered a wide variety of program features (including archaeology, bike treks, blacksmithing, climbing and rappelling, fly fishing, golf, horseback riding, rifle & shotgun shooting, tomahawk throwing, whitewater rafting, and windsurfing) and merit badges (from archery to woodcarving, nature study to cooking). It used the patrol cooking method. [22]

On December 11, 2015, the camp was sold to James Flannery, who started logging part of the camp. [23] A non-profit organization called The Baden-Powell Northwoods Experience (not affiliated directly with Boy Scouts of America but consisting of many current and former members of BSA) [24] negotiated with the owner and operated the camp under the name "LeFeber Northwoods Camps", [23] to offer four one-week programs for Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts in the summer of 2016. [25]

Robert S. Lyle Scout Reservation

The Robert S. Lyle Scout Reservation was a 640 acres (2.6 km2) wilderness Boy Scout Camp. The reservation, located 25 miles (40 km) northeast of Antigo, Wisconsin, encompassed two lakes, Aninnan and Perch, and had the Wolf River running through it ( 45°24′34″N89°03′48″W / 45.409307°N 89.0633413°W / 45.409307; -89.0633413 ). Like LeFeber, Lyle was one of the few Scout camps that used patrol cooking, where food is provided, but the Scouts cook the meals themselves. The camp offered a dining hall option but the vast majority of troops elected to participate in patrol cooking.

Lyle was one of the few Scout camps that ran an open program, meaning Scouts were free to work on merit badges or do activities of their choice during program time. This unique structure helped teach the Scouts time management as they figured out which part of camp they want to experience next.

Lyle was established in 1962 [26] and closed in 2015. [21]

Journal (Erin)

The Milwaukee Journal originally donated land in 1922 to the former Milwaukee County Council for a Scout camp that was named Camp Journal. [27] This first camp was located on 7.5 acres (0.030 km2) on Watertown Plank Road west of Highway 100 in Wauwatosa ( 43°02′41″N88°03′17″W / 43.0448°N 88.0546°W / 43.0448; -88.0546 ), which is now part of Underwood Creek Parkway. [28] [29] [30] However, this site was small and quickly surrounded by development, so the Journal helped the Scouts buy a 45-acre (0.18 km2) plot northwest of North Avenue and Lilly Road in Brookfield ( 43°03′59″N88°05′37″W / 43.0663°N 88.0937°W / 43.0663; -88.0937 ), moving Camp Journal to this site in 1946. [28] [31] Finally in 1972, the camp was moved to its current 300-acre (1.2 km2) site in the town of Erin near Hartland ( 43°12′34″N88°22′35″W / 43.2094°N 88.3763°W / 43.2094; -88.3763 ). [32] Camp Journal was sold to Quad/Graphics in 1997 and is now known as Camp/Quad. [33] [34] Quad/Graphics allows Scout units to use the camp several weekends each year, at which time Scouts refer to it as "Camp Erin". [35] The company established a conservation easement on the land in 2009, so it can never be developed. [36]


Located at 42°45′00″N88°13′52″W / 42.7500°N 88.2310°W / 42.7500; -88.2310 , [37] Camp Ka-Ha-Gon was purchased by the former Racine Council in 1967. [26] It was sold to a private foundation when the Racine and Kenosha councils merged in 1971, and they sold it to the Racine County park system in 1982. [38] It is now known as W.R. Wadewitz Nature Camp [39] [40] and is still occasionally used by Scout units looking for a rustic camping experience near home. Wadewitz Nature Center is also the beneficiary of many Eagle Projects, seeing around 3 per year between 2000 and 2022. [41]


Land for Camp Chippecotton was donated to the former Racine Council in 1936. [26] [42] This camp was on the shore of Pleasant Lake ( 42°47′09″N88°33′14″W / 42.7859°N 88.5540°W / 42.7859; -88.5540 ) [43] [44] in Walworth County, [45] across the lake from Girl Scout camps Pottawatomi Hills ( 42°46′56″N88°32′40″W / 42.7822°N 88.5444°W / 42.7822; -88.5444 ) [46] [47] and Juniper Knoll ( 42°47′33″N88°33′11″W / 42.792372°N 88.553093°W / 42.792372; -88.553093 ). [48] The camp was referred to generically ("the Boy Scout camp at Pleasant Lake") for many years, receiving the name "Chippecotton" (from a Menominee Indian name for the Root River) in a contest in 1953. [49] [50] [51] [52] The camp was sold in 1962, [26] because its 100-Scout capacity was now too small for the council, and the proceeds of the sale were used to develop the recently acquired Camp Lyle. [53]


The camp was given to the former Kenosha Council in 1951, and it was sold when Racine and Kenosha Councils merged in 1971. [26] [54]


Camp Freeman was donated to the former Racine Council in 1947 [26] by realtor L. L. Freeman on land at the current location of Colonial Park ( 42°44′11″N87°49′04″W / 42.7363°N 87.8179°W / 42.7363; -87.8179 ). [55] It was still active in 1951, being used by Scouts for events such as picnics, overnight campouts, and leader training; [56] [57] however, it must have been sold to Racine soon afterwards, because Colonial Park is listed as one of the city's largest parks in 1956. [58]


This camp was operated by the former Milwaukee County Council in the town of Franklin [59] near Puetz Road west of Highway 41. [60] The land that was formerly Camp Arthur Davidson is now the site of Franklin Woods Nature Center ( 42°53′12″N87°57′47″W / 42.8866°N 87.9631°W / 42.8866; -87.9631 ), owned by the city of Franklin. [61] It was named after one of the founders of Harley-Davidson, who bought the land and donated it to the Boy Scouts. [62] [ when? ] He also donated another camp in 1933, which was sold in 1938 and became Brown Deer Park ( 43°09′33″N87°57′09″W / 43.1593°N 87.9526°W / 43.1593; -87.9526 ). [63] In the 1970s, Camp Davidson was the southern terminus of the annual Root River Trail anniversary hike sponsored by Badger Trails Association. The northern terminus was at Greenfield Park. The hike to Davidson was ideal for working on the Hiking Merit Badge as a 15-mile hike. Adding a loop through Whitnall Park turned the hike into a 20 miler for those who needed a longer hike for the badge.


This camp was operated by the former Milwaukee County Council on the shore of Lake Michigan north of Milwaukee. [64] It was near Doctor's Park in Fox Point, [65] south of what is now the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center. The exact location is unknown, although there was an August Backus living nearby at 1820 E Fox Lane. [66] The exact dates of operation are also unknown and available information is contradictory. One troop was known to have used it from 1925 to 1929 and then planned to move its buildings to somewhere less civilized, [67] but other reports refer to Camp Backus as one of Milwaukee's main camps in 1938 [65] and 1947, [64] suggesting there may have been two locations called by the same name.


This camp [68] [69] was in operation from approximately 1916 [70] or 1920 [71] until 1936 [72] and owned by the Consumer's Ice Company of Burlington, WI, but operated with their permission by the Racine County Council. This camp was located on Norton's / Rockland Lake in Burlington, where YMCA Camp MacLean [73] is located today. [70] [71] In late 1936 Camp Chickagami's buildings were dismantled and moved to the new Camp Chippecotton property on Pleasant Lake. [70] [74]


The Kenosha council rented the McGuire estate on Camp Lake / Center Lake in 1924 and 1925, operating it as "Oh-Dah-Ko-Tah". This land was bought by Henry Barstow in 1926, and the council acquired 30 acres on the southwest shore of lower Camp Lake instead ( 42°31′14″N88°09′01″W / 42.520519°N 88.150212°W / 42.520519; -88.150212 ). [75] This land was probably sold in 1929, when the name was reused for a larger camp property on Dyer Lake.

Scout Heritage Museum

Located at 330 South 84th Street in Milwaukee, the Scout Heritage Museum seeks to show the history of Scouting in the Milwaukee area and southeastern Wisconsin as well as national Scouting history. Featured in the museum are historical photographs, rare Scouting books, badges, awards, memorabilia from jamborees and camporees, old uniforms and equipment, and author and illustrator W. Ben Hunt's collection of neckerchief slides and artifacts.

Order of the Arrow

Upon its founding, the Three Harbors Council was temporarily served by two lodges:

The terms of the Three Harbors Council merger (dated October 1, 2011) specified that the two lodges should determine how best to consolidate within 18 months of the council merger. In 2012, the Lodge Creation Committee was formed of equal numbers of youth from each lodge with limited adult involvement, aside from the lodge's primary advisers. This committee met multiple times leading up to the 2012 summer camp season to decide on the Lodge Executive Committee structure, how the new lodge is going to utilize all four camps, a chapter system for the larger geographic area, the officers and election cycle, etc. The committee solicited lodge name, totem, and patch ideas from the membership through July 1, 2012.

On the morning of July 8, 2012, the youth of the committee decided and voted on the new name and totem. The decision became official at 10:08 am at LeFeber Northwoods Camps. It was announced that the name and totem would be unveiled at the New Lodge Kickoff on October 20, 2012. However, it was not until January 6, 2013, that the Kanwa tho Lodge #636, was unveiled by the youth committee that created it. The Kanwa tho Lodge is named after a subgrouping of the Potawatomi tribe of Indians headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Their totem is the panther, as Kanwa tho translates to "Panther Band". [79]

Kanwa tho Lodge is subdivided into three Chapters, each serving one physical district of Three Harbors Council. The Eluwak Chapter serves the Aurora District, the Tèhink Sipu Chapter serves the Southern Shores District, and Wikiak Sabbeleu Chapter serves the Red Arrow District. [80] [81]

Kanwa tho Lodge is also divided into groups of committees led by Vice Chiefs. The Vice Chief of Chapters is a youth in charge of overseeing the three chapters, the Vice Chief of Administration is in charge of the Secretary and Financial Officers, as well as the Membership, Communications, Historian, and Recognition chairmen. The Vice Chief of Program is in charge of the Ceremonies & Dance, Activities, SNARE (Section, National, and Regional Events), Inductions, and Training chairmen. [82]

Effective June 15, 2022, the organization of the Lodge Executive Committee will change to a brand new structure. The Lodge Secretary, Lodge Treasurer, the three chapter chiefs, and four other appointed positions will report directly to the Lodge Chief, while the new Lodge Vice Chief of Operations oversees the Communications, Fellowship, Service, and Vigil chairmen and the Lodge Vice Chief of Inductions will oversee the Unit Elections, Ceremonies, Ordeal, and Brotherhood chairmen. [83]

Mikano #231
founded 1943
Oh-Da-Ko-Ta #153
founded 1939
Chippecotton #524
founded 1957
Mascoutens #8
merged 1972
Kanwa tho #636
merged 2013

See also

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