CHAPTER ONE: 1918-1930
The Founding of the Troop and Camp at Lake Sarah
Troop 33 was founded in March 1918 when Earl Haverstock, an attorney for The Minnesota Loan and Trust Company, applied for a commission as a Scoutmaster. According to Troop folklore there had been an earlier Troop 33 of which next to nothing is known except that it failed. There are no members of this original Troop known to be alive at this date and all that there is to go on by way of the history of this period comes from the Scout office records created from the Troop's yearly reports.
Haverstock is reported to have said, when asked to give the reason for his interest in the Scout movement:
The Troop originally had 14 boys as registered Scouts with 13 more added by the end of the year. Later that year, Earl Haverstock joined the army, leaving assistant Scoutmaster Rev. H.B. Strock as acting Scoutmaster. Rev. Strock's annual report to the Scout office announced that in its first year of existence the Troop had gone on four overnight hikes as well as responding to several calls for public service as their "Good Turns" for the year.
According to Bill Braddock, who compiled a history of the Troop for his Ajawah Alums newsletter, the early Scouts ". . . started camping on the shores of Lake Minnetonka in domitory type buildings which were owned or leased by Westminster Church."
At some point after August 1, 1919, Rev. Strock resigned his commission as Scoutmaster, because the Troop "took up too much of his time," and was replaced by Warren H. Reck, a man with much prior experience with boys including the Y.M.C.A., junior work, and sunday school classes. In the early days it appears that shifts in the Scoutmaster were relatively common.
Activities for the year 1919 were given as follows: Members of the Troop spent 14 days in Scout training at a camp run by the Minneapolis Council; they also conducted several service projects passing out cards announcing the Downtown Lenten service. Other projects mentioned are the distribution of red cross circulars, and "Town TeaKettle" literature over Thanksgiving.
In the Troop's first two years they managed to have three Scoutmasters; however, the Troop was already camping out and doing service projects with some 30 members. It was a good start.
1920s: The Halcyon Days
In January 1921 the Troop received yet another Scoutmaster. This time it was George W. Beaudoux. 1921 was also the year that future Scoutmaster Kyle Cudworth joined the Troop. Only 13 at the time, Kyle was to spend a total of 21 years as Scoutmaster of 33. The Troop met at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays at Westminster Church.
In 1923 Thomas Estes succeeded Beaudoux as Scoutmaster. Also in 1923, Camp Ajawah, which was to become a permanent fixture of life in 33, was founded on Lake Sarah, named after the Troop's ham radio station with call letters: W9AJA. Braddock wrote: "It didnt take the Scouts long to replace the suffix of the council camp name with the letters AJA and the name Camp Ajawah for Westminster Troop 33 took its place alongside the name Camp Tonkawa for all of the other Troops in the Minneapolis council."
Wrote Wilfred H. Lauer, one of the early Scouts:
What is known about the original camp comes largely from Charles Reif, one of the oldest former members of 33 alive today. (He has written a wonderful memoir which he shared with me.)
The sessions consisted of two three-week sessions. The camp's general layout was 10 tents arranged in semi-circle atop a ridge.
The tents were standard army surplus squad tents, each with a wood floor which rose a foot above the ground. The first tent was headquarters while the last was hindquarters. In the area in front of headquarters was a small cottage used by the two women who did cooking for the camp. West of the cottage sat the mess hall and the kitchen where meals were cooked and eaten.
The original mess hall consisted of a large tent; however, that arrangement only lasted one year. Swarms of mosquitoes invaded the cumbersome tent and it blew down in a thunderstorm. The next year a more fitting mess hall building was constructed.
Each of the four or five tables in the mess hall (each seating about seven boys on a side) had a long piece of oilcloth overlapping the sides by a foot or so. Several times I saw boys at end fold up the oilcloth to make a trough slanting towards the other end, into which they poured water. If the angle was right, the two campers at the other end of the table got wet laps.
- Charles Reif
Behind the tents the ground sloped down gradually to a small intermitent stream. The camp's boundary consisted of a barbed wire fence to keep out intruders.
Camp schedule was slightly different as well as the way in which ceremonies were conducted from what has become Ajawah tradition. Five minutes after first call campers assembled for an early morning swim. After the swim they dressed and assembled on the parade ground in military fashion, attendance was taken, and the flag was raised. At a specific point in the flag raising a steel cannon fired a 12 gauge shotgun shell giving a loud report. The honor of pulling the cannon's lanyard went to whichever tent had won inspection that day.
One early feature of camp was the point system. Points were awarded for such things as Scout advamcement, nature study, swimming proficiency, woodcraft, reading, and camp labor. At the end of camp, Camp Ajawah emblems were given to those who had earned 300, 600, and 1000 points. A fierce competition raged to be the person with the highest point total, with occasional politics and scheming; however, the point system certainly kept the campers at Ajawah fully occupied during the eight weeks.
During these early days two games were started, one of which are still played at Camp Ajawah today with the same gusto: Capture the Fort and Capture the Flag. Capture the Fort was the favorite back then: A hankerchief was tied to one arm to indicate team and a person was captured by the hankerchief being untied. Once someone was captured they went to jail where they were a prisoner unless someone on their team sneaked through and tagged them. All prisoners in jail at the end of the game were counted as points. The other objective was to find and steal the enemy's flag.
During the game it was legal to swim as well as comandeer boats as Scouts attempted to capture the enemy's flag. The game lasted from after dinner until midnight. Afterwards, the campers would gather in the mess hall to eat watermelon and recount their exploits.
Also in Reif's narrative, we find mention of the good Scout cup, indicating that the tradition which is carried on today was already in practice in the twenties. It was, however, given out at the end of camp instead of the final court of honor.
Ajawah stayed at Lake Sarah from 1923 until 1929 when encroachments and development of Lake Sarah became too intense and guards had to be posted to keep people out of camp. It moved then to its present location on Lake Linwood, where it is to this day.
A Model-T Adventure
In 1923, Troop 33 had what came to be known as its greatest adventure. Before the advent of the highway system, in Model T Fords, the Scouts of 33 set off for Yellowstone Park. The roads were terrible and the cars were unreliable. On the first day they are said to have gone as far as Wayzata, a slow start. Somehow they made it though, covering 3,000 miles in all. A feat that, when the conditions they did it under are taken into consideration, has probably come close but never quite been beaten. Many more of these model T trips were undertaken in the thirties and you could say that this was the first of a long line of truly adventurous road trips.
Activities mentioned in the annual report are a second place finish at the district waligazu, a trip to the black hills (Model T's). The Troop also helped fight a fire on Nicollet Avenue, and winter camping is also mentioned.
Early Scouter Joe Winslow recalls that "we were Twin Cities champs" in the Waligazu competitions. He also learned many skills on his way to Eagle, including knots, signaling, swimming, hiking, marching, and "drills so good, they were better than ROTC at the University of Minnesota!"
In 1925 John Connell became Scoutmaster. He was, however, the last true one-year Scoutmaster that Troop 33 had. The next year's application lists him as Scoutmaster with the 18-year-old Kyle Cudworth as acting Scoutmaster.
Details of this arrangement are unclear; however, according to word of mouth, from that point on if not before then Kyle was de facto Scoutmaster, though he isn't mentioned in the next year's application and is not listed as official Scoutmaster until 1929. It appears as though there was someone else signing the papers while Kyle ran the Troop.
He was to become a truly legendary Scoutmaster. Dick Wheaton, a Scout in the forties, described him:
In these early years information is scant; however, all the basic features of life in 33 were already in place as the twenties drew to a close. Troop 33 was alive and functioning having survived the first test of whether it would stay together.
Troop 33 History