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Camp Arataba (1924 to 1960)

Camp Arataba served Arrowhead Area Council from 1924 to 1960.

The camp was founded by Arrowhead Area Council Executive, George W. Walker. on 10 acres leases from the United States Forest Service.

The camp was named after Irataba, leader of the Mohave Nation. The camp was located in Barton Flats, just west of the West Ford of Barton Creek.

The first summer camp in 1924 hosted 150 Scouts.

In the 1920s, a camp belt system did exist throughout camp.

In 1929, a Toonerville Band, a camp band, operated.

Pre-OA Society Tribe of Siwanis was located at Camp Arataba before the founding of Wisumahi Lodge in 1952. The Tribe was founded in 1929, with members selected by present members for their ability, performance, outstanding service, Scout Oath, and sportsmanship while in camp. Originally, there were Warriors and Braves, before the following roles emerged:

  • Braves
  • Warriors
  • Medicine Men
  • Chieftan (Indian Headdress)

In 1931, Arrowhead Area Council Executive Andrew Roberts was named a member of the Tribe of Siwanis. That same year, President W.Z. Henry was named Chieftan. In 1939, the chief was Brookie Miller.

There was also a Ladies of Siwanis program that was connected to the local YWCA.

In 1930, a new dining hall was built by the American Legion & Rotary. A kitchen was built by the Rotary. A First Aid Cabin was built by Kiwanis. 4 cabins were built by the Lions Club, and 5 additional Cabins by miscellaneous clubs and individuals.

Additional 1930 improvements included the purchase of 5 Arizona broncos trained for camp, as well as 5 canoes and 2 rowboats purchased for use at nearby Jenks Lake.

Girl Reserves, sponsored by the YWCA, attended Camp Arataba in 1931. Over 100 girls attended.

In 1932, William Tomkins, author of Universal American Indian Sign Language: A Cultural Attainment of the First American, visit Camp Arataba.

That year, a Trail Blazer program existed. It was a high adventure program for those 16 years old with 3 prior years in camp.

Arataba was used in 1935 for training prior to the National Jamboree. One day per period, boys were elected as camp administrators and ran the camp for a day.

The Lions Club purchased a 60-foot mess hall in 1936, from the LA Bureau of Power & Light, previously used in Cajon Pass while erecting power lines from Boulder Dam (now Hoover Dam) to Los Angeles.

An Arataba Honor Tribe existed in 1946, in parallel to the Tribe of Siwanis. It included earning the most points in activities during camp.

A camp rededication occured in 1954.

In January 1960, the camp lodge burned to the ground from a fire of unknown origin. While Summer Camp was held in 1960, it required help from Scouts, Scouters, and Marines from 29 Palms, to set up tent areas for the camp, including for dining.

At that time, property was donated in Running Springs, California, that would become Camp Helendade. Camp Arataba, which at the time was leased by the Council from the United States Forest Service, was then sold to the Unitary Universalists, who continue camping traditions today as Camp de Benneville Pines.

Credits: Ryan Bushore, Wes Fish, Tracy Schultze, and Joe Rosenthal

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