Muddy River Gang

Jackie Palmer

While a number of people have heard of the Muddy River Gang, there are definitely folks who have not heard of us and the service we provide.  Muddy River Gang (MRG) was established in 2018 with the main purpose of volunteers helping out with projects throughout Horseshoe Scout Reservation, year-round, on regularly scheduled work days.  This informal group is made up of a of registered Scouters who are volunteers with a variety of skills and abilities – all with a common goal:  to help maintain Horseshoe Scout Reservation (HSR) in any way needed.  Initially, we would meet every four weeks, then as time passed, we began meeting every two weeks, then as 2020 progressed and needs changed, we started meeting weekly once HSR was preparing to open for Summer Weekend Camping and we have been meeting weekly ever since. 

Evan Ellwanger, Chester County Council’s Camping and Facilities Director or one of the Rangers organize the workdays by sending out a list of projects and makes sure the supply items for the jobs are on hand.  By sending out the work list ahead of time, we are sure to bring the necessary tools to complete the work.  Our work sites are generally at Camp Ware, Camp Horseshoe, the ranger house on New Bridge Road, or picking up donated items from off-site locations.  When we arrive at the designated work site, we decide what jobs each of us will work on then split up and get to work.  After lunch, we review what was completed in the morning and if jobs were completed, we select new jobs for the afternoon.  Prior to departing for the day, we gather together again to review what was completed, what needs to be finished, and what items, if any, we noticed that need to be added to the list for the next workday. 

Our volunteers have a wide range of expertise, which is fortunate!  Even though our skill levels are varied, everyone is always willing to teach others. MRG consists of a core group of volunteers (those that are available to attend almost every Wednesday), but we have a few volunteers who will take a day off from their paid job to come help us.

Over the years, work that has been accomplished includes inspecting buildings, renovating the Lawrence Lodge bathroom and bedroom, and building and installing new gateways for program areas and campsites at Camp Ware.  In Schramm Lodge, new steps to the entrance were built, the floor of the main room was painted, the stone wall sealed, and the vintage wall boards were oiled, kitchens in both Roberts and Rothrock Lodges were painted. Recent projects include a complete renovation of the kitchen in the Camp Horseshoe Headquarters building, constructing a secure storage area for propane tanks at Camp Ware, and changing out the florescent lighting in most of the buildings at both camps for new, LED bulbs.

Some jobs are not as glamorous as others (pulling the sewage pump from the lift station or testing the floats at the Rifle Range leach field), but that doesn’t matter to us.  We recognize that the work needs to be done – sometimes it is a big job where several people will work on that project on multiple work days, sometimes it is sorting and putting away donated items. Other times, it can be landscape work (trimming, tree work, etc.), or performing preventative maintenance on Camp equipment (vehicles, mowers, pressure washers, etc.).  We work hard and get dirty, but we have met new friends and have fun, all while contributing towards making Horseshoe Scout Reservation the best that it can be!

Each year for the past few years, we have contributed over 2100 service hours to HSR and Chester County Council.  We started out with a small group of three or four volunteers for each workday and today, we currently average ten volunteers.  Our numbers are growing, which is great because there is never a shortage of work to be done.  We meet every Wednesday at 9:00 AM at one of the camps and are always looking for additional help.  If you are interested in joining us, please contact any MRG member or email one of the rangers.

Also consider giving to Scouting to help support the vital work done at camp.  You can contribute here.

Take a moment to see what the MRG has accomplished:

  • New tent platforms
  • Schramm Lodge:  wall and floor painted, wood walls oiled, stone sealed as well as a new set of front steps

  • Trenching for a new fiber line to the Lane House at Camp Horseshoe

  • New plumbing in the Goodman Pavilion and the Ranger House at Camp Ware

  • New floor in the enclosed trailer

  • New propane storage at Camp Ware