During World War I, America’s Boy Scouts had worked hard on the home front. Not long after the fighting ended, they, too, began going “over there.”

In 1920, 301 American Scouts traveled to the inaugural World Scout Jamboree in England, where they joined Scouts from 33 other countries in offering a war-weary world a vision of peace and goodwill.

The 1920s also saw the creation of the Silver Buffalo Award for distinguished service to youth. Among the first recipients were Scouting founders Robert Baden-Powell, Ernest Thompson Seton, Daniel Carter Beard, and William D. Boyce, along with the unknown Scout who had assisted Boyce during his 1909 visit to London.

Scouts expanded their horizons in other ways as well during the decade. In 1923, the Region X Canoe Trails program began offering Scouts canoeing adventures in the Boundary Waters area along the U.S.–Canada border. (The program later evolved into the Northern Tier National High Adventure Base.) A year later, the Lone Scouts of America merged with the BSA, offering boys in remote areas a way to participate in Scouting.

But the organization’s outreach efforts weren’t limited to boys in far-flung villages. In 1927, the BSA created the Inter- Racial Service to promote Scouting in the African American, Native American, Hispanic, and Japanese communities.

In 1928, Sea Scout Paul Siple accompanied Commander Richard Byrd on an 18-month voyage to Antarctica, starting a tradition that lives on in the BSA Antarctic Scout Scientific Program. (Siple would eventually become the first scientific leader of the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station and coin the term
wind chill.)

On the night of December 11, 1925, a group of one hundred active Scouters of Manatee and Sarasota Counties met with officials from BSA Regional Headquarters to see what could be done about organizing a separate Council to serve the counties of Manatee and Sarasota. The meeting was held in the Carnegie Library in Palmetto, Florida. Without dissent it was moved and carried that a new Council, Boy Scouts of America, compromising the two counties of Sarasota and Manatee be formed. Following this meeting a charter was applied for and was approved. The name “Sunny Land Council” was adopted. It had fourteen troops with a membership of 295 Scouts. Eight of these troops were in Manatee County and six were in Sarasota County.

In this same month of December 1925, a similar group of Scouters met in Fort Myers for the purpose of organizing a Council to serve the counties of Lee, Charlotte, Collier, Desoto, Glades, and Hendry. They chose the name Royal Palm as the name of their Council. There were six charter troops in this new council.

The first Eagle Scout in Sunny Land Council was Lorraine Gonyea of T15, Sarasota. The second was Andrew Rippy of T7 in Manatee. Both of these Scouts earned their Eagle in 1928, Lorraine in February, Andrew that summer.

On September 15, 1929 The Council office was relocated to the American National Bank Building in Bradenton. Here they occupied three rooms courtesy of Mr. George L. King, an early benefactor of the Council. The Council office remained here until 1955 when it moved into new and much larger quarters on North Tamiami Trail between Bradenton and Sarasota.

On 19 March 1928 Sarasota County broke away from Sunny Land Council and formed its own council—The Sarasota Council. However, they immediately began to have financial problems, and by November 1932 they were unable to raise enough funds to pay their Scout Executive. They released their Executive, and the Council went on direct service from the National Council (meaning they were supervised and supported by the National headquarters in New York). In November 1932, the Sarasota Council merged back into the Sunny Land Council.

The Sunny Land Council, on 19 January 1929, made probably its second most momentous decision ever (the first being to become a Council). On that date the Council voted to purchase a piece of property some 15 miles east of Bradenton on the Manatee River for use as a summer camp. Thus, Camp Flying Eagle became one the first camps owned by the Boy Scouts in the state of Florida. It consisted of 140 acres (later expanded to 185) and was purchased for $2,000. Funds to purchase the acreage were raised from private donors.

Much work had to be done in the first half of 1929 to get the camp ready for its inaugural summer camp. Access to the camp via road was very limited. Prior to 1932 the road currently known as Upper Manatee River Road was just a wagon trail leading out to old ranch land that abutted the camp. It was a difficult route for bringing construction supplies and materials to the new Scout camp. A small dock was built in 1929 in the Manatee River across the road from the east end of the dining hall. The dock served as a port for barges that brought needed materials as well as supplies up the river from Bradenton. It also served as the dock for the summer aquatics program (Swimming, Life Saving, Life Guard, and Canoeing).

The campers would require a source of water, a dining hall for meals, sleeping quarters for campers and staff, as well as program facilities.

The Bradenton Rotary Club built a dining hall and it became known at Rotary Hall. The original dining hall is still present, and is the oldest structure on camp property. A 600-foot well was drilled near the west end of the dining hall to provide water for the camp. This was an artesian well that provided a steady flow of water to the kitchen. It required some place to discharge the excess water when the kitchen did not need it. A cesspool was constructed behind the kitchen for this purpose. Grease from the kitchen was also dumped into this cesspool attracting both flies and hogs. To solve this, a screened shed was erected over the cesspool.

Cooking for the hungry Scouts and Scouters was done on a wood-burning stove in the dining hall kitchen. Members of the staff were detailed on a daily basis to chop the required amount of wood needed to cook the meals for that day. It remained that way until 1947 when a butane gas range and tank (donated by the Harrison Gas Service Company) were installed. The dining hall/kitchen had a fireplace, but it was more ornamental than useful. It was used as sort of a campfire during rainy weather.

Six wooden patrol cabins that were constructed as campers’ quarters. Apparently, tents were either not available or funds were not available for purchasing. So, the only solution was to construct sleeping quarters. The Bradenton Kiwanis Club built three of these cabins, while the Bradenton Elks Club and the Palmetto Kiwanis Club erected one each. These were built in early summer 1929 prior to the July camping period. The American Legion constructed a sixth one in 1931.

A Camp Director's quarters was also constructed in 1929. It was a two-room house that had been donated by the village of Manatee. This cabin served also as the camp first aid station.

These were the only facilities available to the staff and campers when they reported to CFE for the first summer camp to be held there. One must remember also, that prior to electricity coming to Camp Flying Eagle in 1947, kerosene lanterns lighted all cabins as well as the dining hall, and a wood stove was used for cooking in the kitchen. One has to wonder if there were many fires!

The 1929 CFE Inaugural Camp consisted of the following personnel: