The 1950s were Scouting’s first golden age. After years of depression and war, Scouting, like the country as a whole, could finally enjoy a period of peace and prosperity.
Early in the decade, Scouting membership reached 3 million for the first time—a milestone President Eisenhower noted in a 1953 message to Scouts and Scout leaders. A few years later, as the first of the baby boomers reached Cub Scout age, membership began growing by 200,000 or more a year.
There was plenty for those Scouts to do. The second National Scout Jamboree— long delayed by war—was held in 1950, followed by additional jamborees in 1953 and 1957; more than 45,000 Scouts attended each event. The younger set enjoyed a new activity called the pine- wood derby, created by Don Murphy, a California Cubmaster whose son was too young to compete in the soapbox derby. Older Scouts could participate in an expanded Exploring program, which let them explore careers and hobbies beyond such traditional Scout activities as camping and hiking.
Sprinkled throughout the decade were national Good Turns that addressed the issues of the day. In 1952, Scouts collected 2 million pounds of clothing for domestic and foreign relief. The following year, they distributed 1 million posters and 30 million doorknob hangers as part of a massive get-out-the- vote campaign. And near the end of the decade, they delivered 40 million emergency handbooks and 50,000 posters prepared by the Office of Civil Defense Mobilization.
The 50s decade proved to be very profitable for Sunny Land Council with much capital improvements completed or started. A new Council office located in Sarasota County on US41 was constructed in 1955. This was also the year that Camp Flying Eagle hired a person that was to become a legend at the camp. “Miss Bertie” Crawford was hired as the summer camp cook. She cooked for the camp for the next twenty-five years. Miss Bertie was employed as dietician and director of the lunchroom at the Oneco Elementary School, but at CFE she was more than a dietician/cook. She was also friend, mentor, camp mother to the younger Scouts, and counselor to all.
The year 1957 was an exceptional good year for Camp Flying Eagle. Campsite Judd was established and named after George E. Judd, a long time member of the Executive Board and Council Camping Chairman. The site was to serve as a “pilot model” for future campsites. Mr. Judd along with the Bradenton Lions Club, the Sarasota Rotary Club, and Mr. Lawrence K. Jennings contributed funds for this project. The campsite consisted of four modified Adirondack- type shelters, a latrine, and a pavilion. That same year Mrs. Marie Selby, Sarasota, widow of the late William P. Selby provided funds to construct two similar campsites. These are the current B. Selby and M. Selby Campsites. Not to be left behind, the Bradenton Kiwanis Club pitched in and constructed the Kiwanis Campsite in 1964.
In addition to the model campsites mentioned above, in November1957 Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence K Jennings, who owned the Blue Bird Ranch that abutted the east side of the camp gave the Council the five acres that formed the peninsula in the Manatee River that was/is just across from the current Council Arena. Since then it has been referred to as Jennings Island. The property had been available to the Scouts for many years. It had served as the Calusa Lodge Order of the Arrow ceremonial site for many years as well as providing campsites for the new Explorer Scouting program. To access the site Edmonds Bridge spanning the river was constructed in 1953.
The combined Rotary Clubs of Bradenton and Palmetto constructed the Rotary Pavilion 1954 and the Bishop Building was constructed to serve as the camp office & trading post. As the decade came to an end the long awaited swimming pool construction started. It was dedicated in 1960.