In 1944, the Sunny Land Council purchased the five acre tract of land known as Camp ROPACO for $1500. For years the Council considered Camp ROPACO as a ‘headache’. In reality it was probably considered as camp attendance competition for Camp Flying Eagle. In 1957, the Council ordered the Royal Palm District (Fort Myers and Lee County) to ‘take care of the place’ or the buildings would be torn down. Bear in mind that the cabins at ROPACO were funded and built by citizens of the District. On October 7, 1957, the Royal Palm District Board formally asked that the ROPACO buildings be torn down and that the site be maintained as a ‘raw camp site’, Council approved this request. In April 1962, ROPACO was purchased from the Council by the Central South Florida Flood Control District from a tax deed sale. Council was reimbursed $16,311.05 from the total sale of a 25 acre plot which included all of Camp ROPACO. Not a bad return for no investments or improvements by the Sunny Land Council."


A personal note: ROPACO had no form of security and anyone could inter the grounds and cabins and cooking areas. Thus hunters, fishermen and 'lovers' could enter at will. There was vandalism. Screens were ripped out, bunk mattresses were pulled from the bunks and left in the rain. People even defecated in the cabins. Troop funds could not repair such damage and I would guess the troops just stopped going to ROPACO. Some considered the river contaminated, yet not one Scout got ear infections. Some considered snakes and other wild animals a danger to Scout campers, yet no one was ever bitten. I believe Troops 14 and 18 were the primary users of the camp and even their faculties fell into disrepair from vandalism. I left Fort Myers in 1954 to join the U.S. Navy and really do not know how the camp was used after that.

I do know that Scoutmaster H.O. Kight funded much of the Troop 18 camp site. He promoted week end and summer camping for our troop . For a week's camping the scout was required to pay a small sum for his food. An inexpensive week of camping, cooking, pioneering, swimming, life saving, nature study and hiking.

Each troop site consisted of four roofed and screened cabins with six bunk beds and a large cooking area that was roofed and had a four position cook fireplace with four tables and seats. A troop, n those days, consisted of four patrols of six to eight scouts.

A cabin for Scoutmasters was located next to the dock where all of the swimming activities took place. Everyone's favorite was to dive from the huge oak tree (seen in one of the images posted). A large athletic field was located near the main entrance with a deep well nearby. One of the scouts favorite games was a night time "capture the flag". The Second Class five mile hike was from ROPACO to the village of Olga and back. Numerous camporees, skillorees and leadership camp outs were conducted at ROPACO.

Written by John Bartleson Jr.