Royal Palm Notes
The first troop in what was to become the Royal Palm Council was Troop 1 in Punta Gorda.
Their charter is dated March 5, 1918, with some indication that this was a charter renewal.
Charles G. Cochran is shown as Scoutmaster. Troop 1 along with any other units in Lee,
Charlotte, Collier, Desoto, Glades, and Hendry until 1926 were served by a council (now out of existence) that had its headquarters in Lakeland, Florida. Carl Sullivan was the Scout Executive.
Sullivan tells of a time when he was invited by Baron G. Collier, a member of the National
Council’s Executive Board, to visit the latter's winter headquarters in Everglades City. Sullivan
drove to Fort Myers and there boarded a freighter for the overnight trip to Everglades. With
Collier, his host, he spent three or four days at the “swanky” Rod and Gun Club, organizing a
Scout troop and training its leaders. It is believed that it was during this visit that the idea of
establishing a local council to service the counties of Lee, Charlotte, Collier, Desoto, Glades, and Hendry was formulated.
In the month of December 1925, a 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, in 1925, six Scout troops with a total of 191 Scouts in the Royal Palm council’s
territory; two in Fort Myers with Macon G. Williams and Alton Moore as Scoutmasters; one each
in Boca Grande, Arcadia, Moore Haven and Punta Gorda.
There is, unfortunately, no definite record of this organizational session. From the application for charter it is noted that I. C. Williams, for many years a main-stay in Scouting, and of Fort Myers, was President; M. W. Horne, treasurer; Colin English, secretary; and John M. Danton, Scout Executive. Vice-presidents were J. N. Sikes, W. E. Dunwoody and Walter S. Turner. The name of this council was to be “Royal Palm Council” (ROPACO for short).
ROPACO’s first summer camp was held at Breezy Point in Highlands County, near the village of Lake Placid. This was a five-acre camp-site on the Caloosahatchee River, about fifteen miles east of Fort Myers. This was by permission of the owner. Royal Palm continued to use this property free of charge until 1944 when the owner decided he wanted to sell, and offered the tract for $1,500. Sunny Land Council purchased five acres of the land for $1500.
George E. Judd, of Fort Myers, some time between 1927 and 1930 had given the council twenty acres of wild land north of the Caloosahatchee River. This land was adjacent to the five-acre campsite mentioned above. The Royal Palm Council decided to name the 25-acre campsite Camp ROPACO by combining the first two letters of the Council name.
Apparently, either Royal Palm Council did not have enough funds to pay the annual property
taxes, or they were not tax exempted, because in April 1962, Camp ROPACO was purchased
from Sunny Land Council by the Central South Florida Flood Control District from a tax deed
sale. Sunny Land 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.
The year 1927 opened in the Royal Palm Council with the resignation, January 31st, of
Executive John Danton. He was succeeded by H. 0. Right. Right had served in Scouting in
Atlantic City, New Jersey from 1916 until 1919, when he moved to Lakeland, Florida. He had
been Scoutmaster of Troop 6, there, from 1922 through 1926.
The first problem Right had to face was the raising of funds to meet a $5,000 budget. This was
no easy task, following so closely not only a disastrous hurricane but also three vegetable-crop
freezes of the winter.
A council camp, was again held at Breezy Point, site of the 1926 camp. It was called “Camp
Ropaco” using the first two letters of the three words - “Royal Palm Council.” Scout Executive
Right, assisted by Capt. George F. Kinzie, and several others, took about 125 Scouts and leaders to Cuba during the 1927 Christmas holidays. This was but the first of several such year-end trips.
In 1928 the whole Royal Palm Council was saddened on July 10th when Thomas Goolsby,
fifteen-year-old Eagle Scout of Troop 1, Fort Myers, died of ptomaine poisoning. Even as funeral preparations were being made over his grave, the Civitan Club started a movement to build a memorial to him. Barron Collier, honorary president of the council, contributed $50, civic clubs joined in and soon sufficient funds were on hand to erect a building to house the council office. It was known as the “Thomas Goolsby Memorial Scout House.”
The beginning of 1930 found a total of 729 boys enrolled as Scouts in the eight-county territory -
287 in the following troops with Scoutmasters:
- 1- Robert L. Newman, Jr.
- 2- C. G. Nelson
- 5- R. T. Lyman
- 9- Park R . Lewis
- 11- Fred Campbell
- 13 - Bryant Fugate
- 14 - M. Ayres and Frederick Johnson
- 17 - J. H. Farbes and James L. Glenn
- 19 - Chas. E. Foster and G. C. Powe11
- 20- Jay C. Gainer
- 21- Alton L. Moore
- 23- W. F. Cothern
- Ernest L. Prior, Fort Myers, commissioner
- Fred H . Gould, treasurer.
- Richard Schaddelee, Fort Myers;
- Earl D. Farr, Punta Gorda Vice-presidents
- J. W. A. Neal, Arcadia;
- J. C. Spooner Fort myer
- Richmond Dean Fort Myer
- F. B. Crowninshie1d, Boca Grande,
- Richard Schaddelee, Fort Myers;
- Earl D. Farr, Punta Gorda
- • W. A. Neal, Arcadia;
- George E. Judd, of Fort
in July 1929
Daniel Carter Beard, one of the organizers of the Boy Scouts of America, was a friend of Barron
G. Collier and was a frequent winter guest of the Colliers at one of his plush Florida hotels.
Barron Collier was an honorary president of the Royal Palm Council. In 1931 Beard and his wife arrived in Punta Gorda on February 18th for a month’s stay at the Charlotte Harbor Hotel. There is quite a bit of correspondence between Beard and Knight, the ROPACO Scout Executive, on file. In addition to thanking the latter for courtesies extended, Beard encourages Knight in his efforts to organize a troop among the Seminole Indians. He offered to give an American flag. Knight replied that the Seminoles, having never sworn allegiance to the United States, took a dim view of the flag. Beard countered with the suggestion that a troop flag be given. So far as can be learned, the troop never officially registered, though a group of Indian boys did receive some Boy Scout training given by Scout Executive Knight.
There is evidence that indicates that Beard always stayed in the Charlotte Harbor Hotel in Punta Gorda when wintering in as a guest of Collier. While staying there Beard would work with the Punta Gorda Troop teaching them tomahawk throwing and other indie skills. Their old Scout
meeting place still exists to this day in the harbor and is still referred to as the Scout Hut.
It is also noted that in 1931 the ROPACO Council ended the year with a membership of 377
Scouts. In 1933, 54 Scouts attended the World’s Fair in Chicago, August 8-31. In 1935, Dan
Beard again spent the winter as Barron Collier’s guest at the Charlotte Harbor Hotel, in Punta
Gorda. He was also present for the council’s Silver Beaver presentation to William A. Neal of
Arcadia. It is noted that 1935 ended with 233 Boy Scouts and 28 Cub Scouts.
It was evident that the Royal Palm Council had began to experience financial problems, and by
February 1937 it found it expedient to merge with Sunny Land Council.
No recorded evidence has been found that indicates Dan Beard ever visited Camp ROPACO, but here is a notation in a news paper article of the Bradenton Herald that he did visit Camp Flying Eagle in February 1939