Scouting in Illinois

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Scouting in Illinois has served youth since 1909. The state was the home of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) founder, William D. Boyce.

BSA Councils serving Illinois.

Early history (1910-1950)[edit]

In 1946, the National Order of the Arrow Lodge Meeting was held at Chanute Field. The 1963 and 1971 National Order of the Arrow Conferences were held at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

In April 2014, the following councils announced that they would merge:

  • Calumet Council
  • Chicago Area Council
  • Des Plaines Valley Council
  • Northwest Suburban Council

The merged council will be named the Pathway to Adventure Council.


There are 13 Boy Scouts of America local councils in Illinois. Six councils in neighboring states also serve parts of Illinois.


Abraham Lincoln Council[edit]

Abraham Lincoln Council is headquartered in Springfield, Illinois and serves central Illinois. It operates Camp Bunn in Hettick, Illinois, Camp Illinek in Springfield, Illinois and is served by the Illinek Order of the Arrow Lodge.

The three districts in the council are:

  • Honest Abe District (serving Cass, Morgan, Scott & northern half of Green Counties)
  • Lincoln Home District (serving Sangamon & Menard Counties)
  • Log Cabin / Railsplitter District (serving Montgomery and the western 3/4 of Christian County & the northern half of Macoupin County)

The U.S. Scouting Service Project maintains the website which provides general information and a place for leader comments on the two camps operated by the Abraham Lincoln Council at Camp Bunn and Camp Illinek.

Blackhawk Area Council[edit]

Blackhawk Area Council is headquartered in Rockford, Illinois and serves southwestern Wisconsin and northwestern Illinois. It runs Canyon Camp, located between Stockton and Apple River, Illinois, and Camp Lowden near Oregon, Illinois, and is served by Wulapeju Lodge #140. The Council was formed by the merging of the U.S. Grant Council in the west and Blackhawk Council in the east portion of what is now the Blackhawk Area Council. Formerly, the two councils each had one camp. The council also owns a cabin in Mount Carroll, Illinois. The word Wulapeju (one spirit) refers to the merger of the Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kia-kiak (Chief Blackhawk's name) Lodge and Wetassa Lodge #227 as part of the council merger. Blackhawk Area Council Camp Lowden celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2010.[1]

  • Arrowhead District
  • Sycamore District
  • Wanchanagi District
  • Wetassa District
  • White Eagle District

Buffalo Trace Council[edit]

Buffalo Trace Council is a Boy Scout council based in Evansville, Indiana that serves southwestern Indiana and southeastern Illinois. Its affiliated Order of the Arrow lodge is Kiondaga Lodge.Buffalo Trace Council

Glacier's Edge Council[edit]

Sinnissippi Council served Scouts in Wisconsin and Illinois, before it merged with Four Lakes Council. It is now called Glacier's Edge Council and is headquartered in Madison, Wisconsin. Glacier's Edge Council[citation needed]

Greater Saint Louis Area Council[edit]

The Greater Saint Louis Area Council is headquartered in Saint Louis, Missouri, and serves Scouts in the Saint Louis metro area, southeast Missouri, and southern Illinois. It absorbed the old Lewis and Clark Council in January 2017.

Illowa Council[edit]

Illowa Council serves Scouts in western Illinois and eastern Iowa in the Quad Cities area. Konepaka Ketiwa Lodge #38 (part of Section C-3A) is the Order of the Arrow lodge that serves this council.

  • Hoover District
  • Inali District
  • Kittan District
  • Mesquakie District
  • Saukenuk District

Lincoln Trails Council[edit]

Lincoln Trails Council has its headquarters in Decatur, Illinois, and is served by Woapink Lodge #167 (founded in 1955).

  • Railsplitter District
  • Two Rivers District
  • Redhawk District

In 2007, Lincoln Trails Council ran a Scoutreach program in inner city areas.[2] Boys are offered constructive, fun activities and learn about scouting.

The council operates Rhodes-France Scout Reservation, a 600-acre summer camp near Pana, Illinois that opened in 1980.

Lewis & Clark Council[edit]

Sign at the entrance to Camp Joy

The Lewis & Clark Council was formed from the 2009 merger of Okaw Valley Council (OVC) and Trails West Council (TWC). The Lewis & Clark council has its headquarters in Belleville, Illinois. The council owns four camps: Camp Joy in Carlyle, Illinois, Camp Sunnen in Potosi, Missouri, Camp Warren Levis in Godfrey, Illinois, and Camp Vandeventer in Waterloo, Illinois. There are six districts in the Lewis & Clark Council: the Illini District, Black Gold District, Kaskaskia District, Cahokia Mounds District, Piasa Bird District, and St. Clair District. Okaw Valley Council and the Trails West Council merged in 2009 to create the Lewis & Clark Council.

The two councils from which Lewis & Clark has been formed are themselves the product of mergers. The Trails West Council was founded in 1991 when the Piasa Bird Council and the Cahokia Mounds Council joined. The Okaw Valley Council was somewhat older at the time of the merger; it was formed in 1965 following the consolidation of the Kaskaskia Council and the Mississippi Valley Council.

The Order of the Arrow is represented in this Council by the Nisha Kittan Lodge, part of the regional section C3-B. The Nisha Kittan lodge #114 replaced Kishkakon Lodge #32 (TWC) and Taleka Lodge 81 (OVC).

In January 2017, the Lewis and Clark council will merge with the Greater Area Saint Louis Council (GSLAC). Lewis and Clark Council will accept the rename to Greater Area Saint Louis Council and will be known by that name, thus surrendering the Lewis and Clark Council name. This was announced on their Facebook page back in October 2016 (approx.) source [3]

Mississippi Valley Council[edit]

Mississippi Valley Council, headquartered in Quincy, Illinois, is served by Black Hawk Lodge 67. This council serves Scouts in Illinois, Missouri, and Iowa with two camps, Camp Saukenauk and Camp Eastman. The council merged in 1993 with the Saukee Area Council and the Southeastern Iowa Council.

Northeast Illinois Council[edit]

Northeast Illinois Council
Owner Boy Scouts of America
Location Highland Park, Illinois
Country United States
President D. Keith Ross
Council Commissioner John P. Duncan
Scout Executive G. Douglas Nelson
 Scouting portal

Northeast Illinois Council has its headquarters in Highland Park, Illinois. It runs Camp Sol R. Crown in Trevor, Wisconsin, Camp Oakarro near Wadsworth, Illinois, Camp Dan Beard in Northbrook, Illinois and Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan Scout Reservation near Antigo, Wisconsin. The council is served by Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan Lodge #40.

Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan Scout Reservation is a Boy Scouts of America property located in northern Wisconsin and serves the Scouts of the Northeast Illinois Council based in Highland Park, Illinois. Originally a logging camp, the scouts purchased the land and first had campers in 1929. The 1,560 acres (6 km2) camp serves over 2,300 scouts each summer. Scouts attending Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan have the opportunity to work on merit badges and attend programs. Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan also operates a nationally accredited high adventure base that offers units 11 trek opportunities. Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan, as of 2014, had a perfect BSA accreditation rating.[4]

Northeast Illinois Council is composed of three districts:

  • Aptakisic District
  • North Star District
  • Potawatomi District

In addition, the council's Order of the Arrow lodge is split into three chapters with the same boundaries as its districts:

  • Yakwahay Chapter (North Star)
  • Namachani Chapter (Potawatomi)
  • Aptakisic Chapter (Aptakisic)

Pathway to Adventure Council[edit]

BSA Councils serving the Chicago area in early 2014

Pathway to Adventure Council is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. On January 1, 2015 the Chicago Area Council, Des Plaines Valley Council, Northwest Suburban Council, and Calumet Council merged.[5] Each of the predecessor councils have been reorganized as "Communities" each maintaining their service centers and event and training schedules.

Pathway to Adventure Council
Owner Boy Scouts of America
Country United States
President Craig S. Burkhardt
Council Commissioner Lou Sandoval
Scout Executive Fred Wallace
 Scouting portal

Calumet Community[edit]

In April 2014, it was announced that Calumet Council will be merging with three other area councils: Chicago Area Council, Des Plaines Valley Council, and Northwest Suburban Council.

Calumet Community is headquartered in Munster, Indiana and serves Scouts in Indiana and Illinois.

Chicago Area Community[edit]

Chicago Area Council
Owner Boy Scouts of America
Headquarters Chicago, Illinois
Country United States
Defunct 2014
President John Leonard
Council Commissioner Lou Sandoval
Scout Executive Matt Thornton (acting)
 Scouting portal

The Chicago Area Council served Chicago, Illinois and some of its near suburbs.[6] The Chicago Area Council is headquartered at the Steve Fossett Center for Scouting in Chicago, Illinois. It runs Owasippe Scout Reservation in Whitehall, Michigan. Chicago Area Council became part of Pathway to Adventure Council on January 1, 2015.

Chicago, Illinois. A meeting of the Cub Scouts in the community center of the Ida B. Wells Homes
  • Arrowhead District
  • Fort Dearborn District
  • Greater Southside District
  • Indian Trails District
  • Iroquois District
  • North River District
  • River Trails District
  • Western Trails District

In 2014, districts were combined and renamed to represent the following:

  • Arrowhead District
  • Founder's District (formerly Fort Dearborn, North River and Western Trails Districts)
  • Indian Trails District
  • Iroquois Trails District (formerly Iroquois and River Trails Districts)
  • Greater Southside District
Camp Bass Lake swim area - 1959 - Troop 664

The Chicago Area Council operates Owasippe Scout Reservation in Michigan.

The Bass Lake lone troop Scout camp was part of the Owasippe Scout Reservation operated by the Chicago Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America. The Bass Lake camp was a single camp on a small (approximately 600 feet wide) lake in the Owasippe reservation. A single troop would take over the entire camp, usually for a two-week period, preparing all their own food and overseeing all aspects of the camp life. Active in the 1950s and 1960s, Bass Lake camp is no longer in use.

Order of the Arrow[edit]

The Chicago Area Council is served by Owasippe Lodge #7.

Des Plaines Valley Community[edit]

In April 2014, it was announced that Des Plaines Valley Council will be merging with three other area councils: Calumet Council, Chicago Area Council, and Northwest Suburban Council.

Des Plaines Valley Community is headquartered in La Grange, Illinois.

Northwest Suburban Community[edit]

In April 2014, it was announced that Northwest Suburban Council will be merging with three other area councils: Calumet Council, Chicago Area Council, and Des Plaines Valley Council.

Northwest Suburban Community is headquartered in Mount Prospect, Illinois. It operates Camp Lakota outside Woodstock, Illinois and Camp Napowan near Wild Rose, Wisconsin. Northwest Suburban Council is served by Lakota Lodge #175.

The Northwest Suburban National Scout Shop is located within the NWSC Volunteer Service Center located in Mount Prospect, Illinois.

In 2009, the Northwest Suburban Council earned the National Centennial Quality Council Award, four of its six districts earned the National Quality District Award, the Council was recognized as a National Learning for Life Council of Distinction, earned the Central Region Scoutreach Award, and earned the National Major Gifts Award. It led the Central Region in youth membership retention.

The Northwest Suburban Council has an ongoing capital and endowment development campaign. New rowboats, shooting sports equipment, and lighting at Camp Napowan have been acquired as a result of the campaign. Major building refurbishments have also been accomplished at Camp Lakota. Funding has also been provided for expanded program support of Scoutreach and Learning for Life. The new pool and the new Don Yacktman's Eagle Lodge at Camp Lakota have recently been constructed. A new poolhouse for Lakota is completed and the new Jerry and Adele Epstein Dining Pavilion at Napowan was dedicated in May 2009 and has been in usage since then.

In 2006, the Northwest Suburban Council served as host to the BSA National Endowment Art Tour, the Biennial Meeting of the National Catholic Committee on Scouting, and the Annual Meeting of the National Jewish Committee on Scouting.

Lakota Lodge #175 is the local Order of the Arrow lodge of the Northwest Suburban Council. Lakota has an annual Haunted Hike, traditionally celebrated on the weekend prior to Halloween.

The council's service area includes 34 communities in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, with Skokie as the eastern border, Barrington on the west, Lake Zurich on the north, and O'Hare International Airport on the south. The council territory has remained unchanged since its founding in 1926. The population served by Northwest Suburban Council is composed of 15% Latino/Hispanic, 8% Asian, 3% Eastern European, 1% African-American, and 73% Caucasian.[citation needed]

The council newsletter, The Drum Beat, is available online.

  • Blackhawk District
  • North Woods District
  • Pathfinder District
  • Signal Hill District
  • Aguila/Scoutreach District
  • Learning for Life
Camp Napowan[edit]

Camp Napowan, located in Wild Rose, Wisconsin, is a 400-acre Boy Scout camp owned by Northwest Suburban Council founded in 1946. It is located between Hills Lake and Lake Napowan, with pine forests surrounding the rest of the camp. During the summer months, the camp operates an eight-week camping experience for scouts who stay for one- or two-week sessions. The camp typically draws around 4,000 campers each summer.[7]

Camp Napowan entrance sign

The camp staff are registered with Venturing Crew 0477 and live on the camp grounds during the summer; in total there are usually over 70 staff members during the summer session. Harrison Ford worked in the Nature program area in 1957.[7][8]

A new dining pavilion was constructed in 2009, with the dedication occurring on April 16, 2009; food is not prepared in this facility.[7][9][10] The camp's main office is located in the heart of the camp, near the main parade field, housing most of the administration (Business Manager, Camp Director, Commissioner, Health Officer,& Program Director). The camp has an enclosed dining hall near the main parade field with a full kitchen attached.[9]

Camp Napowan's program areas include: aquatics (swimming and boating), C.O.P.E. (Climbing tower and High Adventure Course), nature, Skynet S.T.E.M. Lab (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics), shooting sports, Sherwood (scoutcraft), Verona (performance and design), and Flintlock (a mock 1870s frontier village).

The aquatics program area is broken into two sections: swimming (located on Hills Lake) and boating (located on Lake Napowan). Merit badges are taught here from swimming to small boat sailing. New to Camp Napowan in 2014 is a 14-foot floating climbing wall.

C.O.P.E. is a program area for scouts 13 and older that challenges scouts to work independently and within an team while doing trust falls, climbing, and going down the zipline. This program area is located on the far south side of the camp. Merit badges taught here include climbing. In 2013 the camp revamped its older scout program, Annulus Initiative (AI), to include an off-camp climb and overnight camping experience. In 2014 the camp altered the program again to add a day trip to an archery golf course. In 2015, the Older Scout Program (OSP) added merit badges such as fire safety and search and rescue, and automotive maintenance and emergency preparedness.

The nature area at Camp Napowan is located between Hills Lake and Lake Napowan with a view of Lake Napowan from its higher altitude. The nature program area merit badges include environmental science, fishing, and weather.

Skynet, Napowan's S.T.E.M.(Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) area was founded in 2014, replacing the old computer lab. Skynet still operated the computer lab, but began offering merit badges and evening programs. Originally, four merit badges were offered at the area, including architecture, chemistry, fingerprinting, and moviemaking. In 2015, the area received generous donations of Windows 10 computers and a projector screen. Later the animation, chess, and engineering merit badges were added as well as creating additional evening programs. Skynet is the pinnacle of the S.T.E.M. program in the Pathway to Adventure Council, drawing numerous scouts to Camp Napowan each year.

Scouts can use firearms under the management of the shooting sports director in the shooting sports program area. This area is located on the east side of the camp near the ranger headquarters. It is broken into shotgun, rifle, and archery and scouts can earn those respective merit badges.

Sherwood, the program area that teaches scout skills is located on the southwest side of the camp near the firebowl. Scouts can earn the merit badges reflective of fundamental scout skills, including the camping, cooking, and orienteering. Other core skills include the tenderfoot-first class requirements and the Totin' Chip and Firem'n Chit awards.

The Verona program area overlooks Boot Hill and teaches skills in the arts, performance, and design. Merit badges taught here include: art, music, public speaking, painting, and communications.

Flintlock Pioneer Village is an 1870s replica village that includes a blacksmith shop, old time printing press, and a Native American village. This area is located on the far south side of the camp. Flintlock program staff are the only program staff on camp to not dress in traditional green uniforms, but instead period appropriate clothing. This area has special activities/structures including candle making, tomahawk throwing, and an open mercantile.

Other merit badges are taught from various members of the camp staff including camp administrators like the health officer, who teaches first aid. Horsemanship is taught outside the camp.

Prairielands Council[edit]

Prairielands Council serves Scouts in east central Illinois and western Indiana.

Rainbow Council[edit]

Rainbow Council is headquartered in Morris, Illinois. It serves communities in Will, Grundy, and Kankakee counties. Rainbow Council kicked off 2014 with the motto of "One Council; One Mission".

Rainbow Council operates Rainbow Scout Reservation (RSR) near Morris, Illinois. This over 700-acre property hosts year round camping, including Boy Scout and Cub Scout resident camping. RSR runs a Boy Scout summer camp and Cub Scout resident camps each summer. Programs at RSR include a camper program, expanded programs for older scouts, and over 50 merit badges.

The council also owns Camp Theakiki near Kankakee, Illinois. Rainbow Council is served by Order of the Arrow Waupecan Lodge #197.

  • Ishkote District {South I 80}
  • Waapi Lenaswa District {North I 80}


Lincoln Heritage Council[edit]

Lincoln Heritage Council serves Scouts in Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois (Hardin, Massac, and Pope counties), and Tennessee.

Three Fires Council[edit]

Three Fires Council is located in St. Charles, Illinois, where it also operates a scout shop. A second scout shop is located in Naperville, Illinois.

W. D. Boyce Council[edit]

The W. D. Boyce Council serves youth in central Illinois, from Lincoln to Ottawa, and Peoria to Bloomington.

Girl Scouting in Illinois[edit]

There are five councils based in Illinois though a small part of northern Winnebago County is served by Girl Scouts of Wisconsin - Badgerland Council

Girl Scouts of Central Illinois[edit]

Girl Scouts of Central Illinois
Headquarters Springfield, Illinois
Country United States
Chief Executive Officer Pam Kovacevich
Board Chair Debra Wozniak
 Scouting portal

Girl Scouts of Central Illinois serves over 20,000 girls and has nearly 5,000 adult volunteers.

It was formed by the merger of Girl Scouts of Centrillio Council, Girl Scouts-Kickapoo Council, Girl Scouts of Two Rivers Council, Shemamo Girl Scout Council of Illinois, Girl Scouts, Land of Lincoln Council, and Girl Scouts of Green Meadows Council.


  • Bloomington covers Livingston, Logan and McLean counties
  • Champaign covers Champaign, Douglas, Ford, Iroquois, and Vermillion counties
  • Decatur covers Christian, DeWitt, Macon, Moultries, Piatt, and Shelby counties
  • Peoria covers Marshall, Peoria, Stark, Tazewell, and Woodford counties
  • Quincy covers Adams, Brown, Pike, and Schulyer counties
  • Springfield covers Cass, Greene, Macoupin, Mason, Menard, Montgomery, Morgan, Sangamon, and Scott counties
  • Macomb covers Fulton, Hancock, and McDonough counties
  • Peru covers Bureau, LaSalle, and Putnam counties

Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois[edit]

Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois
Headquarters Rock Island, Illinois
Country United States
Chief Executive Officer Diane Nelson
Board Chair Teresa Colgan
 Scouting portal

Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois serves 20,000 girls and has 5,000 adult volunteers in Eastern Iowa and Rock Island, Mercer, Henderson, Warren, Knox, Henry, and Jo Daviess counties in Illinois.

Formed by the merger of Girl Scouts of Conestoga Council, Girl Scouts Little Butt Council, Girl Scouts of the Mississippi Valley, and Girl Scouts of Shining Trail Council.

Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana[edit]

Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana
Headquarters Chicago, Illinois
Country United States
Chief Executive Officer Nancy Wright
President of the Board Karen Layng
 Scouting portal

Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana serves more than 55,000 girls and 21,000 adult volunteers.[12] It is the largest Girl Scout council by membership in the United States. It includes Cook, DuPage, Grundy, Kankakee, Lake and Will counties in Illinois and Jasper, Lake, Newton, and Porter counties in Indiana.

It was formed by the merger of Girl Scouts of the Calumet Council Indiana, Girl Scouts of Chicago, Drifting Dunes Girl Scout Council, Girl Scouts — Illinois Crossroads Council, Girl Scouts — Prairie Winds, Girl Scouts of South Cook County, and Girl Scouts of Trailways Council on July 1, 2008.

Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois[edit]

Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois
Country United States
Chief Executive Officer Fiona Cummings
Board Chair Lisa Normoyle
 Scouting portal

Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois was formed on October 1, 2009 from a merger of Fox Valley, Rock River Valley, Green Hills, and Sybaquay councils. The council serves Kane, Kendall, McHenry, DeKalb, Boone, Winnebago, Stephenson, Ogle, Lee, Jo Daviess, Carroll and Whiteside counties.

Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois[edit]

Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois
Headquarters Glen Carbon, Illinois
Country United States
Chief Executive Officer Villie M. Appoo
Board Chair Dixie Travelstead
 Scouting portal

The council serves around 14,000 girls in southern Illinois. It was formed in October 2009 from a merger of River Bluffs and Shagbark Councils.

Scouting museums in Illinois[edit]

International Scouting units in Illinois[edit]

There were Belarusian Scouts in Exile in Chicago through the 1980s, and Lietuvos skautų sąjunga still exists there. Külföldi Magyar Cserkészszövetség Hungarian Scouting also maintains a troop in Chicago and there are large contingents of active Plast Ukrainian Scouts in Chicago.

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Wells, Valerie (July 21, 2007). "Inner-city youths scout new ways to enjoy life through outreach program". Herald & Review. Retrieved July 23, 2007. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan website". NEIC. Retrieved May 23, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Better Stronger Scouting"
  6. ^ Hook, James; Franck, Dave; Austin, Steve (1982). An Aid to Collecting Selected Council Shoulder Patches with Valuation. 
  7. ^ a b c Daday, E. O. (September 10, 2005). "Maintaining a legacy boy scouts begin drive to update facilities". Daily Herald.
  8. ^ Zwecker, B. (January 6, 2006). 'Housewives' Sheridan, Hatcher stay busy with love life, legal battles. Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved from
  9. ^ a b Daday, E. O. (April 17, 2007). Upgrades progressing quickly at boy scout's summer camp. Daily Herald. Retrieved from
  10. ^ "Dedication opens new dining pavilion at Napowan" "Drum Beat" 2009
  11. ^
  12. ^ "2015 Annual Report, Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana" (PDF). 

External links[edit]