On May 12, 1934, L.A. Leadbetter donated a small tract of land bordering Crystal Lake to Samoset Council, BSA for the construction of a Scout camp. Those original twelve acres have since grown into a 1200-acre Scout Reservation; the cornerstone of North Central Wisconsin’s Scouting movement.
Following Leadbetter’s initial contribution, the Rhinelander Rotary Club raised $25,000 to build a lodge and purchase an additional 120 acres of land. Although Scouts did camp on the new property in 1934, Leadbetter’s vision wasn’t fully realized until the following year. Under the leadership of Scout Executive William E. Hoffman, Samoset’s camping programs was moved from the Root House Lake property to the new Crystal Lake property and the Rhinelander Rotarians broke ground for the promised lodge in 1935. Although expanded and renovated, the Rotary Lodge (know named the Schultz-Kieffer Fellowship Lodge) still serves as the heart of Tesomas Scout Camp, over seventy-five years later.
With two previous camps in Samoset’s past, Hoffman thought a new name was in order for the Crystal Lake camp. Mrs. Irene Hoffman suggested reversing “Samoset” and naming the new camp “Tesomas” – this word play was quickly accepted.
Only eighty-one scouts participated in the first session of Tesomas Scout Camp in July of 1935, but by 1945 the summer population had grown to nearly one thousand. With the addition of Cub Scouting and High Adventure activities throughout the next several decades, attendance annually exceeded two-thousand campers during the summer and prompted more expansion. In 1993, Akela’s World Cub Scout Camp opened its doors on the south side of the camp property; and in 2000, the Hanna Venture Base began operations, with all three camps also hosting Scouting programs throughout the year and serving 6000+ campers each year. Through the decades, over one hundred thousand scouts have entered the gates of Tesomas and taken the pleasure in the “Tesomas Experience”.
In 1936, Tom Kita Chara Lodge, Order of the Arrow, was established at Tesomas Scout Camp and continues to be an integral part of the camp today. And in 1952, the Walt Disney Company was contracted to design an emblem for Tesomas, resulting in the creation of the now nationally recognized icon: Smiley the Tent.
We urge you to learn more about Tesomas’ treasured history during your visit. Take some time to view displays in the William E. Hoffman Archives Room, located in the lower level of the Program Center. Cherish your days at Tesomas and make your own contributions to its enduring saga. By partaking in our many programs and activities while exploring our crystal clear waters and pristine wilderness, you will discover why Tesomas, the Crystal Lake Scout Reservation and Samoset Council remains “Where Camping is King!”