Memories, stories, and photos of Blue Jay Camp and other summer camps from the campers themselves.

Paul “Sunshine" Shogren '51
July 2012

It all began when I tried to remember how we got from Marienville, PA, to Blue Jay Camp in the summer of 1949. So I wrote to the Allegheny National Forest and, after a while, received a lot of historical information, a 1939 photo (shown on the following page), and maps.

Then, while researching geared railroad logging engines (Shay, Climax, Heisler), I discovered there was a Blue Jay Lumber Company that logged off the area around Blue Jay Camp, moved to Somerset County, PA, did some logging in Garrett County, MD, and ended up in at Blue Jay, WV, a village near Beaver, WV.

Information on Blue Jay Lumber Company is contained in three books by Benjamin Kline who published a complete history, The Logging Railroad Era of Lumbering in Pennsylvania, a 13-volume work.

Henry Gerhold's book, A Century of Forest Resources Education at Penn State, has dates and pictures of Blue Jay Camp as do some of our early yearbooks. According to Gerhold, "Blue Jay Camp near Marienville was the site of summer camps from 1939 to 1960, except for the World War II years."

Other forestry classes experienced summer camp in different areas. Again, according to Gerhold, "Summer camps with tents for housing have been held at various locations in Pennsylvania including Foxburg, Lamar, Stone Valley, Ralston, Ludlow, and Endeavor."

I decided to try to stir up some memories, stories, and photos of Blue Jay Camp and other summer camps from the campers themselves. The following pages include what has been gathered.

It is still possible to contribute to the online version of this collection. If you want to add any materials, please send them to Ellen Rom, 114 Forest Resources Building, University Park, PA 16802, or contact her at 814-863-0362 or

Blue Jay Camp 1939 - photo courtesy of USDA Forest Service, Allegheny National Forest

A Brief History

Professional forestry instruction began at Penn State in 1907, one of seven majors in the School of Agriculture. Summer camps began in 1908, located in the vicinity of State College or Mont Alto or sometimes elsewhere. Students attended for two weeks, later eight weeks, after their freshman, sophomore, or junior year, depending on revisions in the curriculum. From 1930 to 1933 summer camp was held at the Allegheny National Forest, in 1934-38 at Mont Alto, in 1939-41 and 1947-1960 at Blue Jay Camp in Marienville, in 1961 summer camp moved to Mont Alto and later operated from University Park and Stone Valley, for the last time in 1966.

A Century of Forest Resources Education at Penn State (page 74)
by Henry D. Gerhold

Blue Jay Memories of 1939

I can tell you hose this forestry, class of 1941, and pioneer at Blue Jay, managed to get to Blue Jay Camp. It wasn't exactly a very nice day weather-wise, for starters.

After kissing my mom goodbye, I climbed into my 1929 model A Ford, which had cost $30 (no zeroes missing) and I departed my parents' house in Mt. Lebanon, southern suburb of Pittsburgh and headed north.

This day in early June 1939 was dreary, cool, overcast, and misty. My Ford was a roadster of better days, a worn canvas top, no side window, not very good tires, and lousy brakes -but then it sort of fit the roads of the time. However, it did have a courageous four-cylinder engine that putted along at 45 miles per hour on 15-cents-a-gallon gas.

I don't remember how many hours it took to reach Marienville, but I did! The obvious landmark was the Bucktail Inn where I had a burger and asked for directions to Blue Jay. I would guess it was about mid-afternoon when I first saw the camp.

I don't know how the school got use of the former CCC camp, but at that time it was essentially an army camp - no frills. Our professor, friend, and mentor Maurice (Gramps) Goddard was head man in charge. I don't remember the others. I have no pictures of the time, but do have some strong memories.

1939 was still part of the Depression era - perhaps our brown bag lunch explains a little. Many days my bag contained a can of sardines, two pieces of white break, and a piece of fruit - mostly bananas.

Besides our surveying, we visited all the forest product industries in the area, such as tanneries, wood chemical distillation charcoal, axe and tool manufacturers, and others, but the best was the last bandsaw mill operating in Pennsylvania. I believe it was at Sheffield - huge hemlock logs, maybe virgin, riding to the saw and on a steam-driven carriage. Some memories!

C. Dana Chalfant '41
2716 West Hardies Road
Gibsonia, PA 15044
June 2011

Camp Blue Jay - Summer of 1941

I'm an old-timer who experienced Camp Blue Jay in the summer of 1941--the last camp during the pre-war era. As I recall, Maurice Goddard ran the camp that summer, with an iron hand. An iron hand was needed to control the lads after a Saturday night at the Bucktail Inn at Marienville. I understand that the Inn is still serving up rum cokes, hopefully not to underage students as was the case then. A favorite gambol after a 12.30 AM return was to ring the dinner- fire bell that hung in front of the mess hall, followed by a rush to the barracks and feigned sleep as Goddard and crew came searching for the culprits.

We did a lot of timber cruising, compass line and plots, and stand mapping, all with the usual falling into beaver ponds. I do remember a night session in which we "shot" Polaris and determined our latitude, or was it longitude. Some of us didn't have any idea of what the process entailed and were lost in the following complex calculations but knowledge was shared by the wise ones and all passed the course.

Among my classmates were John Mattoon (played nice jazz guitar),Ted Legler, Stan Forbes, and Tom McKeon (all ardent hunters and fishermen--we tied our own flies). Bob Kintigh, now a noted tree-farmer in Oregon and a recent recipient of an award from PSU, was a quiet one.

It was a good summer. We didn't know that Pearl Harbor was only six months away.

W.V. (Mac) McConnell '43
U.S. Forest Service, retired (1943-'73)
2406 Carefree Cove
Tallahassee, FL 32308
June 2011

Blue Jay Camp Memories

I can't recall what summer I was at Blue Jay Forestry Summer Camp, but I can recall several interesting events that occurred:

  • Pete Wineberg and I killed a three-foot timber rattler on the dirt road near camp the first morning we were there.
  • I shot several porcupines out of trees around the camp with someone's Colt. 22--his name I can't remember.
  • Prof. Humphrey, who was in charge, had taken considerable effort to make a rather large pile of firewood with plans to have the gang around it at closing night, but someone set the pile ablaze as soon as Humphrey had completed the task.
  • It was late June or early July and the Juneberry fruits were ripe (Amelanchier canadensis, I always remember from Hank Chisman's lectures and field trips). We were running cruise lines and just ahead of us, the Juneberry branches were springing up just as we would see the feasting black bear bounding out of our sight. Bear left many signs of bark scratches and scat.
  • Then there was the Bucktail Tavern in nearby Marienville, the center of evening education at Blue Jay. I, with many others, spent nearly every evening studying bottle and other shapes. I struck up a conversation on many evenings with a local sawmiller and we discussed the operation of his mill, including adjusting head saw settings, thanks to Prof. Bill Edwards' sawmill class.
  • I was fortunate to be with a couple of avid trout fishermen, who had cars, and we visited many beaver ponds in the evenings, and while they fished, I botanized.
  • On a Sunday between weeks, several of us were extended local hospitality by several girls and spent the afternoon at their home, talking, dancing, snacking, and becoming acquainted.

Joe Gray '48
35 Schooner Street #103
Damariacotta, ME 04543
May 2011

Camp Blue Jay, Summer Camp 1948

Allegheny National Forest, Marienville, PA

Photos and captions from Walter Gabel, Class of 1950

Rex Melton (l) and Walter Gabel (r)

Walter Gabel

Walter Gabel – uprooted hemlock Cook State Forest

Walter Gabel – rolling logs at mill

Rex McHail (l) and Walter Gabel (r)

Walter Gabel

Walter Gabel '50
727 Gilda Drive
St. Augustine, FL 32086
June 2011

Camp Blue Jay, Summer Camp 1948

Allegheny National Forest, Marienville, PA

Photos and captions from Heinz J. Heinemann '50

Camp Blue Jay - barracks. It was a former CCC Camp.

Another view of the buildings.

I believe this was the mess hall (to the left).

Typical CCC buildng.

Tree plantation was in back of the buildings – no doubt planted by the CCC.

Heinz Heinemann learning how to use the surveying equipment.

Heinz Heinemann – writing letter to fiancé, no doubt.

We also had fun – eating watermelon. Heinz Heinemann is third from left.

More watermelon. Hienz Heinemann is front row, second from left.

And we helped maintain buildings. Ted Gilbert is first on left.

And practiced surveying.

Barracks, with one of the men and the snakes he caught.

We even caught a porcupine!

"Practicum" in the forest.

Actually, the project was to survey (and then draw up) a proposed road.

As I recall, we visited a paper mill wood storage yard in a nearby town whose name escapes me.

Paper mill wood storage yard.

Paper mill wood storage yard.

Heinz Heinemann '50
Pennswood Village G103
1382 Newtown Langhorne Rd.
1382 Newtown, PA 18940
September 2011

Blue Jay Memories of 1949

Other than Stan Walton's description of our camp in the 1951 Sylvan, I can add:

  • Having no car, my parents took and returned me.
  • Living and eating were simple and good, just like Scout camp with "older campers."
  • The Hump as Director was our nemesis but he and we survived the experience.
  • A classic photo from camp was short Al Zavis standing on an upturned fire bucket to take transit shots. The Hump probably complained there was no water in the fire bucket!
  • As our team plus Melton were planning duties to measure a research plot to be named after the Marienville Ranger, I volunteered to take the afternoon off to notify Ranger Van Nort of the honor. The offer was declined.
  • Our first attempts at timber cruising using parallel compass readings ended up with "crossed cruise lines." Afterwards we learned to trust the compass rather than our dead reckoning.
  • After camp was over, I hitchhiked to Kanab, VT, to prune Ponderosa pine trees to 13-, 15-, and 17-foot heights on the Kaibab National Forest. TSI was great for upper-body strengthening.

Paul Shogren '51
1638 Memorial Drive
Oakland, MD 21550
September 2011

Memories of Blue Jay Forestry Camp 1950

Department of Forestry - Pennsylvania State College

Travel to Camp

Blue Jay Forestry Camp was up in Forest County near Marienville, Pennsylvania. As such there was no easy or non-existent public transportation to the camp from Aliquippa, Pennsylvania. My family did not have a car and never did as we walked or took the good public transportation in the Ohio River Valley of Western Pennsylvania.

During my junior and senior years in high school I worked at a grocery store as a clerk and delivery boy driving an old car. The store was owned by Matt Koletich (a good Croatian name). By my sophomore year at Penn State in 1950, Carl Vukovich, another Croatian-American, had the job at the grocery store. Carl was a classmate of my brother John and both were one year behind me in school. By this time Matt had bought a new 1950 Chevrolet pickup truck for the store business. Matt was good to me and let Carl drive me and my meager gear to the camp. Matt's son Steve Koletich accompanied us on the trip. Steve was about 4-5 years younger than we were.

With a Gulf Oil road map and no freeways we made our way to the camp on a nice sunny day. The surrounding northern hardwood forest was not much different than that in the Appalachian foothills of Beaver County. Certainly the forest was different from my previous summer on the Stanislaus National Forest out of Sonora, California with ponderosa pine, Jeffrey pine, sugar pine, western white pine, white fir, mazanita, buck brush and rattlesnakes.

The camp was made of a former CCC camp and looked great to me with real barracks in which to sleep instead of the tents at the Bumble Bee Blister Rust Camp on the Stanislaus N.F. We unloaded my small metal foot locker and simulated leather suitcase with the Penn State College logo decal on it. Carl and Steve returned home.

Barracks and Meals

The CCC barracks and other camp buildings were worn and to my liking. We all had army style steel cots on which to sleep with little room for our gear. I used blankets as I did not own a sleeping bag (no different than in my Boy Scout camping days--at the blister rust camp the Forest Service provided sleeping bags). I do not recall that we had lockers or closets in which to hang our clothes. I don't know how we managed that nor did our laundry.

The food was good and much the same as we had at Mont Alto - simple and nourishing - served mess hall style.


Classes were indoors and outdoors. Instructors were from the Forestry School. I recall on one field trip to the Allegheny National Forest being very much impressed by the black cherry trees. The trees were large, tall and devoid of limbs for at least 20-30 feet up the bole.

I struggled with preparing a forest stand management plan for an area wherein we took inventory data. Preparing the plan did not come easy for me. Determining longitude and latitude with sun shots intrigued me.

One day we were taught the use and care of forestry hand tools. Mr. Schmidt was showing us how to sharpen a misery whip (two-man cross cut saw). Eugene "Gene" Decker was paying close attention and was very close to the work. As Mr. Schmidt was striking a hammer against a raker tooth with an anvil behind to swedge it, the tip of the raker broke off and flew into Gene's eye. He had some eye damage from that.

The weather during the summer was very nice. It may have rained some but I do not recall if it did.

Diversion from Classes

Very few of us had cars except for some of the war veterans. One evening we piled into a couple of cars and went to Marienville. We entered a tavern where the vets enjoyed a beer while I had a soda pop, not being yet at 21 years. In the tavern across the room was a small screen television set grabbing the TV signal with a roof top antenna. The program was a travelogue on a grainy black and white picture. It was the first TV program I had ever seen!

One day we had a "field day" of competitive forestry skill events. What I remember of it now is that I was an observer. The Knechtels came over to enjoy the events.

The Knechtels

William C. "Bill" Knechtel, Forestry 1951, Mont Alto 1947--48, Blue Jay 1949 and his wife Dorothy "Dot", and their children Jon and Janice were very good friends of mine. Bill was a veteran. Bill and I first met at a Forestry School banquet at the Penn State campus in early 1949. I traveled to the campus with other Mont Alto classmates. Our interest in archery began our friendship that lasted until Bill passed away on June 14, 2008. My wife Lil and I stay in contact with Dot,

Lyle F. Watts, Chief of the Forest Service, USDA, was the banquet speaker. He was most interesting to me for the "Reader's Digest" article that featured a drawing of him on top of a large deck of logs.

Bill's family had a vacation home near Marienville in the woods along a road that also had a natural gas line running parallel. Bill was working in the woods for a logger before his senior year. I was a frequent guest of the Knechtels with Bill coming to Blue Jay to take me to their home for a weekend. One Saturday Bill and I took our bows and arrows to go bullfrog hunting at a nearby stream. I got a good shot at a large one under water on a log. The refraction angle of the water fooled me and I missed. Bill, however, got two frogs. Dot prepared the legs for our dinner. That was the first time I ate frog legs - yummy!


We were lounging on our bunks before bed time on June 25 when someone came in with the news that the North Koreans invaded South Korea. This was of great interest especially to our veteran classmates. Were they going to be called into the military with their reserve status? William E. "Bill" Sopper got called in and finished his forestry education after he came out. I followed up with my draft board for an education deferment from the draft. That happened but I got to Korea with the U.S. Army anyway after graduating in 1952.


Mont Alto, Blue Jay, Penn State and college forestry summers in California and Montana all meshed together to make me a forester. The summer of 1950 I did not go west after Blue Jay. I stayed home as my mother was having serious surgery. I visited her in the Pittsburgh hospital. Still, I have many memories that followed me through a 36 year career with the Forest Service, all out west except for 4 years in the national headquarters in Washington, D.C.

I hope this recall of Blue Jay Forestry Camp will stir some additional memories for my classmates and I trust they will have contributed their memories.

I am grateful to Paul "Sunshine" Shogren, Forestry1951, for alerting me to the Blue Jay Forestry Camp memories project and for encouraging me to write mine.

Ted Yarosh '52
August 2011

Camp Blue Jay - 1958

I was in the Penn State Forestry Class of 1960 and attended Camp Blue Jay in 1958. As was the custom, we had four weeks of forestry field work and four weeks of civil-engineering-type surveying. Half the class did each activity at the same time, then rotated.

My group did forestry first. It rained a lot, which brought out the mosquitoes and no-see-ums. The barracks reeked from drying wet field clothes. We cruised a timber tract, and created stock and stand tables. Surveying came next, learning to use dumpy levels and transits, lay out road curves, calculate cut and fill problems. It was four weeks at least before we were allowed to leave camp for a whole weekend.

The barracks were crowded--no interior walls, no privacy. If I remember correctly, the "gang" shower had only cold water. But the meals were great! I believe the cooks were Mr. and Mrs. McKinney. They had a parakeet named Butch. The bird talked all the time and often said,

"Butch wants a beer!" Butch got loose and the whole camp went into search-and-rescue mode. Butch came back!

Tradition dictated that beards be grown--and we complied. Firearms were in abundance. We had an attitude that might be frowned on today.

Weekend trips to the Bucktail Hotel and Bar in Marienville was the center of social life. After one such evening, one of our group (who shall remain nameless) tried to take a lawnmower up onto a barracks roof to mow the grass!

We had field trips--Heart's Content virgin trees, Cook's Forest, Tionesta Dam, a local sawmill that cut black cherry to make "Jolly John, Jr." potty chairs, and the Marienville glass factory. At the glass factory we were told that they used boron in their glass. That night, in the barracks, John Heroux sat up in bed, still asleep, and yelled, "Oh God, it's got boron in it!" In the morning he recalled nothing.

Gary Scott captured a young raccoon and kept it for a while until it started to bite too hard. Then it was returned to the wild.

Fourth of July was a special day as we actually had some of our own fireworks. We set off small sky rockets from atop the tower that held the camp water tank.

It sounds like we never had time to work but that was not the case. All day we were in the field, evenings we worked up notes, calculations, and reports. It was a busy schedule. We had a very few Friden and Marchant calculators to use, so there was a lot of pencil and paper work.

The things most remembered about Camp Blue Jay were the closeness and the common purpose experienced by those who were there. Mont Alto forged a comradeship that would last a lifetime. Camp Blue Jay added to the temper to make it stronger.

Ronald A. Jones
Class of 1960
1737 W, 6th Street
Meso, AZ 85201-4503
July 2011

Camp Blue Jay, Summer Camp 1958

Allegheny National Forest, Marienville, PA

Photos and captions from Ron Jones, Class of 1960



l to r: George Smith, Jim Hornbeck, Tom Price

Joe Barnard (l) and John Nordberg (r)

Ron Jones

l. to r. John Heroux, Boyd Hutchison, Jim Hornberck, Ralph Hirt

Ron Jones (l) and Ralph Hirt (r)

Gary Scott

Boyd Hutchison (compass) and John Heroux (abney level)

Ron Jones (trailer tape)

John Heroux (tree taper)

George Smith (range pole and tape)

Ron Jones (DBH with calipers)

Ron Jones (bark thickness)

George Smith (range pole and tape)

Ron Jones '60
1737 W. 6th Street
Mesa, AZ 85201
July 2011

Summer Camp at Blue Jay - 1959

I had the wonderful experience of the 1959 summer camp at Blue Jay (after my senior year at the Penn State main campus) with fellow classmate Dan Speace, as well as a few other notable Mont Alto classmates such as Jess Clarke.

Dan and I, both struggling financially to complete our four years, worked in the kitchen to earn our meals without having to pay for them--just like we did at Mont Alto). We were both avid softball players and quickly became distinguished with our frequent home run swats. We had the thrill of competing on the student team that was challenged to a game by the teachers and we blew them away!

I also had the honor of again working on the annual yearbook team with the leader Jess Clarke for the fourth year in a row. We all were quite "impressed" with the fact that there was ice in the water tower on the night of July 3 and into July 4. We slept with stockings on our feet, gloves on our hands, and blankets pulled over our heads! Those tar paper shacks had no heat and were like ice boxes!

Working on the thinning of a pine stand and carrying 10-foot logs on my shoulder still bring back memories of the strength that I used to have, and withstanding the "beatings" by the high school ping pong champion of Maryland, Dan Speace, also remind me of the resilience and perseverance that he helped me to incorporate into my mindset.

Those were learning years, and I will forever be grateful of the many helpful friends that I had along the way, and still maintain contact with--such as Dan Speace, Jess Clarke, Nick Headings, etc.

Penn State forever!

Kenneth Knox '59
May 2011


Bob Paine '66
July 19, 2019

Penn State Summer Forestry Camp

This story is about my experience at a Penn State summer forestry camp prior to attending college.

In June 1977, at the age of 16, I attended the 24th Annual Youth Forestry Training Camp at Stone Valley Experimental Forest. I had known from a very early age that I wanted to be a forester and go to Penn State, so I was very excited to learn I had been selected to attend the camp. My local Soil Conservation Service in Washington County, PA, sponsored me and an agriculture exchange student from Thailand, Bel Sinplu, who was visiting in Washington, PA at the time.

I recall my Youth Forestry Camp experience being a week of many "firsts." The program was very well organized and we had little down time between sunup and sundown. The staff represented several forestry fields and provided us a broad overview of many forestry aspects with classroom work and field trips. It was my first exposure to dendrology, mensuration, hydrology, and forest products. I recall taking detailed measurements on small inventory plots, a demonstration of shocking fish for aquatic studies, visiting sawmills, learning about deer research, climbing the Greenwood Fire Tower, and observing a live logging operation. Another highlight was my first visit to the Penn State University Park campus where we toured Ferguson Building and met several faculty members. Back at camp during the evenings, we listened to guest speakers, watched films about the forestry, and had recreational events like volleyball tournaments, campfires and a log sawing competition.

I remember fondly the whole experience whetted my appetite to pursue a forestry career and in 1983, I graduated from Penn State with a degree in Forest Science. I've worked for the U.S. Forest Service ever since.

Richard A. McCullough '83
Forester - GIS Spatial Data Services
USDA Forest Service
Northern Research Station
Forest Inventory and Analysis Unit
11 Campus Blvd., Suite 200
Newtown Square, PA 19073
June 2011

1977 Youth Forestry Camp at Stone Valley

1977 Youth Forestry Camp at Stone Valley



Department of Ecosystem Science and Management


117 Forest Resources Building
University Park, PA 16802

Department of Ecosystem Science and Management


117 Forest Resources Building
University Park, PA 16802