The History of McKee Scout Reservation

The history of McKee Scout Reservation is rich in diversity. Native Americans occupied east central Kentucky before the white people arrived. Grape Knob would have offered a good observation point from which Daniel Boone or a Shawnee could view the surrounding land. The courthouse in Mt. Sterling was built with stone that was mined from Grape Knob when it served as a rock quarry. McKee has a special sense of place.

Mrs. Gertrude P. McKee began piecing together the land that became known as McKee Scout Reservation on June 1, 1920. On March 31, 1945, seven tracts of land totaling more than 300 acres were deeded over to the Blue Grass Council of the Boy Scouts of America by P.L. and Gertrude McKee for one dollar.

The first official camporee was held in 1946, and for several years after, fall camporees were held. Additional parcels of land were added in the late 1950s. This land is well situated on the borders of Montgomery and Powell counties, and now consists of more than 600 attractive acres.

A Capital Campaign was held in 1958-1959 to finance development of the property. The layout originally recommended by the National Scout Council proposed dividing the camp into two distinct camps, Camp Bishop and camp Lee. Camp Bishop was to be developed first.. Each camp was designed for a capacity of 200 boys and would have about ten unit campsites. In early April 1959 clearing and lumbering for the nearly 17 acre lake began. The construction was done largely with donated time, materials and equipment. Work on the waterfront, activity areas, campsites, administration lodge, health lodge, trading post and Keeneland dining hall proceeded concurrently with the other projects and was well advanced by early 1960.

The first camp ranger, Walt Ferrell, took up residence in his new home located at the camp entrance early in 1960. Most of the projects were completed while others were started, such as the council ring and rifle range. On June 10, 1960, the first of 1300 boys who were to use the facility during its initial summer camping season arrived.

The Pioneer Mountain Trail was hiked and laid out by scouts in late 1960 and early 1961. The chapel and picnic area were the next items built. The chapel was dedicated on June 28, 1962 with churches in the Blue Grass Council donating nearly half of the funds for the project.

In 1976 the number of campsites increased by five, and showers and a pedestrian bridge were built. Construction drawings for the renovation of Keeneland dining hall were done. During the same era, the OA lodge (Cox Building) was designed and constructed.

On March 31, 2001, a ground breaking took place for celebrating a new beginning of construction for Camp McKee beginning with a new dining hall named Stamler Hall. It seats about 350 people and sports a “state of the art” kitchen. Also constructed were Karrick Retreat Lodge, a new climbing tower, a C.O.P.E. Course and a Handicraft Lodge.

Named after the late P. L. McKee and Gertrude McKee (the original land donors), the McKee Scout Reservation has been serving the Scouting community for almost 50 years. Located just 8 miles from Interstate 64, near its junction with Interstate 75, McKee is easily accessible to the entire Eastern United States. Our location also puts us within minutes of the Red River Gorge, the Daniel Boone National Forest, and Cave Run Lake. This allows us to enhance our Summer Camp program and also makes us a great base camp for Troops in the off-season.

Our Summer Camp Program has 3 areas of emphasis:

• The Dan Beard First Year Camper Program for the first and second year camper. This program is designed for the Scout working toward First Class.
• Merit Badge instruction, for the Scout working on advancement from First Class through Eagle.
• Adventure Programs, such as Triple Threat and our Premier Red River Gorge Climbing. These are for the Scout that has been to camp for a few years and wants to broaden his horizons or just have a good time.

From the Dutch Oven Cook-off to “Cat’s Eye” orienteering and the Water Carnival, there are plenty of opportunities for the individual Scout or the whole Troop! For the first time, Scout Leaders will be able to broaden their horizons, or just have a good time.

We are excited about the many changes that are still happening at McKee due to our recent capital improvement campaign. One of the largest improvements is our new state of the art, air-conditioned Dining Hall. Menus are planned and prepared by our on-site registered dietician. Our dining hall will seat 350 people at each meal. Sunday dinner is the first meal prepared by the camp kitchen staff, each week, and Saturday breakfast is the last.

The McKee Scout Reservation is proud to be a Nationally Accredited Camp by the Boy Scouts of America. Don’t miss out on the exciting opportunity to learn new skills or hone existing talents at the McKee Scout Reservation this summer

Our main program focus comes during the summer season when we host hundreds of Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts from Kentucky and across the country for a week of fun and adventure at summer camp. Summer camp offers boys an opportunity for excitement, advancement within the Scouting program, and personal development in beautiful and relaxing surroundings. Scouts are able to participate in aquatics, ecology, scout craft and handicraft, earning merit badges along the way. We also offer our “Baden Powell" program to teach many of the basics to younger Scouts. For the older boys we have an excellent C.O.P.E. and Climbing program with a low and high course and climbing and sailing programs in the nearby Red River Gorge and Cave Run Lake. For the Cub Scouts and their families, it’s Cub Adventure Week, or one of our Parent Pal weekends.

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