The Chickasaw Council
The Chickasaw Council was established in 1916 to oversee the many Scout troops organized in Memphis after the founding of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) in 1910. Established to “promote…the ability of boys to do things for themselves and others, to train them in Scoutcraft, and to teach them patriotism, courage, self-reliance, and kindred virtues….” The BSA soon emerged as the nation’s leading youth organization and Memphis was one of the most important Scouting communities in the United States.
In order to provide a suitable place for Council Scouts to learn the values of Scouting, the council’s first president, investment banker Bolton Smith, donated land for a Council Summer Camp in Hardy, Arkansas, which opened in 1917 and was christened Kamp Kia Kima. A second camp, named for Elizabeth Currier of Geneva, Switzerland, was opened in nearby Eudora, Mississippi in 1925.
In addition to learning Scoutcraft and leadership through participation in outdoor activities, Chickasaw Council Scouts also learned the importance of helping others by performing many community service projects. During World War I, Troop 22 sold more Liberty Bonds than any Scout troop in the United States and in honor of their service was presented with an American flag by President Woodrow Wilson, to display in their troop headquarters. Food and clothes were distributed to needy families suffering from the effects of the Great Depression and during World War II thousands of pounds of waste paper were collected for the war effort.
When the Chickasaw Council formed its first Scout troop for African Americans in 1928, it committed itself to the goal of spreading the benefits of Scouting to all young people, a tradition that continues today. Throughout the 20th Century, The Chickasaw Council continued to grow as more young people joined Scouting’s ranks. The organization expanded to include not only Memphis and Shelby County but Crittenden County, Arkansas and DeSoto County, Mississippi, and in January 1993
The Chickasaw Council merged with the Delta Area Council, consolidating Scouting programs in the Mississippi Delta with those in the Mid-South. The traditions of Scouting that were established by The Chickasaw Council in 1916 remain an integral part of the program today for the 14,000+ Scouts and the 3,000+ Scouting volunteers.
Kia Kima Scout Reservation and Camp Currier continue to offer outdoor activities for Chickasaw Council Scouts and community service remains a top priority. In 2010, for example, Scouts collected 60,000 pounds of food for needy Memphians. Although many changes have taken place over the past 100 years, the commitment to outdoor programs, community service, and spreading the benefits of Scouting to all young people in Memphis, the Mid-South and the Mississippi Delta remain the mission of the Chickasaw Council, Boy Scouts of America.
If you would like more information on Scouting history in the Mid-South or if you have any Chickasaw Council related literature such as old newsletters, photographs or memorabilia you would like to archive, please contact Wayne Dowdy, who serves as the Chickasaw Council Historian. He is an Eagle Scout and former Kia Kima Scout Reservation Staff member and Scoutmaster. Mr. Dowdy works at the Memphis Public Library as the archivist for the Memphis and Shelby County room.