The Torrington Council reorganized in March of 1920 as a First Class Council. Even before the council officers completed the charter application, they hired Torrington’s Assistant Postmaster, William Copley, as a part-time executive. Among Copley’s first tasks was to arrange a summer program. Around the same time, the Hartford Council purchased fifty acres on West Hill Pond for Camp Pioneer. Copley struck a deal with Hartford Council Executive Sherman Ripley for Torrington Scouts to join in on the Camp Pioneer program. The Torrington Council paid for the Scouts' first week; local service organizations such as the Torrington Rotary Club volunteered in the camp’s development.
The troop response was overwhelming, to the point that during the first week of camp the carpenters the Hartford Council hired to build the camp office had to construct more tables for the dining hall instead. Later in the summer, the camp was so overbooked that some Scouts bunked in the dining hall. More than seventy of the Torrington Council’s one hundred and ten Scouts attended, and many stayed for multiple weeks.
The downside of this popularity was that for the 1921 season the Hartford Council reserved Camp Pioneer for Hartford County Scouts. Improvising, William Copley planed a pair of hikes. The first trek was about sixty miles—one week to walk from Torrington to the Old New-Gate Prison and back. The second, longer hike was a two-week circuit of the northwest hills. On this longer trek, some of the boys suffered a reaction to poison ivy. According to Seymour Weeks, because of this: “Mr. Copley…decided to lay over a while at Bantam Lake, since we were ahead of schedule. He found a good spot and we camped near Mr. Frank Coe’s cottage. Mr. Coe watched us and he was, if I might say so, rather impressed by the way we conducted ourselves.”
The photos below show Torrington Scouts on a council hike in 1921 or 1922.