Life in a Boy Scout Camp – More tales from Camp Wauwepex

By Clifton Lamar Jones

Special to the Mountain News-WA

The following was written after reading Bruce Smith’s accounting of his scouting history.  After reading his article I was so taken back with his heartfelt words of Camp Wauwepex and my Dad, I thought I should write what it was like to actually live in that place where he felt so comfortable as a child and young man.  Yes, Bruce, I can relate to many of your stories. While we had different experiences, I think we both left a piece of our heart and soul on that piece of land called Wauwepex.

“Life in a Boy Scout Camp” is an accounting of the life of Clifton Lamar Jones, in my own words as I remember it.  There may be some variations in accuracy due to age but as I have always said, “it is what it is.”

Born in Rockville Center the son of Ruth Arey Wyckoff Jones and Johnnie Lamar Jones, my parents.  I was told of first living in Freeport, Long Island, then moving to 2407 Atlantic Blvd. in Wantagh, which I remember.  And a final childhood move to Wading River, Long Island to live at Camp Wauwepex, owned by Nassau County Council BSA, where Dad took the position as camp ranger on December 15, 1960, in a blizzard.  The remainder of my childhood would be spent on this 640-acre parcel of land with an 83-acre freshwater lake called Deep Pond.

When I was 13 years-old, Dad left his job at the Joseph H. Gray Pontiac-Cadillac dealership in Freeport to move us to Camp Wauwepex.  As I was told later in life, he wanted something more for his boys; so, he moved his family to the camp.  At first, I just remained at the house and played in the woods surrounding the ranger’s home.

The first winter at Wauwepex was awesome, there were snowstorm after snowstorm, the snow was piled up on the sides of the roads so high you could touch the telephone cables.  My aunt had bought my brother and I new Flexible Flyer sleds for Christmas that year and we went sleigh riding every opportunity we could.  Walking to the top of Indian Hill and sledding down.  We could actually sled from what was known at the time as Times Square, all the way down through the parade grounds and down between the seats of the Buckskin Amphitheater and out on to the lake.  When the lake was frozen enough to skate on, we went ice skating until the sun went down.  As I got older, Dad would send me down to the lake to measure the ice by drilling a hole with a brace and bit and then measuring the thickness in several places.

There was the transition to a new school, which I didn’t enjoy much as I always had visual difficulties and was laughed at due to my slow reading ability. I struggled with dyslexia and other problems, so schoolwork was a major chore.  But somehow, I survived.  It would be more than 40 years later that I would actually obtain my college degree from DePaul University in Chicago.

As time went on, I was allowed to go into camp with my Dad and help him with the many duties he had taken on.  There was much to do to maintain the 640-acre property.  There were the early spring chores: repairing roads after the spring thaw, turning on campsite water and repairing broken water lines, getting the three dining halls ready for summer camp and so on.  It was all a learning experience for me.

As I got older, I was able to work with some of the older scouters who brought their talents and professions to the camp on work weekends.  There was a scouter Mr. Al Roth, who worked for Breyer’s Ice Cream as a refrigeration technician, who taught me how to maintain the walk-in refrigeration.  There was Mr. Richard Franz, Mr. Stanly Dubreski and Mr. Dick Horn who taught me how to maintain the three-digit dial telephone system at the camp, a skill I used years later when I managed the telecommunication systems in seven buildings for the Port Jefferson School District my long term employer.  I have one share of Wauwepex Telephone Company Stock.  There was Mr. Gus Katz who taught me plumbing skills, there was a gentleman who worked at Grumman Aviation who’s name escapes me, who did gold leaf on the jet planes, who taught me how to gold leaf as he lettered the camp trucks. Mr. Sal Leman, an electrical inspector for New York City, taught me electrical skills and so many more that I can’t remember.  Yes, I learned many trades that helped me later in life, as my background was well-rounded before entering the adult workforce.

Time never stops, and as I grew older, I learned to respect those who taught me so much.  At the age of 15 I joined the camp staff at Wauwepex, in 1962.  It was the year that they closed the Pioneer Dining Hall for the 4th period due to declining enrollment.  Well, that gave me mixed feelings on life as they laid off some of the camp staff.  What was difficult was that they had hired me and the camp director’s son for the second half of summer camp but when the layoff came, they kept both of us on.  I went to my Dad and said “this isn’t right,” we should go first, but he said that there was a reason that he couldn’t tell me, and he never did.  So, I finished out the summer and joined the camp staff the following year, and worked under my Dad in the maintenance department, and remained in that department for several years after that, until I graduated high school and needed to get a permanent job.

Oh, then there was the time the summer pre-camp staff said they were going to teach me how to drive the stick shift pickup.  I had mastered the Ford tractor several years before plowing snow to keep the camp roads open in case of fire.  I had just gotten my junior license in the spring, and Dad had said he would teach me how to drive.  Well, I told the staff that Dad said he would teach me how to drive and I was going to wait.  But they persisted and I began to drive the pickup, learning how to use the clutch.  Well, when Dad finally got around to teach me, I was too smooth with that clutch, and he said, “who taught you how to drive the truck?”  Not to tell a lie, I told him that the pre-camp staff did, but, “please Dad don’t reprimand them, I am just as guilty, as I wanted to learn.”

Time marched on and as I grew, I was able to help Dad more and more each year.  Since my major in high school was vocational carpentry, I was able to work on many of the building projects as they came up.  I recall when my Dad proposed the program shelter near the Frontier Dining Hall (Hickox Hall) it was to be dedicated to the previous ranger and past scoutmaster of Troop 95 of Wantagh, Mr. Robert T. Geary.  When the project started, Dad had to pour the concrete slab in preparation for building the structure.  He then let me build as much of it as I could, as Bob Geary and my Dad were very close friends, it was like I was building a memorial for my Uncle Bob.

There were many projects like that, the new Kniffen Cabin which replaced the one that burned down several years’ prior.  There were several shower houses and several more program shelters that I had a hand in constructing.

Oh yeah, there was the drain that had to be installed in front of the dishwasher in Hayden Hall.  I spent my winter recess, yes, February, chopping concrete and digging a trench in preparation for the local plumber to put in the new drains.  Boy was it cold!!

There was plenty of time to roam the woods, smell the pine trees and enjoy the great outdoors.  There was plenty of trees to take a leak should the need arise.  We called it soil and water conservation, LOL.  There were many swims in the lake, even a couple of soap dips.  There were nights of sleeping under the stars on the beach at Frontier Waterfront and so on.

Dad let my brother and I build a go-cart; well, Wally and I drove that thing up and down the camp roads every time we got the chance.

It wasn’t all fun though; we did have to play by the rules when camp was in session from 3 pm on Friday evening to 3 pm on Sunday or til the last troop left, and the gate was locked.  Of course, there were the nine weeks of summer camp that the rules applied to us as well.  But the rest of the time, Katie bar the door, we were free to do whatever we wanted. There were even trips to the rifle range for target practice.

One thing you learn as an adult is that time never stops.  In my early twenties I met a girl who planned to go to nursing school upstate and we dated that summer and when she left for school our relationship became a long distance one. We finally got serious and engaged.  At that point I learned, like Bruce, what a virgin was.  The summer was warm, the sky was clear, and love is a beautiful thing.  There were many places to learn what to do, oop’s don’t know if I should say that, oh well it is true.  Linda came to love Wauwepex almost as much as me, so when I proposed the idea of getting married in the Protestant Chapel in the camp, she loved the idea and readily agreed. As we proceeded with wedding plans, I had to ask Dad if he thought the council would allow it and he had to go to the office and ask his boss.  It would have to be approved by the camping committee and council scout executive before it could happen.  While it sounded like it would be approved there was one little detail that might be a problem.  There is no alcohol allowed in camp. Hmm, how is that going to work? A dry wedding, I don’t think so.  So, off Dad went to the camping committee meeting to get permission.  The plan was to get married on Mother’s Day weekend.  The Director of Camping brought the proposal to the table, and it was unanimously approved.  Now for the funny part – the discussion of having alcohol on property.  Dad had said that we wanted all the scouters that I grew up with to attend, so they pondered the idea and one of them said “a dry wedding, we won’t be able to have a drink”, hence the alcohol was approved.  At that point, the camping committee decided to close camp for that weekend.

The wedding was held in the Protestant Chapel and our reception was held in Hayden Hall, the Indian Division dining hall.  My brother and a good friend Mr. Don Akerman catered the wedding, and a good time was had by all.

That summer my wife became the camp nurse, and we lived in the health lodge, now the Grace building, which was the original ranger’s home for Burt Grace, the ranger and his family.  She was to be camp nurse again, a few years later.  While we didn’t plan to have children right away, our son Clifton Jr. was born in February of our first year of marriage.  That spring our son was christened in the Protestant Chapel with water taken from the lake Deep Pond.

I continued to support my Dad until his retirement, and later my brother Wally who took over after Dad retired.  Unfortunately, situations did not let me spend as much time with my brother as I would have liked, life just got in the way.

So, I had a childhood that would be a dream for any child.  There is so many more stories that I could tell, and maybe there will be a series of accounting of my childhood at Camp Wauwepex.

I must close with the following: to all those scouters who shared their valuable skills with me, thank you.  To my Dad, thank you for moving us to camp, you knew what you were doing.  If I only acquire an eighth of your understanding, wisdom, and love for the camp I would be satisfied.  It was a wonderful life. I only wish I realized it much sooner in life than I did.

Yes, I left my heart and soul on those 640 acres many years ago.  A life I will never forget, and I am totally indebted to my Mom and Dad, and the Nassau County BSA for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime.  Thank you.

Pictures of Camp Wauwepex

Wauwepex, archery, early 1960s, postcard

Editor’s Note: The above photo and those that follow are provided by Bill Cotter, unless otherwise noted.

Wauwepex, sign old, maybe 1960

Wauwepex, Deep Pond, white sand, cw-2001wauwepex, topo map, circa 1960s

Wauwepex Society patch,, Phil 2019.jpg

Editor’s Note: Camp Wauwepex is such a special place in so many hearts that a group has been formed to hold those memories dear: The Wauwepex Society. Picture provided by Philip Calabria.

Wauwepex, summer camp patch, 1970

Editor’s Note: Every summer, Wauwepex would issue a new “patch,'” commemorating that year. Camp Wauwepex closed to regular summer camping in 1975 due to declining enrollment in Boy Scouts in Nassau County, New York. The camp had been in active use since 1922 and the land needed “a rest,” as one Scout official told the Mountain News in 2018. In addition, the Nassau County Council has purchased a new camp in the Catskills Mountains – Onteora Scout Reservation – which is now its main camping facility. However, Wauwepex is still used on weekends during the fall, winter, and spring for local troops.

Wauwepex, Lake, close up, Cliff, 2018.JPG

Editor’s Note: This picture of Deep Pond is taken from the southern shore, aka, Indian Waterfront. Looking north to Frontier Waterfront. Pioneer Waterfront was off to the left, and was active through the mid-1960s, closing as Cliff has described due to declining enrollment. Picture provided by Cliff Jones.

Wauwepex, Lake, from Frontier, Cliff, 2018.JPG

Editor’s Note: This picture is of Deep Pond from the northern, Frontier Waterfront perspective. Picture provided by Cliff Jones.



Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Fatherhood in a New Age – a tale of alien abduction coming to RISK!

By Bruce A. Smith

I do not know if this story is true, at least in the usual sense of that word. What I do believe is that this story has a truth, a compelling truth that lies behind the so-called facts of the case. Perhaps it is a metaphysical truth, a truth that is so deep that it speaks to the part of us that does not need facts or evidence, or even logic, yet yearns for an unfathomable truth. A truth that is quantum and holistic, one that is a truth of another world that has no words in this one. Regardless, there is definitely some kind of truth to this story. It is not fiction.

I saw the UFO first. I was lying on my left side in bed in my friend Jeff’s house in McKenna, Washington, where I had been staying while I attended a retreat at Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment in Yelm. I had been asleep but I awoke with a calm lucidity. I saw the UFO behind me. Somehow, I could see it through the walls of Jeff’s house. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

DB Cooper Conference is gearing up to celebrate the 48th Anniversary – and to continue the investigation of America’s only unsolved skyjacking

By Bruce A. Smith

Noted DB Cooper investigator and impresario, Eric Ulis, has announced that CooperCon 2019 will be held in Vancouver, Washington on November 22-24, at the Kiggins Theater. This year’s event extravaganza will be an expansion of the last year’s DB Cooper Symposium in Portland, Oregon, with more social events, a broader array of speakers, and tours of hot spots in the investigation, such Tina Bar, where the $6,000 of Cooper’s ransom money was found in 1980.

Special additions will include commentaries from folks who lived in Vancouver and Portland during the skyjacking and can offer personal insights to the events of that day. In addition, more focus will be placed on the “Cooper Phenomenon,” with a presentation from Darren Schaefer, who has spent the past two years interviewing and podcasting many of the luminaries of Cooper World – that blend of citizen researchers, chat room commentators, and Cooper authors who occupy the cyber world known as the Cooper Vortex.

Along those lines, this writer will give a presentation on the many conspiracies that inhabit the Cooper Vortex, including the notion that DB Cooper was a rogue operative from the CIA doing a private crime for money, or participating in some kind of sanctioned covert op designed to improve airline safety. To that end we will explore how safety improved in the aviation industry following Cooper and what legislation made that happen.

We will also examine the ever-persistent rumors of an “inside job,” and dispel all notions that flight attendant Tina Mucklow was a key operative, or that lanky First Officer Bill Rataczak somehow impersonated DB Cooper and walked off the plane with the money.

Lastly, we will examine the notorious mind-control program known as MKULTRA that was in action during the years before and after the Cooper skyjacking, and discern if any of the tantalizing clues that some investigators have uncovered, such as by FBI agent Russ Calame, might indicated any “Manchurian Candidate” influences exist in Norjak, as the DB Cooper case is known officially at the FBI.

Some of the Speakers at CooperCon 2019 are well-known, such as parachute expert Mark Metzler, or publisher Vern Jones, but there will also be new voices. Besides the aforementioned Darren Schaefer, first-timer Marty Andrade will be discussing his findings on the survivability of Cooper’s jump and offering supportive documentation from his research on the success rates of WW II bomber crews in Europe who had to leave stricken aircraft.

In addition, there will be an in-depth discussion of the so-called “western flight path,” which is the “Most Controversial Topic for 2019” in the Cooper Vortex. Newly-surfaced information from multiple sources, including interviews with air traffic controllers who worked the radar screen on the night of Cooper’s getaway flight, seem to indicate that Cooper’s Flight 305 was about ten miles west of where the FBI initially thought Cooper jumped. Hence, law enforcement and everyone else has been looking in the wrong place for the past four decades. Eric Ulis will lead this discussion, and will certainly expand upon his findings during his boat tour to Tina Bar.

For the intrepid, the DB Cooper Escape Room will be available on Sunday in Vancouver, WA. This site is a commercial venue featuring a DB Cooper-themed escape room experience, and operated by DB Cooper aficionado Rob Bertram.

At this date, many details are still to be confirmed, such as the presence of Tom Colbert, the highly controversial investigators who champions the recently deceased Cooper suspect, Robert Rackstraw. Also in flux, is a road tour of the “Getaway Highway,” State Route 503, which follows the Victor-23 airway, the oft-cited “official” flight path for Cooper, which will begin in Orchards, WA where the FBI announced in 1975 that it then considered Cooper to have jumped there, and culminate along the roads of Amboy, WA where the initial ground search was conducted in 1971 and 1972.

For more information:

The following flyer on CooperCon 2019 has been provided by Eric Ulis.


CooperCon 2019

Please join us at CooperCon 2019 and hear experts discuss all aspects of America’s only unsolved skyjacking. There will also be ample opportunity for audience questions and discussion. Moreover, a special emphasis is being placed upon creating social events this year for people to get-together and have fun over food and drinks.

See a real Cooper $20 bill from the ransom money found, a parachute just like the one Cooper used, a tie clip just like the one Cooper left behind on the jet, and much more.

Authors will be on-hand to autograph copies of their books.





Marty Andrade is a Minnesota-based writer who has written four books, including “DB Cooper: Chasing the Last Lead in America’s Only Unsolved Skyjacking.” A Cooper investigator for over five years, he believes applying sound science and using an interdisciplinary approach will eventually solve the case. Formerly a radio talk show host and podcaster, Marty’s current day job is estimating materials for large building projects. An avid lover of mysteries, he will soon be opening investigations in other disappearances and unsolved crimes from his home state.
Vern is a multi-business entrepreneur with a passion for storytelling and bringing truth to light. A student of the sciences, he has since become an author, publisher, and speaker, not to mention golfer, hiker, scuba diver, water skier, and proud owner of the Portuguese Water Dog named DB Cooper. Vern lives with his wife Irene in Michigan.
TOM KAYE (Video Presentation from CooperCon 2018)
Tom is the Principal Investigator for the Cooper Research Team which was granted unprecedented access to the FBI’s NORJAK files for investigative purposes. His main scientific interest is spectroscopy which branches out into the fields of paleontology and astrophysics. In paleontology, he leads yearly expeditions for the Burke Museum to recover dinosaur bones. He is directly involved in the controversy over the detection of preserved blood cells and blood vessels in T. rex bones where his work points to a bacterial source. In astrophysics he leads a team of astronomers that are trying to discover an extrasolar planet using spectroscopy to detect the stars wobble. Recently he has been working on analysis of grave goods from the 8,000-year-old Gobero site in Africa as well as the Chinese Feathered Dinosaurs. Tom resides in Sierra Vista, Arizona.
Mark Metzler is an active skydiver with over 50 years of parachuting experience. He holds a USPA class D (Expert) parachutist license which required both night and water jumps. Mark also has extensive experience jumping military surplus parachute gear similar to the type DB Cooper used. In 2006 Mark jumped from the rear airstair door of a DC 9 passenger jet flying unpressurized at 14,500 feet. Mark’s diverse career path includes skippering commercial fishing vessels and practicing as a criminal defense attorney. He earned a BSEE degree from UC Berkeley and has designed patented electronic circuits for implantable medical devices. Mark is an aviation history buff who finds air mysteries such as Amelia Earhart’s disappearance and DB Cooper’s case absolutely fascinating.
Bio coming soon!
Bruce A. Smith is an investigative journalist and the author of DB Cooper and the FBI – A Case Study of America’s Only Unsolved Skyjacking. He writes extensively about Norjak at his online news magazine, The Mountain News-WA, and has consulted or appeared on numerous podcasts and documentaries on DB Cooper, most notably the History Channel’s “Case Closed?” in 2016, and the Travel Channel’s “Expedition Unknown” episode in 2017 on the money find at Tina Bar.
Eric is the author of GHOST: Unraveling The Enigma of DB Cooper. In 2019 his research enabled him to re-identify the 1980 money find spot on Tena Bar. Eric was a commentator and producer on the TV show High Stakes Hold’em which aired nationally on Comcast SportsNet. In addition to the Cooper mystery, Eric is a fan of politics, sports, a good drink and a good cigar. After putting college on hold for “far too long,” Eric matriculated at the Extension School at Harvard University. Eric resides in Phoenix, Arizona.
NOTE: THOMAS COLBERT has also stated he has the date marked on his calendar to attend, however, cannot fully commit to attending at this time.











11:25 PM -12:25 PM :: LUNCH BREAK

12:30 AM – 1:10 PM :: TIE & TIE PARTICLES (2018 REPLAY) | TOM KAYE



2:30 PM – 3:00 PM :: BREAK



5:15 PM – 5:30 PM :: GIVE-AWAYS & CLOSING









LOCATION : CooperCon 2019

Kiggins Theatre

1011 Main Street
Vancouver, WA 98660

Saturday, November 23, 2019

10 AM – 5 PM


2 Final DB Cooper and the FBI cover


Posted in Uncategorized | 43 Comments

“Giving” – A sprawling display of Nancy Hillman’s theatrical legacy – playing at the Triad Theater

By Bruce A. Smith

“Giving,” Nancy Tribush Hillman’s first and only effort at writing a complete musical production, is in production this month at the Triad Theater in Yelm. It is a fitting tribute to Ms. Hillman, who has taught and directed three generations of Yelm residents to the highest levels of stage craft, with several of her students now in professional acting careers.

Nancy co-authored the script with Lucy Turchin, who ably composed the music and lyrics.

“Giving” is an epic attempt to portray how children grow into caring adults. First, as kids they need to find a safe and nurturing place in their town of “Proctor,” and do so in the forest that they name “The Academy of Imagination.” In the branches of the Giving Tree, an apple arbor lovingly played by Ms. Turchin, they find acceptance and shelter, especially from the pressures of pesky parents who want them to become “a perfect daughter” and “get into Yale.” Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Nancy Hillman – Iconic Leader of Yelm’s Theater Community – Dies

By Bruce A. Smith

Nancy Tribush Hillman, the long-time director of Stage Struck Productions and the Drew Harvey Theater in Yelm, died of a stroke this week. Forever the trooper, she collapsed during a rehearsal in the Triad Theater last Monday, July 8. Rushed to St. Peter’s Hospital, she finally succumbed on Wednesday, July 11. Nancy Hillman was 78.

Nancy is survived by her daughters Avriel Hillman and Rachel Hillman. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

DB Cooper Boat Tours to Visit Tina Bar and PDX

By Bruce A. Smith

AHOY, all DB Cooper enthusiasts! You will have a chance to sail on the Columbia River past the primary DB Cooper landmarks next Saturday and Sunday, June 29-30. This includes Tina Bar, where some of the ransom money was found in 1980, and Portland Airport where the skyjacking commenced.

Leaving from Tomahawk Island and the Jantzen Beach complex just north of Portland, Oregon on the I-5, the voyage – on a pontoon boat skippered by a licensed and Coast Guard-certified captain – will first motor near Portland International Airport, which is where this iconic skyjacking started on November 24, 1971. Since then, nothing definitive from the hijacking has ever been found except for three bundles of twenties from Cooper’s $200,000 ransom, which was found in 1980 at the trip’s next stop – Tina Bar. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 136 Comments

Interview with a SAGE radar operator as investigations intensify in the DB Cooper Case

By Bruce A. Smith

Concerns about the flight path abound in the DB Cooper case despite the 47-years since the iconic skyjacking occurred, and the closing the case in 2016 by the FBI due to a lack of any new information or suspects.

Nevertheless, citizen sleuths are carrying the torch, searching for the truth of America’s only unsolved skyjacking. The height of these inquiries deals with the location of DB Cooper’s plane when he jumped at 8:13 pm on November 24, 1971. Was it over Battleground, Washington as the FBI has long-professed? If so, why hasn’t anything ever been found in the FBI’s primary search area near Ariel and Amboy, Washington? Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 301 Comments