MIWOK was a Junior Leadership Training course developed and run by the Oakland Area Council and then the San Francisco Bay Area Council from 1940 until 1980. MIWOK was a two-week leadership course that was based out of Dimond-O near Yosemite. Miwok training was to prepare scouts and explorers for leadership with their units and initially was required for all Scouts that wanted to work on camp staff at Camp Dimond and Dimond-O or become leaders. MIWOK training was also known as MIWOK JLT.
The name MIWOK was chosen first as a tribe of Indians at Dimond-O in July 1940 and the following year it turned into MIWOK training. Under the leadership of its first Scoutmaster Harold Farquar, the MIWOKs were organized into a troop where they lived for two weeks as a camping unit. The first group of MIWOKs consisted of a group of 18 junior leaders who would serve at the mountain camp during the following session of Dimond-O. The group set up their camp in the area between the first-aid station and the Dimond-T camping area. After much deliberation the name of Miwok was selected as their camp group designation. This name is taken from the tribe of Indians that inhabited this part of California. Each of the patrols would choose their name, from one of the many tribal names of the Miwok people, including Yosemite, Mono, Mariposa and Tioga. Indian ceremonials formed an important part of the camp life, equal to the traditions of the other camp groups such as the totem poles of the Mountaineers and the burial ceremony of the Vigilantes. Those completing the first MIWOK training course were: Don Ayers Troop 100; John Beale Troop 54; Roland Bendel Sea Scout ship 108, Niles; Paul Biermann, Troop 41; Arnold Bjornsen, Troop 89; John Brown, Troop 84; Scott Chalfant Troop 54; Dean Christensen Sea Scout ship Flying Cloud; Filson Dorland Troop 66; Bruce Fisher Troop 50; Bill Flagler Troop 64; Fred Gaine Troop 9; Joe Hebrew Troop 89; Wesley Housman Troop 91; Howard Martin Troop 89, Perry Olson Troop 54; Don Robertson Troop 18; Tom Scott Troop 58; Bob Smyth Troop 94 and Bill Thompson Troop 3.
The first week of MIWOK was held within the camping area at Dimond-O and consisted of discussion groups, learning scout craft and sessions with the camp program and administration specialists. Through the learning-by-doing method, scouts and explorers work toward a common objective, to be able to serve as effective junior leaders. The second week of the training consisted of a five-day trek planned in the high sierra back country as a final test of their own skills of hiking and camping. The destination of the trek was Miwok Lake which had been used by the Miwok Scouts for almost 40 years. The course was open to as many as 40 scouts but in the later years as many as 57 Scouts were participating in the training. According to Durland Skinner this caused a few raised eyebrows from Rangers regarding the impact to the sierras as the large group came walking back from Miwok.
Miwok Lake is located about 12 miles North-East of the Hetch Hetchy dam in the Yosemite National Forest and was found by the first Miwok Troop in July 1940 while looking for a place to camp. At the time the lake was not indicated on any topographical maps, so the Scouts named it Miwok Lake after the course name. When the lake and its name were reported to the National Park Service the NPS verified it as being an unnamed lake. The lake was eventually surveyed in the late 1940’s, officially named Miwok Lake and added to all future maps because of the scouts. Miwok Lake is and always will be a scout lake.
The Hike (content by John Packer - Miwok ‘77)
The hike to Miwok Lake started and finished at Hetch Hetchy Dam. The first night was spent at the meadow above the dam and we got up before light to start the switch backs to avoid the heat of the day. It normally took two days to hike the approximately 12 miles to the lake. (In the early years the Scouts used pack animals on the trail too.) Because of Forest Service guidelines regarding the size of groups on the trail, we didn't wear our Scout uniforms so we couldn’t be identified as one single group.
The first night was spent at a meadow called Beehive. It’s a large meadow with lots of mosquitos and a natural spring nick-named the "Coke machine." The last couple days before we set out for the lakes, the staff would tell the scouts about the "Coke machine" at Beehive and change out three quarters for their dollars because the "Coke machine" only took quarters. Note from Webmaster: A number of the Miwok’s must have also worked on staff at Willits Scout Reservation as that same “Coke Machine” was also located in the back hills at Willits. I can remember on our overnight hike being told about the Coke machine and thinking about getting a soda at this so called ranch only to find the ranch fallen down.
In 1977 we got hit by bears at Beehive so bad that we completed the hike in one day. Because of the size of the Miwok group, two patrols would stay at Ardeth lake and two patrols stayed at Miwok lake. The week was a mix of fun, work and ceremonies. We had to finish work on our notes from the competencies because we had to present our “Ticket” when we returned to camp. We climbed Mahan Peak where there was a MIWOK time capsule and we would read the notes from prior Scouts and leave one of our own. There is a time capsule at the Beehive meadow as well. During some years, depending on the snow melt we would also climb Richardson Peak. In addition to the nightly campfires, Permanent Patrol Leaders were voted on by the Scouts and identified at one of the campfire ceremonies. This was an honor because we were nearing the end of the training and your peers selected you.
During our stay at Miwok Lake we also hunted for the "Miwok chicken," an elusive creature that was never seen but at times a Scout would find a hen's nest and the single egg she had laid. The egg had to be brought back to camp intact. The egg of course had been packed in by Staff and placed in the brush to be found.
We typically were in the back country for five days. On our way back to Dimond-O, we made the hike out in one day and always stopped at the Evergreen Lodge before returning to camp. The waitresses there knew we'd be in and it became a tradition to pile in and eat as much greasy food and ice cream as we could stomach. Once back at camp it was time to finish and hand in our Ticket, showing that we had mastered all the training over the past two weeks.
The last session of Miwok based out of Dimond-O took place during the summer of 1978. Miwok would continue for another two years but the final Miwok sessions were held at the Alameda Council’s Camp Cedarbrook. Cedarbrook was located in the town of Long Barn on highway 88 about 10 miles west of Pinecrest Lake. Camp Cedarbrook would itself close in 1999.
Hal Farquar - First Miwok Scoutmaster, 1940
Jack Irwin - 1946
Bob “Doc” Adams - 1953
Durland Skinner - 1957 to 1971, 1975
Joe Remlinger - 1963 to 1971, 1975
Ed Menzenski - 1977, 1978
MIWOK Emu Pit
The “Emu Pit” was an underground cooking method used by the MIWOK staff to cook the closing meal on Saturday night for the candidates and their guests. The pit was dug on Friday at Dimond-O and a large fire was created in the pit to create a bed of hot coals. The Emu Pit recipe called for 70 Pounds of Beef Loin (Boneless and trimmed), 50 lbs. Potatoes, 25 lbs Carrots, 25 lbs Onions, Salt And Pepper. Everything was wrapped in foil and placed on the bed of coals. The pit was then covered up and left to cook underground for 24 hrs. On Saturday afternoon the pit was opened up and the fully cooked meal was removed for the Saturday evening dinner and Miwok closing.
Boy Scouts of America, San Francisco Bay Area Council • 1001 Davis Street, San Leandro, CA 94577-1514, (510) 577-9000