As reported in the “Accent” Thursday Aug 18, 1988-
He used to dream about owning his own camp. He visualized one catering to handicapped children and their parents. And he put a price tag anywhere from $200,000 to $1 million on his dream. He studied one facility in Tennessee, a camp on one of the Tennessee Valley Authority’s lakes. Another location in the mountains of Pennsylvania attracted his attention.
“It was my goal to have a camp specializing in the care of handicapped children,” Conrad Wedding said “that also would give their parents a chance to get away for a while. Can you imagine how difficult it is to raise a handicapped child?” Wedding worked in Pennsylvania for more than 15 years as an engineer, but continued to nurture his dream. Somewhere, he knew, stood the facility he sought and among environs were kids thirsting for a camp experience.
He had just returned from a trip to Tennessee on another search for a camp when the Finger Lakes Council of the Boy Scouts of America decided he might be just that fellow needed in Seneca County. The Geneva-based council was looking for a ranger to supervise Camp Babcock-Hovey, a 360-acre facility on the chores of Seneca Lake in the town of Ovid. “I had already had one interview,” Wedding said. “I just got back from Tennessee when they called me for a second one.”
He was hired this spring (1988) for the job, just in time to settle in and take on the summer camping program and its 1,100 boys and girls, a staff of about 40 people and the inherent problems that go with a busy campground.
The park ranger said he didn’t come here looking for an eight-hour-a-day, white collar job and he certainly didn’t get one. “I don’t mind a bit,” said the 38-year-old Wedding, grinning.” “I Love to work with my hands. I like to know how things work and why. So taking something apart and repairing it is a challenge to me. It makes no difference if it’s the camp truck or the kitchen sink.”
A recent wind storm kept Wedding busy clearing downed tree limbs and debris. Once things returned to normal, the ranger went back to cutting grass, gathering wood, checking on various programs, caring for the camp’s Olympic-sized swimming pool and tending the camp’s 40 buildings. “There is always something to do.” he said. “I’d guess right now that I average 14 hours a day on the job. Sometimes it’s more and sometimes it’s less. It just depends on what is going on.”
People don’t realize that the camp has the facilities and the trained staff to make it possible for Scouts to earn merit badges in 41 different categories, Wedding said. “That alone keeps everybody pretty busy.” Staff members experienced in such fields as swimming, lifesaving, shooting, cooking, physical fitness, nature studies and archery teach the various programs. Youngsters from Seneca, Yates, Ontario and Wayne counties attend the camp for at least a week. Others stay for a few weeks while others spend the entire summer. It’s Wedding’s job to keep the camp and its programs in Top Shape.
Wedding is not new to scouting. As a youngster, he earned the rank of Life Scout.
“The Scouting experience was probably my most enjoyable experience while growing up. So it doubles my pleasure in being here. I’m not a camp owner, but I’m a Camp Ranger back in scouting, and that is much more than I had hoped for. It’s a dream come true.”
Wedding has degrees in business and mechanical engineering. He studies first at Weidner University in Chester, PA., and then entered the oceanography program at the University of Miami in Florida. He became interested in Ocean and, fished some of the major seas and set out with some (NEED TO ENTER WORDING ON NEWPAPER FOLD HERE) Islands. Two of the crewman then quit.
Wedding stayed aboard, however, for another two days to the Solomon Islands, but became greatly concerned about the craft’s structural condition and elected to return home having traveled about 10,000 miles on the open seas.
Once home, Wedding began dating the former Patricia Elling of Canandaigua. They met in Pennsylvania, married and are the parents of daughters, Kristen, 7 and Ashleigh, 5.
Wedding entered the engineering field in Pennsylvania. He worked there for about 15 years. He also owned a home building and renovation business. Back in Canandaigua, Patricia’s mother, Betty, heard that the Boy Scouts’ Finger Lakes Council was looking for a ranger at Babcock-Hovey. “It didn’t take me long to apply,” Wedding said. He got the job, moved his family into a home on the grounds and holds no regrets about leaving the business world behind. “It’s true that I make a lot less money. But what I’m going to get is the opportunity to see my family grow up. That means more to me that anything else.”
Wedding said his previous jobs should come in handy at the camp. “We’ll build a shower facility this fall and then with 40 other building on the grounds of the camp, we shouldn’t lack for things to do here and there.”
And the black bass lazing away the summer just off the waterfront better be on guard. Wedding spent five years on the bass fishing circuit in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. “I Think I’ll squeeze in a little time every now and then to try the fishing,” he said. “But I’d rather see the kids catch them. It gives me more of a thrill.”
Babcock-Hovey has been operating for 51 years and does not close at the end of the summer. Various groups, from handicapped children to cross-county skiers, visit there on weekends throughout the year. (END of NEWSPAPER ARTICLE)
As reported in the “Finger Lakes Time” January 9th, 2015-
Scout Camp Ranger Earns Retirement Badge-
After 27 fulfilling years, Conrad Wedding has decided to retire as ranger at Boy Scout Camp Babcock-Hovey on the eastern shore of Seneca Lake.
It means no more creating roads, installing and fixing electrical and plumbing systems, maintaining the swimming pool, moving latrines, fixing broken equipment, maintaining the grounds and hundreds of other tasks that make the camp experience fun for Scouts.
Wedding is being honored at a retirement party at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Ramada Geneva Lakefront.
“I enjoyed it very much — in fact, I enjoyed every minute of it — but age and time caused me to give it up at the age of 64,” Wedding said Thursday. “I did it for the kids, not myself.”
Camp Babcock-Hovey serves not only Boy Scouts, but hosts Rotary Club-sponsored Camp Onseyawa for handicapped children.
Wedding, a Life Scout growing up in the Philadelphia area, said he was an engineer by trade and dreamed of creating his own camp. When he learned of the camp ranger job becoming available, it was at a time he wanted to get out of the industrial engineering business.
“I could run a camp and not have to spend $1 million of my own money to create it. I could just work at one,” he said.
Wedding and his family, which includes two daughters, lived in a house on the campgrounds all the years he worked there. He has since moved to the Schuyler County town of Valois, just south of Babcock-Hovey.
He remembers hearing campers laughing heartily for about a half-hour one summer evening. He went to investigate and found that they had put food on a radio-controlled truck and had a mother raccoon and her babies chasing it around the campgrounds in an effort get it.
He joined in the laughter — and, ultimately, the raccoons were rewarded with the food.
“I expect to get some roasting at the dinner,” he said of tomorrow’s festivities, “but I can say I worked with the best group of volunteers you can imagine.”
Wedding joined the Finger Lakes Boy Scout Council in 1988 and was the longest-serving camp ranger in the 360-acre camp’s history.
In a 1988 interview, Wedding, then 38, said he loved to work with his hands and figure out how and why things work.
He is married to the former Patricia Elling of Canandaigua; the two met in Pennsylvania. His mother-in-law told him of the Babcock-Hovey job when it became available and he immediately applied.
It’s a move he’s never regretted.
[End of Newspaper article]
As of 2015, Conrad Wedding was the longest serving ranger in the history of Camp Babcock-Hovey. Both of his daughters have grown up, married and have since moved on in their lives. Since retirement Conrad and Patricia have stayed active in Scouting. They currently live just south of camp in Hector, NY.
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