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.
PDF of newspaper articles-
Conrad 1989 Newspaper 2 part 1
Conrad 1989 Newspaper 2 part 2
In the summer of 1995, after having served the previous four years on staff, I was required to participate in a seven-week summer program for my degree program. This effectively prevented me from serving on the staff that year (I was heartbroken). When I finished my summer program, however, I was able to come to BH for the last week of the Boy Scout Camp season and for Webelos Camp and ended up working as Conrad’s “Assistant Ranger.” One day during those two weeks I was out on the old grey ford tractor mowing the big field with the bush hog mower when I started to feel like I was getting rained on. It made no sense because it was a beautiful sunny day…but I kept feeling drops of water hitting me every 4-5 seconds. As it turned out, I soon determined that the water spray was timed perfectly with the rotation of the rear tractor tire…I had mistakenly run over a deer antler, which had firmly embedded itself into the tractor tire, and was allowing the calcium solution to leak (or spray, rather) out of the tire (hence the “raindrops”). This deer antler (half rack) was MASSIVE with four tines, the base of the tine that punctured the tire being at least an inch in diameter. I pulled the antler from the tire and proceeded to walk down to the ranger shop where Conrad asked me if I had already finished mowing the field. My response was something along the lines of “Yeah??…about that…” at which time I handed Conrad the deer antler and explained that the field wouldn’t be getting mowed that day. Last time I was there at camp visiting Conrad, that antler was still on the wall above his work bench…and I’d bet it’s still there.
My other Conrad story that I’d like to share is regarding the day that we inducted him as a Vigil Member of the Ganeodiyo Lodge. Back in those days (not sure if it’s the same today), when we did ordeal tap-outs, the elangomats would grab the candidates and bring them before Allowat Sakima…the chief…to be tapped out. This tapout was done with one hand in a series of three “taps” on the candidate’s shoulder. These taps were generally firm…but not excessively hard. For the Vigil tapout, however, we had a tendency to do the tap out with both hands on both shoulders of the candidate…and the goal (assuming the candidate was not in danger of being hurt) was to make him or her about a foot shorter. Tait Keller was Allowat Sakima at the time…and we all reveled in the opportunity to see Tait get in a couple of good taps on this mountain of a man without getting pummeled in return (Tait was frequently beaten upon!). I vividly remember, to this day, the total shock and surprise on Conrad’s face when Nutiket and Kichkinet grabbed him from behind to bring him before Allowat to be tapped. I remember Tait’s devious grin as he prepared for the opportunity to try to drive Conrad into the dirt. I remember Conrad, knowing what was about to come, tensing his muscles to absorb the blows…and Tait Keller chickening out and giving Conrad some very gentle taps. After the fact, Tait revealed that he saw those massive biceps tense and wasn’t about to risk his life…What a CHICKEN!!! Anyways…thus was Conrad inducted as a Vigil member of our lodge…and I could not think of a more deserving adult Scouter to honor with that recognition. Talk about a guy that put sooooo much into the camping program and the development of thousands of Boy Scouts and Rotary campers. Sure it was/is his “job”…but we all know that it about so much more than a paycheck for Conrad!
Conrad Retirement Speech by Matt Crance
Conrad, it has been a pleasure working with you at Camp Babcock-Hovey over the last few years. You went from a Hero to a good friend in that time. I will always remember your good long stories, and now that you are gone, maybe just maybe I will make it home to my lovely wife on time.
I would like to share one of the stories that you have shared with me many a times. And I encourage others to come forward and to share their stories as well. We ALL know that Conrad likes a good story. Conrad will probably recognize this story but will find it is now being told from a different perspective.
As a first year staff member, I was assigned to Scoutcraft. I really want to teach the Cooking Merit Badge which was offered for two sessions out of three. However my director assigned me to teach First Aid the first session, Emergency Preparedness the second session and luckily gave me the third session Cooking Merit Badge. I wasn’t completely happy but things could have been worse. At that time Emergency Preparedness and First Aid was being taught out of Pedersen Lodge. Now for some reason (Most likely a broken Lawnmower) the grass around Pedersen Lodge was about knee high. I put the request to the Scoutcraft Director to try to get the area mowed sometime on Tuesday. I got little results.
I then again asked the Camp Director and Commissioner if it could get it mowed. I was told Conrad would get to it when he had a chance and if I wanted it done sooner I would have to talk to Conrad. So as a first year staff member, I waltz timidly towards Conrad’s Shop which had always previously been forbidden. I found a Conrad sprawled out on his back under the Camp Riding Lawnmower desperately putting it back together. I stood patiently at the overhead door, not wishing to bother him, however once he emerged from under the Lawnmower I asked hey Conrad I was sent to ask you to see if I can get ahh ahh Pedersen Lodge Mowed.
Conrad then promised to get Pedersen Lodge Mowed before the end of the week. That was on Tuesday. Come Friday, I still saw that he Riding Lawnmower was still out of commission and in the shop. So I go to Conrad and say, I know you are busy, and I mow the lawn all the time at home, can I just borrow the push mower and some gas and I will mow it myself. Conrad sadly looks at me and says, sorry son, I can’t allow you to do that, at Camp you have to be 18 in order to operate a Lawn Mower. I was only 15. He said that if he got the riding mower fixed he would get it mowed as soon as possible. I head off very disappointed. Then an idea hit me!!! I can get the Scoutcraft Director to mow the grass, he is over 18. So after Breakfast I asked my Scoutcraft Director if he will mow the grass for me, and he said to me that he didn’t have time and that it was Conrad’s job.
Again, I am disappoint. I think I tried 1-2 more people in camp that were over 18 but they were all too busy to mow Pedersen lodge by hand. As I was 15 at the time I needed a ride to and from camp each week. Then an idea hit me, my Mom was coming to pick me up and was over 18! I promptly dialed my mom on the old camp payphone and luckily she picked up. I had to phrase my words carefully. I told my mom my situation and I said I would mow not only my family’s lawn, but my grandmas lawn, my grandpas lawn and my dad’s business lawn on the weekends for the rest of the summer if she would come down and mow the knee high Pedersen Lodge grass for me. After some persuasion, my mother said yes.
I didn’t want to let Conrad know I was getting my mom to mow Pedersen lodge. So I had my mom bring our mower from home in our big old white Chevy suburban. I met her at Pedersen Lodge and said thank you but I need to go down to the dining hall for the last staff training event of the week. I head out and she starts mowing.
Now I never got to see this part but this is what I have been told. Conrad was fixing something somewhere on the southern part of camp and happened to hear a lawnmower running at Pedersen lodge. He knew that I really wanted to get Pedersen Lodge mowed and that I was also under 18 years old. He said to himself I really don’t want to go up and yell at this kid but I guess I will have to. So he jumped into his truck and heads up to Pedersen Lodge. At the point in time my mom was mowing out back so Conrad had to jump out of the truck and go around the lodge. He was prepping himself to have to lay down the law of camp. What he saw, I am told made him feel so little, this big man of a man felt so embarrassed. As he turned the corner there was my mother dripping head to toe in sweet mowing the knee high grass. Conrad must of talked to my mother I don’t remember ever hearing the details but everything must have worked out ok cause I didn’t hear the story until many years later. Apparently Conrad wasn’t brave enough to tell me at the time because he was so embarrassed. However for some reason for the rest of the summer, Pedersen Lodge seemed to have the best mowed grass in all of camp. I couldn’t figure out why.
Conrad, Patricia please enjoy your retirement but I am expecting that I will see you around from time to time.