Camp badge from 1935


Camp Shawondossee


Jerry spent much of his scouting years at Camp Shawondossee, named for the spirit of the South Wind from the Song of Hiawatha. Located in a rustic wooded area near Lake Michigan, he attended the camp during the summers of 1926 and 1927, earning merit badges and making his way up the Scouting ranks. There were times when the remoteness of the camp proved dangerous, such as the time Ford had his tonsils removed:


The summer I became 15, I had to have my tonsils out. My doctor released me, I went to camp.  Couple of days after the operation, and the first night up there, I began to hemorrhage. I didn’t know what to do. Finally, it stopped and I went to sleep. Camp Shawondossee… was about 30 miles from the nearest hospital. I was lucky.


Ford's merit badge certificate for Swimming.


He reached the final and highest rank of Eagle Scout on August 2, 1927, at the age of fourteen years old. The following year he returned to Shawondossee not as a camper, but as a staff member. It was around this time that he began to go by the name Jerry, like his step-father, rather than Junior, which can be gleaned from his merit badge records. As a staffer, he led the younger scouts and learned Indian dances with the other staffers for weekly pageants. Overall, Ford represented the model Scout, showing strong leadership qualities and being chosen to represent Troop 15 on trips to other locations. The summer of 1929 was Jerry’s last at Camp Shawondossee, but it no doubt had an indelible effect on his character throughout his life.