Will Felker

“…Camp Durant: Gateway to Adventure maintains the vivid colors of the Boy Scout uniforms and nature that Garris would have seen through his viewfinder when shooting this film over fifty years ago.”

Will Felker, M.A., Film Studies
Lead Researcher
Camp Durant, Your Gateway to Adventure Footage (ca. 1960s)

16mm film (orig.)
color, silent
8:43 minutes (excerpts)

Produced as a promotional film in the 1960s for the Occoneechee Council, the largest council of the Boy Scouts of America in North Carolina, which serves over twelve counties including Wake County, O.B. Garris’ Camp Durant: Gateway to Adventure follows a week in the life of a Boy Scout attending summer camp. Located just northeast of Raleigh, Camp Durant operated as the main campsite for the Occoneechee Council from 1948 until 1977, when the property was sold to the City of Raleigh and now functions as the Durant Nature Preserve.

Although the excerpts on display are essentially elements of Garris’ stock footage (the actual promotional film can be viewed at the State Archives of North Carolina and contains a dedication to the “Late O.B. Garris”), the film presents various facets of Scouting life at the summer camp, including ceremonial campfires, knot tying, orienteering, wildlife handling, archery, rifle shooting, swimming, rowing, and, in possibly its most peculiar sequence, a competition to rescue a “drowning” watermelon. Despite its relative age, the film’s depiction of myriad Scouting activities illustrates that not much has changed within the organization over the past fifty plus years—or even since scouting’s inception in the early 1900s—and endorses the fundamental Boy Scout motto: Be Prepared.

The film is notable for its use of Kodachrome film stock, which has become famous for its ability to preserve most of its original color palette when stored in the proper conditions. Thus, Camp Durant: Gateway to Adventure maintains the vivid colors of the Boy Scout uniforms and nature that Garris would have seen through his viewfinder when shooting this film over fifty years ago.

Felker_Troop 25 camping

Felker_Durant Nature Preserve

Related documentation:
Troop 25, member of the Occoneechee Council, camping in the 1920s at Camp Buckhorn.Credit: Courtesy of L. Polk Denmark/Denmark Studios, Raleigh.

Camp Durant today: the Durant Nature Preserve.Credit: Courtesy of William Felker.

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