Federal official visits Camp Tuscazoar

Federal official visits Camp Tuscazoar
Teri Stein

The smell in the sugar shack is heavenly as Martin Warther oversees the making of maple syrup at Camp Tuscazoar.


A visit to Camp Tuscazoar from the U.S. Department of Interior secretary Deb Haaland recently has renewed the enthusiasm of the Camp Tuscazoar Foundation members to continue their preservation efforts at the camp. Haaland was there to view the results of the Dessecker Mine complex reclamation.

“We're really excited. We've never had anyone of that rank visit the camp. I wish I'd had time to show her the entire operation, but she left with a pint of our maple syrup and a commemorative hat,” said Dave Tschantz, a board member of the Camp Tuscazoar Foundation.

Tschantz first camped at the property in 1971 as a Boy Scout. “We were very happy that she took the time to visit our camp and see our project,” he said.

Tschantz briefed Haaland on the Dessecker project, which was a national award-winning project several years ago.

The icing on the cake was two of the attendees were U.S. Forest Service representatives who were both former Boy Scouts. Tschantz also was pleased with the opportunity to speak with Dave Crowe, the chief of the minerals division.

In a matter of weeks, the foundation hopes to finalize the addition of 185 acres of land that adjoins the property. That land also has a strip-mined area that the group plans to restore with help from the ODNR. Once the extra acres are added, the entire camp will encompass around 800 acres.

“The department of the interior is emphasizing reclamation, and there are hundreds of millions of federal dollars that are being distributed to the states for these projects,” Tschantz said.

At press time the U.S. Department of the Interior had not released photos of the visit but will do so on its website.

“It was a beautiful day. The whole thing just couldn't have gone better,” Tschantz said.

Camp Tuscazoar was founded more than a century ago by Scout leaders. It is now owned by the nonprofit Camp Tuscazoar Foundation. They continue to serve Scouts and other youth organizations. The camp trails are open to anyone and draw large numbers of campers, hikers and equestrians each year.

Another development at Camp Tuscazoar is the production of maple syrup.

“This is our first year back in production after being out for two, and we're really excited to be back in maple syrup production,” Tschantz said.

In addition to Martin Warther returning to make the maple syrup, the camp has acquired a reverse osmosis machine.

“What it does is it pulls water molecules out of the sap before we put the sap into the evaporator, which means that it lowers our boiling time and it saves on fuel,” Tschantz said. “It's a nice unit, and we're looking forward to using it. We've heard a lot of other people really like it. Hopefully, it'll save us a lot of money.”

When the sap goes into the evaporator, it has about a 2% sugar content. Afterward, the count could be as high as 30-40%, and the boiling time is reduced. For the finished syrup, a percentage of 66.9% sugar is considered perfect.

Making maple syrup is time-consuming. Camp volunteers start in December to make sure the lines are clear and all areas are free of leaves. When the sap starts to run, it can only be collected for about a month because the flavor of the sap changes once the trees start budding and it is no longer good for making syrup.

“Because we have such a difference in elevation on our field, we've zoned off the top trees in the higher elevation because they bud first. We can shut that zone down and continue on for another couple of weeks,” Martin Warther said.

The camp has a vacuum system on the lines that pulls the sap to a collecting point and then into the sugar shack, where it is processed.

The upcoming Maple Days breakfast fundraiser on March 19 and 20 is on the Ohio Maple Tour list. The breakfast will be held each day from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and includes sausage, scrambled eggs, applesauce, a beverage and pancakes with real maple syrup.

Tickets for adults are $10 in advance and $12 at the event. For children under 10, tickets are $5 in advance and $6 at the door. To purchase tickets in advance, visit www.givebutter.com/MapleDays. They also may be purchased by calling 330-859-2288.

All the money raised goes to general camp operations and maintenance.

The camp hosts many events during the year, but a new family- and pet-friendly event, Hoofs and Hounds, will be held Aug. 20 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. this year.

“It's a fundraiser for our new southern parking area that will accommodate all user groups, bikers, hikers, horse people and orienteers,” said Barb Harding, a Camp Tuscazoar board member who is organizing the event with Valerie Stroh-Klein.

The event activities will center around Kimble Hall and Hoover Lodge with representatives from related vet services and local rescues, nonprofit and for-profit organizations, vendors, food vendors, and a petting zoo with a horse, camel and tortoise. Photo shoots are available with the animals.

The cost of admission to the event is $10 per person and family with sign-in required. Dogs are free to enter but must be leashed and well-behaved.

The event is an expansion of the Mutty Paws dog hike that was held at the camp several years ago. More vendors and participants are needed. Email Harding at rockinhorse00797@yahoo.com or Stroh-Klein at Saleo7482@gmail.com for more information on how to get involved.

“People like to hike and walk with their dogs, and this is just a really friendly event,” Harding said.

In the past year, the camp has added a new kiosk for camp users to sign in and out of the property.

Another longtime member of the Camp Tuscazoar Foundation, Nancy Schoenbaum, wants others to know everyone can enjoy the hiking, biking and equestrian trails at the camp. It is open to the public.

“They were private (when the Boy Scouts owned it), but now the camp is open for everybody. The good news is we never had to shut down during COVID,” Schoenbaum said.

Visitors just need to sign in when they come in and sign out when they leave.

“And that's it. The place is yours,” Tschantz said.

Visit www.tuscazoar.org.

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