The Virginia Headwaters Council (VAHC) is the local council of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) that serves Scouts in areas of the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia and West Virginia and areas of central Virginia.
After years of careful evaluation, balancing pride in our rich heritage and tradition along with the need to empower all youth in our broader community, we decided our council would be best represented by a new name, previously the Stonewall Jackson Area Council (SJAC) Inc. We engaged adults and youth to ensure that our name, logo, and marketing represent the current and future Scouting families as well as the continued mission of Scouting.
Our is an independent, Virginia-based non-profit corporation that operated independently of the National Council. We serve over 4000 youth in twelve counties in Virginia and one county in West Virginia. VAHC owns and operates our council service center located at 617 Greenville Ave in Staunton and our Camp Shenandoah located in Swoope, VA. 100 percent of the assets of VAHC are owned, operated and managed by a local Board of Directors and the VAHC CEO. We operate independently from the National Council BSA and contract their services as needed to deliver our top-notch programs to the youth in our service area. We enjoy a great relationship with our National Office and they with us.
The council is part of National Service Territory 12 of the BSA. The council service center is in Staunton, Virginia and employs one paid professional Scouters and an office staff member as well as the camp Ranger. VAHC is divided into two districts:
- Monticello District: Charlottesville city; Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, Madison and Orange counties
- Mountain Valley District: Buena Vista, Covington, Harrisonburg, Lexington, Staunton, and Waynesboro cities; Alleghany, Augusta, Bath, Highland, Pendleton (WV), Rockbridge, and Rockingham counties
Programs and activities
The council holds an annual Klondike Derby in January or February, a camporee in October called Apple Harvest, as well as many other activities and events throughout the year. There is also a wonderful summer camp program with weeks for both Cub Scouts and Scouts BSA/Venturing campers.
Camp Shenandoah was first established in 1930 near McGaheysville, Virginia and moved to its present site near Swoope, Virginia in 1950. With expansions in 1999, the camp property is now 454 acres (1.84 km2 ) located on the eastern slope of Little North Mountain. The west side of the camp borders on the George Washington National Forest and north, east and south sides bordering on agricultural areas of Swoope. A hunter access road runs through the camp. Three creeks run through the camp, supplying the small man-made Hope Lake. A portion of the new property on the north side has been placed into the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program and is being restored from an agricultural to a natural state. The camp suffered major damage during the June 2012 North American derecho, resulting in the temporary closure of the camp. Due to the fortunate circumstance of the entirety of the camp’s staffers and attendees already being gathered in the dining hall, no one was injured.
The camp is primarily used by units within the council, but is available to other Scouting units and youth groups and is used year-round.
The camp ranger has a house just outside the camp entrance. The camp office includes the health lodge where emergency health care is provided during summer camp. The dining hall seats up to 300 people and includes the kitchen and food storage facilities, a staff lounge and restrooms for visitors. The trading post is a camp store that sells snacks, souvenirs, craft materials and other items during summer camp; attached is a storage room. The maintenance area includes the workshop, quartermaster storage, a shed for tractor and equipment storage, and equipment for the welding merit badge. The parade field provides an area where campers assemble for flag ceremonies and other activities. The Lockridge Chapel is open-air with benches for seating. The shower house has facilities for male and female, youth and adult campers. Water is provided from a well-fed water tower and sewage is processed on-site.
The camp has 15 tent camp sites, each with running water and a latrine and most with a small pavilion. Unimproved areas are available for outpost camping.
The Colonel Morris T. Warner, Jr. Rifle Range, the shotgun range and the archery range are located on OA Ridge; a separate black powder range can be set up as needed. As of 2015 handguns have been integrated, and concealed carry certification is offered to adults attending camp. The climbing area has a climbing tower and has high and low ropes courses set up during summer camp. The waterfront has a swim area, canoes and rowboats.
The summer camp program provides opportunities for a range of merit badges in the areas of Scoutcraft, Handicraft, aquatics, nature, STEM, and shooting sports. Other programs include hikes to Elliott Knob and a high adventure program. Scout leaders can take supplemental training in aquatics and boating safety and in CPR. New Scouts can participate in programs designed to help work towards First Class Scout.
The camp has been used as a base for the Grindstone 100 Miler ultramarathon since 2008.
The Order of the Arrow is represented by the Shenandoah Lodge. It supports the Scouting programs of the Virginia Headwaters Council through leadership, camping, and service.
The first council in the area was the Staunton Council, formed in 1921. The Stonewall Jackson Council was organized in Waynesboro, Virginia in 1927. The Council was named after General Stonewall Jackson, one of the most famous residents of the area. The Lewis & Clark Council was formed in Charlottesville in 1927; in 1931, it was consolidated into the Stonewall Jackson Council. The council was later renamed to the Stonewall Jackson Area Council. In November 2019 the Council Board voted to change it’s name to Virginia Headwaters Council to represent the geographical area. This Council is home to the spring-waters of all 4 of the great rivers of Virginia and NE West Virginia that enter the sea directly out of Virginia. The James, York, Rappahannock, and Potomac Rivers all rise in our beloved council territory. No other place on earth is home to these headwaters. The first Scout executive was J.W. Fix who served from 1927 to 1950. Fix had joined Scouting as a youth in 1911 and was an Eagle Scout.