Camp Norse Conservation Trail Guide

Camp Norse was first purchased in 1934, totaling twenty-ve acres on Darby Pond and surrounded by cranberry bogs in Plymouth. The site was known as “Camp King” and was purchased from Phillip Cole for $2,500.00. The original
entrance road was o of Plymouth Street just o of Carver St (Route 44). It crossed over the cranberry dam below the present BB Range. In the mid 1930’s the rst dining hall was built; it had drop down canvas walls and had no electricity.
The old camp had only 700 feet of water frontage on Darby Pond. The Waterfront area was originally located down below the dining hall. The Chief’s (Scout Executive) house was also built in the 1930’s at the top of the hill, now known as
“Chief’s Hill”. The cabin burned down in the 1980’s. The only other original buildings were the line cabins, built in 1939. The very rst cabin was used as the camp oce, check-in area and “Canteen”. The original waterfront area was below
our original Dining Hall, in a shallow cove of Darby Pond. The current waterfront was built in the 1960’s, with help from the Magee Foundation. Several buildings were built in the 1960’s – namely the current Dining Hall (remodeled and
heated in the mid 1990’s), the Administration Building and Trading Post, the Leif Cabin, and the Olaf Cabin. Magee Lodge was built in 1984, with a log cabin style. Fort Magee was built in the 1990’s as a themed program campsite. The
Craft Cabin (renamed Kiwanis Craft Cabin in 2002) was built in the early 1990’s, along with ve Adirondack shelters. The Leo Yelle Nature Cabin was rebuilt from our previous Nature Cabin in the late 1990’s. Our in-ground swimming pool
was built in 1997, to allow summer camp swimmers a safe and consistent swim area. Other additions to the camp have included building three separate latrine/shower facilities, two of which are heated for year-round use. Several
buildings at Camp Norse have the name “Magee” on them. George Magee was a wealthy theater owner from Boston who died in the 1920’s. In his will, he left approximately $25,000 to be invested and divided each year to Boy Scout camps
throughout the state of Massachusetts. We are greatly indebted to Mr. Magee’s generosity. Recent additions to the camp thanks to the Magee are new swimming docks. The Howard W. Maxim Foundation grant funded the construction
of the Pavilion behind the Museum.
Darby Pond (2 & 3)
Darby Pond is a 37 acre natural Great Pond located in Plymouth, Massachusetts. A Great Pond is dened as any pond or lake that contains more than 10 acres in its natural state. In the center of pond, there is an island known as “Lobl
Island”. It was purchased in the 1970’s and was previously a private residence. The ruins of the cabin can still be seen today. Darby Pond is also classied as a Coastal Plain Pond, which would have been formed during the last Ice Age by
large chunks of ice breaking o the retreating glaciers and causing depressions in the ground. Some Fauna examples include Plymouth gentian and slender arrowhead, which are mostly conned to Plymouth and Barnstable Counties.
The rst thing you might notice about a coastal plain pond is that there are no streams owing in and none owing out. The water level uctuates dramatically because there is no natural inlet or outlet. Darby Pond is home to great
sheries. The following sh species have been identied in the pond – White Perch, Yellow Perch, Brown Bullhead, Bluegills, Chain Pickerel, Small Mouth Bass, Large Mouth Bass, Golden Shiner, Pumpkinseed, Red-nned Pickerel, Banded
Sunsh, American Eel, Darters, and various Minnow species. During the spring and summer, it is common to hear green frogs and bullfrogs along the shoreline. Other wildlife you may nd in and around Darby Pond include the common
snapping turtle, musk turtle, painted turtle, northern water snake, great blue heron, mallard duck, wood duck, and various other waterfowl.
Cranberry Bogs (4)
Cranberry Bogs were associated with Darby Pond before Camp Norse was established along its shores. The cranberry, along with the blueberry and Concord grape, is one of North America’s three native fruits that are commercially grown.
Cranberries were rst used by Native Americans, who discovered the wild berry’s versatility as a food, fabric dye and healing agent. The name “cranberry” is derived from the Pilgrim name for the fruit, “craneberry”, so called because the
small pink blossoms that appear in the spring resemble the head and bill of a Sandhill crane. European settlers adopted the Native American uses for the fruit and found the berry a valuable bartering tool. The cranberry helped sustain
Americans for hundreds of years. Native Americans used cranberries in a variety of foods, the most popular of which was pemmican – a high protein combination of crushed cranberries, dried deer meat and melted fat. It was also used as
a medicine to treat arrow wounds and as a dye for rugs and blankets. Cranberries are a unique fruit. They can only grow and survive under a very special combination of factors: they require an acid peat soil, an adequate fresh water supply,
sand, and a growing season that stretches from April to November, including a dormancy period in the winter months that provides an extended chilling period necessary to mature fruiting buds. Contrary to popular belief, cranberries
do not grow in water. Instead, they grow on vines in impermeable beds layered with sand, peat, gravel, and clay. These beds, commonly known as “bogs,” were originally made by glacial deposits. Normally, growers do not have to replant
since an undamaged cranberry vine will survive indenitely. Some vines in Massachusetts are more than 150 years old.
Vernal Pools (5)
Another unique wetland type that was formed by the glaciers within the boundaries of Camp Norse are vernal pools. A cluster of pools can be found behind the ball eld and chapel. A vernal pool is a contained basin depression lacking
a permanent above-ground outlet. Many vernal pools in the Northeast are covered with ice in the winter months. They contain water for a few months in the spring and early summer. By late summer, a vernal pool is generally (but not
always) dry. Two species in vernal pools that can be found at Camp Norse are the wood frog and spotted salamander. Other species present at Camp Norse that may utilize vernal pools are American toads, grey tree frogs, and spotted
turtles. Wood frogs are an amphibian species of upland forests. They venture to vernal pools in early spring to lay their eggs, and then return to the moist woodland for the remainder of the year. Spotted Salamanders – a type of mole
salamander – are also upland organisms. They spend most of their lives in burrows on the forest oor. Annually, on certain rainy nights, they migrate to ancestral vernal pools to mate and lay their eggs. They soon return to the upland. The
eggs develop in the pool and, by the time the pool dries, the young emerge to begin their life as a terrestrial animal.
The Woodlands of Camp (6)
The dominant vegetative cover type found at camp is eastern white pine. In addition to white pine, northern red oak and white oak can be found in the forest canopy. Once again, the glaciers formed the landscape of Camp Norse by
depositing soils consisting of sand, gravel, and ne loam. Tree species found in the understory of camp are beech, black cherry, birch, maple, aspen, sassafras, and pitch pine. Other plants found in the understory are blueberry, huckleberry,
common lady slipper, azalea, mountain laurel, baptisia, and holly. As you explore the woodland portions of the trail, keep an eye out for wildlife. Here is a brief list of the species that you may encounter on your trek: eastern box turtle
(state protected), garter snake, ribbon snake, eastern black racer, milk snake, red-bellied snake, ringed neck snake, American toad, white tailed deer, eastern coyote, red & grey foxes, raccoon, skunk, opossum, red, grey & ying squirrels,
chipmunks, wood chucks, sher, bats, cottontail, moles, voles, mice, rued grouse, turkey, black-capped chickadee, tufted titmouse, nuthatch, dark-eyed junco, nches, blue jay, American crow, northern icker, downy woodpecker, barred
owl, screech owl, great horned owl, mourning dove, red-tailed hawk, cooper’s hawk, cedar waxwing, eastern towhee, northern cardinal, vireos, phoebes, and various sparrow species.
Power Lines and Early Successional Habitat (7)
As you walk along the trail within the forest edge of the power lines, you will notice that the vegetation is managed in a shrubby state. This area is rich with sandy soils, grasses, and shrubs. This is very dierent from the wooded landscape
of camp. While the vegetation is managed for the safety of the power lines, it also provides great early successional habitat for wildlife and increased habitat diversity. The corridors can be used by wildlife as travel lanes between isolated
patches of suitable habitats. In the spring and summer listen for the unique calls of the woodcock (Peent), eastern whip-poor-will (chanted whip-poor-will) and prairie warbler (Zeezee-zee-zee). In addition, look for wildlife tracks in the
sandy soil. The lack of forest canopy also provides great nesting and basking sites for reptiles such as turtles and snakes.
People Tree Road (8)
As you continue your journey from Olaf Cabin toward the parking lot, you may think you are just walking down your average camp road. The original path bears left just past Olaf Cabin. In fact, it is ocially named People Tree Road and
it is a path that was utilized by Native Americans and the pilgrims, as veried to be over 10,000 years old by the Massachusetts Archeological Society! You are walking down a path that served as a travel route between Plymouth and
Kingston. When Camp Norse was operated as a fulltime Boy Scout camp, it was tradition for campers to hike from camp to Plymouth Rock. Talk about being in the footsteps of history!

Camp Norse Conservation Trail Guide
The Camp Norse Conservation Trail is a 2 mile trek that captures the natural and cultural
recourses of camp. In sections, it follows the former boundary and blue dot trails. As you hike
the trail, please reflect on your time in scouting and follow the scout oath, law, and outdoor code.
It is identified by green markers affixed to trees at a height of 6’-8’. Along the trail, you will
encounter eight stations that correspond to the various resources described below. The guide also
includes topographic and aerial maps delineating the boundaries of the trail. Please remember to
stay on the trail and leave no trace!
Share this guide with your unit and patrol. Hiking the trail and incorporating the guide will help
you work toward rank and badge requirements. The conservation trail would not of been
possible without the service of Tulp