The Anniversaries We are Celebrating in 1997

The Chief Okemos Council of the Boy Scouts of America, which is hosting the Michigan International Camporee, serves Scouts in three mid-Michigan counties, Clinton, Eaton, and Ingham, along with the city of Portland. The largest city in the council is Lansing, which is in the northwest corner of Ingham county. Lansing is the state capital of Michigan. The Lansing area is home to many auto factories and Lansing produces more cars than any other city in North America. East Lansing is the home of Michigan State University, one of the largest universities in the United States.

Michigan Statehood. Michigan is known as the Great Lakes state. Its two peninsulas are surrounded by four of the five Great Lakes. The first European settlers in what is now Michigan were French Missionaries and fur traders. They followed the Great Lakes to the west and settled, in the late 1600s and early 1700s, in places like La Villa de Sault Saint Marie (St. Mary's Rapids) on the straits between Lake Huron and Lake Superior, St. Ignace on the straits between Lake Huron and Lake Michigan, and La Villa d'Etroit (now Detroit) on the waterway between Lake Huron and Lake Erie. The French lost the area that is now Michigan to the British in 1760. The treaty that concluded the American Revolutionary War gave the new United States of America this land, but British soldiers didn't leave the area until 1796 and American control wasn't confirmed until the end of the second war with the British in 1814.

In the next 20 years, Americans and new immigrants moved west to settle in Michigan territory. By 1835, Michigan had a large enough population to become a state. Because of a boundary dispute with Ohio, statehood of Michigan was delayed for 2 years. In 1837, Michigan became the 26th state in the union. Our camporee will celebrate the 160th anniversary of Michigan's Statehood.

Lansing, Michigan. For the first ten years of statehood, Michigan's state capital was Detroit. The state constitution required that a permanent capital be designated by 1847. That March, the state legislature considered selecting an existing city or town as the capital. Every one that was propose was voted down. Finally, a section of Lansing Township in Ingham County on the Grand River was proposed as the new capital. This land was not settled, but the location was central and it was selected. House, hotels, restaurants, and many other buildings were constructed that year, along with the new capitol building. The new town was called Michigan, so the state capital was Michigan, Michigan. A year later, the name of the town was changed to Lansing, the name of the township where it was located. Our camporee will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the selection of Lansing as the state capital and the founding of the city.

In 1855, the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor was already established as the state university of Michigan, but the state legislature decided to found another college for agricultural education. A law was passed to establish Michigan Agricultural College east of the capital in an area that later became East Lansing. The new college's first students were enrolled and the first classes were held two years later, in 1857. Michigan Agricultural College has grown over the years to become Michigan State College and then Michigan State University. It now has over 40,000 students. Our camporee will celebrate the 140th anniversary of the first classes at the school that has now become Michigan State University.

The Automobile Industry. In the late 1800s, many individuals around the world began to experiment with a horseless carriage. One of them was Ransom Eli Olds of Lansing. In 1885, Olds became a partner in his father's engine shop. He changed the company's focus from repairing steam engines to building steam engines. In 1887, he built his first steam-powered horseless carriage. He worked to improve that vehicle for several years, but by 1892, he saw the advantages of the new internal combustion engine. He developed his own model and the Olds engine company began manufacturing that engine. In 1896, he returned to experimenting with automobiles, now gasoline powered. His new vehicle was a success, and he wanted to start manufacturing the new car. The Olds engine company was very busy with orders for gasoline engines, so he decided to form a new company to build the cars. On August 21, 1897, the Olds Motor Vehicle Company was organized. Later that year, its first car was produced. The Lansing auto industry was born. After a slow start the company prospered. In 1903, 4000 "Oldsmobiles" were produced and sold. In a dispute with the majority stockholders in 1904, Olds left the company and founded the R.E. Olds Company, later the Reo Car Company. In 1907, 4000 Reos were produced and, in 1910, the Reo Motor Truck Company was organized. Reo has faded from the scene, but the Lansing auto industry continues to prosper. In 1994, 419,209 cars were produced at Lansing auto plants, more than were produced in any other city in North America. This camporee will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Olds Motor Vehicle Company and the Lansing auto industry.

Brownsea Island Camp. From July 31 to August 9, 1907, Robert Baden-Powell held an experimental camp with 22 boys on Brownsea Island of the south coast of England. This was the first experimental "Boy Scout" camp. The boys were divided into patrols and learned outdoor skills and how to work together. The world Scouting movement grew from this first camp. Our camporee will celebrate the 90th anniversary of the first experimental Scout camp on Brownsea Island. The closing campfire of that first Scout camp was on August 8, 1907. On Friday evening, August 8, 1997, we will hold a special campfire to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the closing campfire at Brownsea.

Chief Okemos Council, BSA. Fifteen years after Brownsea, Scout leaders of mid-Michigan joined together to form a Boy Scout council. Our camporee will also celebrate the 75 anniversary of the Chief Okemos Council.

Last updated: February 19, 1996.