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In the early 1960’s former United States Senator William F. Knowland chaired a study commission representing the nine bay area councils regarding a plan to merge all of the Scout Councils of the Bay Area into one large council. The councils involved were: Alameda Council (Council #22, organized 1917), Marin Council (Council #35, organized 1923), Mt Diablo Council (Council #23, organized 1951), Oakland Area Council (Council #21, organized 1916), Piedmont Council (Council #42, organized 1921), San Francisco Council (Council #51, organized 1917), Santa Clara Council (Council #55, organized 1929), San Mateo County Council (Council #20, organized 1932) and Stanford Council (Council #31, organized 1940). Most of the nine Bay Area Councils disapproved of the merge indicating it would do more harm than good for the scouts and the councils.
Of the nine councils, only the Oakland Area Council and the San Francisco council voted in favor of a merge. Between the two councils, the San Francisco Council was smaller and was less financially stable than the Oakland Council. However it still made sense to merge the two councils into one larger council that could better support the needs of the Scouts.
It is interesting to note that in 1911, 52 years before the two councils would merge and only one year after the Boy Scouts of America was founded in the United States, the first combined outing of the Oakland Scouts and the San Francisco Scouts took place in the hills of Oakland near Montclair. One of the games that was played during the outing according to an article in the Oakland Tribune was “a war game where one group will try to surprise the other group”, these days that same game is known as Capture the Flag. No doubt the two organizations had a close relationship since the start of Scouting in the Bay Area.
Jump forward 50 years to Monday February 10, 1964 atop Yerba Buena Island as the proud old blue-and-gold flags of the Oakland Area Council and the San Francisco Council were lowered and retired for the last time. The retired council flags were folded and presented to Robert J. Matheison and Raymond Marks former Presidents of the Oakland and San Francisco Councils respectively.
In their place, the two councils dedicated the new San Francisco Bay Area Council flag in a ceremony which united 30,000 Bay Area Scouts into one cohesive unit for the first time. The ceremony, pining the San Francisco Council and Oakland Area Council, was held atop Tower Hill on Yerba Buena Island, a point midway between the two cities. As the new flag, bearing the names of both cities was unfurled, Thomas Williams of the Oakland Area Council and Bill Rothschild of the San Francisco Council tied a big square knot in a hawser to symbolize their unity.
About a week earlier on Wednesday, January 29 a preliminary meeting of the officers was held at the Bohemian Club in San Francisco. This meeting was held to discuss certain items that needed consideration prior to the first official meeting of the new Council such as insurance issues, personnel issues and board nominees.
THE SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA COUNCIL IS FORMED:
At 7:45 pm on the evening of February 10, BSA Region 12 Chairman Edward Mills called to order a meeting of nearly 500 volunteer Scout leaders at the Edgewater Inn in Oakland’s Jack London Square. At this meeting the voting membership elected Arch Monson Jr as the new board President of the San Francisco Bay Area Council (SFBAC, Council #28) as well as eighty-six other board members and officers. Harvey Price was selected as the first Scout Executive of the council as Price had been the former Scout Executive for the San Francisco Council. Frank Dix, who had been the Scout Executive of the Oakland Area Council was named to a National Council position and moved to Florida. With the adjourning of the meeting, the San Francisco Bay Area Council was officially formed.
Both of the former Council Service Centers continued to be utilized to serve the Scouts of the new merged Council. However the Oakland Council office at 655 East 14th street in Oakland was used as the official headquarters of the new San Francisco Bay Area Council.
In 1965 the Council created a historic trail in the Presidio with the encouragement of the Commanding General of the Sixth United States Army. In 1967 the annual Scout-0-Rama was held for the first time in the new Oakland Arena. In 1968, the Council adopted a long-range plan calling for a density of approximately 29% density by 1976. In 1969 Harvey Price resigned as the Scout Executive of the council so that he could take on the same position for the Los Angeles Council. Thomas W. Mooney II was appointed to replace Price. The first coordinated “School Night for Scouting” program was conducted by the Councils surrounding the Bay.
In 1969 the Council bought 160 additional acres at the Scout Reservation at Willits and also an additional 127 acres at Royaneh both on contract. With the council office nearing capacity, an Office Building Committee was named with Mr. George Gaugler as Chairman.
In early 1971 the Council received a Trust Gift of $2.5 million dollars from Mr. and Mrs. Carl F. Wente. In 1970 the San Francisco Service Center was moved out to Diamond Heights Boulevard.
In November of 1970 Mr. Duncan Knudsen was named to represent the Council on the Six-Council Merger Study Committee. The United Crusade announced drastic reduction of funds to traditional agencies such as the Boy Scouts.
In 1971 a bequest of $40,000 from the estate of Dr and Mrs Easton H. Lum of Oakland made it possible to construct a new multipurpose Heath Center and Leaders Lodge at Camp Dimond-O. Dr. Lum was the Dimond-O camp physician from 1959 to 1968. Also, in 1971, a new food service building was erected at the Scout Reservation.
In the summer of 1971 the Council put into operation a large trailer van mobile Scout meeting room in the San Francisco area to serve inner-city boys. The James Irvine Foundation provided the funds to have the van built and the cost of the truck to pull it.
In the Fall of 1971 the old original kitchen at Camp Royaneh was razed and by the following summer a complete new food center was built. The James Irvine Foundation gave $25,000 for equipping the new kitchen and earnings from the Wente Trusts paid for construction. By Summer of 1972 the Scout Reservation now had twelve complete Troop sites, up four from 1969.
THE NEW HEADQUARTERS – Enterprise Way:
In 1972, the Council Office Committee zeroed in on and selected a site for building a new Council Service Center at 8480 Enterprise way in Oakland near the Coliseum off of Hegenberger Drive. The Camp Development Committee also decided to stop searching for a replacement property for Los Mochos and instead to further develop that property by utilizing proceeds from the sale of Camp Lilienthal and Camp Loomer.
The design for the new Council Office Service Center was completed with an estimated cost of $315,000 for construction of the building. A grant was received for $70,000 from the William G. Irwin Charity Foundation to help secure the site. The cost of the site cost totaled $140,000.
In January of 1973 the Executive Board approved the construction of the Council Service Center and the sale of Camp Lilienthal and Camp Loomer.
In 2009 the Mt Diablo Silverado Council approached the SFBAC regarding the concept of merging the two councils into one. The new council would cover six counties from Fremont in the south to Lake County in the North. In October of 2011 after months of discussions and planning, the SFBAC and the Mt Diablo/Silverado Councils announced that our two great councils would be merging pending the outcome of a stakeholders meeting on August 29th, 2012. Although almost two years of planning went into the merger, on August 29th the voting members of the Mt Diablo Silverado Council voted not to merge, officially ending the planned merger which would have created the Golden Gate Area Council. Interestingly the new council would have used the Council Number of 21 which was the old number for the Oakland Area Council.
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