The Central North Carolina Council operated two small summer camps prior to 1966: Camp Dick Henning, which was named after the first American soldier killed in World War II who was from Richmond County, and Camp Ed Willis, which was located on part of the present reservation. Malcolm C. Palmer and William C. Cannon headed a capital campaign in 1965 to raise money to purchase additional land and the camp was developed, primarily through volunteer labor, on what was then in excess of 500 acres.
Camp John J. Barnhardt began operation in 1966, when Barnhardt hosted over fifty troops from the Central NC Council. Since that first year, thousands of Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Explorers and Ventures have used the camp as a training ground for camping, outdoor survival, ecology and conservation, swimming, boating and several other outdoor skills. All of which have contributed to the development of self-reliance, confidence, character, personal fitness, good citizenship and reverence.
Camp Barnhardt is named for the council’s first president, Mr. John J. Barnhardt, a native of Concord, NC. His great interest in the development of boys was responsible for the creation of the Central North Carolina Council, and as a result of his distinguished leadership he was awarded the coveted Silver Beaver and Silver Antelope. His love for Scouting is being carried on by his family.
Like her brother, Miss Maggie Barnhardt contributed heavily to the development of camp, and was the council’s first honorary Eagle Scout as well as an honorary member of the Order of the Arrow. Known as the Sweetheart of the Central NC Council, Miss Maggie Barnhardt is remembered at Camp Barnhardt by lending her name to the Chapel, Health Lodge, and Staff Area.
In 1986 the reservation was named in honor of a former council president, the late William C. Cannon, a leader and strong supporter of Scouting for many years. Additional adjoining property has been acquired throughout the years and with the purchase in 1994 of 154 acres on the west side of Harper-Hearne Lake, the total reservation now exceeds 1,000 acres.
The William C. Cannon Scout Reservation, located on beautiful rolling wooded hills in Stanly County, is one of the many features that make Camp Barnhardt one of the premier scout camps in the Southern Region. The facilities are constantly improving too. In the last two decades, a new pool, climbing tower, shooting ranges and waterfront facility have all been built, the Miss Maggie Barnhardt Staff Area has undergone renovations to improve the life of the staff. A beautiful Pavilion was added in 2014 on the site previously occupied by the Commissary and Trading Post. Many of our other buildings and structures in the camp are named for districts or leaders that labored tirelessly in the development of camp. Montgomery Lodge, Montgomery Circle, and the N.K. Dickerson Staff Lodge are just a few examples.
Anson, Cabarrus, Montgomery, Richmond, Rowan, Stanly, and Union Counties all call Camp Barnhardt home. Camp John J. Barnhardt belongs to the Scouts and Scouters from these areas, and they will be the ones to maintain and enjoy the beautiful facilities for years to come.