Carefully preserved as a primitive camping area, Wizard Ranch is 300 acres of fields and woodlands in eastern York County (Hellam Township) near the western banks of the Susquehanna River and is available for year-round short-term camping or day use.
Every four years (the last one being in October 2010), the Wizard Ranch plays host to the Wizard Safari – a huge event that draws thousands of Scouts and visitors to a weekend-long celebration of Scouting.
The Wizard Ranch was donated to the council in 1960 by Mahlon N. Haines, owner of the Haines Shoe Company (pictured lower left). Haines was an ardent supporter of the Scouting movement and in 1941, Haines conceived the idea of hosting on his farm in Hellam Township a special gathering of Scouts from all parts of the Council to celebrate his birthday. This event became the first “Haines Safari” and it was such a success that Haines Safaris were repeated in 1945, 1950, 1955 and 1960, each one striving to be bigger and better than its predecessor.
1960 would be the last of the true Haines Safaris because Haines died very shortly thereafter. Just before his death, Haines gave the land to the York-Adams Area Council. Although Haines intended that his land would thereafter be known as something like the “Colonel Mahlon N. Haines Memorial Scout Reservation, it, however, has always been called by generations of of Scouts who have come to know and appreciate it, as simply “Wizard Ranch.”
In a letter to the Council dated simply “October 1960,” bearing in the stationery logo the message “Wizard Ranch – the Yellowstone Park of the East,” Haines noted “I hope to live long enough to see this one of the great Scout reservations in America, which will add much to making better boys, better men and better people in our community, by enjoying the privileges of being out of doors …”
In using Haines’ gift of the Wizard Ranch, the Council decided to build on Haines’ tradition of doing things “bigger and better” and decided to begin holding its own Safaris. The tradition of the Safari was reborn in 1987, with the first of the modern Safaris. This was followed with Safaris occurring in 1991, 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2010.
The Wizard Ranch is available for tenting year-round and interested groups should contact Camping Services at (717) 432-5232. Water and restroom facilities are available on the property.
Please Be Aware that Reservations Are Required for Wizard Ranch
Wizard Ranch is a beautiful wilderness camping property that the New Birth of Freedom Council encourages its units to experience and enjoy. It is very important that any unit using Wizard Ranch submit a camp reservation through the council service center and be approved in advance of any use of the camp.
The property is posted with “no trespassing” signs and a group of neighboring local residents does keep an eye on the council’s behalf. These volunteers have been alerting local police to investigate persons going into Wizard Ranch without advance permission from the council. Their assistance in protecting facilities at Wizard from vandalism and other unauthorized activities is greatly appreciated. Making a reservation to use Wizard Ranch is an quick, easy process, but be sure to make the request ahead of time to avoid any problems during the stay at the camp.
When arriving at Wizard, units will also notice that the tenting areas are being well mowed and kept in good condition for campers. Many thanks to Jack Leahy for his time and hard work in keeping Wizard looking good and ready for use.