Source: NMHS Newsletter, November 1986

By Mrs. Harry Weimer

There are a lot of unsung heroes in every community, but there is one from North Manchester who certainly deserves honorable mention: CHARLES AMBRIDGE. For more than 33 years he worked with the Boy Scouts.

Charles Ambridge was a naturalized citizen who came here from Canada in 1929. He worked first in a print shop for Ruby MacMahn and later for Billings on the News Journal. 

On January 24, 1957, he was given the highest honor of Scouting, the prestigious Silver Beaver Award, for his then over twenty years of active service in the Wabash District.  John L. Ford read the citation at the awards banquet, noting seven years as active Scoutmaster, four years as Explorer Scout Adviser, four years as Troop Committeeman, three years as chairman of the District Operations Committee, and two years as Institutional Representative.  At the time Ambridge was also chairman of a training session for 98 Wabash District leaders: Scout Masters, Cubbers, Den Chiefs, Explorers, and Jr. Scout leaders.  William Visser, a professional Scouter from Marion (who later became administrator of the Peabody Retirement Center) was co-ordinator.  Among the other Silver Beaver Award holders who welcomed him to their rank were Arden Strauss, Nolan Walker, and Edward W. Hearn of North Manchester and Owen J. Neighbors, Mark C. Honeywell, Arthur Grabner, Philip Magner, Sr., and George F. Bosh of Wabash.

Twelve years later the 51st Meshingomesia Council Report was dedicated to the memory of Charles Ambridge, who died that year.  By this time there were 65 honored Silver Beaver Award holders in the Council area.

The Meshingomesia Council had been organized in 1918 to serve Blackford, Grant, Howard, :Miami, and Wabash Counties.  The Boy Scout movement probably began in North Manchester in 1929 with Dr. Beeman, Harold Wolfe, and D. Arden Strauss as conveners.  Among other leaders were Dale Strickler, Lester Urschel, Wilbur Krider, Herb Priser, and Al Weimer.  During the '40s and '50s there were three troops in town.  At that time North Manchester had little to offer the youth---no parks with athletic programs nor pool---only the movies, swimming at Long lake, and the annual street fair.  Concerned parents were grateful for the Scout camping programs, their summer trips to Philmot Ranch and the Rainy Lakes Canoe Base area.

Camp Crossland and "Order of the Arrow" are still in existence.  Nolan Walker still vividly recalls his ride on the lumber truck going to build the first building at Camp Crossland.  Several men now in their fifties, recall the thrill of finding an old school seat at Philmot Ranch stamped "Peabody Seating Company, N. Manchester, Ind."  On another occasion several boys on a canoe trip received citations and badges for their part in the rescuing an elderly camping couple stranded on an island in the Rainy lakes area with a badly chopped leg accident.

Scouting paid off in various ways later in life.  One junior leader, Thoburn Speicher, became a chaplain in the Air Force, and another works with the juvenile courts in a large eastern city.  My own two sons have carried on to receive Silver Beavers of their own and one earned the now discontinued Ranger Horn.  He began his life work as a national forester with experiences under Charles Ambridge at Camp Crossland.  The other son is still in Scouting and has served on the national Council.  It was my privilege to be with him in England during the 200th year Baden-Powell Boy Scouts anniversary program of 1976.  We were delighted to meet up with Father Eisenberger from our local St. Roberts Church, who was the honored guest speaker of the evening banquet.

Mrs. Ambridge, when I interviewed her, laughed and said most of their family disagreements occurred when she and the two daughters wished to do something as a family, and Mr. Ambridge just couldn't leave because of a Scout program.  "Thank you," Mrs. Ambridge, for your forbearance.  This was tough luck, I'm sure, but we folk of the town who had sons to raise are most grateful for Charles Ambridge's dedicated service to boyhood.