Octoraro Lodge of Chester County, Pennsylvania, recently held an innovative event to raise money for their council camp, Camp Horseshoe. Founded in 1928, Camp Horseshoe has experienced the loss of hundreds of pine trees per year, making some areas very dangerous. Many trees have become old or experienced disease, making them susceptible to falling during major storms. The leadership of the lodge decided the best course of action would be to replace these dying pine trees with new, more rugged hardwood trees. The new hardwoods would also provide much needed shade and make the camp more inviting for the many Order of the Arrow (OA) and summer camp activities.

While making the decision to replace the trees was an easy one, the real challenge was how to finance a project which could be quite expensive. Fortunately, the Octoraro Lodge leadership devised an ingenious plan to pay for the new trees. The camp ranger, Tom Murphy, was presented with the idea to shave his 44-year-old beard for the benefit of Camp Horseshoe. Tom, a Vigil Honor member, recipient of the Founder’s Award and the Silver Beaver, was originally reluctant to part with something which had been with him so long. However, he decided that if shaving his beard would raise enough money, he would go through with it. The original goal was to raise $5,000, but due to widespread interest, the lodge soon realized that they would greatly exceed that amount.

The lodge executive committee approved the project and began publicity using emails, flyers, and merchandise. Patches, shirts, hats, and fidget spinners with Murphy’s face were sold throughout the year to help raise money and awareness for the event. The patches were so incredibly popular that the trading post had to restock the items three times. They adopted a tiered system which included front row seating at the beard shaving, a tree planted in a donor’s name, and even a catered dinner reception.

The beard shaving took place at Octoraro’s Fall Fellowship in September 2017. Lodge members enjoyed a good meal together on the morning of the buzzing as members got to have “Breakfast with the Beard.” Saturday was packed with carnival games and music from a live band. Many families came out to camp for the day and enjoyed a barbecue cookout. There were many service projects that took place that day, most of which consisted of the ultimate intent of the fundraising project: planting much needed trees around Camp Horseshoe. In the afternoon, more than 550 Arrowmen and their families gathered together to witness the shaving of Tom Murphy’s beard. This event was complete with a barbershop quartet and was exciting and fun for all in attendance. After the shaving, a catered dinner for donors was held in the lodge building and was a time to celebrate Murphy’s service (and sacrifice) to the camp, council, and lodge.

Over the course of nine months, the “Buzz the Beard” campaign raised $26,000. The lodge plans to continue the success by encouraging local troops, packs, and other individuals to continue to raise money and plant trees which should last for future generations. The trees planted will continue to make Camp Horseshoe a special place for all Scouters alike. Octoraro Lodge hopes this campaign serves as an example of thinking outside the box to achieve a great reward. In celebration of Murphy’s dedication to Scouting, two Pennsylvania and Maryland state representatives declared September 23, 2017 “Tom Murphy Day.”

Check out video from the Buzz the Beard Event here!

To contribute to the effort to plant trees at Camp Horseshoe, click here!