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     The Swamp Fox Boat Club  


   Brief History: Swamp Fox Boat and Rescue Squad

 Now known as the Swamp Fox Boat Club, a nonprofit organization established in 1964, the founding members, under the leadership of Danny Bell, organized a water rescue and ambulance service for the lower east end of Orangeburg county and adjoining area of Lake Marion. At first members monitored CB radios from their homes or businesses for boaters in trouble, answered search, rescue and recovery calls as well as calls for ambulance service 24 hours a day. Personal boats were used to answer calls on the water. Some calls ended with a happy rescue while others ended with a sad recovery effort. Members took first aid classes at Bell’s restaurant and some members drove the ambulance while others administered first aid or gave comfort to those being transported in the ambulance.

 The first ambulance was donated by E. A. Crout, Ford Dealer in Holly Hill. To fund the ambulance and rescue effort the group sponsored boat races in cooperation with Rut Connor, a founding member, at Rocks Pond Campground.  Many hamburgers, hot dogs, French fries, Mama Billy’s BBQ and cold drinks were sold from the “handi house” at the races. Christmas and New Year’s dances were also sponsored to fund the squad efforts to provide service to the area.

 The group, whole families with children and parents, took yearly boat trips with families paying their way and traveling by boat or going part way in a caravan pulling boats, then launching the boats with luggage and picnic baskets included. Some trips were to Cedar Key, off the Florida coast, Daytona Beach, Stuart and Silver Springs, Florida, Tennessee Valley Authority Lakes in Tennessee, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. Those were the days! One member boat would lead the way with a partner reading the charts as the boats traveled along. Break downs were common on the road as well as the water. All would stop and help. Everything was a cooperative effort. In recent years there have been one or two short trips planned one trip to Charleston on the weekend after Labor Day, the other trip during the spring or summer. This year we have 3-4 short trips with members taking the leadership of each outing.

 When the area volunteer Ambulance Service was formed the ambulance was donated to this effort and was stationed in Eutawville. Later an Orangeburg county-wide service was established with EMS units in strategic areas of the county.

     In 2004, the club submitted a proposal through the SC Legislature and the Department of Transportation to designate a portion of highway # 6 as the Danny Bell Memorial Highway. Following a program and reception the family unveiled the signs at the beginning and end of the designated portion of highway # 6.

 Over the years the organization has changed from meeting at Bell’s restaurant or the “Clubhouse” at Bell’s Winter Park to meeting in homes and now to meeting at Chef’s Choice most of the time. From being a rescue-ambulance service to being a nonprofit organization, donating grants to area charities. From 18 families in the beginning, 40 families a few years ago and now about 60 families are involved.

 The club meets on the last Monday of each month except for the months of December and May. Yearly dues of $20.00/family and $10.00/individual pay for the regular business and meeting expenses during the year. Members may invite guests one time for possible membership and they are voted into the club after an application is filled out and turned in to the officers. Officers are the president, president-elect, secretary, treasurer and board consisting of all past presidents. Committees and officers carry out the duties/activities of the club with the Boat Poker Run committee carrying out plans associated with the annual poker run.

 The club participates in the “River Sweep”, picking up trash on one of the area islands and is responsible for picking up trash from an area of Hwy # 6.

 In 2006, after the 11th Poker Run, the Swamp Fox Boat Club awarded seven grants of $1,500.00 each to First Responders in three local fire departments and area charities. In 2007, the 12th Annual Charity Boat Poker Run was again held on the Saturday before Memorial Day. Over 700 tickets were sold and the grants were $1,800.00 each. Since 1993 the club has awarded $99,348.53 which included the purchase of a defibrillator for Eutawville First Responders.  This year, 2012, the 17th year for the poker run, the club has awarding $9,000.00 in grants, bringing the total given during this time to $108, 348.53.

 Virginia Chapman