The former dining hall at a New Hampshire scout camp where generations have spent summers and winters was damaged by fire Monday.

The Daniel Webster Council said a fire at Carter Lodge at Hidden Valley Scout Camp in Gilmanton was quickly brought under control with minimal damage to the surrounding area. Hidden Valley is one of two camps located in the the 3,500 acre Griswold Scout Reservation, the other being Camp Bell.

Gilmanton Fire Chief Paul Hempel told Seacoast Current the fire was reported just after 11 a.m. in the building is now a conference center. Although the building is remote and therefore hard to reach, one of Hempel's fire captains is also the ranger for the camp.

"He lives actually on property. He arrived on the scene to find the building involved with heavy smoke coming from the building. He asked for a second alarm assignment which is a large request for manpower based on the size of the building and the fire. Units went to work to contain the fire and knocked it down," Hempel said.

Significant damage

The building is still standing, but suffered significant interior damage inside. A dollar amount for the damage has not yet been determined, according to Hempel.

"The cause appears to be accidental, electrical in nature. No one was in the building. There were no injuries to report," Hempel said.

Hempel said members of the Daniel Webster Council are at the camp assessing the damage and starting to plan for a rebuild.

"The desire would be to get that building up and running again, but it will take a little bit of time," Hempel said.

Durham Fire Chief David F. Emanuel, who was not involved with extinguishing the fire, remembers going to the camp in his youth and now takes his own children. He calls the fire a loss for the scouts.

"As a Scout leader it's one of the places we visit when our scouts are in camp. It's a place where we can get coffee or duck into to relax or read or check on the real world while we're at scout camp," Emanuel told Seacoast Current.

Emanuel said the Stratham girls and boys troops are still planning a winter camping trip. The Daniel Webster Council is moving ahead with summer camp plans and taking reservations, according to its Facebook page.

The council acquired the Hidden Valley Scout Reservation in 1971 from the Norumbega Council. Camp Bell was created in 2000 on newly acquired land, and the both camps became part of the Griswold Hidden Valley Scout Reservation.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via X (Twitter) @DanAlexanderNH

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