Martin Tschetter

In the short period between 1934 and 1940, John J. Sigwald made important contributions to the Scouting program in eastern North Carolina. He was the Scout Executive of the East Carolina Council during this period. His leadership contributions were important to local, state, and national Scouting events.

A Scout professional since 1926, Sigwald transferred from Alabama where he had also been a Scout Excutive and had earned his Eagle Scout as an adult in 1933. He was known to many as "Sig" or the "Big Chief." As one old Scouter told me, "Sig was a rotund jolly fellow with flaming red hair and an outgoing and friendly personality." He often wrote articles in local newspapers about Scout activities and gave talks at clubs and community business meetings about the importance of the growing Scouting organization. Camp Charles was already a well established camp in 1934 with nice facilities for the era and fantastic leadership.

The "Big Chief" served as the Camp Director during his entire tenure with the council. Croatan Lodge of the Order of the Arrow was organized during his term, led by Assistant Field Executive George Thomason in 1938. The first council camporee was held in Greenville in 1936.  He was the Camporee Chief from 1936 through 1940. Also during his term the Council Executive Committees earned national recognition for the early development of programs for African American and Rural Scouting. 

Membership steadily increased as program grew stronger. At the first National Scout Jamboree in 1937, the council had the highest representation for Region 6 (North Carolina, South Carolina Georgia, and Florida). The contingent numbered 123 Scouts with three full troops and four council representatives on staff. The council also sent a full tropp to the 1940 New York World's Fair to serve as a service corps.



A significant contribution to the stat level included his help in organizing the first two "Carolina Jubilees." The Jubillees were state-wide camporees held in Chapel Hill in 1935, 1938, and 1941.

On the national level, he was a participant in new programs offered by the national council. He participated in the first Woodbadge course ever held in the United States. The event was held at the Schiff Scout Reservation in Mendham, New Jersey in 1936. This course was a prototype for future courses and included the well-known name William Hillcourt, otherwise known as "Green Bar Bill."

During the great Jamboree in 1937, Sigwald was known to thousands as the "Voice of the Jamboree." He announced all the events and daily schedules for the entire week. An interesting sidelight, one of Sigwald's passions were to chronicle Scouting. He was an avid photographer who caputred action at camporees, Camp Charles, troop Court of Honor ceremonies for new Eagle Scouts and the 1937 National Jamboree.

John J. Sigwald left the professional Boy Scout ranks in 1940 to follow a career in the United States Army that would soon be fighting a war. He remained in the military the remainder of his working career. Not much is known about him after he left the area. I am sure he was always a true Scout at heart and should be remembered for his contributions to the East Carolina Council.

Sigwald's Certificate for Second Degree Scout Executive Training
October 1929