Wilderness Engineering Society



The Wilderness Engineering Society is an organization comprised of volunteers that provide support to the Makajawan Scout Reservation. Our mission is to help sustain the property and buildings of Makajawan through capital donations, technical support (plumbing, electrical, carpentry, and other skills), and long-term planning. The WES has over 200 volunteers of various ages, backgrounds, skill sets and talents that provide their support at no cost to the Northeast Illinois Council.


According to our founder, Mr. Ambrose Cantagallo, the organization began with a small group including Vic Killian, Lloyd Moon and others who saw a need to give back to Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan. These men worked with the camp ranger to perform basic maintenance in addition to helping the ranger prepare camp for the upcoming summer and assisting with its’ closing at the end of each camping season.

In 1945 the founders saw the need for more formality and adopted the name, “The Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan Service Force.” It was during this year that the first Worker Weekend was held. Over 150 individuals traveled on their own accord to help maintain and improve camp during the weekend, a tradition that remains to this day. The organization consistently provided service and financial support for the next 27 years until in 1972 the name was officially changed to the WES.

Realizing the need to obtain more support through the years the founder’s recruited members such as Al Moore, Syl Reitmeyer, Don “Swanie” Swanson, Ernie Garner, Don Tiffany, Joe Faye and countless others to assist with planning and completion of projects. These members also played a vital role serving as advocates and lending their support to make sure Makajawan remained the superior camping experience cherished by so many.

Today, under the leadership of John Hopkins and a volunteer board of directors the Wilderness Engineering Society members continue to provide service that remains true to our founders objectives. The WES looks to remain a viable option for the NEIC to help Makajawan provide a safe and fulfilling experience to all who attend.


John Hopkins

Bob Boutin