Rock Island didn’t have an “Activity Yard” as much of Scouting advancement in the 1950s was based on skills. Here we see the Rock Island Rope Yard. More specifically, we see a knot bar. A knot bar is a place where multiple Scouts could practice their knots at one time. While such skills practice comes in and out of vogue in Scouting, Old Hickory Lake Boxwell began using knot bars again in 2012 thanks to work done by Staff Alumni!
In 1940, a Scout by the name of James Kilgore made an 8mm film of Camp Boxwell, what we know today as the Boxwell at Narrows of the Harpeth. Kilgore titled his film “A Day at Camp Boxwell” and apparently, this was a service project to receive his Brotherhood standing within the Order of the Arrow.
The film is a great source of what we know about Boxwell at the Narrows. The capture below shows one of the many ways this Boxwell was different from the Boxwell we know. At the Narrows Boxwell, the day started off with morning calisthenics. So, instead of just getting up for a flag ceremony, Scouts at the Narrows of the Harpeth got up and then did morning exercises!
The 2014 Staff Reunion Committee met today at the OA Lodge at Boxwell Reservation. For those who have missed it, the 2014 Staff Reunion will be Saturday, July 5, 2014.
Below is a photo of the committee. More information on the Staff Reunion to follow.
The “About Us” page has been updated to reflect this committee.
As we continue our look at “the other Boxwells,” this week we turn to Rock Island. Rock Island was “Camp Boxwell” throughout the 1950s. It was always imagined as a temporary camp until a more permanent location was settled.
Just like Boxwell today, Rock Island had a dining hall. Unlike Boxwell today, Rock Island’s dining hall was a series of GP-Medium (General Purpose-Medium) tents. With a sawdust floor and meals cooked over an open fire, meals were quite different at Rock Island!
As many of you know, there have been “other” Boxwells. First, there was the camp at Linton, TN in the 1920s, followed by the Narrows of the Harpeth Camp in the 1930s and 1940s, and finally there was Boxwell at Rock Island in the 1950s. We have NO information on the Linton Boxwell, other than the fact it existed (the only known photograph is found in Wilbur F. Creighton Jr.’s _Boys Will Be Men_). We have a bit more on the Narrows and a bit more than that on Rock Island. Nevertheless, the theme for November is “The Other Boxwells.”
Below is an excerpt from an interview with Billy Walker, an Assistant Scoutmaster of Troop 137 from November 2003. Billy attended Boxwell at Rock Island as a Scout. In the interview he talks about how the camp was laid out and his experiences at the waterfront. The interview was conducted by Kerry Parker and has been edited for narrative flow.
The photo is what we believe to be the Narrows Waterfront.
Kerry Parker: Billy you’re a rarity because you were a scout when Boxwell was at the Narrows of the Harpeth. We want to get you to tell us some stories about the Narrows of the Harpeth and about when you got started in scouting and about how you got started in scouting.
Billy Walker: Ok. Well, we’ll start with the Narrows, that was my first scout camp to attend. And I think the Narrows of the Harpeth on Bells Bend, I think it’s kinda on the edge of Williamson, Davidson, maybe Cheatham County over that way. And it’s so neat and unique in the fact that the Harpeth River makes about a I’d say a sixteen-mile bend in the river and then it comes back to where it started… the bend. There’s a road and a ridge in between there and during the Civil War, I’m told that some of the Montgomery Bell slaves dug a tunnel through there. So what you’ve got, you’ve got a place where you can take your canoe and launch it on one side, on the high side, and then you’ll end up where you started out after about a fourteen or fifteen mile float. And then you’ll see a waterfall created by this tunnel that was, but I would say it’s about four to six feet high, the waterfall is, maybe a little higher, but that’s the fall in the river unit of course. Boxwell, at the time that I went, was walking distance from this fall. I can remember walking over there maybe in my spare time and just taking a look at that waterfall. I’d never seen a waterfall before. But anyway, Boxwell was right on the Harpeth River at that location. I can remember the first scout executive of the Middle Tennessee Council, Coach Anderson. I can remember him well. He had ties at Franklin too. I would visit with him from time to time in his little cabin there close by the chow hall. I can remember he enjoyed chopping wood and he would chop wood and we would talk a lots of times. That’s one of my favorite memories of Boxwell. Also it’s where I learned to swim and if hadn’t been for scouting I probably wouldn’t be able to swim today. Still don’t do too well but anyway I can keep afloat. You wanna take it from there?
Kerry Parker: Alright, you mentioned that you learned to swim at Boy Scout Camp…
Billy Walker: I did.
Kerry Parker: Do you remember anything in particular about how you learned to swim? Or how the waterfront was operated? I mean, nowadays we have it divided off into nonswimmers and beginners and swimmers. Then I don’t know, didn’t know whether they had a fence around it or what…
Billy Walker: I don’t recall a fence around it… they had canoes and they had you know supervision from the canoes now as well as right with you in the water. But I recall, oh you go right into, I guess three feet of water or waist high, something like and that was the area the beginning area for the learning to swim and all. That is where I learned to swim.
Kerry Parker: Were there adults that were teaching to you swim [..]? What was the age of the staff members? Can you remember that? Were they young?
Billy Walker: Well, they were later teens I would say. Maybe some in their twenties.
Kerry Parker: Did you all dress in your uniforms the whole time you were at camp? Or just clothes like you wore at home? How did you dress? Do you remember?
Billy Walker: No. We didn’t dress in uniforms all the time. But I believe we would if we had a uniform we would it at flag lowering retreat we would.
Kerry Parker: Now did you have flag lowering retreat everyday?
Billy Walker: Uh… I believe we did.
Kerry Parker: Ok. Alright and I guess you raised it in the morning too? Is that customary?
Billy Walker: I think the staff raised it in the morning. I don’t…I just…I just remember when the whole… all the campers were together would be in the afternoon.