From the Archives, June 29, 2014

Home Sweet Home!

Boxwell enters Week 4 this week, a week that historically has been the smallest of the summer season. The reason for this should be obvious: the July Fourth holiday falls this week!

Regardless, VirtualBoxwell continues its march through the decades, this week focusing on the 1990s.  As with our example on family style feeding, this week will also focus on a phenomenon that existed at one point, but doesn’t anymore: Program Area Staff Sites.

Program Area Staff Sites emerged in the mid-1970s, following the big group staff sites in teh 1960s and “Commissioner sites” in the early 1970s.  Staff began to be grouped together by program area.  Thus, Activity Yard stayed together near the Activity Yard program area.  The staff sites obviously including four man and two man tents, but all “living platforms”–tent platforms without any arms.  The living platforms connected all the tent platforms together.  Once covered by tarps, a compact little living unit was created.

Like everything, staff sites had benefits and drawbacks.  On the plus side, it helped build group cohesion and thus competition between areas.  They also kept staff near their program area to help keep an eye on things, particularly important in the case of the Waterfront.  But these benefits were double edged swords.  Staff sites also encouraged clannishness and often kept the staff split by age as the Waterfront stayed at the Waterfront and didn’t have to socialize with the new staff in the Kitchen if they didn’t want to do so. Another drawback: These staff sites had NO electricity!

Program Area Staff sites were replaced by a single group staff site (at each camp) in 2001.  A staff shelter was built and electricity returned to the staff.

Pictured here is the Activity Yard Staff site at Parnell in 1993.  You can see how there are multiple tents together, all facing inward and covered by tarps.

Parnell AY, 1993

The AY Staff Site at Parnell was found in the woods just below Showerhouse 1. Walk over the crosstie bridge and up the path you see here.

The Passing of Tim Cooper

The VirtualBoxwell Team is sad to report the passing of Tim Cooper on Friday, June 6, 2014.  Tim was a DE for Middle Tennessee Council and a Camp Director at Camp Craig in 1983.  Below is his obituary and his 1983 staff photo.

Timothy Moss Cooper
9/21/1957 – 6/7/2014

COOPER, Mr. Timothy Moss, a resident of Birmingham, AL, died June 7 at the age of 56. A memorial service and celebration of life visitation will be held on Friday, June 13 at 1 p.m. at Family Heritage Funeral Home. Tim, son of the late John and Ruth Cooper of Gallatin, TN, is survived by his wife, Nancy Rives Cooper; his children Camille, Lily and Phoebe; his sister Virginia (Tom) Stokes; brothers John (Gloria), Jerry (Judy) and Carl (Sue); and many nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews. He is retired from the Boy Scouts of America, where he worked for more than 30 years, and was a member of Dawson Memorial Baptist Church in Homewood, AL. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Middle Tennessee Council, Boy Scouts of America’s campership program for underprivileged youth, c/o Middle Tennessee Council, 3414 Hillsboro Pike, Nashville, TN 37215, or to the college fund that has been established for the Cooper children, attention: Tim Cooper Memorial Fund, c/o Boy Scouts of America, P.O. Box 399, Jefferson, GA 30549. Online condolences may be submitted at Family Heritage Funeral Home in charge of arrangements. Moss Cooper&FLVId=

Craig Staff, 1983

Camp Craig Staff, 1983. Tim Cooper is on the back row, far left. As a DE, he served as Camp Director that summer.

From the Archives, June 22, 2014

The Amazing Green Bar Bill

As Boxwell 2014 enters Week 3 of Scouts, we here at VirtualBoxwell continue our trek through the decades.  This week we’ll be looking at the 1980s.

The 1980s are often referred to as “the Silver Age,” or more appropriately, the Barnett-Ragsdale Era.  This decade was considered the second great period of program and staff at Boxwell, with the 1960s being “the Golden Age” or “The Jackson-LeFever Era” after Program Directors Jimmy Joe Jackson and Chester LeFever.

While there are MANY things that we could look at for the 1980s (and will in the future), this week we focus on a unique experience. In the summer of 1986, “Green Bar” Bill Hillcourt came to Boxwell and stayed for a while.  For those of you who don’t know, Green Bar Bill was a modern legend in Scouting.  Much like Baden-Powell, Seton, or Boyce, Hillcourt was giant name in Scouting for the modern era.  Indeed, if you have a Scout Handbook that was written through the 1980s, then you have a Green Bar Bill product!

Hillcourt came and stayed at Boxwell in 1986, bringing the focus on Scoutcraft to camp that he had also brought to 9th Edition of the Scout Handbook.  Craig in particular saw Hillcourt demanding monkey bridges built around camp as well as other Scoutcraft projects.  Hillcourt is pictured here working with Scouts on one of the many projects that he pushed for that summer.

Indeed, a living legend at Boxwell…

Green Bar Bill

Green Bar Bill works with Scouts at Camp Craig, 1986.

From the Archives, June 15, 2014

A Forgotten Merit Badge

We move to look at the 1970s this week as Boxwell’s 2014 Summer camp season moves into week 2.  As many of you undoubtedly remember, Week 2 has historically been an enormous week at Boxwell.  Our purposes though are much simpler than focusing on the size of the week.  We’ll be looking at a forgotten Merit Badge.

From the 1960s through the 1980s, Cooking Merit Badge was taught at Boxwell.  There are other merit badges that have disappeared over the years (Signaling for instance), but cooking is one that, for those who taught, is permanently burned into their brains!  You can imagine that Scouts cooking meals over an open fire for the first time might not always end well!

Pictured here is a familiar scene of camping and cooking from Camp Parnell in the 1970s.  Scouts struggle with the different aspects of a meal while working from a camp table.  At the time, Camp Parnell’s Cooking area was located where the Activity Yard Staff site would later be located–in the woods, over a small cross tie bridge, down by Showerhouse 1.  In the 1980s at least, this location was “downwind” from Stahlman’s Shotgun range (before there was a reservation wide location) and it was not uncommon for pieces of clay pidgeons to rain down on the Cooking Merit Badge sessions!

Cooking MB, 1970

Scouts cooking a meal for Cooking Merit Badge at Camp Parnell, 1970.

From the Archives, June 8, 2014

Teaching Values Through Eating!

As Boxwell at Old Hickory Lake begins Week One of Scouts, VirtualBoxwell will pay homage to the 1960s this week.  We’ll visit each decade in turn as summer camp unfolds this year.

This week’s episode from the 1960s focuses on something quite mundate–eating.  Throughout the 1960s until the mid-1970s, Boxwell used what is known as the Monitor-Host System, more commonly referred to as “family style.”  As opposed to the cafeteria style serving used today, family style involved having the monitors placing everything on the table before the meal began.  Plates, glasses, and silverware were there, obviously, but food was dished out into platters that were waiting at the table as well. Each platter had enough for 8 people–exactly the number at each square table.

This sounds pretty simple, right?  It was a bit more complicated!  There were no staff tables under this system.  Each table had a spot reserved for a staff member, who sat and ate with the troop.  Every meal, the rest of the table rotated so that someone new was the monitor.

There were some real benefits to this approach.  Aside from the obvious PR benefits of having a staff member at the table, this system was incredibly fast. With the meal on the table, everyone could get out of the dining hall and on to afternoon activities in approximately 30 minutes!  Cafeteria style takes an hour or more; Cafeteria with shifts (the current system at Boxwell) takes almost two hours PER MEAL!

But perhaps most importantly, this system taught values–something that is supposed to be fundamental to Scouting!  If you wanted a platter of food, you had to ask for it!  Imagine that–teaching manners while eating!

Family Style

A great example of Family Style feeding in the 1960s. Note the stack of plates for the table as well as the food in bowls awaiting the troop.