From the Archives, March 29, 2015

Rock Island Waterfront

As we have been working on revising some of our Rock Island history this week, it seemed appropriate to use a photo from our limited Rock Island Collection.  This photo shows part of the Rock Island Waterfront.  Generally, the waterfront appeared to have two sections, much like the Waterfronts today: a swimming area and a boating area.

What made the Rock Island waterfront so unique though was the use of a “crib.”  Because the waterfront was on a river with a particularly deep bottom, “cribs” were constructed with sides and a bottom underwater to keep Scouts from disappearing. One crib was dedicated exclusively to the “swimming area,” while the boating area (shown here) had two cribs.  It appears from this image that these cribs could be used not only for practice boating, but also for lifesaving and advanced swimming practices.

This photo is special for another reason as well, though it might not be readily apparent by looking.  The “Virtual Boxwell” project began in the late 1990s with an attempt to acquire and scan as many camp-related photos as possible.  This photo was in the early group, captured in September 2000.  As was sometimes the case back in those “early days,” the original owner of the photo was never captured.  As a result, we can safely say this was among the first photos scanned and acquired for what is now!

Rock Island Docks

Here is a photo of the boating area at the Rock Island Waterfront. It appears that Lifesaving or Swimming Merit Badge is being taught, based on the positions of some of the people!

From The Archives, March 22, 2015

Ode to the Milk Crate

Milk crates have long been a part of Boxwell lore.  And for as long as milk crates have been around, there have been pranks dealing with milk crates.  Though the scope of the prank my change, the desire to do _SOMETHING_ with milk crates seems to be in staff DNA!

This photo is from James “Jim” Butler from June or July 1981. Jim was on the kitchen staff at Camp Parnell and he talked the fellow members of the kitchen staff into stacking all these milk crates at the back of dining hall. Jim is on the left, and we believe Tom Roussin is in the white shirt.  The other two are unknown.

Of course, this is just the tip of the ice berg.  Milk crates have been used to build castles, raise tables off the floor, and all manners of other shenanigans.  Indeed, it is quite likely that a few milk crates somehow mysteriously showed up at staff members’ homes after camp was over… but we wouldn’t know anything about that.

Milk Crates

A milk crate stack behind Parnell Dining Hall, 1981. One of MANY milk crate related projects over the years.

From the Archives, March 15, 2015

William Anderson

“Coach” William Anderson was Middle Tennessee Council’s first Council Scout Executive, back when Middle Tennessee Council was the Nashville Scout Council.  Anderson was a track and field coach with Vanderbilt University and, back in the early days of the Council, being Council Exec was only a part-time job!  Nevertheless, Anderson was responsible for the first two Boxwells: the first Camp Boxwell at Linton, TN and the second Camp Boxwell at Narrows of the Harpeth.

Boxwell at Linton opened in 1921, at a location described in _Boys Will Be Men_ as “about seventeen miles from Nashville on the Memphis to Bristol Highway, later numbered Hwy 100” (49).  L. G. Boxwell and his culvert company were responsible for making the location fit for camping.  Anderson himself oversaw the camp, a responsibility he continued for the next 27 years of his tenure as Council Exec.  Indeed, Anderson was so hands on that he “always rode in the truck” bringing Scouts to and from camp, meeting his secretary in Nashville to take care of requisite paperwork.   At the camp itself, the boys formed a council that actually made the rules governing the camp, though Anderson had veto power (_Boys Will Be Men_, 50-52). Much the same situation continued when Boxwell moved to the Narrows in 1930.

As for Anderson, his work was immense.  When he started as Council Exec, there were nine registered troops in the Nashville Council and only three were active (41).  By the time of Anderson’s retirement in 1947, he told the council in his last formal address that, “We have in middle Tennessee approximately 68,000 boys of cub and scout age under 21” (116). (Of course, it should be noted that one of Anderson’s track star proteges was James Stahlman, who founded _The Nashville Banner_.  It was Stahlman’s son who later goes on to chair the 1959 capital development campaign that creates the current Boxwell Reservation!)

The photo here is from the collection of Beverly Landstreet, Anderson’s son-in-law, who kept an extensive collection of articles both on and from Anderson.  Anderson died in 1963; Landstreet in October 2014.


William Anderson, Middle Tennessee Council’s first Council Executive.

From the Archives, March 8, 2015


If you’ve worked on Boxwell staff in the “modern era” (basically the last 20 years), you are likely familiar with the song “Zoomba.”  The song contains several German phrases (which are regularly slaughtered by staff and Scouts alike) and a variety of hand and body motions, each representing a different musical instrument.  Scouts love the song primarily because it is a lot of fun and, if done properly, ends in a parade!

The song was brought to Boxwell in 1992 by Todd Metcalf.  While the song continues to live on, no one quite leads “Zoomba” with the vigor and enthusiasm of Metcalf.  Indeed, Metcalf took such delight in the song, he would sometimes create new lyrics to lampoon his friends on staff!  Generally the song was sung once during the week at lunch and was the closer at Friday night dinners, sometimes running a good ten or fifteen minutes!

Pictured here is Metcalf leading “Zoomba” in Parnell Dining Hall in 1993.  Metcalf is in the center, leaning back to give a powerful final “ZOOMBA!!” cheer.  Around him are several other Parnell staff members of the time.  From left to right along the wall, you can see Jason Mayo, Scott Grantham, Mike Cloyd, Bo Collier, Joey Boyd, and Henry Davis (back in the shadows!).


Todd Metcalf leads “Zoomba” at a Friday Night dinner at Camp Parnell.