From the Archives, February 4, 2018

Camp Anecdotes: The 1987 Craig Electrical Corps
From John Walker

[Believe it or not, the Boxwell staff experienced a “dark age.”  It was a literal dark age because the staff didn’t have electricity.  After the Akers “scandal,” money dried up and in cost saving measures, staff electricity was pulled in 1976.  It did not return until 1999 and the arrival of the Staff Huts.  This is the story of one staff’s attempts to solve that problem…]

All devilment seemed to begin at Pizza Hut with plans sketched on napkins…

There was the 1987 [Camp Craig] Electrical Corps which I instigated but managed to escape most of the blame. I got the electrical wire donated from excess wire used to build the Nashville Convention Center. John Estes got a plug donated from a hardware store in Winchester and I got my assistant Scoutmaster, who was an electrician, to come out and professionally do the wiring. We also stole a switch box from the [now vacant and unused] Pump House in Stahlman. I got together a large crew… We snuck up to camp one weekend to “work on our staff site” and quickly organized people to use shovels to peel back some of the sod while others were running the wire from the cabin to the water drain pipe which took it under the road, and then through the woods to the back of the staff site. Other people would then stick the wire under the sod and walk over it to make it “look natural.” We had just got the last bit of wire buried when we heard [Ranger] Willie [Claude] coming around the corner – so we threw all our tools in the woods and ran to the staff site to look innocent. Willie never suspected a thing. When he left we broke into the Cabin and wired ourselves up to an extra circuit breaker. The only problem was that we couldn’t test the system since it was April. The only way we got caught was that [two guys on the crew] cut the insulation on the wire when they were trying to wedge it into an electrical pipe to go into the back of the cabin. We found this error and corrected it. But Willie and [Assistant Ranger Brian] “Slick” [Claude] had already discovered that a circuit breaker was tripping. Of course, since they were so slow about fixing anything, we still got to use the electricity for a couple of weeks. It probably was the fact that it got fixed that made them suspicious.

Anyway that started a series of both sides [Stahlman and Craig staff] stealing the wire back and forth. We finally rigged up an electrical system that nobody suspected at Parnell. I brought my bug zapper up to hang in the Shower house just up from the staff site. We used that to justify the wire going from a light socket to the wall, however what people couldn’t see was the multi-plug strip in the wall which fed the zapper as well as another cord running under one of the siding boards and into the ground and down to the staff site. We had electricity all year.

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