From the Archives, November 18, 2018

First Day on Camp Staff

Some camp staff experiences are surprisingly universal. Regardless of which camp you worked at or which year you worked, that first day of the first summer seems to be a remarkably similar experience for most.  Read the brief story below from John Cyril Stewart; does this sound familiar?

1st Day on Camp Staff – June 1965

I first attended Boxwell Reservation Boy Scout Camp when I was 11.  That week, and the next year were exciting times.  I got to be with my best friend Brad and, although I didn’t realize it then, I was in awe of the older boys who rapidly became my mentors.

During a scout troop meeting our District Executive, Earl Tatum, told me that I should apply for camp staff.  I told him that I had looked into that and the minimum age was 14 and that I would only be 13.  He said I should apply anyway.  At several times in my life people have given me words of encouragement that radically changed my life.  This was one of those times.  Our conversation was probably only two or three minutes but it has had a lifelong impact on me.

The Scout Office was on 23rd Avenue North, in an old house that later became a downtown home for Loretta Lynn.  I still remember timidly and fearfully walking up the broken front step and sitting for my interview.  I don’t remember many of the questions but I do remember them asking why I wanted to serve on staff.  Among the other reasons I gave, I told them that I wasn’t sure that I could pass the swimming and lifesaving merit badges required for Eagle without extended time at Boxwell.

They hired me and I was to report to Camp Stahlman, where I had never been before.  “Staff Row” was a double line of tents along a rocky road below the dining hall.  I’ll never forget the Sunday afternoon when my mother and father dropped me off, setting my footlocker on the rocky road, and drove away.  I remember the most extreme, immediate level of homesickness, standing there, watching them drive away, tears streaming down my face.  I didn’t know anyone there and didn’t know what to do.

By dinner I had found a tent, new friends and a home at Boxwell.  Over the next seven summers I would have adventures and experiences that would stay with me for the rest of my life.

My Mother and Daddy never talked about that time but I have to think they were probably as moved by my leaving for the summer as I was.  Life was never the same.

Story submitted to Boxwell Staff Anecdotes Project, March 2018

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