From the Archives, December 8, 2018

Operation Long Rifle

Have you ever heard of “Operation Long Rifle”? The name sounds like either a covert Special Ops mission or a special committee to create the Long Rifle Award. It’s neither. Operation Long Rifle was a practice Woodbadge held at Rock Island.

If you’ve read Wilbur F. Creighton, Jr.’s _Boys Will Be Men_, you’ve read over the quick one paragraph history of Woodbadge. In short, in 1950 Ward Akers and Troop 1 Scoutmaster Billy Jim Vaughn were the first in the Council to get their beads and decided to bring the program to Middle Tennessee. A National Course was held at Rock Island in 1951 and Beany Elam ran another National Course in 1952. The first Middle Tennessee courses (MT-1 and so on) were held shortly thereafter (Creighton, 142).

But that’s only part of the story. Before the National course was held at Rock Island in 1952, a group of 29 Explorers spent a week in early June going through what was essentially a dry run of the program. Headed by Gene Tolley and patterned after Woodbadge, the program worked primarily as a Junior Leader Training course (an early Brownsea), but served as a practice for the Woodbadge course later that summer. And as an added benefit, 14 of the 29 attendees were getting training for summer camp staff.

Pictured here a photo of Operation Long Rifle from the collection of John Parish, Sr. Parish was not only a Rock Island staff member, but a participant in this program. Interesting side note: His father was Charles E. Parish, who would soon serve as Council President, and for whom the Rock Island property was later renamed.

Operation Long Rifle

A scene from Operation Long Rifle in 1952

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