From the Archives, March 31, 2019

Q-ball’s Book of Sayings

Occassionally we post on things that “Boxwell-adjacent.” This is one of those weeks.

Floyd “Q-ball” Pearce worked on the Rock Island and Old Hickory Boxwell staffs. He worked from the 1950s all the way up into the 1980s. He was a Boxwell institution. If you worked with Q-ball, he was a character you remember and we’ve posted on him before (Feb. 10, 2013, Feb. 14, 2018; Sept. 27, 2017).

What many don’t know about Q-ball was that he kept a “Book of Sayings.” He had an old school photo scrapbook (in other words, a book made of black construction paper-esque pages you taped or adhered photos to) full of clippings he read. FULL OF CLIPPINGS. Taped in this book were pieces from newspapers and magazines he read and cut out. The topics were mostly inspirational, but ran the gamut from “Progress” to aging to Christianity. Q-ball often used these remarks at campfires or as simple reminders as truths about life.

Shown here is a photocopied page from Q-ball’s Book of Sayings. This page gives you a taste of the kinds of things that great carving master thought about and considered important…


A page from Floyd ‘Q-ball’s’ Book of Sayings. Date unknown.

From the Archives, March 24, 2019

Rock Island from 5000 feet

Over the years there have been several aerial photos of Boxwell Reservation at Old Hickory Lake. We’ve even posted about a few ourselves (May 2015, February 2014). Rock Island is a different story…

Seen here is an aerial photos of both Camp Hy-Lake and the Rock Island Boxwell. The Rock Island is the large “finger” in the middle of the photograph. Indeed, you can see the actual Rock Island quite clearly at the confluence of the Rocky and Caney Fork rivers.

What makes the photo interesting is not just the Rock Island Boxwell, but the fact that the objective of the photo is Camp Hy-Lake. Hy-Lake is actually not in the photo as it would be a little further down the Caney Fork, just outside the bottom of the photo. For those who remember their camp history, Hy-Lake was the camp Ward Akers’ son ran in the 1970s… the camp that received cots from Boxwell, which was part of what led to the downfall of Ward Akers himself as Council executive.

This photo was found in the Cripple Crab with several other documents from the early 1970s (ca. 1972-1973). There is no date on the photo, so it is impossible to know when exactly the photo was taken, but it certainly presents an interesting mystery. Regardless, it is a great aerial photo of the Rock Island property!

Hy-Lake; HyLake

Though “Camp Hylake” is on the top of the photo, it is the Rock Island Boxwell that is so clearly shown in this photo.

From the Archives, March 17, 2019

Camp Murrey

Leaders’ Guides, whether print or digital, are essential guides to how your camp experience operates. These two pages from the 1977 Leaders’ Guide give us a look at Camp Murrey.

As you can tell, Murrey was not a large operation; it only had four staff members! Of course, in 1977, the cabins (only 6 at the time) were still new, recently completed as part of the 1972 Capital Development Campaign. Murrey was especially unique in 1977 because it was the only place on the reservation that had TENTS with electricity!

The pages are quite explicit: “This camp is designed for ladies and small children – Not the Troop Leader.” In other words, as the male leader, you can bring your wife and small kids to camp, drop them off at Murrey, and then go stay with your troop. Don’t worry; not only will they be entertained in your absence with ping-pong, canoeing, or “sunning,” but they “may attend” a campfire at your camp!


Pages from the 1977 Leaders’ Guide on Camp Murrey

From the Archives, March 10, 2019

Camp Cats

Are you still keeping up with your New Year’s Resolution? We are! Here it is: month three of our vow to post a monthly camp anecdote.

This week’s story is quick one. It comes Rick Ehler. When asked what his favorite Camp story was, Rick had approximately 16 years of Boxwell experience to choose from. This was his favorite story.

“When the boat harbor reopened in 1995 we lived in tents down at the harbor. We would adopt stray cats to stay with us to help with the raccoon problem.

“Every night one of the cats that ha[d] become extremely fond of me would jump on my bed and sleep next to me. One evening I felt the cat, jump on the bed around one or two o’clock in the morning. After shifting in my sleeping bag I realized that what had jumped on my bed was not a cat but a raccoon. I quickly grabbed my flashlight and a tennis shoe and scared the raccoon off.”

And there you have it. A classic “the-cat-on-my-sleeping-bag-is-actually-a-raccoon” story!

Camp Anecdotes
Collection of Rick Ehler
From VirtualBoxwell’s Boxwell Staff Anecdotes Project, March 2018

From the Archives, March 3, 2019

Boxwell Greats: Tom Parker

Ask a 1960s Stahlman Staff member about campfires in their run and one name will always come up: Tom Parker. A teacher from Sparta during his regular life, Tom Parker came to “new” Boxwell as the Conservation Director. Remembered fondly by Program Directors Jimmy Joe Jackson and Chester LeFever, Parker was one of those adults who came to camp staff who really cared about teaching and the program.

As a conservation man, Parker was dedicated to his merit badges. Every week at the Sunday Scoutmasters’ Roundtable, he would announce that anyone wanting to take Bird Study merit badge should meet him at the flag pole at 5:30 a.m. the next morning. He would always follow with a show of hands of who had Scout who would be interested. Almost like the punchline to a joke, no one showed up, despite the hands. Parker was genuinely frustrated when no one showed up.

For those who did take Parker’s merit badges, they were in for a treat, as the man was dedicated. Every summer, he brought a literal truckload of biology samples to camp: baby pigs, birds, and various other animals in formaldehyde. He expected his Scouts to read the merit badge pamphlet and to understand conservation. Decades later, former student Russ Parham still remembered Parker’s definition of conservation: “Conservation is the wise and efficient use of our natural resources, so that they be of the greatest use for the largest amount of people for the longest amount of time.”

Of course, even today, you can still see Parker’s influence on Boxwell. He was the man responsible for planting the kudzu on the dirt embankments on Highway 109.

But his musical talents are what everyone remembered. That same person you asked about the campfires will tell you they remember Parker singing “Old Man River” or “Shadrach Meshach and Abednego.” The sound of Parker’s deep voice carrying across Old Hickory Lake apparently left an indelible impression on everyone who heard it. And sadly, no known recording exists.

Parker’s tenure became more sporadic in the 1970s. He moved beyond the Con-Yard and double as the camp medic in these years. One final, truly amazing story about Parker. While cutting tree limbs with a chain saw one day, a branch popped back, knocking the chain saw into his throat. Parker kept his cool and grabbed a handkerchief, holding it against the neck wound. He then drove himself to the hospital and refused to remove the handkerchief until a surgical team was ready. He missed a few years at Boxwell after this, but in the late ’70’s he returned… and sang “Old Man River” once more!

Tom Parker

Tom Parker at a campfire, ca. 1971