The Beaver Story, 1987
If you’ve been to camp in say–oh, I don’t know–the last thirty years, you’ve probably heard “The Beaver Song.” But have you heard “The Beaver Story”? Probably not. And, we happen to know a few 1990s Parnell/Craig Staff members who might find this story particularly interesting.
From the desk of Ted Rodgers, February 7, 2002:
The disappearing beaver (as I don’t remember this one being told before)
The year: 1987(?)
The place: Stahlman Dining Hall
The actors: Stahlman camp staff, Parnell/Craig camp staff, a stuffed beaver
The set up: High above the mantle, a good 10 to 15 feet in the air, and to the left of the fireplace was one of the most memorable Woodbadge flags ever; as much as I wish I could remember who penned that beautiful flag, the detail escapes me… Anyways…. Although I’m not sure this is STILL the case, the dining hall at Stahlman in the eighties was decorated with past Woodbadge leader training patrol flags. A very nice touch, as they were often very artistic and added to the overall ‘rustic-ness’ of camp life.
Now, this particular Woodbadge flag was from the Beaver patrol, and it was topped off with a 2-to-3 foot tall beaver, keeping guard over the kids at Stahlman. Whenever we would dare to creep up the rocks that made up the dining hall chimney to get a closer look, he was quite dusty, one eye seemed to be popping out, and he had generally seen better days (not to mention that he had that pleasant mixture of mildew and chicken dumplin’ fragrance)… Often times, Ernie Ragsdale would award a kiss for the beaver as a gizmo prize (or was it a disciplinary measure? either way, it was a lot of fun) to a lucky camper or slightly unruly staff member. It should be disclosed that I was never sent up the wall to kiss the beaver. So, as a full dining hall would award the prize/punishment of true love’s kiss, we would all chant lowly and rhythmically, “beaver…. beaver…. beaver…. beaver….” All in all, great fun.
Enter Parnell/Craig staff (can’t remember which one was open that year)… I’m not sure if it was a fellow named Brown or Estes, but it was ALLEGED that one of the two had cooked up a scheme to steal the beaver in the middle of the night. I remember it was bolted into a concrete/mortar wall with what must have been a very large, very deep bolt. I’ll let you be the judge of who may have actually taken it, as it’s not known for sure, but that’s how legend holds it….
A mad hunt ensued for the return of the beaver, but it was always fruitless. Everyone seemed to have an alibi, and no one was caught furry-handed at any point. One day during lunch, one of the two doors aside the fireplace along the long side swung open just enough for SOMEONE to ram the beaver through the door. This occurred days after he was taken, but a mad chase ensued. As mysteriously as he had re-appeared, the culprit got away without being seen (Ernie slowed us down with a stalled ‘Monitors Stand by’)
For the rest of the summer, whenever Ernie awarded the gizmo prize of true love’s first kiss, the chant would start back from the staff tables and spread across the dining hall, lowly and rhythmically….. “Wall….. wall…… wall…… wall…..” Naturally, since that was the only thing left after the great beaver heist. Kids must have been very confused, at least the ones who hadn’t been to camp before…
When I trekked from Arizona to the Staff reunion a few years ago, I looked up at the wall, empty, and still became a bit misty and nostalgic. Last anyone had heard of the beaver, he had made it to a fraternity house somewhere in the state of Alabama…. Lucky guy…..
The Disappearing Beaver
Collection of Ted Rodgers
E-mail sent Monday, February 7, 2002