From the Archives, June 30, 2019

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

Remembering the Staff, 1980s

This week we look at the 1980s in our “Remembering the Staff” series. Believe it or not, the situation at camp had not changed the much in the ten years since our look last week.  Tom Willhite was still reservation director, now at year 14.  Ernie Ragsdale was still Program Director, though now at Stahlman.  At Camp Parnell, Jerry Barnett was Program Director. Craig and Parnell were on their rotation at this point, so Craig was closed.  John Hickman was running COPE and Christy Willhite Camp Murrey.  The Boat Harbor was used somewhat by Stahlman staff, but was not an official staff/program of camp.

Seen here are both the Camp Stahlman and Camp Parnell staff photos.  Both photos were taken by Russ Parham, who was now Business Manager of the Reservation.

Stahlman 1989

Stahlman Staff, 1989

Parnell 1989

Parnell staff, 1989


From the Archives, June 23, 2019

Beds in a tent

It is well-established by now that Camp Murrey–today CubWorld–was the family camp. This meant families of Scoutmasters had a place to stay during the summer. It also meant that the spouses and families of staff members had a place to stay. This week, a quick story from 1972 by Ski Dock Staff member John Cyril Stewart

“When my fiance and I were discussing how to set up our home I had been .
sleeping diagonally on a small antique double bed. I asked her if she
wanted to sleep in the upper or lower corner of the bed after we were
married. We (read she) decided that our first purchase would be a king
size bed. The wedding day came and the honeymoon in Atlanta. Then we
returned and arrived at Boxwell where we would spend the first three
months of our married life. At that time, 1972, Camp Murray (now
Cubworld) was a family camp where wives and children of staff lived for
the summer. Wives and children of adult scouters camped for a week or two
at a time while their husbands/fathers stayed with scouts at Parnell or

“I’ll never forget the look on the face of the delivery truck driver for
Payne’s Furniture. He asked, “Where do you want this king sized bed
delivered?” I replied, ” In that tent”!
Beds in a tent
Collection of John Stewart
E-mail sent Monday, October 2, 2000

Remembering the Staffs, 1970s

We’re up to the 1970s with our Remembering the Staff thread, specifically 1979.  This is really a landmark year, but more on that in just a second. This was Tom Willhite’s fourth year as Reservation Director and Norman Patterson was Head Ranger.  Russell Parham was Program Director at Camp Parnell and over at Camp Craig, the Program director was… wait for it… Ernie Ragsdale.  This is late 1970s, so the Boat Harbor/Ski Dock is closed.  Murrey is beginning to wither on the vine.  Rappelling has been introduced, but there is no COPE yet.

Did you catch what was special about 1979?  No Stahlman was listed above. For the only time in it’s long history, Camp Stahlman was closed.  The kitchen remained open to cook the food, but the camp itself was closed to allow time for re-growth and rest, much like the two year Parnell-Craig rotation had been providing for those camps.  Ragsdale stayed with his staff at Craig, but Parham took the Stahlman staff to Camp Parnell.

Here are the staff photos for Parnell and Craig Staffs in 1979, the only year that these two were open together with no Stahlman.  Parnell photo courtesy of Russ Parham, Craig photo courtesy of Paul David Allen.

Parnell 1979

Parnell Staff, 1979

Craig 1979

Craig Staff, 1979