From the Archives, January 27, 2020

The Lotta Fun Lodge

As difficult as it may be to believe, by most measurable standards, Camp Boxwell at the Narrows of the Harpeth had better facilities than the Rock Island Boxwell that followed it. Seen here is the craft lodge–known as the “Lotta Fun Lodge”–at the Narrows of the Harpeth, sometime after 1941. If you think this is building is really large for a craft shop, you’re right. It used to be the dining hall.

O. E. Brandon, a staff member at the Narrows from 1938 to 1940, described the original dining hall this way: “The dining hall was about 40 feet by 80 feet with a first floor covered with saw dust, but was strongly constructed from rough-sawed lumber. The kitchen was built on to the dining hall, and I believe also had a dirt floor. In the portion of the building used as a kitchen there was a large storage closet and a large walk-in ice box. The stove was mainly heated by coal… The outside of the dining hall was covered with boards flat on one side and back on the other up to about five feet from the ground. The area above the wood was screen, but could not be closed.”

In 1940, the Council launched what could best be described as its first capital campaign. One of the results of this drive was a new dining hall with a concrete floor. The original dining hall became the craft lodge, which was the function the building was serving when this picture was taken in the 1940s.

Narrows, Lotta Fun

The Lotta Fun Lodge at the Narrows of the Harpeth Boxwell. This craft shop was originally the camp’s first dining hall.

From the Archives, January 19, 2020

Preparing for Inspection

Campsite inspections go way back in Boxwell’s history… basically back to the beginning. We can find inspections at the Linton Boxwell back in the 1920s. Not surprisingly, inspections then were a little different that the modern versions!

First of all, Linton only had 8-10 tents. These were large tents, with eight boys each, but that still meant that inspecting the “entire camp” was a much smaller task. Next, the rewards were a little different as well. If your tent won inspection for the day, you got a flag–a pennant really–to hang on your tent. Basically, there was some visible reward on a daily basis before the weekly award at the end of the camp period.

Most importantly, “A Scout Is Clean” had a higher bar. Not only did the tent have to be respectable, which mean sweeping the dirt around your tent with a branch of some kind, but so too did the tent’s occupants. At inspection after breakfast every morning, the inspection was done by Coach Anderson (or whoever was standing in as Camp Director that day) and the camp medic. The medic inspected the boys… all the way down to their fingernails!

The photo here shows not only the tents used as Linton, but MOST of the “camp” area. The Scouts have lined up outside their tent, preparing for the morning inspection.

Linton inspection

Scouts at Camp Boxwell at Linton preparing for their daily inspection.

From the Archives, January 12, 2020

The Original Craig Waterfront

While 2020 is the centennial of the Council, the year marks another anniversary: the end of the original Craig Waterfront. 1994 was the last year the small bay was used for aquatics. To commemorate, here are two photos of the original Waterfront as it appeared in 1990. Sadly, no one single photo captures the entire program area.

Of course, Craig’s waterfront area didn’t start as a waterfront. Even before the reservation was built, Executive Ward Akers had the foresight to lay down concrete pads in several areas where future waterfronts would go. When the Reservation opened in 1960, both Stahlman and Parnell regularly gave overnight canoe trips. Stahlman took their Scouts to a location called “the Baptist Lands” (a future post!), but Parnell took them to this odd, seemingly random “boat landing” area on the back side of the reservation. Scouts camped in what is the assembly area and dining hall location today. So, originally this area served as a boat landing.

When Craig was built as a result of the 1972 Capital Development Campaign, the bay returned to it’s original purpose: a waterfront. It continued performing this function from 1974 to 1994, a mere 20 years. And through most of those 20 years, the waterfront wasn’t even used as Craig and Parnell rotated summer camp duties from 1976 to 1994.

While a truly beautiful location (especially when the trees allowed it to be viewed from Craig’s veranda), the location suffered from two related issues that caused it to be closed down. The first was its proximity to the Channel on Old Hickory Lake (i.e. the Cumberland River). The channel brought a great deal of debris as well as boats… big boats… barges. Being on the channel made for complications on the waterfront itself and created some unsafe conditions for boating on the river/lake. The barges in particular led to waves and, occasionally, threatened to run over Scouts who weren’t the proficient boaters they needed to be.

The second related issue was the concrete pad itself. Likely because of the location on the channel, the concrete pad was deteriorating rapidly by the early 1990s. Huge holes developed where a Scout could get trapped or break a leg. Measures were taken to fix these problems, but by 1994, it was clear that these were not going to be quick fix issues. While Stahlman and Parnell were protected from the Channel and its related problems because of Explorer Island, Craig Waterfront was not. A new location was needed. And so, a major change of the 1994 Capital Campaign was moving the waterfront.

The photos here were taken by Waterfront Director Kerry Parker, who later spearheaded the move of the waterfront during his run as Program Director (1993-1996).

Original Craig Waterfront

Craig Waterfront from the beach. You can see the different swimming areas and the canoes on the beach. The turnstile to enter was on the left. The staff site was even further to the left, where Site 17 is located now.

Original Craig Waterfront

The original Craig Waterfront from the docks. Again, you can see the different swimmers’ areas clearly, but now the staff site is to the right. In the bottom right of the photo, you can see the turnstile and buddy board.

From the Archives, January 5, 2020

Boxwell Reservation History

As we explained back in October 2018, the history of Boxwell has been a changing story. Just like the Rock Island camp created a story for itself, so too did the Old Hickory Location. In fact, what you see here is one of the very first attempts at writing that “new” history.

There are several things that are interesting here and quite different from modern tellings of Boxwell Reservation. First, there is no mention of the different camps. Though Stahlman, Parnell, Murrey, and Light all opened in the summer of 1960, none are referenced here. Second, the history focuses a lot on the process of how the property came to be Boxwell. As the summer camp had not yet opened, there wasn’t much more to say.

This page came from the very first Staff Handbook in 1960. There was still plenty of time to build a history…

staff manual

Page Four of the first Boxwell staff manual, 1960

Website Updates, January 2020

Happy New Year!

2020 is an important year for Middle Tennessee Boy Scouting.  This is considered the centennial of the Middle Tennessee Council.  The Nashville Council was organized in March 1920 and this was the predecessor to the Middle Tennessee Council. (If you are interested in the Council’s Centennial events, go here: Happy Centennial everyone!

While we do have some centennial events planned here at VirtualBoxwell, we have some more immediate concerns: website updates.

We have a new banner image.  Shown here is Camp Stahlman on January 31, 2010 after a good snow.  The photo is by Steve Belew, head ranger at the time. See below.

2019 Staff photos for Stahlman, Craig, the Reservation, and Boat Harbor have been added.  Unfortunately, we have no staff photo for the CubWorld Staff at this time.

All copyright dates have been updated to reflect 2020.

Have a great year everyone!  We’ll see you soon!

The VirtualBoxwell Team

Stahlman snow

Camp Stahlman Dining Hall in the snow, January 2010