From the Archives, November 29, 2020

The 1994 Capital Campaign: The Fehrmann Training Center and more

The last major renovation for Boxwell itself as far as the Capital Campaign was concered was the renovation of Akers Cabin. For those who worked at Boxweel in 1960s and 1970s, the cabin was known as Ittabeena. This was Ward Akers’ summer home and private residence. It was out of bounds for staff unless specifically invited for a designated purpose. After Akers left, the professional staff began calling the cabin the Training Center, but the staff simply referred to it as Akers’ Cabin. Both were accurate terms.

But as a training center, the cabin was really too small. It need a larger meeting space and a more appropriate entrance and that’s what it got. A large donation from George Fehrmann (President of APCOM, Inc. and heavily involved Scouter) paid for the work and the log cabin was expanded and renovated. It became less of resident and more of a meeting space.

Of course, there were other smaller developments that rounded out the campaign at Boxwell. The Percy Dempsey Camporee Area renovated old farm land and became an active part of the reservation. The hanging sign was removed in the early 1990s when the farmer who owned the land sold the embankment dirt. The Cogioba District put forth the money for a new sign.

And there were other non-Boxwell-related expenditures as well. Both the Parish Reservation (Rock Island) and Grimes Canoe Base saw some improvments. The Jet Potter Center received some renovations and there was money earmarked for program as well. And of the $7.8 million goal, around $3 million was earmarked for a council endowment which would eventually pay for 20% of the COuncil’s operating budget by the year 2000. Clearly, the 1994 Campaign had ambitious goals and it delivered.

Seen here is the Fehrmann Training Center on its lake facing side.

Front of Fehrmann Training Center
The Fehrmann Training center in 2010. Also known as Ittabeena and Akers’s Cabin. Note the extended cross ties from the original construction.
Backside of Fehrmann Training Center
The backside of Fehrmann Training Center in October 2002. This end showcases the addition to the building quite well. The large trees close to the building however have long since been cut down.

From the Archives, November 22, 2020

The 1994 Capital Campaign: Return of the Ski Dock…er, Boat Harbor

While the creation of CubWorld was clearly the centerpiece of the 1994 Capital Campaign, the major program renovation for the Boy Scout side of the program was the return of the Ski Dock, which was now known as the Boat Harbor. Actually, according to the signage, it was actually called “the Boat Dock” when the area returned to operation in 1995.

The original Ski Dock had opened in the early 1960s with the rest of the Reservation. Old Hickory Lake was still quite new at the time and the Ski Dock staff felt like they ran the lake over the summer. Unfortunately, maintenance on the boats as well as the rising fuel costs of the period put the Ski Dock on the chopping block as the Council tried to batten down the hatches (see what we did there?) after the Akers “scandal” in 1975. When Boxwell reopened in 1976, the Ski Dock was closed.

Aspects of the program limped along. On and off through the 1980s, the Stahlman Waterfront ran some boating program. By the early 1990s, Reservation Director Tom Willhite had begun collecting boats and deploying them at both camps with an eye toward re-opening the harbor. By the 1990s, High Adventure was increasingly seen as a growth area and a good way to keep boys in Scouting and at camp. COPE had been a huge success in this regard, but another older boy program would be an enormous asset.

Further, the waterfronts simply weren’t set up for safety. A swimming dock doesn’t have boat bumpers after all. Nor is having swimmers and motorboats in close proximity particularly safe. And when dealing with motorboats and sailboats, having a central location with a properly trained staff was going to be better for Scouts and for the reservation.

And so, in 1995, the Ski Dock–now known as the Boat Harbor–reopened thanks to a generous contribution by the Pfeffer family. The site was dredged and new infrastructure–docks and a fueling station–were installed. With the return of the Harbor, so too came the merit badges Motorboating, Water Skiing, and Small Boat Sailing. These options would continue to grow as the years passed.

Seen here are photos of the Boat Harbor in 1995. As you can tell, the re-opened Harbor was still quite primitive and quite small all things considered. But it was a re-start to a needed program.

The New Boat Harbor:  Motorboat Docks
Here is the Boat Harbor’s motorboat side as it was in 1995.
The New Boat Harbor: Sailboat Lagoon
Seen here is the sailboat lagoon from just off the Boat Harbor Peninsula’s point. Sailboat docks on this side are years away in 1995.
The Boat Harbor Out Board
The re-opened Boat Harbor’s outboard in 1995.

From the Archives, November 15, 2020

The 1994 Capital Campaign: Re-imagining Camp Craig

While all of the waterfronts got facelifts* thanks to the 1994 Capital Campaign, the Craig Waterfront was condemned and resurrected. The site below the dining hall had been deteriorating for years. It’s location on the channel left it more susceptible to damage and the original slabs were beyond repair. It was unsafe. And so, as part of the campaign, Craig Program Director Kerry Parker convinced Tom Willhite and Council Executive Ken Connelly to add a new waterfront to the campaign’s to-do list.

There was some debate over where the new waterfront would end up. However, after scouting (see what we did there) several locations with Perry Bruce and TVA sounding equipment, Parker lobbied for the backside of Duck Head as the best location. There was a lagoon there and the site was off the channel. From a purely functional perspective, it was a truly fantastic location.

In terms of the larger Craig program, it was terrible. The location was literally on the other side of the camp and there was nothing else over there. To compensate, Parker imagined a complete overhaul of Camp Craig. He envisioned a layout similar to Stahlman with the dining hall anchoring one end of the camp and the waterfront the other. Everything else would be moved in between. A new road would be cut from Duck Head into Camp Craig, connecting by the showerhouse on the upper loop. The Activity Yard would have to move from its location at the top of the lower loop. The Lower Loop itself would be shuttered and sites moved to the new road. A new showerhouse would need to be built as well, right at the junction of the new road and Craig Road. The Friday Night Campfire area would have to be moved too. The camp would flip and the complete transition would take years.

By the time the dust settled in 1995, the new waterfront had been built on the backside of Duck Head. The new road connecting Duck Head with the rest of the camp was built and immediately nicknamed “Parker’s Highway.” The two program sheds for the AY were built on Duck Head as well, though the program area itself stayed put in 1995.

And that was that. The new showerhouse never materialized. Craig was closed in 1996. Staff constructed a new campfire area in 1996 and 1997, but when Craig reopened in 1999, no one was still around who was aware of the big plan. The AY moved mainly because it had to, but the lower loop never flipped. Craig stayed the way it was with two program areas awkwardly out on Duck Head. Both have grown and thrived there in the years since, but the original plan never quite materialized the way it was supposed to have.

Nevertheless, the 1994 Capital Campaign gave Camp Craig an amazing new waterfront location that in turn led to a better Friday Night Campfire area (NOT on the Channel) and an area for the Activity Yard to stretch out and have room to play. Not a bad deal!

Seen here is Craig Waterfront on Duck Head its very summer in 1995.

  • All of the waterfronts received overhauls. Most of this was structural and underwater, re-enforcing and covering the original concrete slabs. New sand beaches adorned the waterfronts and for the first time, debris bumpers–floating yellow tubes–were put in place to protect the waterfronts from debris from the lake. No longer would the docks be moved from the camp waterfront to Parnell Bay. They would stay put and never have to be moved again.
Setting Up The Duck Head Waterfront, 1995
Setting Up The Duck Head Waterfront, 1995
The Duck Head Waterfront in Action, 1995
The Duck Head Waterfront in Action, 1995

The Passing of Bob Holt

The VirtualBoxwell Team is sad to announce the passing of Bob Holt. Bob was Stahlman’s very first Camp Director in 1960 and 1961. Bob began as a District Executive in Middle Tennessee Council under Ward Akers and eventually rose to the position of Finance Director before leaving the Council for various Scout Executive positions in the Southern Region, finally ending his career in Montgomery, Alabama, where he retired.

Holt passed away in August 8, 2019 at the age of 88. He was a native of Giles County, Tennessee.

Here is his obituary: