Merry Christmas 2021

As has become a tradition around here, we present you with Tom Willhite as Santa Claus. DE Buff Groth is asking for gifts!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone!

Tom Willhite as Santa Claus at a Council Christmas party; 1980 Parnell Camp Director Buff Groth on his lap

From the Archives, December 19, 2021

Pat Boone and Boxwell Reservation

We thought we’d end our posts for Boxwell’s Centennial year with a weird little footnote. Pat Boone, the native Nashvillian, was a popular singer and actor in the mid-1950s to early 1960s. His career has stretched much longer than that, but these years were arguably his most popular. Boone is generally known as one of the “crooners” of the mid-1950s.

On December 4, 1959, Boone (and his wife Shirley) returned to Nashville to hero’s welcome. Boone was named an honorary colonel by Governor Buford Ellington (later of Ellington Parkway fame), appeared on local television outlets, and attended a luncheon. Boone was actually in town to promote his latest film, Journey to the Center of the Earth, which got a special premiere at the Paramount Theatre on Church Street.

Why have the world premiere in Nashville? Well, it turns out Boone had been a member of Troop 99 in Nashville. 35 Scout troops and packs attended the premiere to support their hero. More importantly though, the proceeds from the evening would go to the Camp Boxwell Reservation Development Fund. If you recall, the 1959 Capital Campaign ended in June 1959 and construction had already begun in July. Nevertheless, Boone made sure he contributed to the mission of the Middle Tennessee Council.

As Boone explained, “Somehow, I feel a little kin to every Boy Scout, and I’m most happy to be here to help out the Scouting program. Personally, I feel that outside of the church there is no more important organization in American than the Scouts. Scouting is directly opposed to delinquency. It seems to me that the best weapons against delinquency is scouting.”

Happy Boxwell Centennial everyone. Enjoy the holidays. We’ll see you in 2022.

Pat Boone and Family
Pat Boone and family at the Paramount Theatre, 1959. _Nashville Banner_, December 4, 1959, pg. 12.

On This Day, December 15

On this day–Wednesday, December 15, 1982–long time Scout Executive Bruce Atkins passed away. A graduate of Austin Peay, Atkins joined the ranks of the Middle Tennessee Council professional staff in 1960. He served two districts before promotion to Field Director in 1965. In 1966 he was promoted again to Assistant Council Executive and Director of Camping, serving at Reservation Director at Boxwell from the summer of ’66 through the summer of ’69. In 1970, he became Council Executive of the West Tennessee Council in Jackson, TN and in 1976, he became Council Executive of the Great Smoky Mountains Council. Atkins battled cancer early in his career and had surgery to remove it. The cancer returned by the early 1980s and was responsible for his death. Atkins was 48 years old.

Bruce Atkins, Wood Badge staff, 1967

From the Archives, December 12, 2021

Boxwell Reservation, 2001: A Prototype

Call it a touch of serendipity. 2021 marks the 100th Anniversary of Boxwell, but it is also the 20th anniversary of the very first version of VirtualBoxwell. Of course, VirtualBoxwell was really just a work in progress at this point. Most of Boxwell’s history was being transmitted out to staff through an e-mail news letter, Boxwell News. But on December 10, 2001, the first incarnation of Boxwell went live. Even the Council did not really have any Boxwell web presence at the time.

What is presented here is basically that webpage. The site begins with quick posting from me explaining why I had not sent out a Boxwell News in awhile and explaining how the site would work. The photos aren’t great, but they are a wonderful snapshot of Boxwell in 2001.

Credit to Russ Parham and David Smith who took pictures with me over the summer. The only change made to the site was the removal of my personal e-mail and link to a Boxwell News archive, neither of which exist anymore. Everything else is as it was in December 2001.

Boxwell Reservation 2001 ||

The Passing of E. D. Thompson

Normally, we reserve this space for the passing of former Boxwell staff members. However, Ellis Dillard (“E. D.”) Thompson was a Scout we had the pleasure to interview while researching For the Good of the Program. As a boy, Thompson attended the Narrows of the Harpeth Boxwell. His sister married the camp medic. Later in his life, Thompson organized a reunion of Scouts who attend the Narrows Boxwell. Among his friends and fellow Scouts was James Kilgore. Both were members of Troop 26. Kilgore filmed the1940 promotional film for the Wa-Hi-Nasa Lodge “A Day at Camp Boxwell.” As for Thompson, he was a musician par excellence and in his later years he wrote several books, including Nashville Nostalgia, as well as a regular column in a local Bellevue area newspaper, the Westview. Thompson was 96 years old at his passing.