As today is Easter, we thought this story about Floyd “Q-ball” Pearce would be apropos. The story is from Gordon Bryan from November of last year. The story takes place at Stahlman in 1970. Ted Naylor was Program Director and Joe Keathley was Camp Director.
“Trading patches was a popular hobby at the time, and Q-Ball was reported to have a great collection. Not sure where he kept the patches, maybe in the back of the handicraft tent or in his quarters at the OA Lodge.
“One day Q-Ball’s collection disappeared, and there was great speculation among the staff concerning the thief’s identity. Q-Ball, who could go from smiling and friendly to sullen in a heartbeat, devised a plan to get his patches back.
“He gathered all the staff – no leaders allowed – in the dining hall one afternoon. Several tables had been moved and a large circle of chairs arranged in place of the tables. Q-Ball stood in the middle of the circle with a bowl of water and a towel. He asked us to be seated and to remove our shoes and socks.
“As we sat in the circle, facing in toward Q-Ball, he slowly went from staff member to staff member, washing our feet. The staff was stone silent as Q-Ball continued his loop within the circle, telling the story of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. The farther he went around the circle, the more emotional became the staff. Some of us looked on the spectacle with skepticism, many others with eyes that became more dewy with every foot washed.
“Finally, one staff member burst into tears when Q-Ball got to his feet. Can’t remember which staff member it was, or if he was indeed the thief, but Q-Ball had his patches back by the end of the day.”
There are A LOT of ways that the first Boxwells were different from modern Boxwell. Scouts came as individuals. They stayed in 8 man tents. They had elected positions that ran the camp. They had advancement sessions in the morning, games all afternoon, and nightly campfires.
But one things remained the same: Scouts loved the water. In fact, in terms of practice, one approach of Scouting that has not fundamentally changed in almost 100 years is the Buddy System. The system first came to Boxwell at Linton about 1928 and has stayed with it (and other Boy Scout camps) ever since.
So, this week a fmailiar scene in a different location: the Buddy Board at the Narrows of the Harpeth Boxwell, August 1931. The swimsuits are different, but the approach is exactly the same.
The original caption read: “The “Buddy System” groups swimmers, “sinkers” and beginners and gives each Boy Scout a “Buddle” who remains with him as long as the swimming period continues, reducing water accidents to a minimum.”
“‘Buddy System’ for Boy Scouts,” Nashville Tennessean, August 16, 1931, pg. 46