Sometimes, the more things change, the more they remain the same. Sunday Check-in is one of thsoe events. While every now and then, someone comes along to ‘crack the code’ of making check in smoother, big chunks of the experience remain the same.
Robert Ponder was a Parnell Staff member in the mid-1970s. Like many of you, in the years since Boxwell, Robert has dabbled with memoirs, writing down aspects of his camp or Scouting experience. He shared some of these with us and we thoughts we would pass along what he had to say about the check-in experience during his time at Boxwell. Some of this might sound familiar…
“Week-long camp at Boxwell Reservation was ritualistic: as regular as “Old Faithful’,” Ponder writes. “The process was easy. Each Sunday afternoon, parents brought their boys to camp (a sea of mayhem as 250 boys and their families descended at the same time). Gear was unloaded from the cars, piled up by campsites (mine was campsite 11-Saskatchewan), and relocated to the center of the campsite by flatbed trailer. While that was being done, campers and their parents walked down to the campsites to make tent selections. Most of the time, you knew who you were going to share the two-man tent with before you arrived. The only real question was which of the tents you were going to get. The older boys, of course, got the tents furthest from the Scoutmasters.”
“At this point, some of the parents would say good-bye,” Ponder continues. Other parents, in particular those who were having difficulty parting with their sons, would hang around for the health check and swim test. After the swim tests (necessary for determining the abilities of each of the campers), any straggling parents were asked to leave. The scouts and scoutmasters were finally on their own.”
See this photo from Camp Craig in 2009. Are things all that different?
As we have mentioned before, most of our “archives” is made up of Boxwell related material, but some of the material is related to the Council and Scouting in general. Depending on who the person the collection came from, there can be some real jewels. There can also be some smaller, simpler, more human pieces.
In 1944, a boy in Springfield, TN found an empty sack of money ($60!) and returned the sack to the bank. Likely a deposit bag, the bank’s name was printed on the side. The bank was then able to return the money and, in a nice twist, the Tennessean ran an article about it.
What the article did not say was that the boy was a Scout. It appears his Scoutmaster was none other than Beany Elam!
But the best part of the story–and our document this week–is that the Scout Executive himself, William J. Anderson, wrote the Scout a personal letter. Anderson praised the boy for doing the right thing and “exactly as I expected you would do.” For Anderson, “a Boy Scout could take no other course.”
Anderson ends with a simple post-script: “I hope to see you at camp Boxwell.” The whole scenario is Scouting at its best.
This week we’re sharing quick recollections from Bill Murphy, Parnell staff member from 1968 to 1972.
A Camp Tradition… In 1968 there was a staff tradition that anyone who overslept had pitchers of ice water thrown on him in his bunk after breakfast was over. I made the mistake of over sleeping and held the record of 38 pitchers of ice water being thrown on me. That record stood at long as I was on staff, I don’t know how many years it was the record. The worst part of over sleeping was not the ice water but reporting to Coach Jackson for your punishment, a week of breakfast duty in the mess hall in addition to all your other duties at camp. Needless to say I only over slept that one time.
On the Medics… In 1970, Fort Campbell and the 101st Airborne Division loaned both camps a medic and a sergeant for the rifle range. They slept in the back of the first aid tent immediately across the road from office tent. Both of these soldiers were Vietnam Veterans and the rifle range sergeant was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. (We just didn’t know it at the time.) He slept with a huge Bowie knife under his pillow. David Smith and I lived in the adjacent tent directly behind the trading post so we could have a giant fan cooling us each night. I was the camp bugler that summer and had to get up early to play revelry. The soldiers asked me to wake them each morning as I was headed to the mess hall but not to go in their tent and never touch them while they were sleeping. So I would stand outside their tent and yell until they responded before I went to the mess hall.
On Friendships… In the 5 years I worked there I made a lot of friends. I was an usher in a staff member’s wedding. Another staff member was a groomsman at my wedding. One of the staff became a priest and I was one of the Lay Presenters at his ordination ceremony. I learned a lot about life and people. I also learned about repairing equipment hanging around Ranger Bobby Smith and Kerry Parker. Ranger Smith and Kerry were fixtures around Boxwell for many years. They were some of the men behind the scenes making sure the physical plant and all the equipment worked.
On the Jackson Family… There are a lot of other memories about Coach Jackson and his family. Larry, his son, was the Parnell AY Director in 1970. If you look at the Camp Parnell – 1970 picture archive on Flicker, Larry is featured in the first picture wearing a Smoky the Bear Scout hat at a campfire leading a yell [shown here]. Larry was a great boss who ‘kicked your rear end’ if you weren’t pulling your weight and patted you on the back when you did. I remember him saying thank you a lot. Larry was working at a bar in Knoxville around 1972 or 1973 while attending UT to earn money for his fiancée’s engagement ring. He was killed by a robber late one night in the parking lot. I reached out to Coach at the time and then subsequently to encourage him to come to the first reunion in 1983. Coach told me he wasn’t going to come until he got my letter. The reunion brought back a lot of good memories about Larry and it helped being around people who knew, cared about and respected Larry.