From the Archives, December 9, 2018

The Swinging Bridge

The Narrows of the Harpeth Boxwell (1930-1948) had several neat attractions. In addition to the Narrows themselves, which made for a great lazy canoe trip, there was the Montgomery Bell tunnel, a Native American Mound builder site, and at least one local cave. It’s hard to understand why the Council ever let the property go, though now everyone can enjoy the area as a state park.

One of the less permanent attractions was a Swinging Bridge. The bridge was made of wire and wood and crossed the entire width of the Harpeth River. Indeed, the bridge was often a test of bravery among the Scouts: who would cross the river using the swinging bridge. And you can take our word on good authority: that bridge swang!

Pictured here is the Swinging Bridge at the Narrows of the Harpeth, complete with two boys crossing the river. The photo is a little fuzzy, but you can just imagine what an experience this must have been. The bridge is long gone now, but perhaps we could consider this an early version of COPE!

Swinging Bridge

The Swinging Bridge at the Narrows of the Harpeth Boxwell. Date unknown, mostly likely post-1940.

From the Archives, December 8, 2018

Operation Long Rifle

Have you ever heard of “Operation Long Rifle”? The name sounds like either a covert Special Ops mission or a special committee to create the Long Rifle Award. It’s neither. Operation Long Rifle was a practice Woodbadge held at Rock Island.

If you’ve read Wilbur F. Creighton, Jr.’s _Boys Will Be Men_, you’ve read over the quick one paragraph history of Woodbadge. In short, in 1950 Ward Akers and Troop 1 Scoutmaster Billy Jim Vaughn were the first in the Council to get their beads and decided to bring the program to Middle Tennessee. A National Course was held at Rock Island in 1951 and Beany Elam ran another National Course in 1952. The first Middle Tennessee courses (MT-1 and so on) were held shortly thereafter (Creighton, 142).

But that’s only part of the story. Before the National course was held at Rock Island in 1952, a group of 29 Explorers spent a week in early June going through what was essentially a dry run of the program. Headed by Gene Tolley and patterned after Woodbadge, the program worked primarily as a Junior Leader Training course (an early Brownsea), but served as a practice for the Woodbadge course later that summer. And as an added benefit, 14 of the 29 attendees were getting training for summer camp staff.

Pictured here a photo of Operation Long Rifle from the collection of John Parish, Sr. Parish was not only a Rock Island staff member, but a participant in this program. Interesting side note: His father was Charles E. Parish, who would soon serve as Council President, and for whom the Rock Island property was later renamed.

Operation Long Rifle

A scene from Operation Long Rifle in 1952

From the Archives, November 25, 2018

Supervising Camp Craig

For those who aren’t aware, Camp Craig Dining Hall is undergoing some major renovations currently. We’ll showcase those as soon as the work is over. While this work is being supervised by Ron Turpin and Jason Flannery, the original construction of Craig Dining hall was overseen by someone else: Ed Human.

When Human became Reservation Director in 1970, he’d already been a professional in Middle Tennessee for a number of years, starting life as a District Executive for the Cherokee District in the early 1960s. Human had not been Reservation Director long before talk about a capital campaign began as Ward Akers worked to complete his dream at Boxwell. The 1972 Capital Campaign was a huge success, leading to the creation of Camp Craig. In 1973, construction began.

There is some debate over this photo of Human (right). The back of the photo is dated as 1970, but Lisa and Cindy Human–two of Ed’s three daughters–claim the photo was Ed at Camp Craig overseeing the construction. For our purposes, just know that the man on the right is Ed Human in a hard hat and this is the man who supervised the original construction of Camp Craig dining hall in 1973.

Ed Human hard hat

An unknown with Ed Human, possibly at Camp Craig, early 1970s