From the Archives, November 27, 2022

Sunday Check-in

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?

Unloading luggage, 2009
Scouts unloading luggage on Craig’s upper loop, 2009

From the Archives, November 13, 2022

Murphy Stories

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.

Bill Murphy, 1982
Bill Murphy at the First Staff Reunion, July 1983
Larry Jackson at a Friday Night Campfire, 1970
Larry Jackson at a Friday Night Campfire, 1970

Fun Fact

Here’s a quick fun fact for you today: Foster and Creighton were responsible for building the Parthenon in Nashville.

The original Parthenon was part of the 1897 Centennial Exposition in Nashville. It was mostly plaster on a wooden skeleton and never intended to last. The building though was so popular that Nashville decided to build a more permanent structure. The new building was begun in 1920 and the exterior was completed in 1925 (the interior took a few more years). The construction company that built the exterior was Foster & Creighton.

And yes, that’s the same Foster & Creighton associated with the Nashville Council. Edgar M. Foster was the first Council President from 1920-1926. Wilbur F. Creighton would follow some years later as Council President from 1951-1953. He was also one of the Council’s first Scoutmasters and his son would attend Boxwell at Linton. Indeed, Creighton would name his son for his business partner: Wilbur Foster Creighton, Jr.

Here is a photo of the Parthenon under construction with the Foster & Creighton sign out front. This photo is part of exhibit at the Parthenon in Nashville.

The Parthenon under construction, 1920s, by Foster and Creighton. Photo from the Parthenon in Nashville.

From the Archives, April 17, 2022

The Purloined Patches and The Washing of Feet

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.”

Q-ball, 1983
Q-ball relaxing after the 1983 Reunion