If the scene you see here look a little foreign to you, it is probably because this is not scene you would ever see at a modern Scout camp. At the first Boxwell at Linton, however, this was a common sight. In fact, it happened three times a day!
When Scouts came to camp in the 1920s, they had to bring a mess kit with them. And while there was a cook who prepared all the meals, the Scouts chose from among their own to serve (like a monitor) and then everyone was responsible for cleanign their own kit.
The caption on this photo read, “Washing dishes after the noon meal. After the boys wash their plates in the river they are required to scaled the plates in boiling water. Sanitation is stressed.” This was summer camp in the 1920s!
“Boy Scouts having a great time at Camp Boxwell,” Nashville Banner, July 2, 1929, pg. 13.
This week we look at a little program game. Every week, single serve cereals were a common component of breakfast. And on top of those little plastic containers? Removable branded squares of aluminum back joy: box tops.
Box tops were an internal staff game that spilled into dining hall program. A staff member would stand up, present an incredible story of need or want, and explain that the only way that X staff member could achieve this goal was by collecting box tops.
For instance, Jason Shumaker would stand up and tell a tale of woe and opportunity. Jason Bradford needed to go to college. General Mills promised him a scholarship if he could collect 1000 box tops by the end of the summer. Before you know it, Jason Bradford is swarmed by young Scouts every morning with boxtops in hand. Usually, Jason Bradford did not know this was coming until he was too late. After a morning or two, he may retaliate with a box top challenge of his own.
As the summer wore on, the stipulations to the challenges may get more extravagant. Only Golden Grahams box tops could be accepted. Only box tops that were not ripped were accepted. The box tops were for helping someone buy a boat or maybe someone needed some new Scouts socks. Once, they were used to sponsor a cow. Don’t ask, we don’t understand either.
Quite prominent in the 1980s and 1990s, the box top may have existed earlier than the 1980s, but we haven’t found mention of it. It also may have continued beyond the 1990s, but again, we haven’t seen a mention of it. It seems to be a program experience unique to the Willhite years.
Seen here is a Golden Grahams self-serve container found on Amazon.com. Sadly, we have no photos of this exquisite phenomenon.
On July 5, 1921 the VERY FIRST Boxwell opened in Linton, TN.
A truck picked up Scouts going to camp at the intersection of the Belle Meade and Harding Road at 10am and 4:30pm. Camp only ran for about three weeks at the time and cost less than $6 a week!
We are hoping to start a new tradition, not just here at VirtualBoxwell, but across Middle Tennessee Council by celebrating BOXWELL DAY–a day commemorating the opening of the first Boxwell.
To that end, we ask for two things from you: 1) Share this message far and wide. If you use social media, share the post. If you are looking on the website, share the link. Spread the word so that everyone knows this is a new Middle Tennessee Council holiday! 2) Take this opportunity to share your favorite Boxwell stories in the comments AND, if you are staff member, contact an old friend and reminisce about years gone by!
Thank you to all the professionals, volunteers and staff members who have worked for 100 summers to keep Boxwell alive and flourishing!
In a world without coronavirus, today would have been the first day of staff week for the 2020 summer camp season. Unfortunately, there is coronavirus and more unfortunately, summer camp was cancelled as a result.
Over the next few weeks, we’re going to post a little bit more than usual–a bit of a virtual summer camp. Less explanation and more photos. We bet you’ll like it.
So, since this would be staff week, here is the first page from the VERY first staff manual in 1960. Note that last line–it stays in the manual for at least a decade.