The Beaver Story, 1987
If you’ve been to camp in say–oh, I don’t know–the last thirty years, you’ve probably heard “The Beaver Song.” But have you heard “The Beaver Story”? Probably not. And, we happen to know a few 1990s Parnell/Craig Staff members who might find this story particularly interesting.
From the desk of Ted Rodgers, February 7, 2002:
The disappearing beaver (as I don’t remember this one being told before)
The year: 1987(?)
The place: Stahlman Dining Hall
The actors: Stahlman camp staff, Parnell/Craig camp staff, a stuffed beaver
The set up: High above the mantle, a good 10 to 15 feet in the air, and to the left of the fireplace was one of the most memorable Woodbadge flags ever; as much as I wish I could remember who penned that beautiful flag, the detail escapes me… Anyways…. Although I’m not sure this is STILL the case, the dining hall at Stahlman in the eighties was decorated with past Woodbadge leader training patrol flags. A very nice touch, as they were often very artistic and added to the overall ‘rustic-ness’ of camp life.
Now, this particular Woodbadge flag was from the Beaver patrol, and it was topped off with a 2-to-3 foot tall beaver, keeping guard over the kids at Stahlman. Whenever we would dare to creep up the rocks that made up the dining hall chimney to get a closer look, he was quite dusty, one eye seemed to be popping out, and he had generally seen better days (not to mention that he had that pleasant mixture of mildew and chicken dumplin’ fragrance)… Often times, Ernie Ragsdale would award a kiss for the beaver as a gizmo prize (or was it a disciplinary measure? either way, it was a lot of fun) to a lucky camper or slightly unruly staff member. It should be disclosed that I was never sent up the wall to kiss the beaver. So, as a full dining hall would award the prize/punishment of true love’s kiss, we would all chant lowly and rhythmically, “beaver…. beaver…. beaver…. beaver….” All in all, great fun.
Enter Parnell/Craig staff (can’t remember which one was open that year)… I’m not sure if it was a fellow named Brown or Estes, but it was ALLEGED that one of the two had cooked up a scheme to steal the beaver in the middle of the night. I remember it was bolted into a concrete/mortar wall with what must have been a very large, very deep bolt. I’ll let you be the judge of who may have actually taken it, as it’s not known for sure, but that’s how legend holds it….
A mad hunt ensued for the return of the beaver, but it was always fruitless. Everyone seemed to have an alibi, and no one was caught furry-handed at any point. One day during lunch, one of the two doors aside the fireplace along the long side swung open just enough for SOMEONE to ram the beaver through the door. This occurred days after he was taken, but a mad chase ensued. As mysteriously as he had re-appeared, the culprit got away without being seen (Ernie slowed us down with a stalled ‘Monitors Stand by’)
For the rest of the summer, whenever Ernie awarded the gizmo prize of true love’s first kiss, the chant would start back from the staff tables and spread across the dining hall, lowly and rhythmically….. “Wall….. wall…… wall…… wall…..” Naturally, since that was the only thing left after the great beaver heist. Kids must have been very confused, at least the ones who hadn’t been to camp before…
When I trekked from Arizona to the Staff reunion a few years ago, I looked up at the wall, empty, and still became a bit misty and nostalgic. Last anyone had heard of the beaver, he had made it to a fraternity house somewhere in the state of Alabama…. Lucky guy…..
The Disappearing Beaver
Collection of Ted Rodgers
E-mail sent Monday, February 7, 2002
Beds in a tent
It is well-established by now that Camp Murrey–today CubWorld–was the family camp. This meant families of Scoutmasters had a place to stay during the summer. It also meant that the spouses and families of staff members had a place to stay. This week, a quick story from 1972 by Ski Dock Staff member John Cyril Stewart
“When my fiance and I were discussing how to set up our home I had been .
sleeping diagonally on a small antique double bed. I asked her if she
wanted to sleep in the upper or lower corner of the bed after we were
married. We (read she) decided that our first purchase would be a king
size bed. The wedding day came and the honeymoon in Atlanta. Then we
returned and arrived at Boxwell where we would spend the first three
months of our married life. At that time, 1972, Camp Murray (now
Cubworld) was a family camp where wives and children of staff lived for
the summer. Wives and children of adult scouters camped for a week or two
at a time while their husbands/fathers stayed with scouts at Parnell or
“I’ll never forget the look on the face of the delivery truck driver for
Payne’s Furniture. He asked, “Where do you want this king sized bed
delivered?” I replied, ” In that tent”!
Beds in a tent
Collection of John Stewart
E-mail sent Monday, October 2, 2000
**My campaign ends today and every little bit helps. This is it: the FINAL Post!**
This incredible individual is Russ Parham. Russ joined the Boxwell staff in 1970 as a Stahlman kitchen staff, became the youngest program director ever with the Great Staff Walk Out in 1976, was on Program Director during the “Staff Switch” in 1979/1980, and was involved in every detail of camp planning in the 1980s and the first half of the 1990s in his role as Business manager. To say that Russ was important to Boxwell is like saying grass is green. It is so obvious as to make definition seem silly.
Russ came to my home for our interview on July 29, 2017. We spoke for over four hours. This interview needs to be transcribed.
Russ’s time cannot be easily summarized. Even the four hour interview fails to do justice to the story of a man so intricately involved in the history of Boxwell. No other single individual has been so helpful to this project or understands Boxwell’s history so well. My only regret with interviewing Russ is that we couldn’t set up a series of smaller, topic-specific interviews. We could talk for days and still not capture all of Russ’s experience.
Please, help me reach my goal. Contribute to the Boxwell Interview Transcription Project: https://www.gofundme.com/boxwell-history-transcription-project to get this interview transcribed so I can produce a history of Camp Boxwell for its centennial in 2021.