From the Archives, June 9, 2019

Staff Week 2019

Staff Week is the period before summer camp starts when the staff puts together camp. The general purpose is the same: physically set up camp and train the staff on their jobs and responsibilities. For a young first year staff member, it may be the hardest work he or she has ever encountered. For a seasoned staff member, staff week is fun from start finish. Work, yes, but a great opportunity to get reacquainted with old friends and laugh about years passed.

This past week saw the Boxwell staff–Stahlman, Craig, Cubworld, Parnell, Reservation–work to prep the camp and practice the little things, like marching in, dining hall program, flag lowering, and saying grace. Mid-week the staff got a nice meal to help carry them through; Friday came with campfire practice. Every day was full, with training and activities starting early in the morning and continuing long after the sun set.

Seen here are some of the Reservation leadership surveying the troops before dinner at Camp Craig. From left to right are COPE Director Rhen Hughey, Reservation Director Jason Flannery, Craig Camp Director Perry Bruce, and Stahlman Camp Director Steve Eubank. Summer camp 2019 is about to begin….

2019 leadership

Some of the 2019 Leadership: Hughie, Flannery, Bruce, and Eubank

From the Archives, June 2, 2019

Boxwell Greats: Bobby Smith

If you can believe it, Staff Week begins this week. So, it seems appropriate to honor another one of Boxwell’s Great Staff members. This week we take a look at Bobby Smith.

Bobby was the Head Ranger at Boxwell at Old Hickory Lake from 1966 to 1973. Bobby had been a Scoutmaster for a troop up in Indian Mound, Tennessee and then worked as civilian personnel at Fort Campbell before coming to Boxwell. Bobby headed quite the ranger staff. With himself as head, he had Pumpkin Green (Larry Green’s brother), a man named “Uncle Bill”, and of course the amazing Farmer Bush all working for him.

As ranger, Bobby always kept a few things under the seat of his blue pick up truck. First, binoculars, which he would use to see if Ward Akers was at Ittabeena (Fehrmann today). He kept a gun, in case he needed to shoot someone or a critter. And he kept a roll of toilet paper. Because you never know when you might need toilet paper.

Bobby was responsible for building Akers’ Cabin (or Ittabeena or Fehrmann, depending on your era). Bobby was responsible for bringing a lot of equipment that was screened from the military, including cots and mattresses and sometimes even furniture for the staff. Bobby headed the farm operations at camp at the time, which meant either killing hogs or taking animals to the slaughterhouse. He raised his family at camp too. It is not unusual to see pictures of his daughter Joann with the daughters of Ed Human at Camp Murrey.

Bobby left Boxwell in 1974 for another job, but he wasn’t done with the camp. He was instrumental in keeping in contact with a group of former District Executives who had been staff members. This group, at Bobby’s behest, started getting together every Memorial Day for a group campout in the 1970s. From here, the very first staff Reunion was born in 1983. Bobby helped put this Reunion and the 1989 Reunion together, continuing to visit and to camp with the “XDE” group until well into the 1990s.  Indeed, Bobby’s influence was so profound that these same men created a “specialty” table dedicated to Bobby, which sits in Craig dining hall to this very day.

What many people remember though about Bobby was his hospitality. If you showed up at Boxwell one late afternoon and got to talking with Bobby about whatever, it would not be unusual for him to invite you over to the Ranger’s house. He and his wife Genese would cook something up and you would be part of the family. As Kerry Parker explained, Bobby never met a stranger and was always glad to see you. He was a symbol of what we today call “the Boxwell Spirit.”

Bobby Smith

Bobby Smith, head ranger from 1966 to 1973, at a campout of former staff members in 1989.


Interview Transcription Project: Thank You

The campaign has achieved its goal! You made it happen!
To all of you who contributed to my GoFundMe Campaign, thank you. To those who have supported VirtualBoxwell over the last (almost) two decades, thank you. To those who continue to put up with my mild obsession with Boxwell, thank you.
As I prepare to move into the formal writing stage of the history of Boxwell, I want to pause for just a moment. Over the course of working on this Boxwell project, I have met and conversed with the most incredible people. Some were camp legends, some were personal legends. All were legendary.
I’ve heard the most fantastic stories. Stories that have made me laugh; stories that have made me think. I’ve heard stories that have made me sad and stories that have made me cringe. Every conversation was unique and amazing in its own way. Oral histories are people’s lives and I’m thrilled to have captured so many.
Through doing this research, I walked into the lives of people I wouldn’t have met for any other reason, but I would now call you friends. I’ve been surprised and proud to earn the support of individuals who are part of social circles I would never have dreamed of being connected to in any way. And of course I deeply appreciate those friends who have come forward to assist, some camp related from youth, and others from adulthood who have never even set foot on Boxwell soil.
If you can excuse the expression, it has been one hell of a ride so far, and I have loved it.
It has been such an indescrible joy to be part of this story throughout my own life. To know that people are counting on me to write this communal story–a story that has never been told–is mind-boggling and humbling. I am overwhelmed in the best way possible.
So, to everyone who has been a part of this in any way, thank you for making this happen. It has been an incredible journey so far. There are still quite a few miles to go, but I have renewed confidence I can complete the journey in time for the Centennial in 2021!
Grady Eades

Eades, 1994

This is me, Grady Eades, as Activity Yard Director in 1994. Tom Willhite was still Reservation Director and he referred to the Activity Yard as the “AY Yard,” something we all laughed about!

Interview Transcription Project: Russ Parham

**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: to get this interview transcribed so I can produce a history of Camp Boxwell for its centennial in 2021.


Russ Parham at a campout with friends, 2007

Interview Transcription Project: Wes Frye

**My campaign ends today and every little bit helps. This is it!**

This fine gentleman is Wes Frye. Wes not only worked Parnell staff in the 1960s, but he was part of the now (somewhat) famous Parnell Hootennannies!

Wes allowed me to come to his home on December 10, 2018 for our interview. We discussed early Parnell, the Activity Yard, the Waterfront, Jimmy Joe Jackson and early camp leadership.

My interview with Wes was over one and a half hours and needs to be transcribed.

Please, help me reach my goal. Contribute to the Boxwell Interview Transcription Project: to get this interview transcribed so I can produce a history of Camp Boxwell for its centennial in 2021.

Wes Frye

Wes Frye at his home for our interview, December 10, 2018.