From the Archives, August 18, 2019

Passing the Baton

In March of 1920, the Nashville Council formed. Three months later, they hired their first Scout Executive, Vanderbilt track coach William Anderson. Anderson didn’t particularly want the job. But, after taking a Scoutmaster’s Handbook home and reading it for just one hour, he knew he had to accept the post. He stayed on for the next 27 years, overseeing Boxwell at Linton and the Narrows.

Anderson officially retired at his birthday in June 1947, but agreed to stay on for a few more months while a replacement was found. That replacement was Ward E. Akers. Akers originally hailed from Roanoke, Virginia, but he came to Tennessee through the Eastern Arkansas Area Council, where he had been an executive since 1941. Akers was an incredibly young 34 years old when he took the post on September 15, 1947. He would stay on until his forced retirement at the end of 1975, almost thirty years later.

Both track men at different points in their lives, here is Anderson “passing the baton” on September 15. The two men are front and center, Akers on the left, Anderson on the right. In the background, from left to right are treasurer E. E. Murrey, Assistant Scout Executives James Gribble and Talmadge Miller (both part of the Narrows Boxwell), and George Simpson, deputy regional executive of Region V. It is not an exaggeration to say that big changes both in the Council and at Boxwell would soon follow…

From “New Scout Executive Takes Over Duties,” Nashville Banner, September 16, 1947, pg. 8.

Akers, Anderson, Gribble, Miller, Murrey

Back Row, L to R: treasurer E. E. Murrey, Assistant Scout Executives James Gribble and Talmadge Miller, and George Simpson, deputy regional executive of Region V.
Up Front: Ward E. Akers and William J. Anderson

From the Archives, August 11, 2019

Junior Leaders at the Narrows, 1939

For a little longer than a decade, Camp Boxwell was run by an adult staff. There were a handful of paid staff–the camp director, the waterfront director, the medic, the cook–but virtually every instructor and every other “staff” member was an adult volunteer. Scoutmasters or people supportive of the program would come out to Boxwell for a week or two and teach the skills to the Scouts in camp.

All of this changed in the early 1930s. Likely tested by the end of 1931 but clearly and officially part of the Boxwell program from 1932 on, Junior Leaders became part of the camp staff. Throughout the years at the Narrows, these Junior Leaders were Eagle Scouts and usually had attended Boxwell as campers. There were never more than 8 of these Junior Leaders any summer and they did everything from digging latrines to teaching merit badges to running campfire and church services.

Seen here is one of the earliest known photos of Boxwell’s Junior Leaders. From left to right are O. E. Brandon, George Stone, Roy Shaub, and Gerald Greene. Kneeling is Joe Gilliam. The notes from O. E. Brandon has the photo dated as 1939 and this additional message: “Ensign Gerald Greene killed in action in WWII during Battle of South China Sea while flying a torpedo bomber. His name is listed at Punchboxwell Cemetery as “Lost at Sea.” Of course, in 1939, these five boys hamming it up for the camera during a little down time between sessions of camp could hardly know what the future would hold for them…

Junior Leaders

1939 Junior Leaders at Camp Boxwell. L-R: O. E. Brandon, George Stone, Roy Shaub, and Gerald Greene. Kneeling is Joe Gilliam.

From the Archives, August 4, 2019

The Seymore Duck shirts

Today, Boxwell t-shirts based on popular culture–The Avengers or Ghostbusters movies for example–are pretty common place. In the 1980s, they weren’t. In fact, until this point, camp t-shirts had been very “Scout-y” themes: canoes, wilderness, maps, eagles, and Native Americans. All were fairly common.

In 1986, the owner of Richards and Southern Screenprinters, Terry Calonge, had an idea. Richards and Southern Screenprinters was the company that printed Boxwell’s t-shirts at the time and Calonge suggested that in order to help Trading Post sales, a new theme that appealed to younger Scouts was needed. From here, “Seymore Duck” (as in “see more duck”) was born.

As Russ Parham, Reservation Business manager at the time, explains, “I recall Terry asking me what animal did I associate with Boxwell and I immediately thought of a duck (or rather the ever present Canadian Geese). After discussing what Scout Craft skills were most difficult to master, we decided on fire starting. Terry’s art department then took charge and developed the idea and theme.” Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had just recently burst onto the scene (1984), and the “Quack Patrol” was inspired by this.

The Seymore Duck theme lasted a few summers and then faded away. The first two years were the most popular. Again, Parham explains, “Tom Willhite had a rather reserved view of ‘Seymore’ but allowed me to try out the idea. (The key was that I did not lose money on Seymore!).” From a simple concept a new trend was introduced that remains to this day.

Shown here was the first Seymore Duck design, discussed above, and sold at Boxwell Trading Posts in 1986.

Seymore Duck

The first t-shirt to feature Seymore Duck, the start of a shirt design geared toward younger Scouts

From the Archives, July 28, 2019

Campwide Orienteering Course

For a number of years, Boxwell had a campwide orienteering course. The course was built by Lance Ussery and Green Bar Bill in 1986.

The famous Scouter William “Green Bar Bill” Hillcourt visited Boxwell in 1986 (From the News; From the Archives). One afternoon,¬†Hillcourt and an 18-year-old Lance Ussery wandered the Reservation, laying out the course. Ussery explained the situation in an interview earlier this year:

“Green Bar Bill came to camp and spent a whole day here. That’s where the– I Like Bananas, Coconuts and Grapes song came from. He led that at lunch. I was 18-years-old and was informed that I was spending the afternoon with this old man. That’s really all he was to me at the time. They wanted me to set up an orienteering course, and we plotted more orienteering course out and we went and set up most of it. I don’t think he did every point with me, but we spent the whole afternoon together setting up this course. If we didn’t set the posts, we went and marked things, so that I could set the posts afterward. Looking back, what’s that 32, 33 years now, as I’m 51 years old now, and I’ve had a direct connection to Baden Powell I mean, one step. As I get older that becomes more and more, it becomes cooler and cooler…”

A smaller course was developed for Craig in 1990 by Don Viar. The map seen here is Viar’s map for the Craig course. However, once the course was “put on file” in the Crab, Business Manager Russ Parham came back and drew in the additional posts from the campwide course that Ussery built with Hillcourt. The hand-drawn circles are Parham’s additions to Viar’s map.

And the course itself? Pieces of it are still out there. If you run across a 4×4 post sticking out of the ground with a white and red striped top, you’ve found one of the old Orienteering posts.


Don Viar’s early computer map of the 1990 orienteering course he built. The hand drawn circles (mostly to the left) are from Russ Parham, adding in Lance Ussery’s 1986 campwide course

From the Archives, July 21, 2019

Kitchen Patrol at Linton

We’re going way back this week, almost to the very beginning. This week’s photo from the Archives comes from the Linton Boxwell and features none other than Leslie G. Boxwell himself. More on that in a moment.

The first Camp Boxwell was more like a modern day camporee in a lot of ways. Yes, there was a camp cook–Walter Whittaker–and Scouts ate in a “dining hall.” However, they also brought their own dishes and utensils, which they had to wash themselves. Pots and pans were washed in the Little Harpeth River right back the camp. And, because the first Boxwell had basically no staff, all kitchen work was done by Scout volunteers. Yes, that’s right. The Scouts who were there for the week got K.P. (Kitchen Patrol) duty. And that’s what’s happening here.

This photo appeared in the July 30 issue of the Nashville Banner, the first in a set of three. The caption for this specific photo read, “The top picture shows L. G. Boxwell, chairman of the annual Boy Scout camp for whom the camp at Linton is named, heading the line of, otherwise known as kitchen mechanics at the Boy Scout cam. The dusty figure in the center is none other than Walter, the camp cook, who knowns to sling hash and sing along with the best of them. The way the boys take to Walter’s three squares daily would give joy to the soul of a dyspectic.”

And so, to the far left, none other than L. G. Boxwell himself. Camp cook Walter Whittaker takes the center position. And surrounding them are Scouts at camp for the week.

Linton KP

L. G. Boxwell, Walter Whittaker, and Scouts on K. P., July 30, 1922