Council Centennial, February 5, 2020

The Nashville Council Forms

For those who don’t know, this year is the centennial of the Middle Tennessee Council. Technically, the current Middle Tennessee Council is the second council to bear this name (the other collapsed in 1930) and wasn’t organized until 1948, but let’s not quibble. Today’s Middle Tennessee Council is a direct outgrowth of the Nashville Council, which was formed in March of 1920.

While the Council has its own Centennial celebrations planned (which you can view here:, we felt like we needed to do something as well. So, over the next several months we’ll be adding an additional regular post. Sundays will still be our “From the Archives” post on Boxwell, but Wednesdays will be a special “Council Centennial” post dealing with the Council’s history. Our goal is to walk you through highlights of the Council’s history by decade. We’ll pause these postings when summer camp is going on for our “Remembering the Staffs” series, but the rest of the year will be include these specialized posts. We’ll focus on both events and individuals.

So, the logical place to begin is with the formation of the Nashville council in Nashville Council. Seen here is an advertisement from Sunday, March 7, 1920 in the Nashville Tennessean. The Nashville Rotary Club was launching a campaign to raise $15,000 to start a council. The money would be used for several things, specifically “to employ a high-class man who will give his whole time to [the council’s] direction; enable us to establish a summer camp; maintain local headquarters; train volunteers leaders; and other essentials to a properly supervised Scout program, which should enroll 1,500 to 2,000 Scouts and influence 2,000 other boys.” And, should you question why such a program was necessary, remember, “The Boy Scout whom you meet on the street, or who lives next door, is being trained in patriotism and citizenship. He will never become a Bolshevist.”

Major E. B. Stahlman, grandfather of the camp namesake, had this to say about Scouting: “I believe in the Boy Scout Movement. The purpose of this organization, as I understand it, is to direct the energies of our boys along useful lines and thereby save them from evil and criminal tendencies. The Boy Scout is trained along religious and moral lines, is taught the duties of citizenship and to lend a helping hand to those needing assistance. He is also trained physically and mentally and kept as far as possible under good influences. Such a movement cannot but have a good effect upon the boys of any community.”

Among those involved at this stage were Edgar M. Foster of Foster & Creighton, Leslie G. Boxwell, William J. Anderson, And Dan E. McGugin. More on some of these individuals as we move forward.

“$15,000 for Nashville Boys”
Nashville Tennessean, Sunday, March 7, 1920, page 4

Nashville Council

“$15,000 for Nashville Boys,” Nashville Tennessean, Sunday, March 7, 1920, page 4

Website Updates, January 2020

Happy New Year!

2020 is an important year for Middle Tennessee Boy Scouting.  This is considered the centennial of the Middle Tennessee Council.  The Nashville Council was organized in March 1920 and this was the predecessor to the Middle Tennessee Council. (If you are interested in the Council’s Centennial events, go here: Happy Centennial everyone!

While we do have some centennial events planned here at VirtualBoxwell, we have some more immediate concerns: website updates.

We have a new banner image.  Shown here is Camp Stahlman on January 31, 2010 after a good snow.  The photo is by Steve Belew, head ranger at the time. See below.

2019 Staff photos for Stahlman, Craig, the Reservation, and Boat Harbor have been added.  Unfortunately, we have no staff photo for the CubWorld Staff at this time.

All copyright dates have been updated to reflect 2020.

Have a great year everyone!  We’ll see you soon!

The VirtualBoxwell Team

Stahlman snow

Camp Stahlman Dining Hall in the snow, January 2010

From the Archives, December 15, 2019

Camp Shape

A variety of groups have used Boxwell over the summer, often after the regular summer camp has ended. Latter Day Saints (LDS) weekends were popular for many years and both reform boys and youth from Nashville orphanages have all had time at one of the Boxwell’s over the last century. In 1972, a new group joined the list: a group of mentally disabled youth.

For a week, 114 mentally disabled youth from across the state moved into Stahlman, which was renamed “Camp Shape.” The idea was part of a federally funded program (“Project Shape”) “to coordinate services for mentally retarded people in Tennessee.” Don Endsley from Tullahoma spearheaded the activity as a way to get these kids out of the institution into the world. The staff for the event was mixed, with some provided by Endsley while others were hand-picked volunteers from the summer camp staff.

Russ Parham remembered this week well. In particular he remembers because a specific detail for the event was lacking on the front end: the remaining staff were told the youth would disabled, just not mentally disabled. It was a type of special needs many were not prepared for. Still, both the Tennessean article that is attached and Parham’s own recollection both ultimately reflect a favor experience. For Parham’s part, he recalled the following: “Q-Ball was there and there was a little girl that spent time with Erin, her favorite song was, “You Are My Sunshine.” She sang it over and over again.”

The event was apparently something of a success. For several summers in the 1970s, a variant of Camp Shape with youth from the Clover Bottom Development Center (now closed) came to camp every year for their own special week.

Camp Shape

Photo by John R. Mott III of _the Tennessean_ staff. Pink goo was apparently quite the mesmerizing event at Camp Shape.

John R. Mott III, “Camp Offers Retarded Week of Fun,” The Tennessean, August 7, 1972, pg. 13;
John R. Mott III, “Goo Makes for Excitement,” The Tennessean, August 7, 1972, pg. 13;
Russ Parham (retired Boxwell Business Manager), interviewed by Grady Eades, July 29, 2017, Hendersonville, TN.

From The Archives, October 27, 2019

The Charges Against Ward Akers, Part IV

All this month, we’ve been looking at the events that led to the retirement of Ward Akers. If you recall, our story started on July 1, 1975. Reporter Larry Brinton in the Nashville Banner raised questions concerning Akers’ salary, nepotism in the Council office, and some generally questionable practices of the Council, specifically concerning trips and reimbursements. He followed up these charges 2 days later with accusations that the Council was trying to bury the publicity in hopes it would go away. Undeterred, Brinton pressed forward and a week after the first accusations, he then charged Akers with violating the Council’s own policy of no professional holding an outside position or interest. Akers was an investor in Camp Hy-Lake and his eldest son Ward E. Akers ran the camp. In response, the Council formed six ad hoc committees in Accounting, Administration, Budget, Ethics, Program, and Salary. Ward Akers “stepped aside” while the review was conducted.

The work of all six committees was completed by the middle of September 1975. However, the work of the committees was not made public for approximately two more weeks. The results were first reported in The Banner on the afternoon of October 4th and published in more detail in The Tennessean the morning of October 5th. The reports from the various committees total over 200 pages of investigation into the Council’s dealings and Akers’ performance. As The Tennessean explained, “The committees scrutinized the administration, ethics, salaries, budgeting, programs and bookkeeping procedures of the organization. The Committee which considered the question of salary paid to Ward E. Akers was especially concerned with how he received his raised and whether his salary was too high.” In the interests of brevity here, we direct you to attachment. This is _The Tennessean_’s summary of the various reports and tackles the highlights clearly. The short version: no outrageous violations occurred, though there were some misunderstandings and some poor decisions made. The nepotism and salary charges were clearly explained and dismissed. Camp Hy-Lake was not so easily dismissed.

Of course, because this was a “no stone unturned” investigation, the committees looked into more than the charges. They found some evidence of “ghost” enrollments and some evidence that the farming operation sometimes personally benefited Akers and the rangers. One of the most interesting finding came from the Administrative Review Committee, which found “that the [Executive] board is little more than a ‘rubber stamp’ to the scout executive, probably because it is the easiest, fastest way to get things accomplished.” It was clearly a necessary, but painful examination into Council operations.

While the Council basically found nothing horribly inappropriate with Akers’ behavior, Akers knew what had to be be done. The Council would always function under a cloud of suspicion, even with these reports, if he stayed on as Council Executive. On Saturday, October 4, 1975 Akers announced his early retirement. He would stay on until a new man was hired. Hershel Tolbert was announced as the new Executive on January 4, 1976.

And so ended the era of Ward Akers, council executive from 1947 through 1975 and visionary of Boxwell at Old Hickory Lake…

Nancy Varley, “New Executive Sought to ‘Reorganize’ Scouts,” _The Tennessean_, October 5, 1975, pg.1-A, 6-A.

“Scout Committee Report Excerpted, Summarized,” _The Tennessean_, October 5, 1975, pg. 6-A.

Akers resignation

Nancy Varley, “New Executive Sought to ‘Reorganize’ Scouts,” _The Tennessean_, October 5, 1975, pg.1-A, 6-A.


Akers resignation

“Scout Committee Report Excerpted, Summarized,” _The Tennessean_, October 5, 1975, pg. 6-A.