Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of you out there from all of us here at VirtualBoxwell!  Have a wonderful and safe holiday!

And, in what is now an official holiday tradition here, we give you this photo of DE Buff Groth (Camp Director at Parnell in 1980) sitting on the lap of Tom Willhite (Santa; Reservation Director, 1976-1994).

See you all again in 2021, the Centennial of Camp Boxwell. We have a few things planned…

Tom Willhite as Santa Claus as a Council Christmas party; 1980 Parnell Camp Director Buff Groth on his lap


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!

Happy Boxwell Day everyone!

Boxwell Day, 2020

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.