Merry Christmas 2021

As has become a tradition around here, we present you with Tom Willhite as Santa Claus. DE Buff Groth is asking for gifts!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone!

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

On This Day, December 15

On this day–Wednesday, December 15, 1982–long time Scout Executive Bruce Atkins passed away. A graduate of Austin Peay, Atkins joined the ranks of the Middle Tennessee Council professional staff in 1960. He served two districts before promotion to Field Director in 1965. In 1966 he was promoted again to Assistant Council Executive and Director of Camping, serving at Reservation Director at Boxwell from the summer of ’66 through the summer of ’69. In 1970, he became Council Executive of the West Tennessee Council in Jackson, TN and in 1976, he became Council Executive of the Great Smoky Mountains Council. Atkins battled cancer early in his career and had surgery to remove it. The cancer returned by the early 1980s and was responsible for his death. Atkins was 48 years old.

Bruce Atkins, Wood Badge staff, 1967

On This Day, December 9

On This Day–Saturday, December 9, 1961–coal magnate and long time Scouting supporter Justin “Jet” Potter passed away. Born in 1898, he briefly attended Vanderbilt before serving in the First World War. He founded the Nashville Coal Company upon returning from the war and sold it in 1955 for $36 million, one of the largest sales for the area. He was involved in several other businesses and local civic organizations as well, including the Boy Scouts. Through his efforts the Nashville Council secured the Narrows of the Harpeth property. Later, Potter donated 4% of the $891,000 campaign for Old Hickory Boxwell. Services were held at Mt. Olivet Cemetery; pallbearers included both of Coach William J. Anderson’s son. His two two daughters continued to oversee the Potter Foundation, which contributed to several Scouting needs, including the development of a new Council Office as part of the 1972 Capital Development Campaign. Potter was just 63 years old at his passing.

Justin “Jet” Potter, from obituary article, _Nashville Banner_, December 9, 1961

On This Day, December 8

On this day–Monday, December 8, 2008–long time ranger Willie Dean Claud passed away. Claud had been a military man before retiring and joining the Boy Scouts. He was the first ranger at Grimes Canoe Base, basically running the program there out of his own home while the facility was built. He became ranger at Boxwell in 1982 and stayed on until 1995, making him the longest serving ranger in the Reservation’s history. Famous for his surplus shop as well as his lectures on tractors and diesel, Claud was an integral part of the Willhite era. He passed away at 78.

Ranger Willie
Ranger Willie Claud sitting on his back porch, early 1990s

On This Day, December 3

On this day–Friday, December 3, 1976–the Pump House was officially retired. One of the first buildings constructed on the Reservation and donated by Clover Bottom Development Center, the Pump House literally pumped water out of Old Hickory Lake, purified it through a series of filters, and sent the cleaned water up the hill to be stored in the water tower. By 1976 though, the Pump House had been having issues, was deemed “worn out” and no longer able to pump and purify water. The Council approved $15,000 to tie in the Laguardo water system, to which the Reservation still belongs today.

Pump House form Island
In this photo of the Pump House, you can see the reservoir and silt tanks still in place. This was a working pump house!

On this day–Friday, December 3, 1993–the Middle Tennessee Council officially kicked off the “Scouting. The Handbook for Life” campaign, better known as the 1994 Capital Development Campaign. With a goal of $7.8 million the campaign brought the reservation into compliance with the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and converted Camp Murrey into Gaylord Cubworld. The campaign also established a large endowment to help the Council better fund itself in the future. The campaign was chaired by E. W. “Bud” Wendell, president of Gaylord Entertainment.

CubWorld's Frontier Fort, 1995
When CubWorld’s dedication was held in October 1995, everything was built, but not quite complete , as demonstrated by the Frontier Fort, which clearly still needs some paint. December 1995.

On this day–Saturday, December 3, 2005–the Josh Sain High Adventure Gateway was dedicated. The gateway served as an entrance to a growing section of Camp Light, which had come to be known as the High Adventure Area. It included the pool, the shotgun range, the Parish High Adventure Center, and COPE. The Gateway was a service project of the Wa-Hi-Nasa Lodge to memorialize former Lodge Chief Josh Sain. Sain had been an active member of the OA locally and nationally and was recognized as a rising star within the program. Sain had also served on Brownsea staffs and Boxwell camp staff in the 1990s. Tragically, Sain was killed in a car accident in October 1997 at age 19.

The John Sain Memorial High Adventure Gateway
The Josh Sain High Adventure Gateway