From the Archives, February 17, 2019

Boxwell Greats: Pearl Schleicher

While we have posted about Mrs. Schleicher before, we have never given her a proper vetting. It is time to change that oversight. Pearl Schleicher is absolutely worthy of the title, “Boxwell Great.”

In her regular life, Pearl was a dietitian with Metro Schools. Her school principal recommended her for work at Boxwell, where she began working in 1962. Schleicher continued as the Reservation’s head cook until 1994. Along the way she brought her husband, John, and her sister, Estelle Langford. Because “Schleicher” proved so difficult pronounce, the trio were usually referred to as “Mrs. Pearl,” “Mr. John,” and “Ms. Bea.”

Physically a small woman, Pearl Schleicher was a big personality. There were strong kitchen directors at Stahlman under her tutelage–Jerry Barnett, Tommy Roussin–but the kitchen was hers. And she ran a tight ship, not tolerating shenanigans. Still, shenanigans happened.

Perhaps what is most important to remember is that Pearl and her crew cooked virtually everything themselves. There were some exceptions, but most everything was made from scratch. Scrambled eggs in the morning for Camps Stahlman, Parnell, and Murrey? That’s upward of 2000 eggs, all cracked by hand. Sheet cake with frosting for Friday night dinner? All mixed, baked, and created from scratch. Those amazing buttery rolls? Hand made by Estelle.

And, for better or worse, the Schleichers kept a fairly stable menu. Every summer you could expect roughly the same meals. Sunday night was ham, green beans, and a roll. Eggs were most mornings except Thursday. Thursday morning, at least in later years, was Krispy Kreme doughnuts and canteloupe, just to give everyone a break. Other meals included bologna sandwiches, hamburgers, hot dogs, and ravioli (one of the few pre-packaged meals). And, in the years when being Catholic meant no meat on Friday, the Schleichers cooked fish. And when Ward Akers wanted chicken for the Scoutmaster’s Supper, Pearl and her group cooked that too.

Pearl and staff were up at 5:30am every morning (Saturdays too) preparing to feed the reservation. Unlike many of the cooks today, Pearl lived on site. The cooks’ cabins were in fact the cooks’ cabins. The Schleichers moved in and stayed all summer. During Bull Crew weeks, they acted more as short order cooks, preparing smaller, more specific meals. When camp was over, Pearl and John went back to their schools in the Metro system.

Pearl (and John and Estelle) retired from her real job almost 20 years before she retired from camp, which happened in 1994, Tom Willhite’s last summer. For Pearl, she had been on Boxwell’s staff for 32 years, the longest serving staff member EVER on Boxwell’s staff. She lived for another 10 years before passing away on November 11, 2004 at the age of 95.

Pearl Schleicher was a Boxwell institution. She lived through three Council Executives, four Reservation directors, at least twelve Stahlman Program Directors, and upwards of 20 Stahlman kitchen directors. For over 30 years, no one said “Boxwell” like Pearl Schleicher.


Pearl Schleicher, ca. 1975. Pearl’s run on camp staff ran from 1962 to 1994, making her the longest serving staff member, period.

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

See you all again in 2019.


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

Staff Updates

As is always the case, when we get information about a staff member (former or current) in the news, we like to share it. Assuming it is good information, of course!

This week, we give you an update on a Rock Island Staff member, a former kitchen boy by the name of Buford “Booty” Reed.  Booty is the Executive Director of the Dickson Housing Authority, an organization he has been working for since 1983.  He was recently honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his 60 years–that’s right, 60 years–in Scouting.

Remembering the Staff, 2000s

Here is our final installment of “Remembering the Staff.”  Once we get the 2018 staff photos, we’ll upload those to the website.  In the meantime, let’s take a look back at 2008.  Carl Adkins was Reservation director and Steve Belew was the head ranger.  Nat Hudson was Program Director at Stahlman, while Aaron Patten was Program Director at Craig.  There were a slew of other programs by this point. Running the Boat Harbor was Michael Allen, at COPE Kyle Duckworth, at the pool John Kasper, and at the NRA Light Rifle Program was Pat “Old Soldier” Deugaw. Oh yeah, there was CubWorld too, though we don’t know who was in charge that summer (a glaring hole we’re working on fixing!).

Featured here are the staff photos for Stahlman, Craig, Cubworld, the Pool, and the Administrative Staff.  Enjoy!

Stahlman 2008

Camp Stahlman Staff, 2008

Craig 2008

Camp Craig Staff, 2008

Cubworld 2008

CubWorld Staff, 2008

Pool 2008

Reservation Pool Staff, 2008

Admin staff 2008

Reservation Administrative Staff, 2008

Happy Boxwell Day!

Happy Boxwell Day!

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 almost 100 years to keep Boxwell alive and flourishing!

Happy Boxwell Day everyone!

Boxwell Day 2018

The four Boxwells: Linton, Narrows of the Harpeth, Rock Island, Old Hickory Lake