From the Archives, February 19, 2023

Explorer Island Bridge

Nothing particularly exciting this week, just something you don’t normally see–Explorer Island Bridge from the air. This is the most current bridge, currently named the Johnny Garrott, Jr. Bridge. It is hardly the first bridge though.

Until the 1990s, virtually every incarnation of the bridge was built of crossties. Periodically the bridge rotted and collapsed and had to be replaced. Between camp in 1992 and 1993, the last cross tie bridge collapsed. Metal girders were erected and slowly the current bridge took shape over the next decade.

Though debris filled today, from the 1960s until the 1990s, the passage was kept open. It was used a goal for mile swim, canoeing, and rowing out of Parnell Bay. Today its is the home of a duck blind and a wide variety of turtles and, occasionally, a fresh water oyster.

Explorer Island Bridge, 2013
Explorer Island Bridge from the air, December 31, 2013

From the Archives, February 12, 2023

The Re-Birth of Parnell

Camp Parnell’s last summer as a resident camp was 1998, though no one knew it at the time. The site was used for a year or two for other purposes–Webelos summer camp and a Venture week–but nothing for more than 2 weeks and nothing like a resident camp experience.

Parnell’s slow rehabilitation began in 2004 with the introduction of teh NRA Light Rifle program, referred to as the NRA Marksmanship Program at the time. As a program from the rifle shooting merit badge, the NRA program utilized the Parnell Rifle Range as its base of operations. And for the next decade, the NRA Program at the rifle range was the only regular Scouting activity going on at Parnell.

The program was headed by long-time Parnell/Craig staff member Pat Deugaw. Known to an earlier generation at “the Kool-Aid Man” for his bug juice breaks during staff week, the NRA Program gave him a new nickname, one that reflected his 23 years of military service: “Old Soldier.” Deugaw is seen here the first summer at the Parnell range, flanked by range assistants Jimmy Bumpus (l) and Cole Cunningham (r).

NRA Light Rifle Staff, 2004
The NRA Light Rifle staff, 2004. L-R: Jimmy Bumpus, Pat Deugaw, Cole Cunningham

From the Archives, February 5, 2023

Mapping Boxwell

We are proud to present to you this week a new Special Exhibit as part of the VirtualBoxwell Virtual Museum: Mapping Boxwell. Mapping Boxwell presents a variety of different maps of Boxwell from the Narrows of the Harpeth up to the present day.

To help get you excited about this new exhibit, we present this map of CubWorld from 1994. This was a map of the original vision of the new camp. Much of the basic layout of the camp are the same as how the camp actually turned out, but there are also so important differences.

Note Site 4. It is labeled as “Tree Houses” with an activity symbol, meaning there were going to be tree houses in CubWorld. Note that the northern part of CubWorld has a large network of paved areas: family campsites. There’s more here if you look closely!

Check out the changing world of Boxwell through maps here:

CubWorld blueprint, 1994
Original blueprint of Cubworld by Grisham, Smith, and Partners, 1994.

From the Archives, January 29, 2023

Rock Island As It Was

With the first Parish Reservation Round Tuit next weekend (February 4), we thought this was a good opportunity to take another look at Parish as Camp Boxwell. Specifically, we thought we’d show the Rock Island Boxwell as it was.

When the Rock Island Boxwell opened in 1949, it used “bivouac camping.” In other words, tents were set up around the site. By 1950/1951, campsites were developed around the camp. Rock Island started with 6 sites and grew to 8 by 1959. Many were named (supposedly) for Cherokee chieftains.

The map here is based on the 1949 Rock Island Boxwell map, the only known map of the camp. We have added sites and other items based on our research and consultation with former Rock Island Staff members. While all the details are difficult to see, it gives an idea of where things were. And interestingly, if you go to Parish today, the camp’s physical arrangements have not changed THAT much since 1959…

Rock Island Map, ca. 1959
A modified map of the Rock Island Boxwell. This is approximately how the camp looked in 1959.

From the Archives, January 22, 2023

OA Lodge by Drone

Sometimes Boxwell photos can get a little repetitive. After all, there are only so many ways to take a photograph of a dining hall!

Fortunately, drones open up some new perspectives, allowing new angles for photos and even for videos. In many ways, drone photos are even better than helicopter fly overs because of how close they can get, though trees are clearly more of an issue!

Shown here are two different angles of the OA taken by the drone of former staff member Ben Whitehouse just a little earlier this year.

OA Lodge by drone, January 2023, patio
The OA Lodge by drone, January 2023, back patio. Photo by Ben Whitehouse
OA Lodge by drone, January 2023, front entrance
The OA Lodge by drone, January 2023, front entrance. Photo by Ben Whitehouse