From the Archives, January 13, 2019

New Years’ Resolution

Camp stories are at the heart of the Boxwell experience. And, as you know, we’ve collected a few over the years! So, even though we know it requires a bit of reading (gasp!), we have a New Year’s Resolution: share more camp stories. At least once a month, we hope to provide you with some camp anecdotes. But like weight loss promises made on the first of January, we’ll see how long this lasts!

The stories this week are from Bill Murphy. Bill was a Parnell staff member from 1968 to 1972. He worked in the Parnell AY and then became part of the Commissioner system when it was implemented in 1971. The stories we share this week are a result of last year’s “Anecdotes Project.”

Some of Bill’s Favorite camp stories follow…

“In 1968 there was a staff tradition that anyone who overslept had pitchers of ice water thrown on him in his bunk after breakfast was over. I made the mistake of over sleeping and held the record of 38 pitchers of ice water being thrown on me. That record stood at long as I was on staff, I don’t know how many years it was the record. The worst part of over sleeping was not the ice water but reporting to Coach Jackson for your punishment, a week of breakfast duty in the mess hall in addition to all your other duties at camp. Needless to say I only over slept that one time.

“Each summer a few staff members stayed around to help close up camp for the winter. We pulled the floatable docks around to the Parnell cove and up on shore. There were tents left up that had to come down and be stored at the Compound. I stayed a couple of weeks after all the campers had left to help in 1971. Bobby Parker and I stayed in the two bedrooms upstairs at the OA Lodge. We also bailed hay and worked tobacco. Working tobacco is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. (If you want a sure way to stop smoking, go work tobacco one summer and get the ‘green’ tobacco juice in your nose, mouth, and all over every exposed part of your body.) Ranger Bobby Smith is the only man I’ve ever known that worked tobacco shirtless as that green sap was so sticky. We not only worked the Boy Scout tobacco base but we helped Farmer Bush at the end of one of the work days. The evening we were to cut Farmer Bush’s tobacco, Mrs. Bush cooked us a HUGE lunch. There was more food than 20 people could have eaten and there was only about 8 of us at the table.

“Farmer Bush was a character!! Farmer Bush stories were at a minimum R rated and most were X rated. One of the running jokes during mess hall announcements was “Public Speaking merit badge was going to taught at the Compound by Farmer Bush.” He was always armed and was constantly dealing in pocket knives. Farmer never confirmed he made moonshine but here is the story. A moonshine still blew up about a 100 yards behind Farmer Bush’s home but it was unclear who owned the land where the still sat. The sheriff came and talked to Farmer but no one was ever charged.

“Pumpkin Green was a skilled/experienced man. He had worked so many years at farming there was little, if anything, he didn’t know about farming. He also had acquired skills in handling the farm equipment. Backing a hay trailer is a fine art, as it doesn’t work like a boat trailer. It actually works opposite to how a backing a boat or 2 wheel trailer. I tried backing one of the hay trailers with a tractor many many times over the 5 summers I worked at Boxwell and never came close to being good at it. Pumpkin could not only back one hay trailer and put it anywhere it needed to go but he could do tandem trailers without batting an eye. He could also fell a tree with uncanny accuracy using a chainsaw. When we were clearing Camp Beanie Elam I saw his mastery at work. I always enjoyed working around Pumpkin as I felt there was so much to learn from him.

“The following happened every year I was at Boxwell and probably could continue today. When thunder storms come from the west you get to see an amazing lightning show (better than any laser show) by sitting out at the front of the Chapel. It could take hours for the storms to roll across the lake from Nashville. We would move a bench from inside the Chapel and place it against the westward facing wall. There we could sit with our backs against the rock wall and watch a heavenly light show. When the storm got close enough we would return the bench and try to beat the storm back to our tents.”

From the Archives, January 6, 2019

Camp Traditions: Stahlman’s AY

It is clear that every camp has it’s own traditions. Whether that camp be the first Camp Boxwell in the 1920s or Gaylord CubWorld today, every camp (and its staff) has things it does that are unique to that camp, regardless of how similar overall program may be. We will look at other examples of this, but for this week, let’s go to Camp Stahlman.

For several decades now, Camp Stahlman’s Activity Yard has had a Pioneering tradition: expansive pioneering projects. Pioneering projects are hardly foreign to the AY, but while Craig and Parnell’s Activity Yards tended to be singular, individual “big” projects for Pioneering Merit Badge, Stahlman took the projects to the next level. Every week, the project grew. The centerpiece (a quadpod) was often the same, but the branches coming off of that centerpiece were different every week and every year. While there may have been a plan, the projects appeared completely organic and no one has ever revealed the secret!

This week’s photo is part of this organic, expansive project. Taken in 1994, you can see the quadpod in the background on the bottom photo. From there though, the project has expanded around the program area to include several different projects, all of which Scouts could not only use, but incorporated several different lashings. In short, the projects were great examples of practical application of skills. These expansive projects were Stahlman traditions; none of the other camps have anything quite the same.


Part of the sprawling Pioneering Merit Badge project in the Stahlman Activity Yard, 1994

Website Update, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year!

As the centennials of both Boxwell and the Council approach, we have been hard at work researching both.  While we have a more comprehensive work in progress for 2021, we felt like it was time to share some of work.  Thus, for the start of 2019, we give you a significant content update for  Here’s the breakdown:

1) A new banner image is this photo of Woodbadge pond in the snow of 2010.  The original photo is below. It was taken by Head Ranger Steve Belew.

2) The Media page has been deleted.

3) The Staff Page section has been reworked.  New photos have been added to the Reservation page. CubWorld now has its own page. A new section for the Other Boxwells has been added.  In other words, staff pages for the Linton Staff, the Narrows of the Harpeth Staff, and the Rock Island staff have been added.

4) New material has been added and updated to the Primer section. All of the camp namesakes now have a history in People & Positions.  All three Boxwells have been added to the People and Things section.

5) Edits have been made to:
The About Us Page
The Credit Page
The Museum Page
The Special Exhibit: Camp Murrey Page

We hope you enjoy the new material.  Honestly, if you weren’t familiar with Edwin Craig or the other Boxwell namesakes, you should check out the Primer.  The new information there is worth a read!

“From the Archives” will return on Sunday.

The VirtualBoxwell Team


Woodbadge Pond

Woodbadge Pond–today McKinney Pond–in the snow, 2010.


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”

From the Archives, December 23, 2018

The Boxwell Family

As we wrap up the year 2018 and continue to work on our centennial history for 2021, one of the questions we keep coming back to is this: what makes Boxwell so special?  Obviously, the physical place is part of the specialness. Staff and Scouts alike each have memories of a location at camp that sticks out in their minds. There might be an activity as well. You remember a friend getting pulled up in a tree or maybe a song. If you’re a staff member, there are a dozen stories you remember, stories of crazy and awesome things that happened.

In all of our interviews, one theme often comes up–and it is especially strong amongst those who have been staff members. Boxwell is a place and it is the home of stories, but it is the place where incredible friendships are made. Friendships that last a lifetime; friendships that are so strong that for many a second family is formed there.

There really isn’t as good way to capture this “Boxwell as family” feeling, but it happens. We saw it here at Camp Murrey back in July 2016 and again in February 2017, but this week, we can also see it in the photo here. These men all worked on Camp Parnell staff in 1965. When camp ended, they all took a trip together to the High Adventure base in Ely, Minnesota, staying at lodges, camps, and bases set up by Foxy Johnson, and provided transportation by the Council. That group got together and went back to Ely after the 2014 Staff reunion.

This photo is from this summer, 2018, at Latimer Reservation. Friends for over half a century. That is a legacy to be proud of.

1965 Parnell Group

Top row L to R: John Roe, Mike Rice, Congressman Phil Roe, Bob Fyke, Judge John Bryant, Dr. Pat Bray
Bottom row L to R: Wes Frye, Greg Tucker, Skip Dow, Jerome Terrell