Excited about a new adventure at Camp New Fork and a blogging Hiatus

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Kevin V. Hunt

Scouting Historian, Author, Scouting Veteran, Camp Director

Well, it is summer time and that means it is time to be off on another summer camp adventure and a blogging hiatus for me – the Scout Blogger.   And yes, that would be true about me.  And yes, I won’t be blogging for a couple of months.  I hope that none of you will go through withdrawals over that news.  But, with the size of this blog and the recent one on Camp Bartlett – posted on The Scouting Trail, you might have enough reading material for a couple of months anyway.

It was 5:15 AM and I couldn’t sleep.  Grrr!  What is the deal …  This was a day off – I told myself.  I was out of school for the summer and I didn’t need to be at the Temple for another four hours for my usual Friday baptistry assignment.  So, I really could have slept in for another two or three hours.  It wasn’t due to my wife’s snoring.  She was sawing zzzz’s beside me, but I’ve learned to deal with that.  And it wasn’t my still hefty “do do list” of everything that I need to get done (in four days) before heading off to the hills. It was more than that!  I lay there musing and my mind began to race about my pending summer camp adventure.  Scout camp!  Wow!  Just the thought of it gets my adrenaline pumping.

Oh, the days of Scout summer camp!

The Scouting summer camp adventure awaits …

In the non-camp season, I find myself being a school bus driver.  And I say that I do that job “just so that I can work at Scout Camp in the summer time”.  And my wife is a teacher …  So, that means that we both are free in the summer (but with no income). Now, granted, we could go to work at McDonald’s or Taco Bell, but that doesn’t sound real fun.  So, it means that we are free to go off and help at Scout Camps.  Now that really sounds exciting to me!  And this year we’ll be in Wyoming at Camp New Fork – operated by the Trapper Trails Council located in Ogden, Utah.

As the summer approached, fellow bus drivers asked each other about their summer plans.  All said that they were going to remain in our town of Mesa, Arizona.  (See my blog Crazy Weather in Arizona to see how fun that might be!)  One guy said that he was going to work on his lawn all summer … yeah, right … in our heat!  Another said that he was going to watch television all summer.  (Wow … that sounds productive!)  Many drivers have signed up for summer routes for part of the summer.  And some are on bus-cleaning crews  (getting student gum off of the seats, etc).  None of those options sounded at all appealing to me.  So, no one had plans as exciting as mine.  When I heard of their plans, I was really happy about my summer plans for a Scouting summer camp adventure.

Many folks when hearing of my summer adventures thought that it all sounded wonderful …  cabin on a lake, 7200′ elevation, temperatures of about 72 degrees daytime and 45 at night, … (a rough job but someone has to do it) …  But then when I added the element of hundreds of Boy Scouts, most of the people backed off in a hurry. They didn’t want anything to do with that.  We needed many staff members and I tried to recruit young drivers (and some old) to join us for the adventure.  None of them wanted anything to do with that.

I once heard some say that Scouting would be a really fun program with out the money worries … and the Scouts!  Not me …  The Scouts … that is why I WANT to go to camp again.  I love serving the Scouts, their leaders, and the staff.  I have caught the vision of what can happen with all of these Scouting groups and camp programs.  So, sign me up!  I am ready to go for it!   I am so grateful for the opportunity again to be there … helping provide the program, getting events and activities organized, inspiring the staff, and creating quality Scouting experiences for the young men.  GERONIMO COMMISSIONER 2008 KEVIN HUNTCOMMISSIONER KEVIN 2010 CAMP GERONIMOCitizenship training, character development, physical and mental fitness, and the aims of methods of Scouting …  That’s what its all about with me and the summer camp adventure!

Another funny incident:  A brother came to me home that same night to pick up my box of printed stake histories that I complied (in my role as Stake historian) – and which arrived this year before I headed out for camp. They arrived the day after I left last summer and that was a real problem.  We talked of my summer plans.  This guy is not a Scouter – nor is he a camper.  I started my “don’t you wish you were going with us” speech.  I said, “Cabin on a lake, 70 degrees, …”  He just shook his head and said, “I’m still not seeing it!”  I couldn’t figure him out – but I was glad that I had a vision for my summer.

On that early Friday morning when I couldn’t sleep, I started thinking back …  Wow!  I have surely been on a multitude of Scout summer camp adventures!  I didn’t even attempt to count the number of times that I have been to camp.  I guess I can safely say that there have been very few summers in my years of life upon the earth when I have not been in camp.  (So, that is just a few!)SLIDE 13 CAMP GERONIMO TROOP 155SLIDE 13 changed_Page_01

I got my start as a “gnubie” in Troop 155 in Mesa, Arizona.  And I have written about many of those Gnubie experiences – and I have been blogging about them “Gnubie to Eagle Scout” (from my book of that title) on The Scouting Trail.  As a gnubie, and for several years after that – and even after I became an Eagle Scout with four palms, I had the great privilege and honor to attend Camp Geronimo.  Camp Geronimo is located up in the beautiful pine country on top of the Mongollon Rim – located about a hundred miles north of my Mesa home.

Welcome to Camp Geronimo

Camp Geronimo sign at front gate

I actually attended Camp Geronimo for seven summers as a Scout.  I went there as a Gnubie, and remained with Troop 155 as I continued as a Scout.  (Note that most boys of my area moved from the troop up into what was then Exploring.  I had the misfortune to belong to one of those wonderful “basketball Explorer posts – and they are still pretty everywhere even today and we didn’t do anything.  Our post had grandiose plans to go to Hawaii.  But, we didn’t even make it to Sunflower, Arizona.  So, I soon tired of that basketball stuff and went back to the troop.  I remained there until I headed off on an LDS church mission.  And so that meant that I went each summer to Camp Geronimo with the troop.  I even served on the Geronimo camp staff for a short time.  I worked in the trading post located in the brand new Knappenberger Lodge.  But, I got kind of bored with the camp staff life.  I had a lot of free time and had already earned most of the merit badges available at the camp.

For many more summers through the years I had other opportunities to go to Camp Geronimo.  I served on a number of Scouting committees and often volunteered to go to camp as a leader.  I don’t know how many times I did that – but it was a bunch.  I think that I went to Camp Geronimo fifty times or more on various camps, events, and events.  (That may be an exaggeration, but I know that it was a lot of times.)

A few summers ago, I had opportunity to return once more to Camp Geronimo to attend a national BSA camp school – in preparation for being the lead camp commissioner later in the summer.  It worked out that I had my father and brother, Ray, drop me off at the camp – because they were to be in the area – and my wife needed our only car at home. As we got to Geronimo, I was appalled when my brother, Ray, divulged that this was his first time ever to be at Camp Geronimo.  How could that be?  We grew up in the same Troop 155 (or was it the same?)  Sure, he was eleven years younger than I, but I guess they went out on their own camps or whatever.  I thought of all of the great times that he had missed at Camp Geronimo.

After I returned from my mission, I had the privilege of attending Brigham Young University in Utah where I majored in Scouting – in the Youth Leadership program.  And as a part of our curriculum, we needed to get some practical intern experience in the summer camp adventure.

So, in one summer I ended up having not one, but TWO Program Director assignments in a single summer.  And that was kind of crazy.  Crazy fun, good, and exciting!  I began with a four-week season at Camp Thunder Ridge – owned by the Utah National Parks Council.  I was at Camp Thunder Ridge when the camp was brand new – I think I was there the second year of its operation.

Camp Thunder Ridge

Camp Thunder Ridge

So, Thunder Ridge didn’t even have water.  I spent a great deal of time going down the mountain to a gas station in the little but beautiful village of Parowan, Utah.  I/we filled a giant tank from the station’s water supply (with their permission and payment) and took it up to camp.

One fond memory of Camp Thunder Ridge was trying to get a shower – with no camp water supply.  I rigged up a plastic tarp around a couple of trees – and that was the shower haven.  (But, it gave a beautiful view of the stars above!)  I learned to take a two-pot shower.  I got one large Scout mess kit pot, filled it up with our precious hauled water, and heated this to near boiling on a camp stove.  I then got another of the same pots and poured half of the hot water into this.  I then filled both pots up to the top.  So then I had one pot to use for soaping down and the other for the rinsing.  I rigged a pole up above me in the shower (those Scout lashings came in handy) and hung a pot at a time from this pole.  And I had a stick with a “handle” which I used to gently tip the suspended pot down onto me as needed.  It wasn’t the greatest system but it was wonderful.

Then, after Camp Thunder Ridge ended, I left on a Saturday morning and went over the lofty Cedar Mountain – about forty miles south – to become the Program Director (in an 8-week season) for Camp Del Webb.  Camp Del Webb is operated by the Las Vegas Area Council (then the Boulder Dam Area Council).

Welcome to Camp Del Webb

Camp Del Webb sign

In preparation for camp at Del Webb, I wrote to Norm Stone, the camp director.  I asked him about facilities of the camp – so that I could make my program plans for the season.  He wrote back and said, “We have plenty of land, sun, blue skies, rocks, and trees – and as much of these things as you could want.  The only substantial facilities that we have are the KYBO’s and I don’t anticipate much program happening there.”

On the day that I got this letter, it made me kind of mad.  But actually, it gave me comic relief for my semester exams that were to happen later in the day.  I got to camp and found Norm’s description of the camp to be totally accurate.  But, I used the resources available – including the great staff – and together we created a wonderful camp program for the summer.

I noted that I had been at BYU before going to camp.  And with my summer plans, I moved out out my apartment (as a cost saving venture).  And so, I went to camp with all of my earthy goods loaded into my car.  I set up a large wall tent (like the one that my HUNT family had used for generations as we went to the same Twin Peaks location (northwest of St. George, Utah) when we went dear HUNTing.  And I put all of my stuff in that tent with me.

The tent itself did not have a floor.  So, I put a large plastic tarp under it.  We did get a lot of rain at that camp but the tent and floor did a fairly decent job of keeping me and my stuff dry.

One night I awoke to the pitter patter which I thought was rain dripping somehow onto my plastic tarp.  I thought that it must really be coming down.  But, then I investigated further.  The noise was not quite that of rain.  I got a flashlight – located near me in the tent and took a look around.  To my horror, I noted that I was then sharing the tent with a skunk!  I could just see (and certainly smell) that skunk spraying his stuff all over my stuff.  I knew that if that happened, I would be dead meat for the rest of the summer.  I froze in my horror and watched that skunk as he paddled around in the tent – and as he actually walked right under my own cot.  Thankfully he didn’t see the need to harass me further and made his way out of the tent – without the spray.  Whew!  That was a close one!  Thank you, Lord for answering that prayer!

By the next summer I had graduated from college and found myself living and working in the Lake Bonneville Council, Boy Scouts – in Ogden, Utah.  And I was pleased to receive the assignment to work at Camp Loll – located on the south border of Yellowstone Park – in Wyoming.  I was to be the assistant camp director working with Delose Conner.  At that time, Delose was a greenhorn camp director – he having served just the year before in the assistant camp director role – and now this was to be his first year as Camp Director.  For those of you who are familiar with Delose, you know that is a living legend – having now served for over 35 years as Camp Director.

Camp Loll

Beautiful “Lake of the Woods” at Camp Loll

My experience with Delose was generally very positive – though there were a few negative experiences – as you can glean from my recent Scouting Trail blog about Camp Bartlett.  We had great times together and we kind of complemented each other.  Delose loved to take the staff off on Sunday adventures – since that was our only “kind-of” day off from the Scouts (because Camp Loll is a 7-day a week camp – with no break time for staff).  I personally liked Sundays to be more of a reverent day (a day of worship and reflection).  But, since the camp was in operation, a Camp Director needed to be present.  I volunteered to remain at my post at camp – while Delose was off with the staff.  This meant too that I had the Wednesday town run for groceries, doing laundry for 40 smelly camp staffers, etc.  Fun times!

And being the Sunday Camp Director meant that much of my time was spent tending to emergencies and other challenges that come with the job.  And much of that was often first aid to Scouts.

On this one particular Sunday, a Scout came to me sporting a fishing hook in his lip. Now this was not just a single hook, mind you … two of the prongs had stuck fully into his lip.  Thrills!  And so I got the unpleasant task of trying to push these two prongs through his lip so that I could clip off the barbs (and then slide them out gently without the prongs).  No gentle action that I tried worked.  We worked at the task for a very long time – all without success.  Finally I decided that it was time for action.  I quickly pulled the barbs through with a jerking motion – and the task was done – before the boy could scream again.  And then I was able to do the rest of my plan.

And of course there were the millions of mosquitoes at Camp Loll.  And did I mention that there were millions and millions of mosquitos there?  That would be an understatement.

Camp Loll was also where one of my greatest of life’s adventures began to be a reality. It was at Camp Loll that I proposed by mail to my gal LuDen – who was then working at an LDS girl’s camp – Camp Brighton – located on the mountains east of Salt Lake City – and about 400 miles from my camp – where she was the head cook for 250 girls.

Kevin proposed my mail to LuDen while at Camp Loll

Lou Dene “LuDen” Belcher at the time that Kevin proposed to her

It took all summer long to get engaged.  And that is the subject of yet another blog – and you’ll probably hear a lot more of this from me in the future … a book written together with Lou – “Eternally Yours” and who knows … maybe a movie – like our own “Cheaper by the Dozen” or something in the future.  That book is mostly written – but we are waiting to be “discovered” by the big-time folks.

At Camp Loll – like most of the camps where I have worked, I found my niche staging Dutch oven cooking demonstrations for Scoutmasters and leaders each week.  And Delose had perfect timing.  Just as my cobbler was due to come out of the oven, he would smell it somehow and would show up to taste the delicacy and to entertain the men with one of his famous stories.  He had a lot of practice sharing his “Moose Shit Pie” story and this always brought a bunch of laughs!  Silly Delose!

Dutch oven cobbler

Dutch Oven cobbler cooked by Kevin Hunt

I worked for the next four years at Camp Bartlett – located north of Bear Lake and west of Montpelier, Idaho.  For the first summer I was the assistant to Ray Chase.  And then for the next three summers I had the great blessing and opportunity to serve as the Camp Director.  Many of my Camp Bartlett adventures have already been noted in my blogs for The Scouting Trail.  And I recently did a blog specifically about the Camp Bartlett Lodge – new, then old, and now new again.

I could go on forever about my Scouting camp adventures at Camp Bartlett – but I’ll feed you a few of those at a time.  In my recent Camp Bartlett blog, however, I shared details of what I still consider the greatest staff event that I have ever staged for a summer camp staff.  I invite you to read about that dance and associated events.  Great times!

Okay, I admit that I HATE Scout skits at campfire programs.  Imagine that!  I am a song guy.  But, at Camp Bartlett, I loved each week seeing skits as some of the all-time staff greats performed their skits.  I loved “The King, the Queen and the Gate” as staged by staff,

Camp Bartlett in Idaho

Camp Director Kevin Hunt at Camp Bartlett in Idaho

Wayne Moyle as “Ernie”, Matt Ericson doing “Igor and the Man”, and Paul Kearl doing “The Snake Catcher.”  (I may be a bit harsh in my assessment of campfire skits … but literally, we are seeing those same old skits today that I saw fifty years ago as a Scout.  They never seem to change.  And they are just as bad now as they were then – but probably a whole lot worse!)

And as ever, at Camp Bartlett, I often had occasion to get involved with first aid stuff. On one occasion a Scout came to me with a trauma complaint.  Usually a boy will not actually admit that his problem is that he is homesick, but this kid admitted that.  I spoke to him with consoling words and said, “Oh, you’re in luck.  I have just the thing for you!  I have a HOMESICK PILL.”  So, I pulled out a giant orange flavored vitamin – with about a 1-inch diameter.  I handed it to him with my instructions:  “Take this pill and then go back to your campsite.  Get involved with the guys of your troop.  Help them fix lunch …  work on a merit badge for a few minutes … and you’ll be feeling better in about 20 minutes.”

The Scout headed off elated after taking the pill (and somehow getting it down).  I then went about my usual camp director duties.  I next saw the homesick boy about an hour later.  He came running up to me all excited.  “Mr. Hunt!  That homesick pill really worked!”  And then he paused a moment before saying, “But the only thing is that it took FORTY MINUTES instead of twenty!”  So funny …

It was at Camp Bartlett that I really perfected my skills in what I call “walking stick counseling”.  I enjoy carving walking sticks and have tried to carve a new stick for or at each camp that I have worked.  And I have found that Scouts are super interested in carving and they all get real excited when they see me carving on a stick.  So, on a very frequent basis, I would get my knife and a stick and would find a spot out in the middle of everything – with a lot of people around me – and would perch myself on a log or a rock and would begin to carve.  And within minutes, I would soon have one or two boys on the log with me.  We’d first talk about carving but then I would ask, “So, what merit badges are you taking?  What is your favorite badge?  Who is your favorite counselor? Any staffer that you don’t like?”

Kevin Hunt and carved walking sticks

Kevin Hunt with walking stick collection – many of them carved by him.

Each conversation lasted only a few minutes and then I would be joined by another boy or two.  And over the course of a very short time, I had learned a lot of what was going on in my camp.  It became real frustrating to my staff.  It appeared to them that I knew everything about camp and about them.   And they couldn’t figure out how I found out so such about them and the camp.  (But now, I guess my secret is out.  Shhhhh!  Don’t tell anyone!)

I transferred with the Boy Scouts down to Santa Barbara, California.  I then had the opportunity to become the Director at camp Rancho Allegre.  This wasn’t as fun of an experience as I had enjoyed at Camp Bartlett.  I was kind of on a tight leash and didn’t have a lot of freedom to act.  Still, however, there were great times.

Camp Rancho Allegre

Kevin Hunt as Camp Director at camp Rancho Allegre near Santa Barbara, California

After my professional Scouting career ended, I moved to nearby Santa Paula, California – in Ventura County where now as I volunteer, I became the Scoutmaster of our local troop.  I took the troop to Camp Three Falls (operated by the Ventura County Council) for a full week. It was really different to find myself on the other end of things – of being a Scoutmaster – after so many years as Program and Camp Director.  But, it was a great experience and we had a lot of fun times together.

Camp Three Falls

The famous rock at Camp Three Falls in Ventura County Califonia

Then after a few years I uprooted the family and we moved our whole operation (stuff and by then seven children) back home to Arizona.  And, as noted, I had multiple opportunities to again go to my beloved Camp Geronimo with different troops where I served.  And with the help of my journal entries from those years, I could go on forever about the great times.  But, I’ll save them for future blogs.

And for many years I did not have jobs that would allow me to have full-time Scouting summer camp adventures.  And how longed again for those “Good old days” of summer camp.  I went through withdrawals every year – all year – but particularly as the time for summer camp drew closer.  My heart strings were ripped apart.

Luckily, Camp Geronimo provided at least some relief for my Scout camp anxieties – and desires to be there again.  This camp has the great blessing of having many family cabins that they can make available to volunteer adult commissioners.

Kevin as Commissioner at Camp Geronimo

Kevin as Commissioner at Camp Geronimo

They invite Scouters to come to camp to serve without pay for a week.  They are told that they can bring their families and can have a cabin for the week. And the families can do literally anything that they want to do in camp – in the program areas, take merit badges, hiking, etc. while dad (or mom) is off being a commissioner for four to six troops.  (And they have four or five such commissioner families at the camp each week.  And this means that about 25 or more families can enjoy this great adventure each summer. Wow … such a deal!)

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And so, for TWELVE SUMMERS I served as a Geronimo commissioner – one week at a time.  And each time I hauled my family (now consisting of nine children) up to camp. They let us come but I think our coming kind of “broke the bank” with the expense of our many meals.  It was such a great thing for our family and we all have such wonderful memories.

Lana – then only about nine – developed a special bond with the older guy in the cabin next to us.  They would often be found out on his porch putting together puzzles, playing games, etc.  He was grandpa to her – and they both loved it.  Years later, Ed still asks about “his Lana girl” and she has fond memories of this great man.

Our daughters (six of them) enjoyed being at Camp Geronimo – and having all of those boys to themselves (though the Scouts were a bit young for most of them).  The girls also enjoyed going to hang out and shoot up at the rifle range.  None of them had ever shot a rifle before but three of the ladies – the A-Red-Lion personality types – and the three blondes got scores of from 46 to 50 on their first tries.  This was a real frustration to the male staff members who witnessed the ladies in their shooting.  Jackie’s score of 48 – and then a 50 was really irksome to the staff.  It played against their male egos in a major way.  They tried all week to duplicate her score – but to no avail.  Then finally in the ultimate of frustration, they fabricated a target to show a higher or matching score. But, then a Scout or someone ratted on them.  So, the staff guys finally had to admit that they had been outscored at a girl and they had to humble themselves enough to present her with the Sharpshooter of the Week award at the Friday night campfire program.  So funny!

I’ll share just one commissioner experience (of hundreds) that I recorded with glee in my journals of the day.

Everyone knows that commissioners have the duty of communications.  Everything about the commissioner job is communicating – with staff, with Scouts, with leaders, etc – about programs and activities, policies, etc.

Well, anyway, Tuesday nights at Geronimo were always billed as troop nights.  The Scouts had to prepare their own meals in their campsite and some took hikes, etc. They were kind of on their own to do their own program while the staff had the time and opportunity to hang out and do their own thing without the strain of the Scouts.

So, on this one occasion, the staff was having “western night”.  And I was at the Farnsworth Lodge in my Western shirt, boots and duds.  I was living the dream!  And outside it was raining cats and dogs.  It was really coming down in torrents!

My Western bliss was aborted when the Camp Director came to me saying that he had received a major emergency message from a parent of a Scout in one of my troops.  He asked me to go up to the campsite – in the rain – to get this Scout and his leader so that the emergency call could be made back to the boy’s mother.

So, I trudged in my western shirt – and the pounding rain – clear up the muddy mountain to something like campsite 26 (of 29) to talk to the boy. En route up to the campsite, I had visions of the worst for this poor boy.  I imagined that his father had probably died and that he had to find out about it here at camp.  How terrible, I thought!

I somehow made my way up to the campsite and cornered the leader.  I broke the emergency news to him and he called the boy over to him. Then together, the three of us headed off with heavy hearts and went clear across camp to the camp headquarters building where a return call could be made to the boy’s mother.

The call was made and then I learned of the details of the “major emergency”.  It was learned that the mother had gone to Taco Bell and was sure that she had one of the biggest tickets – that when combined with the ticket that her son had (at camp, no less), they would be the absolute winner of the grand give-away contest.  Are you kidding me? I was so angry!  I absolutely could not believe it!  Wow!  (But being a great commissioner, I kept my mouth shut and bid the folks well as they headed back up the mountain – and me back to the lodge for the now almost over western party – all in the pouring rain!  (And my western shirt and boots were never the same!)

I ultimately – after a lot of years – found myself in this bus driving job.  And that meant that I could return again to the full-time summer camp adventures that I had only dreamed of for so long.  I was elated! This was truly wonderful and exciting!

And so it was that in 2012 I returned to my beloved Camp Geronimo for a full summer – and this time as the Lead Commissioner.  I have never worked so hard in my life as I did that summer – and with so little appreciation for anything that I did.  But, there were wonderful times with the trauma.

We survived Camp Geronimo 2012

Kevin Hunt and family at Camp Geronimo 2012

The following year, we could have returned to camp but took a personal and family hiatus.  Our daughter and family (with four of our grandchildren) were then in Germany – where our son-in-law, Paul, was serving in the Air Force as an in-flight nurse.  So, we took advantage of them being there and went to spend a month with them in Germany.  it was a rough summer … exploring old castles, eating German food, seeing all of the street fairs, and cruising the Rhine River on a big boat …  Someone had to go see them when they were so far away … and Lou and I were glad that we could accommodate them.

Kevin and Lou on Rhine River cruise in Germany

Kevin and Lou on Rhine River cruise in Germany

The following year we wanted to return to camp … but where?  So many camps … and so little time to see them all …  I had been a regular subscriber to Indeed.com and so often I received in my e-mail box a list of current camp director opportunities around the country.  But, we had to find a camp whose schedule matched our squashed summer camp schedule – of when we got out of school and when we had to report back.  That wasn’t an easy task – since our school begins about the 10th of August each summer.

But at last I found what looked like the perfect summer camp.  Lou and I applied and were hired – me to be the Camp Director and her to be the Program Director.  Our daughter Larissa got to go with us also – and stayed until she left mid-season for a church mission to Minnesota.  We worked the summer of 2014 at the Jack Nicol [resident] Cub Scout Camp.

Kevin and Dan Wright at Camp Jack Nicol

Camp Director Kevin with friend Dan Wright at the Jack Nicol Cub Scout Camp

This camp is owned by the Longs Peak Council of the Boy Scouts and is located about 50 miles northwest of Ft. Collins, Colorado (the city of my birth) – and near the village of Red Feather Lakes.

We came on board kind of late to the camp and didn’t know what to expect or how to plan for a themed Cub Scout experience.  That first summer was our learning year.  I knew how to direct a great Scout camp so I applied all of those skills to the camp.  We didn’t do anything with the theme and felt bad about it – but knew that we really gave the campers a great experience.

Kevin and Lou having fun with staff and Cub Scouts at the Jack Nicol Cub Scout Camp

Kevin and Lou having fun with staff and Cub Scouts at the Jack Nicol Cub Scout Camp

We had so much fun that we chose to return the next year.  And this year, we really worked hard to create a funtastic camp centered around the theme of “Cubbywood”. Everything in the camp revolved around movies.  And we had a grand time with that. Each of our staff selected a star celebrity to dress and act like.

Camp Jack Nicol Cub Camp Staff 2015

Kevin and Lou as Green Acres stars with other staff stars at Camp Jack Nicol

And we had a packed program.  This was loved by almost everyone but a few people actually complained the the council leaders about us.  I had to laugh at the reaction of the council Camping Chairman.  He said, “That’s the best complaint that I have ever heard – too much fun!”

The Jack Nicol Cub Scout camp is part of the large Ben Delatour Scout Ranch which includes Camp Jeffrey, Soaring Eagle and a Venturing high adventure base.  I had forever thought of Camp Geronimo as the “Cadillac” of Scout camps.  I had never seen one to compare at all with it.  But, this Camp Jeffrey came pretty close – thought one could earn the hiking merit badge just going from one place to another.  One had to travel a lot to get to the next program area – no matter how “close” it was.

Camp Jeffrey in Colorado

Lake activity at Camp Jeffrey – on the Ben Delatour Scout Ranch

Another great thing about this Camp Jeffrey is that it had a great log building (my favorite) dedicated specifically as a Scouting museum.  This place was manned through the camp season and was open to Scouts and leaders.  They had some real true vintage items that were fabulous.  I even found duplicates of my old Cub Scout books, uniforms, etc. there.

We had planned also to be at Camp Nicol for the 2016 season.  We really got into the Circus and Carnival theme – and probably spent between 200 and 300 hours – through the winter and school year – dreaming and preparing every carnival detail for camp.  But, then the continuing problem … that of staff.   By early April the council could not produce even one camp staff application for us.

Now my wife is actually Superwoman … but even with her skills – combined with mine, we could not do it alone.  (We had tried that the past two years – and did not want that situation again.)  It was gut-wrenching deluxe but we had to admit that we could be at the camp under that scenario.  So, reluctantly we gave notice that we would not be returning.

Then we were in a bit of a dither as suddenly we were “free agents” with no camp to go to.  I thought in horror of scraping gum off from bus seats for the summer.  Ughh!  That was not for me.

We thought that we had found a spot where we could serve for 2016 but that didn’t pan out.  I had met Jeremy Bell of the Trapper Trails Council through my Scouting blogging.  As I submitted one of my blogs to him, I asked – kind of as a side note – if they had a camp that could use us for the summer.  I told him of our interests – and said that we’d want a spot for Lou and I – as well as Larissa, our daughter – who was now home from the mission and with us.  Literally within a few minutes, Jeremy responded back with a simple note:  “Camp New Fork” and he gave me contact information for Travis Emery the Camp Director (and he must have told Travis about us).

Travis and I connected real fast and the deal was soon made.  We would join his team – with some of our own staff entourage for the summer at Camp New Fork – located at the base of the Wind River Mountains in Wyoming.  And from that first commitment, Travis and I have found that we are true camp blood brothers.  We think alike in every way and we are so similar that it is almost scary.  We have had a few staff meetings (with most of our staff) via Skype and Zoom but Travis and I have not actually met yet.  I look forward to that meeting with high anticipation.

And in one of our conversations, Travis admitted that when he was first told of me – and that perhaps he should go for me, he was kind of traumatized.  I guess my past experience kind of made him wonder.  But, we soon learned that we could work together well – and we have in preparation for the camp.

And so it is that now we will be heading for Wyoming.  We so look forward to that grand Scouting camp adventure.  We hope that our car will make it – unlike last year.  Last year we hauled four Arizona staffers – and their huge amount of gear – with us to Colorado.   And we had so much gear – with personal stuff – and a whole bunch of program equipment – that we had to pull a packed utility trailer with our small mini-van. And the proved too much for the vehicle.  As we climbed some giant mountains between northern Arizona and New Mexico – and just about 150 miles from home, the minivan overheated and soon died.  And then we had a real adventure getting it towed, renting a big van to get the staffers home, going back up for the dead vehicle, etc.  And then for about nine months, we had no money to fix the minivan and it sat dead in our front driveway.

But, with the help of a brother-in-law and a very skilled mechanic, the car is now “road-worthy” (or at least we hope) once again.  And now we are off for another summer camp adventure.  And we are real excited about the prospects.  We are anxious to serve the Scouts of northern Utah, Southern Idaho and western Wyoming.   The three of us are willing and anxious to give our all to the Scouts who will come our way.  And we pray hard each day that all will go well so that together we can all have a really great summer.

And, as I hinted at the beginning of this rather lengthy blog, it appears that I will have to take a summer hiatus from this blogging activity.

I play “Words” (or Scrabble) on-line with my Idaho daughter, Lana – as a way to stay connected with her.  According to the “Words” dictionary, the word “hiatus” means: “A break or interruption in the continuity of a work”.  So, that is what it is – a “hiatus” from blogging.  I apologize to any of you who may have found yourself looking forward to my blogging articles.

For one, I will be extremely busy as Camp Program Director and will likely have very little free time in which to write.  And secondly, this blogging business takes a lot of computer capability.  And I am sure that this camp will be like all other Scout camps. Internet capacity will come at a high premium – if it is available at all.

So, as I start a two-month Scouting camp adventure in Wyoming, I bid you a temporary adieu – but promise that I will be back at the job in August.  I may die coming back to the Arizona August heat – after the cool mountain Wyoming air – but I’ll get back into the blogging action then.

I wish you all the best along your summer Scouting adventures and trails.  Get those boys up to camp and have a grand time with them.  Camping can be the greatest of adventures for them – and for you too.  And as one of my favorite singing cowboys, Gene Autry, often said, “Happy trails to you …”

Best wishes along your Scouting Trails …  Kevin

 

Excerpts taken from Kevin’s many Scouting Trails books including “MR. Scoutmaster!”, “Keys to Scouting Leadership” and others at his Scoutingtrails website.  Connect with Kevin and read his articles on Scouting blogsites such as The Boy ScoutThe Scouting Trail and The Voice of Scouting.  Feel free to comment on anything you read!

 Facebook:  Scouting Trails Books and Blogs

One thought on “Excited about a new adventure at Camp New Fork and a blogging Hiatus

  1. Pingback: Building a Spirit of Teamwork | Voice of Scouting

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