Kevin V. Hunt
Scouting Historian, Author, Scouting Veteran, Camp Director
CAMP NEW FORK STAFF WEEK 2016
It’s summer … that grand time that all Scouts wait for all year long … the time to go to Scout camp. All over the country about now, Scouts are heading to camp. And in those same camps, Camp Directors, Program Directors, Area Directors and a multitude – yes, many thousands of staff members have been working feverishly to prepare for those hundreds of thousands of Scouts who will be coming to their camps. The story is not new. And the story is not unique to a particular camp, camp director or staff. But, I guess the unique thing about me is that I take the time (make it a priority) to write and blog about those camp experiences. I have decided to blog about my summer at Camp New Fork – operated by the Trapper Trails Council – and located at the base of the Wind River Mountains in western Wyoming. I hope that you might relate to the stories that I will tell, the mundane things, and the great, wonderful and exciting adventures of Scout summer camp. And no Scout camp could exist without all of the work, the training, the joy and trauma, the building of a brotherhood team and all of that energy that goes into waking up a Scout camp from a long and cold mountain winter and transforming it – and the staff – into a great camp ready to welcome the coming troops and Scouts. So, here it is … our Camp New Fork Staff Week 2016 … a daily account of one wonderful camp and how they (or we) pulled together and made it happen.
I dedicate this blog article to those thousands of Camp Directors, Program Directors, area directors and camp staff members who make it happen each summer. Thanks, guys and gals, for your dedicated efforts and unselfish service. I know you don’t get paid enough to have that as your main reward. I know that it goes a lot deeper than that … it’s something that’s up in our heads, deep in our hearts, down in our feet and all over you – and me – us … to stay! We could probably sum it up by saying that it’s the Scouting Spirit and knowing from long experience how that spirit can touch the lives of Scouts and leaders everywhere. I know that’s what keeps me going and why I keep doing it year after year.
As my or our story begins, my wife, daughter, Larissa, and one other staff member made our way north from Arizona to work at Camp New Fork in far away Wyoming – a journey of right at a thousand miles one way. (Crazy … Yeah, I know) I was to be the camp Program Director, my wife was to be the head Commissioner, and Larissa was fresh out of the National Camp School (held at Camp Tracy in Salt Lake City) and quite nervous and anxious but enthusiastic about being the Climbing and Cope Director. And so our 2016 camp adventure story begins:
JUNE 12TH – SUNDAY
Our daughter, Larissa, my wife, Lou, and a young staffer whom we hauled up with us from Arizona – Jonny and I spent the night at the home of Gary and Holly – Lou’s sister – in Sandy, Utah. I awoke at 6:15 AM and got ready for the day. I repacked my suitcase and then the vehicle for our drive up to Camp New Fork in Wyoming where we will be working for the summer. The events of the day made it feel unlike a Sunday and I missed the usual spirit of the Sabbath and the attendance of Church meetings.
We bid adieu to Holly and then drove north on I-15 to the Highway 89 – Kaysville exit and continued north to the community of South Ogden. I was particularly pleased to be in this neighborhood once again since it was there that I served (30 plus years ago) as the District Executive of the great Mount Ogden District of the Lake Bonneville Council of the Boy Scouts – now called the Trapper Trails Council. I had a hard time finding the Scout office today since the neighborhood where it resides has completely changed since Lou and I moved from South Ogden to Santa Barbara, California back in 1982. A whole subdivision has grown up around the Scout office. And the Scout Office itself has been greatly remodeled since the last time that we had seen it.
We went to the Scout Office to meet up with Travis Emery – the New Fork camp director and many of the staff. Upon arrival, we found that we were the first people there. Soon, however, we found many people beginning to gather there. We found a U-Haul truck that had previously been packed yesterday by the camp staff. It was there – on the bumper of the U-Haul that I met camp director, Travis Emery, for my first time. I have been looking forward to this in-person meeting for some time. We have been communicating via phone, Skype and e-mail messages over the past two months so it was great to finally meet him in person. We gave each other a hug and it seemed that we have had a connection for a long time. I believe that I will like working with and for this Travis as his camp Program Director. (And Lou will work as the head Commissioner – and Larissa will work as the climbing and Cope area director.)
I also met a young staffer (age 14) named Mason – and his parents. They are from Carson City, Nevada (not a part of the Trapper Trails Council). They really seem like fabulous people. I met many other staff members and their parents.
We were pleased to put some of the stuff from our own overloaded mini-van into the U-Haul – and this was a great blessing and a release of strain upon our own vehicle. Travis turned the prayer assignment over to me and I decided to say it myself.
After the prayer we all got into a number of vehicles that were there in the parking lot and formed a long convoy with all of the vehicles. A former and current staffer, Lena, drove in the lead with the Camp truck. I then followed – driving the silver council 12-passenger van – with ten staff kids in with me. Lou followed in the gold council van – half full of passengers. Larissa got to drive our own vehicle. She noted that she had never before driven this vehicle – since it was purchased after her mission departure – and she has not driven it since we got it back a couple of weeks ago. We ruined the mini-van last summer driving back to Arizona (with Lou and me, four Arizona staffers and all of our gear in a trailer that was too big for the minivan. And with a lack of money to repair it, it has sat without use since August 1st of last summer. We just recently got it repaired and workable again – just in time to take it to camp again. This was also Larissa’s first long distance driving experience – and she drove for five hours up to Wyoming.
We were followed by Travis driving the U-Haul and then several other vehicles with parents who were driving their own kids up to camp in our caravan.
I noted that Mason and I were the only folks there in Scout uniform – and I immediately felt a bond between him and me. I invited him to sit in the front seat of the van with me. We had a lively and most pleasant conversation together – most of the way up to camp – until he moved further back in the van to be closer to a young lady who was in the group in my van. He was a great talker and fun to visit with.
As my passengers were all boarded, I looked back and counted heads. I noted (aloud) that this felt like the former days when Lou and I had our nine children – in a 12 and later a 15-passenger van. I was pleased to have nine staffers with me for the drive.
We went a half mile or so from the Scout office and got gas in the camp vehicles. As we started on our way we stopped at a nearby Chevron service station and then the caravan was on its way. We traveled east through Morgan County and this drive was spectacular and beautiful (with lush greenery) for me. And it brought back a whole lot of grand memories of my great professional Scouting days there (34 years ago). I knew a lot of very wonderful people in Morgan County and had some great Scouting experiences there. And I liked it so much that I named our second son – Russel Morgan – after Morgan County.
We were very pleased that Larissa experienced no trouble in the long drive. We have been anxious about the long drive in our vehicle. We were very grateful for this great blessing. Thanks, mechanic Mike Billings!
From Morgan we merged onto the I-80 freeway and headed toward Evanston, Wyoming. We turned north from the freeway onto Highway 189 and headed toward the Wyoming town of Kemmerer. We stopped the caravan there and had lunch together – provided by Travis the Camp Director.
We stopped at a little park or rest area – that had a beautiful little fishing spot. I there visited with a young staffer named Zach M. He is a very impressive young man. There was only a single port-a-potty at the place and it got well used with all of us wanting to go in at the same time. I remembered that I had a KYBO pass – good for KYBO privileges – and not standing in line – as presented to me by bolo-time carver, Bill Burch. I did not press the privilege, however.
We also made a stop in Big Piney. I had to laugh at Zach. He was like a little kid in his constant need to go to the bathroom. We had to make a couple of stops for him. Big Piney was a strange little place. The kids all went inside for drink and drain. There was only a single restroom (with boy and girl plumbing) for all of us to share. Strange! Some current American leaders would have been so proud!
As we drove I lead my staff group in camp songs – just as I would have done with my own children – and which I did on so many of our family outings. We sang “The Bear Song”, “Cippin’ Cider”, and the old favorite, “Ging Gang Goulee”. The kids were reluctant at first to sing – but they seemed to enjoy it after the initial shock.
We took a western turn onto Highway 191 and went a few miles toward the town of Pinedale, Wyoming. Up to this point, the terrain had been pretty flat country – and we went through a lot of sagebrush. There wasn’t much to look at. We then took a road (352) north toward camp. We went about 14 miles and reached a turn-off and dirt road (County Road 162) . We traveled on this road for about five miles and ultimately arrived at the New Fork camp. This was located at an elevation of about 8,000 feet and we found ourselves in a beautiful forest with pine and aspen trees. It was a very beautiful place.
Camp New Fork was established as a Boy Scout camp 90 years ago – in 1925 – so it has been a camp forever. The camp has an old but very nice log lodge or dining hall and a log office and headquarter building. The camp sits on the south shore of New Fork Lake and this lake is also very beautiful. The camp is also at the base of the very high Wind River Mountains. And there is still snow on the tops of the high Wind River peaks.
Travis stopped the caravan in the road and opened up the U-Haul truck so that staffers could remove their own gear. He read off a list of cabins and assigned each of the staffers to one of the cabins. There were many cabins for young men and a few for young ladies. Yes, we have several young ladies on our staff. Things have changed in the Scout camps of today. (And I am not sure that I am pleased with the change. There is too much chance for trauma with the mixed staff – combined with a lot of free time – and the moonlight.)
The staff was soon off with their personal gear and they headed to their assigned cabins. Travis pointed out the “Hill Cabin” which will be our home for the next two months of the camp season. We found the place kind of “modern rustic” but it will be great for us. It is similar to the cabins that we had privilege to use when at Camp Geronimo (in Arizona) but it is older. We have a small living room – with a beautiful new couch and recliner (donated by the R.C. Willey furniture company – with stores around Ogden and Salt Lake).
We have a bedroom with a queen sized bed – and we brought out own bedding for this. (We brought several blankets since night-time weather is expected to get into the mid-40’s most nights of the camp. I will sleep under three blankets – and Lou will roast comfortably under five!) In this bedroom there is a nice closet and a small table and also a chest of drawers – with four small drawers. There is another small bedroom that has a set of bunk beds. There is a strange “attic” or loft that has a ladder up from this bedroom. And this loft has a queen mattress and several foam pads – just like a pioneer home – and which could be grand fun for visiting grandchildren.
The place has a large porch where we can put our outdoor chairs – and from which we have a beautiful view of New Fork Lake. The campfire bowl is located between our cabin and the lake – and the staff road also runs across the front of us. There are guy staff cabins in front of us. These are quite rustic and will house from 4 to 8 or more youth. They have electricity, bunk beds – and no water connections. Wow! I have never seen such luxury for camp staff members!
I was surprised to learn that our cabin has water provided only through a regular garden hose – connected to a water line faucet. And we learned that the electricity to our cabin is in the process of being upgraded – so that means that at present we will have no electricity. So, this sounds fun! I think that there is a ranger type guy who is working to get electricity hooked up for us.
And we are delighted that the place has a small bathroom – with a vanity sink and a tub shower – and a toilet. I think that this is one of only four toilets (the others being in the corner of the dining hall – for use by kitchen staff, lady staff – and Travis and I, one in the health lodge, and one in the small apartment at the back of the headquarters office – and which Travis and wife, Lindsay and daughter, McKenna, will use. All other people – scouts and staff will use the traditional 2-holer KYBO’s – and trough urinals. So, we feel very blessed to have what we will have.
I played the role of a communicator for the younger staff. They all had questions and I tried to answer them to help them get settled into their cabins.
Theodore or “Theo” who was on our staff last summer in Colorado – is on our staff again this year. It was great to see him again. We broke into a big hug as we saw each other for the first time today. His brother, Jonathan – who came to camp often last year – to get Theo – is also to be on our New Fork staff. He was not here today, however. He was on the NYLT youth leader training course staff last week – and Theo got to attend the course in preparation for camp this summer. And after the course, Jonathan had to go home to Colorado to get a paycheck and to finalize other things. He had car trouble en route, however, and so this delayed and traumatized him.
We ate dinner in the large and rustic log dining hall. Travis had me handle the staff – and this was fine with me. I love this aspect of camp administration. We had a staff meeting. Travis had me conduct the meeting and he just interjected comments once in a while. He and I think a lot alike so we agree on most everything. I led the staff in our first song – “If you’re glad that you’re at New Fork” and then “Aardvarks are our Friends” and “My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean” (standing up or sitting down with each “B” said). The staff just kind of looked at me stone faced as I led the songs – so it appears that I’ll have some work to do to teach them to be a singing and enthusiastic staff.
I felt some inspiration during the meeting and acted upon it – to have all staff introduce themselves in A-Z order – so the two Andrews went first and we progressed to the two Zachs. This proved to be a great activity and seemed to be enjoyed by all. We talked of general stuff – mainly from the Staff Manual. It was a fun time getting to know the staff. It appears that it will be a challenge to learn the names of all of the 50 or so staff members.
After dinner Lou, Larissa and I unloaded our vehicle. We brought a lot of stuff up here.
Larissa will have her own cabin – located far away from all of the other staff cabins. She is located adjacent to the climbing tower. Her roommate is her assistant climbing director – Kiara. We took Larissa over to see her place and it is a trash heap. It will need a lot of cleaning to make it useable.
Back at our own cabin, we made our bed. I took the Mel Stout’s bugle over to loan to staffer Scott. He is a self-declared bugler and was delighted with the antiquated bugle. I hope that he will learn to play it and that he will play it often – for Taps, flag ceremonies, etc.
We had a gorgeous view of the lake and the sunset over the lake this evening. It was really splendid. It got cloudy and we actually received some hail stones that were about 3/8” in diameter. Wow! This was a surprise.
Late this evening Travis came over to our cabin just to check on us. He has been most anxious to have us comfortable for our summer stay here at Camp New Fork. And we appreciate his efforts in our behalf.
Wow! This has been quite a day! I look forward to the summer at Camp New Fork – and being here with Lou and Larissa. I am grateful that we arrived here safely and that we had no difficulty en route. This was a great blessing. We are now here and are ready to go to work.
JUNE 13TH – MONDAY
As we awoke this morning at 6 Am, I noted the large thermometer in our bedroom. It read 48 degrees. A bit chilly. I had a shower and the water was just lukewarm. It did not appear that the water heater is working properly. I read from D&C 132 and then headed off to breakfast in the dining hall. We then had a staff flag ceremony. At each of these gatherings I lead songs – to teach and train the staff and to get them charged up and working as a team. Songs help in many ways with the staff.
This morning I spent time with the Outdoor Skills staff. I toured their many merit badge areas and then offered some additional ideas or training for them. I worked with Kade – who is the area director – but who is feeling quite depressed and overwhelmed with the whole supervisory function. I am kind of worried about him.
We took the staff on a tour of the camp. I asked veteran staffer, Matt, to be the lead in this tour. I am highly impressed with this Matt. He is always smiling, always a willing worker and just overall an excellent employee. And his smile is the best! We stopped at one campsite and I gave the “heart of the camp” training – about how everything revolves around the troop in the campsite. I then sent all of the staff to work in their areas to get things cleaned out and looking good for the coming Scouts. I made the rounds to check on the various areas. I directed and delegated tasks to get things done.
Lou went in to the village of Pinedale to buy some food for Larissa. Larissa is very stressed and ill. She believes that she cannot eat most foods and this is a real trauma. She has not been feeling well with her food challenges. And she is losing weight and is not looking real healthy. We are kind of worried about her. (And I think that stress over various issues is making her worse.)
I met with staff again at lunch. I sent the staff off with a stack of new program materials for their areas. I again helped Kade and we planned when he and staff will teach the adult leader training that Travis wants us to stage for leaders coming to camp. We also talked of the Scout to First Class program – using my computer as the source of the material.
I divided the staff into two groups. One third of the staff went with High Adventure Director, Nathan – to move canoes. Two thirds of the camp staff went with Bruce to move row boats out from the shooting ranges where they were stored for the winter. I tried to personally talk to each staff member and I thanked them and complimented them for their work. We were pleased to get all of the boats down to the waterfront – and out of so many of the program areas.
It began to rain and did so off and on all afternoon. I walked to all areas twice and noted great programs being developed in each area. I was pleased. The Area directors are doing a good job and I am pleased with them.
I met with Travis about a variety of camp issues. We conducted a meeting of area directors at 5:00 PM and learned of the area progress in getting camp set up. I began the gathering. I was pleased that Max and Mason volunteered to sing and to lead the staff. They led “Bazooka Bubble Gum”. This is a funny song. I cancelled the flag ceremony – due to the rain.
Cook Mable got a bit annoyed with the dining hall uncleanliness of the staff. She said that she doesn’t want to be their mothers. Her words brought sudden words to my mind for an impromptu yell. So, I got up and led them in the “apron strings” yell which I made up on the spot. I had them all stand up, put on a [mother’s apron], then cut the strings, wave and then say, “Bye, Mom!” Everyone got a kick out of this. I loved it.
The area directors continued to work with their staff this afternoon.
In the evening meeting Travis and I alternated as we taught of the Aims and Methods of Scouting. We make a good team. It was a good meeting with the staff. The staff was all wet from the rain. I told them all to return to their cabins and to put on dry clothes.
I also went to our cabin to change. I was absolutely exhausted from the long day – which included a walk around the full perimeter of camp – and my trips to the areas of camp program. I got dry and was glad to do so. I curled up on the couch as it rained a lot outside. (And we again got a bit more hail.) I didn’t want to go outside. Larissa and Kiara came over to our place and they showered here – with the lukewarm water and the tub that won’t drain. (And the rangers say that the tub has not drained properly for years! Thrills!)
JUNE 14TH – TUESDAY
I awoke this morning – for whatever reason – at 4:00 AM. It was then 42 degrees. I couldn’t sleep any more. I guess I got what sleep I usually have received at home. And we had no hot water at all today. We found that the pilot light had gone out on the hot water heater. (And we still have no electricity in our cabin.)
The staff had breakfast together – and I again led some songs. The areas were on their own today. I hung out on the porch of the headquarter/trading post. I printed training syllabus training for area directors who will do a part of the training. I distributed these materials to the applicable area directors. I got on the internet and was able to make my house payment – in one of those rare moments when the camp WIFI was working. Wow!
Mason was real homesick today and he displayed strange behavior. I tried to console him and to let him know that we need him here at camp.
I continue to teach songs to the staff and now I am able to use a few staff to help in leading the songs. This process is working rather well. And I have started an index card to show which staff can lead what song. I have also challenged all of the staff members to learn and to be able to lead one song – just one song – and through this process, we would then have 50 songs that we could do at any time.
After lunch I had Bruce, the Shooting Sports Director – and also a junior high teacher – teach the staff how to be better teachers. He did a great job. I appreciated his service and expertise. Travis taught a section on the subject of safety. We had a guest speaker also. A lady came from the US Forest Service and taught us on the subject of bear safety – a very necessary subject at Camp New Fork. She was a magnificent teacher and was very impressive. I enjoyed her presentation. After her presentation I led the staff in the “Pine Trees” song. This is sung to the tune of “Auld Lang Sign” (or however you spell it) – and repeats over and over the words, “Pine Trees”. The lady got a kick out of this song – and the second verse when the words were reversed and sung as “Trees Pine”. Handicraft Director, Katie, taught a section on discipline and morale. Lou taught the group about avoiding sexual harassment. These were all good sections and I was pleased.
We had a flag ceremony and I did not require uniforms for the staff. I organized the staff into area patrols and challenged them to develop staff spirit – with patrol names, flags, yells, etc. The Nature area/patrol did the flag retreat presentation. I made up a staff duty roster for the summer. Each area patrol will have duties that will rotate weekly.
Larissa felt a bit better today and this was good. She is watching closely the food that she is eating.
After dinner we gathered all of the staff to the waterfront to help the waterfront staff in setting up their docks. I did not want to get into the super cold water so just gave moral support from the sidelines. All of the staff that got into the water were quite frozen after the activity.
In our earlier session I noted that a staffer was sitting and showing about four inches of his posterior section as he sat on the bench with no belt, etc. and I determined to talk to him while at the waterfront in a father/son chat about the subject. He did not even know that he had been exposing himself – to ladies and all others.
I sent the staff to change into dry clothes. Many of the staff found warmth at the fire in the large fireplace of the dining hall. The heat did feel good. The staff came back for a learning session. Rachae, the waterfront director, made a presentation about waterfront safety. Travis and I later talked to a problem girl and tried to inspire her to greater effort and behavior.
I went to the headquarters to try to get some internet service. It didn’t work. This is a perennial problem in camp – not only here but everywhere I have worked.
The girls – Larissa and Kiara slept at their own place – for the first time tonight. They have slept in the extra room of our cabin for a few nights.
The maintenance guy, Ranger Jeremy – came over to relight our water heater. He got it to start again. But, we still have no electricity at our place. This means that we end up going to bed earlier than desired – or spending the evening by the light of a small flashlight. We hope that maintenance and camp builder Rod Smith will get us electricity soon. We got more rain today.
JUNE 15TH – WEDNESDAY
I arose this morning at 6 AM. We had hot water for our showers for the first time and it was wonderful. We went to breakfast with the staff and then conducted a flag ceremony. I am having the staff areas take turns doing the flag ceremony for us.
We had some local Cub Scouts (from the local Pinedale and Big Piney communities) here in camp with us this morning. They visited and enjoyed several areas of the camp. I had the nature area group present the flag ceremony for these Cub Scouts. Then I had the Outdoor Skills area do the Father Abraham song that I had taught to them. They also led the boys in “Bazooka Bubble Gum” and the Cub Scouts loved this. Having the Cub Scouts here kind of made me “homesick” for the Cub Scouts of the Jack Nicol Cub Scout camp where Lou and I were the directors last summer.
I spent much of the morning in the Outdoor Skills area. Their area looked beautiful and I was proud of their set-up efforts. All of the staffers seem prepared for their coming teaching functions.
Larissa has continued to be ill. Many people have been concerned about her declining health. So, Larissa’s friend – set up a doctor appointment for her in Sandy, Utah – tomorrow. After talking to a few people about her symptoms, we and others think that she might have a gall bladder issue. So, Lou and Larissa left – on their own – today – to drive down to Sandy. (And since our anticipated state tax refund has not come to us yet, we have had to charge such trips and the doctor visit to our VISA charge card. Thrills! Things are real tight for us financially since school ended for us almost a month ago and we won’t get a camp paycheck for a while.)
Meanwhile back in camp, we had another staff teaching/learning session. This was taught by Lindsay – wife of camp director, Travis – on the subject of “customer service”. I then spent two hours with the staff as together we prepared for our first campfire program. I had staff area patrols create patrol yells and names. I had each patrol sign up for desired participation for a staff campfire program.
Again later this afternoon we once more went to the waterfront to help move the dock parts from their stacked winter condition – to being bolted out in the water together. I resumed the same function as I maintained last night. This worked well for me.
After the docks were in place and bolted together the staff all went again to get dry – this time in their full “Class A uniforms”. In a meeting I made assignments for staff roles in staging the weekly Campwide Games for the coming Scouts. I had several staffers come forward to volunteer to participate in the “I’m glad that I’m a Staffer … that’s what I want to be …” song. This was a traditional song sung by Camp Geronimo staff for years and I want to bring this tradition with me to this camp.
After the dinner and learning session event, I typed up the plan for our Monday night campfire program. Travis presented a session about the special needs of some disabled Scouts who may come to camp. I went to the office and printed copies of the campfire program – as well as just one newly revised Staff Songbook.
We held our first campfire program tonight for just the staff. This was our first cut through the campfire planning process. The staff did pretty well for their first time this season. I was very pleased with them. I had participation by many youth who wanted to lead songs or to stage skits.
After the campfire program I went with staffer Traeden to the office. He needed to find some material on-line about his geocaching area. He was hoping to find an existing lesson plan for the badge but had no luck in finding such. Director, Travis arrived soon.
Outdoor Skills leader, Kade, and Mason – both from the same outdoor skills area- are both doing a bit better. I have been worried about both guys. They have been “mopey” and depressed and have acted kind of “out-of-it”. This has been bad for both of the guys. They both seemed to “click” with the group today – so this is very good.
JUNE 16TH – THURSDAY
I awoke at 6 AM and was at the lodge by 7 AM – an early start on the day. Lou and Larissa were down in Sandy today – and spent last night with Gary and Holly. They had an 11:00 AM appointment with the internal specialist.
We had breakfast at 7 AM and then our staff flag ceremony. I love the precision that the staff is developing for the flag ceremony. It is great to watch them in action.
We had a fun staff activity today. We took all of the staff to the Pinedale Aquatic Center. I drove the silver van with nine staff members with me. We had a big convoy going as we all headed in various cars down to the PAC.
We found the Aquatic Center to be a truly fabulous place. It has two giant indoor pools – one with swimming lanes. And there is a smaller pool in that room also. And in one corner of the giant pool there is a rope swing – which the kids really enjoyed. (And later in the day, I even took a swing on the rope and dumped out into the water!)
We all got into our swim suits. We then reported to the large pool where our own waterfront staff were the lifeguards for us to take our BSA swim tests. Many of the youth passed their 100-yard swim test (and then a 1-minute floatation). As my turn came, I jumped into the rather cold water to attempt the test. It has been 30 years or more since I have attempted the swim test and the cold water did not help me. I was able to swim just 25 yards before I gave up the attempt and got out of the pool.
I then went to the other room to the other pool – where many of the staff also gathered. We there enjoyed the “lazy river” – with small waves, the giant slide which curved around and around, and the hot tub. We enjoyed a fun morning there together. And there in the warm water of this pool, I was able to complete the 100 yard swim and the float – but it didn’t count for the test.
The staff members who were 19 or over had to pay an admission fee of $2.50 each (usually it is $5.00) and all who were 18 and under got in free to the facility. The camp paid for the adults. So, it was truly a bargain and very amazing that the place can operate on this pricing structure. And it was wonderful that we could have this staff activity together. In addition to the pools, the place has a rock climbing wall, tennis and racquetball courts, exercise equipment, and much more. Wow! I was truly amazed and impressed.
We all had a real fun time together. It was great that we could do this activity together. I later learned that I had left my black camp director jacket there at the pool and hoped that it would be there later when I returned to get it.
I drove the 9 staff members back to camp. En route to the place and back, I had the staff members who were with me tell about themselves. It was fun to hear of their interests.
Back at camp, we ate lunch. We then had a general staff meeting. I led the song, “Sippin’ Cider Through a Straw”. One line of the song says, “Now 49 kids all call me Pa – from Sippin’cider through a straw.” Recently after the birth of our little granddaughter, Cali, I counted up my posterity … So, nine children, eight spouses and 31 grandchildren – that makes 49 kids all calling me Pa. Ha, Ha! Funny and rather unbelievable! (I have been singing that song for many years and now suddenly it has true meaning for me.
After the meeting I went with Larissa’s staff (in her absence) to the climbing tower. They worked on their lesson plans. I told all of the camp staff members that their merit badge class lesson plans would be their ticket to getting lunch tomorrow. This ultimatum has given them adrenaline to work and to complete the tasks. They are making good progress. The threat of no food had a greater impact than anything else that I could have tried!
I made a trek to the maintenance shed – also known as the “Rat Shack” for some materials needed by the climbing staff. I ascended the inside stairs up to the top of the giant 35 foot tower and enjoyed the view from up there.
Then a bunch of staff members were summoned to the archery range and I went there to assist and supervise the fifteen or so staff members – under the direction of Lena, archery director. She wanted help in putting up two giant tarps that are specifically designed to catch all of the flying arrows as shot by the archer Scouts.
It took great effort to get these up. We had to use a bit of ingenuity to get them strung on the long wires that had been put up earlier. I remembered that as I went up the many stairs of the climbing tower I had seen a “come-along” (winch) on one of the levels. I sent two staffers to get this unit. Most of the staff had never seen this piece of “machinery” and I gave them the general idea of how it worked and let them work it out. They soon figured out how to use the winch to accomplish our needs with the giant tarp.
I spent waiting time at the range sitting on a log with Mason and together we came up with a cooking and food plan for him to use in his cooking class. I enjoyed the visit with him and he really got into the cooking plan. He seems quite excited about doing the cooking. We made a list of items to cook and which Mable the cook will need to order for our use. We continued our discussion later until we finished the task. We went to the kitchen to see what food items were already there that he could use.
At the flag ceremony, I had a fun time with the staff. Deghan was the flag caller and he did a good job at this task. At dinner I had mini-meetings with various people about their program areas. The area directors are making good progress with their staff members and the program areas are coming together. I think that we will have a great program for the Scouts who will soon come.
Lou and Larissa got back to camp at 6:30 PM – after the six hour trip from Sandy. And they made it alone! The doctor poked around on Larissa’s stomach and determined immediately that she does not have gall bladder problems. I guess if the area is touched and extreme pain ensues, it could be gall problem. But in the absence of that pain, the gall bladder is ruled out. He diagnosed her with “gastritis” and told her not to eat foods high in acid. She didn’t think that the doctor gave her much help but he ruled out one more thing.
At 7 PM I gathered the staff who volunteered to run the campwide games each week with the Scouts. We then staged those same games for the staff team. The staff had a real fun time doing these games. The favorite activities were the pioneer games of stick pulling and leg wrestling. I was very pleased that after all of the staff had competed against each other that I was able (in both games) to beat big boy Jace – who had won all other matches. He was quite shocked when I beat him and it was a bit of a dent to his ego but a boost to me to see that I, the old man of the group, could still go for it.
I called all staff to the dining hall for a meeting. I called the group to order and said that we were going to have a meeting – on kind of a sober subject. I also used the line that I often use with my children … “and I know that you won’t like it.” This got all of the staff wondering what that subject might be. So, after a moment of suspense, I said, “There is only one meeting subject tonight and that is brownies.” They all sat in shock as that sank in and then they broke out in a great cheer. It was a funny scene. The cook had planned to make the brownies for dinner but then had forgotten to bake them. It worked out well, however. It was nice to have the brownie break at this point in our program.
As we returned to our cabin tonight, we experienced a wonderful miracle. We found that Ranger Rod had got electricity restored to our cabin – for the first time this summer. We were ecstatic over this new and great blessing. I guess for whatever reason, they had run a new line up to the Hill cabin. Wow!
Karissa and Kiara were here with us at the cabin tonight. With electricity – and our outdated miniature VHS movie viewer, we were able to watch the movie, “Angels in the Outfield”.
With all of my time in the sun today I found myself with my arms and face quite burned tonight.
JUNE 17TH – FRIDAY
I awoke this morning at 6 AM and looked forward to a good day. I decided to perform my “Jake the Peg” (3-legged man) act for the staff members at breakfast. So, I gathered up the leg, the three old shoes that match, the hat, etc. I also cut the pocket out of the new coat (which I recently obtained from my son, K.C. – it being the long coat that he bought for his mission and seldom used). I put all of the goods into a plastic bag for transport to the dining hall. I waited until all of the guys (and gals) had their food and were seated.
But just as I was to go “on stage”, my world changed somewhat. Lou and Larissa came to me with Lou’s phone and showed me a shocking and very sad message. It was from my brother, Ray. He wrote that our sister, Laurie, had fallen a few times in the past couple of days – and fell twice this morning. The last time that she fell, her husband asked her if she wanted to go back to bed. She said, “No, I think I will sit here in this chair.” He went to get her a blanket and when he returned to her, he found that she had died. So, it appears that she had some strokes and with each one, she got worse. But, it appears that she probably went out without a lot of pain. The news was happy sad. It is very sad that she has died and that we will no longer have mortal association with her – but it is very happy that she is now in a place where she can be free of pain and sorrow and that she will no longer be troubled with the mental issues that have held her bound for so much of her life. So, this is a time for rejoicing for her.
Much of the rest of the day was spent thinking about Laurie and the positive impact that she has had in my life. She has truly been a very positive influence upon me and everyone whom she has met. We will greatly miss her sweet and loving spirit.
It was interesting to see the various text messages that came through the rest of the day. I had a hard time dealing with the loss and the family’s reaction to the death and surrounding events.
Some of the texts brought forth some interesting facts. I guess a couple of days ago Laurie’s daughter, Crista, was getting her nails done at a salon. An unknown Chinese lady came up to Crista and told her that her mother had had a stroke. This was a great surprise to Crista.
A couple of days ago Laurie asked Walter for a priesthood blessing. And soon after the blessing she began to pack her bags for a trip. Walter asked her what she was doing and she replied that she was going on a trip. Walter asked her where she was going and she said that she did not know – but that she wanted to be ready.
So, that was a sad start to the day. But, after the initial shock, Jake and I went out to perform. I entered through the back door of the dining hall and began singing as I came in. I walked around the dining hall and the staff as I sang and performed the act. But, I guess that it was hard for the staff to see my third leg and the true picture of me and Jake. Several staff members later asked me to perform the act again at our evening campfire program.
Travis went to town this morning so this left me in charge of the camp for a while. I took a big group of staff to take a multitude of white buckets from a junk stack near the handicraft area and to a hidden spot behind some sheds at the front gate. The place looked better without the buckets where they were. I then took the same staff group with me and we began a marathon march through every campsite. I had Grace make note of things that were wrong or needed in each campsite. We checked each KYBO, removed the 55-gallon blue barrels from the KYBO’s and saw that there was a hose at each site – and many #10 cans for fire suppression. I guess that in most cases, two troops share the same KYBO. We checked the fire bowls and removed trash from the entire campsites – but didn’t find too much trash. We checked for flagpoles and bulletin boards. We made sure that the picnic tables were positioned in the best places and that they were sitting stable on the ground. Some tables had been stacked over the winter. We worked on this project until 11 AM. We did visit all of the 22 campsites of the camp.
I then gave all staff an hour to work on and to complete their merit badge class lesson plans. The kids were down to the wire as they knew that what could be a lunch-less lunch loomed in front of them. A lot happened in that final hour. I had the staff submit their finished plans to their own area directors and then authorized the area directors to release their staffers – individually or as a group – to go eat lunch. The system worked. We got some decent lesson plans developed.
We staged lunch outside under the white dining canopies that had been set up by the staff. Travis talked of the Monday Scout check-in process and how it will work. I talked of the Monday campfire program and got ideas of those who wanted to volunteer to participate with parts on the program. Shooting Sports director, Bruce, had to calm the noisy troops so that I could continue. I then apologized to the staffers for my inability to hold their attention today – and then told them that I had just learned that my sister had died.
In the afternoon Travis and Lou managed the staff as each area group exchanged with one other area and presented a sample lesson plan for the other to experience and critique. Climbing, for instance, went to Nature and then they swapped and Nature went to climbing. Waterfront and Outdoor Skills exchanged. And the three shooting ranges worked together and exchanged with each other. Overall, I think that it was a great event for all.
I went to the dining hall and used Lou’s phone to call my dad, mom, a brother and a daughter. With each call I expressed my concern for all of the family and learned of the ongoing development of details of the passing and plans for the upcoming services. I learned services will be held on Saturday next.
After the phone calls were made, I typed up the program for our Monday night campfire program so that we can have our first rough run-through tonight. The “dress rehearsal” – or a more polished version will happen later in our staff week. I had my laptop computer and worked on it in the dining hall. As I worked, I saw Ranger Rob Smith in action as he worked to finalize new electrical systems which he has been installing in the dining hall over the past few months. He finished his work and gathered up all of his tools and piles of supplies that were everywhere – and left for home. He has been here for the staff week and has done a lot of work. His wife has been our health officer. He will return home to the Kaysville, Utah area and his work as the maintenance engineer for the Bountiful Temple. We have appreciated his assistance. And I have enjoyed visiting with him about people we have both known in the council. He talked of Ron Blair who was the camp director and commissioner for years here at New Fork. Ron was my Woodbadge coach counselor years ago.
Travis and Lindsay gathered all of the staff to the porch of the headquarters/trading post. They gave each staff member two dark green staff/camp T-shirts for use as “Class B” uniforms. They also gave each of us a New Fork hat – with the NF letters in gray on the maroon colored hats. They also gave each of us a nice black jacket to be worn as part of the uniform. The staff members were all jazzed with the many new items. It was like Christmas morning. We then gave all of the staff a free hour to go clean up their cabins.
I went to my own cabin to get my computer jump drive and then went to back to the office to print out copies of the plan for our campfire program. I also printed out copies of my “Mountains to Climb on a Summer Day” poem for distribution to the staff.
At 5 PM the area directors gathered for a meeting. We talked of various issues relative to their program facilities, equipment, lesson plans and general preparation for the arrival of the Scouts.
We later conducted our regular evening flag ceremony. The staff all looked fabulous as they were decked out in all of the new staff regalia. Larissa’s climbing staff presented the flag retreat ceremony. We finished the ceremony early and had to wait for our 6 PM dinner. As we waited for the food to be ready, I went over the campfire program with the staff.
After dinner Travis had a fun program for us to participate in. (He has incorporated some fun events into our training week – so these things have been fun and beneficial.) He set up a pipe “tunnel” which he super-heated with a propane blow torch. He had a couple of branding irons with the “NF” camp brand on them. We were able to brand our hats, wallets, walking sticks, etc. as desired. We will stage this same activity each week as the Scouts are here.
We also had another fun event near the end of the branding. There are two beautiful signs that have been stored in the office – but which needed to be hung outside – in the peak of the log roof of the structure. One sign says “Trapper Trails Council” and the other says “Camp New Fork”. Both signs are green and yellow and they look real sharp. I had asked the High Adventure staff guys to take charge of the logistics of getting these signs hung in place. This was a bit of a challenge since the signs needed to be hung high in the air and because the steps up to the building were right under where the signs needed to be hung – this making it difficult to get a ladder close to the building. They got the camp truck and backed it as close as possible to the building. They then put a tall ladder leaning from the bed of the truck upwards to the apex of the roof. They also stood the ladder up from the steps. I held the ladder as Tommy and Jason climbed precariously up with the signs. Nathan and both Andrews assisted in raising the signs up so that the ladder boys could get the signs up onto the waiting eye-hooks, etc. They also raised a cow skull with horns – also painted green and yellow – and adorned with feathers up above the lettered signs. The signs and the skull looked really cool when they were up and hung properly. As the sign hanging was complete, the staff let out loud shouts and the ceremony signified that we were then truly done and ready with the camp – ready to present it to our first Scouts – who will arrive on Monday.
Later we all converged on the campfire bowl – located below our cabin- and between us and the lake. Upon arrival, we found that the assigned staff patrol had not yet constructed the two campfire structures.
Anyway, after we got wood and the fire lays in place, we lit the fires and began our program. Larissa did her “Toast” song … “Yeah, toast!” Everyone seemed to like this. Jake and I performed our act. Each area did an introductory song or skit to introduce the people and their area, badges, etc. Some of these were good and some were lacking in imagination. Kameron and Cade led the group in “Father Abraham.” I first led the staff in this song and now it has become a grand hit with all of the staffers – almost to the point of being obnoxious. Daghen learned my Waddleachee song and was able to lead the staff in this. I taught the group “Ging Gang Goulee”. (Some of the staff learned this as we sang it together in the van as we headed to camp.) Jace, Theo and Kameron led the group in “Zulu Warrior”. Katie, the Handicraft director, played her ukulele and quietly led the group in “My Bonnie”. Max and Dax led the group in singing “Deep and Wide”. They did a good job. Will and Theo did the “Banana Bandana” skit and did really well. Theo had the role of the professor (or whoever) and Will was the dodo who folded the banana at the commands of the professor. This was a big hit with everyone. Of course I have been seeing this skit for years. Will had borrowed some of my stocking safety pins to pin a plastic bag into his pants pocket for acceptance of the mashed banana (and so placed there to try to keep the pants from becoming a banana disaster).
Rachae – with Matt, Will, and others – led the group in singing “Topnotcher” … “I points to myself, Vas is das …” etc. Their song – and particularly the antics of Will – was hilarious. The Outdoor Skills patrol performed the movie machine skit. Kassi told a story and did a good job. (It takes real talent to be a story teller!) Scott played a guitar and tried to lead the group in Kumbaya. He was a bit quiet. I love having a guitar played on the program – because it adds a great new dimension to the program. We’ll have to have another staffer out to help lead the group next time – as Scott sings. Scott also played the bugle that I loaned to him – at the beginning of the program.
Jonathan – a former US Army soldier – conducted a flag burning/retirement ceremony and used several staffers to help display the flag and then to lower it into the burning campfire embers. I gave the Scouter’s minute and challenged all staff members – through my “Mountains to Climb” poem to make this a summer of personal growth and progress. I wrote this poem years ago for another staff but have used it traditionally each year thereafter with each new staff that I have worked with. I later gave out copies of the poem to all staff members.
MOUNTAINS TO CLIMB ON A SUMMER DAY
Take time now, to climb your mountain
Choose your trail and go for the peak.
You have potential, much to gain,
go to work for the goal you seek.
Accept yourself as you now are,
become the man that’s there in you.
Use your strengths and you’ll go far,
as you learn all that you can do.
It matters not what others say,
It’s you who determines your fate.
Be true to you, in every way,
set your mark and pick up your gait.
Climb mountains, ford a river wide,
take time to ponder, think, and pray.
Dream some dreams and then you decide,
what kind of man you’ll be today.
Make spiritual preparation,
seek the Spirit, let it guide you.
In the beauty of God’s creation,
realize all He’d have you do.
You can do anything you desire,
your limits, only you can set.
Make goals to kindle inner fire,
whate’er you want, it’s there to get.
Make special time to be a friend,
help and serve and be a leader.
Look for the chance, a hand to lend,
serve with love and be a leader.
Use your time for study, learning,
give your spirit some time for growth.
Enjoy peace through family yearning,
and feel the strength of inner growth.
Work hard and do it with a smile,
have fun but always true to you.
Push yourself for the extra mile,
climb the mountain, that’s there for you!
You can, if you will, climb the hill;
you have power to win the race.
Live to your divine potential:
Reach high! It’s you that sets the pace!
— @ 1982 Kevin V. Hunt
I then had Matt lead us in the “On My Honor” song and I led the staffers (now lined up behind the fires) in “Scout Vespers”.
We then had various staff members stage the traditional “Honor Trail”. Those who had assignment stood at 20’ or so intervals along the trail from the campfire bowl back to the parade grounds in front of the office. As a group came to them, each staffer said their point of the Scout Law – saying, “A Scout is …” and then a brief narrative about what the point means – and then ending with “A Scout is …”.
After all had gone through the trail we gathered as a staff group and formed a large circle. We then crossed arms and held hands with the staffer on our right and left sides. We then quietly sang together “Friends”. We sang, “Friends we are and friends we’ll ever be … where’re we are and wherever we may be … Friends we’ll be … throughout eternity.” This was a solemn and wonderful moment together and we all felt a special bond as the New Fork Camp Staff. I guess this is a traditional “ceremony” for the staff here at New Fork. I liked it a lot.
We dismissed the staffers to their own cabins. Lou and I also went to our own cabin. I returned to the campfire bowl to retrieve Jake and his associated parts. Later I walked Larissa back to her own cabin in the woods – by her climbing tower.
Back again at our cabin, I took the time to fill three 3×5” index cards (both sides) with notes of the day so that I could later transform the notes into full journal entries of the day. It has been a busy day and a busy week thus far. We have accomplished some great things as a staff team.
JUNE 18TH – SATURDAY
Today was our last day of staff and camp preparation before our first Scouts arrive on Monday. We ate breakfast together. At our flag ceremony I presented camp director, Travis Emery, with a neckerchief commemorating the 100-year association between the LDS Church and the Boy Scouts of America. The staff gave him a great cheer of approval for his work this week and for the past nine or ten months as he has prepared for this camp moment.
Lou and a few staffers went and created the “Takota” campsite where we will stage training sessions for Scoutmasters and other leaders. They put up a dining fly and got tables and other things organized. I again sent a team (many of the same that I had with me a couple of days ago) to make a final check on the campsites.
We had several staffers who chose to come late to the flag ceremony (and the earlier breakfast). Travis was not pleased with these folks (and did as I would have done) and assigned the lie-a-beds to intense KYBO duty. Ranger Jeremy got the boys supplied with KYBO cleaning supplies and they set off with a great lack of enthusiasm for the tasks ahead.
Travis and I met with a young lady staffer who has had multiple issues this week. We decided to let this girl return home. This is always a challenge and one that is not pleasant for the camp directors or for the non-performing person. But, the action had to be taken.
I had a team of boys with me and we straightened up around the messy maintenance shed. Cade, Zach “2” and I cleaned up around the full perimeter of the dining hall and we removed a lot of mess – mainly construction residue. Our efforts made a bid difference. Then with Tommy, Jace, Kassi, Cade, Zack 2 and Diego, we made a yeoman effort to clean up the dining hall. We found stacks of messes everywhere. It was evident that some of these stacks had been there for years gathering dust. We dumped a lot of the stuff that was obviously not worth keeping. We got rid of some winter mouse nests and swept the place thoroughly. I was impressed with the work of the kids on this team. They just kept going for it – even after most of the rest of the staff had wandered off to their cabins to do their own things. We moved tables around to be more functional and accommodating to the large group of Scouts who soon will join us for meals. We set up the salad bar table. We cleaned all of the windows – inside and out. And with our efforts, the dining hall looked beautiful and wonderful – a welcome sight for incoming Scouts. We transformed a junk area into a fabulous dining hall. I was very pleased with the united extra-mile efforts of the group.
With these tasks complete, we gave the staff a break and allowed them to get out of their uniforms. Many looked forward to an “R&R” (rest and relaxation) trip into the town of Pinedale – located about 20 miles down the hill.
At 1:30 many of the staff gathered down by the camp gate. Several older staff members have their own cars here at camp and they are willing to take other staff members with them. Travis and Lindsay drove the gold van and they had it full of staffers. I drove the silver van with ten more camp staffers. Lou and Larissa and a handful of staffers drove our mini-van.
We formed another convoy and headed together for the giant metropolis of Pinedale (with the posted population of about 2,000 people). Having not been to Pinedale previously, I found the western town rather intriguing. Many of the structures are made of logs – my personal favorite – so I loved seeing these buildings. There is one main street – Pine Street – that runs the full length of the town. There is not even one stop light on the street. It seemed that more than half of the businesses were saloons and bars. There is only one grocery store. Ridley’s is kind of a mini-Walmart. They have a little of everything in this place – all at pretty high prices.
We went to Ridley’s and all of the staff seemed to evaporate to do their own things – most of them in small groups of five or six staffers. I noted that they walked Pine Street – up and down – about five times through the afternoon. They didn’t have any particular plan but just kind of explored and took in everything.
Lou and I went to the Sublette County Library and found it to be a wonderful place. It also is constructed of log and timber – so I thought it to be fabulous and beautiful.
Many of the staff gravitated to there through the afternoon. Some used the internet. Some played chess – on the large boards that were a part of the tables. I went to the internet and read a week’s worth of Arizona and Utah obituaries (a strange habit that I have). I joined several staffers in the far end of the library. We sat on overstuffed chairs and couches. Staff kids checked and manipulated their cell phones – which they haven’t been able to use at the camp. I took the time to browse three issues of the “Log Home Living” magazines that were on the shelves.
We (Lou, Larissa and I) went to Ridley’s and bought some yogurt, cranberry juice and non-gluten food items for Larissa. She is still trying to get control of her health situation.
We then went to the Pinedale Aquatic Center where still more staffers had gathered. I was pleased to find my forgotten coat there on a shelf just inside of the front door.
About 5:00 PM we began driving down the main drag and picked up a staffer or two at various points along the road. When we finally had our groups together – for my silver van and Lou’s red mini-van – we headed back up the mountain to camp.
Back at camp we enjoyed a relaxed evening. There was no schedule and little happening. The cook team gets to have every weekend off (like all of the staff) and the mode for eating is that there is a large section in the commissary/kitchen walk-in refrigerator where food leftovers from the week are stored. Each staff member is “on his own” to go to this shelf and find some food items that might be of interest to him/her. They then go wait in line at a dumpy and antiquated microwave oven to get their food heated. I don’t like this system – but I guess it has its possibilities. (Another option would be for Lou and I to spend all of our free weekend time cooking for staff – but experience shows that this can be not so fun also. So, the whole scenario is kind of a losing battle.)
I enjoyed talking with Andrew A., Tommy, and Daghen. Daghen was down after learning that his Arizona uncle had died suddenly. I could relate to him a bit in this scenario – after my own events of the past few days. Andrew A2 came to our cabin and he and I had a good visit outside – in view of others – about mission preparation.
I then sat on the front porch and wrote in a new journal that I brought to present to a staff member. The ladies and Kiara were inside and they watched a chick flick entitled, “Princess Diaries”. Jacob 1 – who has a stump hand – but doesn’t let this slow him down any – came over for my wife (camp barber) to give him a haircut. He brought Daghen and Braeden and I played the game of “Quirkle” with them. Daghen was pleased to be the game winner.
It was traumatic, but I made the decision that Lou and I will remain at camp and will not go to Arizona for the memorial service for my sister. We are in a remote Wyoming location and there is not a good way to get a flight from here. We would have to go to Idaho Falls (about three hours away) to get an Allegiant flight. And we would have to be gone from Thursday to Sunday – more than half a camp week – to make it happen. I feel bad about this – especially since all of the rest of my siblings will be there … but under the circumstances, I feel that this is the best decision.
Wow! What a week! We have worked hard as a camp staff and we are ready to receive the coming Scout troops. We are excited about the prospects of it all.
Best wishes along your Scouting Trails … Kevin
Excerpts taken from Kevin’s many personal journals and his 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 Scout, The Scouting Trail and The Voice of Scouting. Feel free to comment on anything you read!
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