Scouting Bolo Tie Carving Tradition Continues – Part 2

Part 2 of a 2-Part Blog Article

Scout 1

Kevin V. Hunt

Scouting Historian, Author, Blogger, Speaker, Scouting Veteran, and Camp Director

In a previous blog, (see https://thescoutingtrail.org/2017/10/23/bolo-ties-are-part-of-my-scouting-tradition-part-1/)I talked of my treasured collection of Scout bolo ties and how it was rescued from the Brian Head and Thunder Ridge Fire this past summer.  I introduced Scout bolo tie carver extraordinaire, Bill Burch.  [Much has been written of Bill Burch but here is one article that was published by the Deseret News:  https://www.deseretnews.com/article/705385114/Bills-bolo-tie-is-the-gift-that-keeps-on-giving.html.  We can all be grateful that before his passing on September 25, 2012, Bill passed on his bolo tie legacy as he trained countless protégés in the art of bolo tie carving.  I have met a few of these guys but who knows how many Bill wanna-bees are out there.  But, I am glad that they are there – and that they continue to carve as Bill did.  I’d like to introduce some of the carvers whom I have known and whose bolos I have in my collection.   And this underscores again, why my bolo tie collection was important to me.

In 2013, I was a part of a group of LDS and Scouting historians who collaborated together to write and create the “Century of Honor” book to commemorate the full-century affiliation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Boy Scouts of America. https://www.lds.org/church/news/century-of-honor-book-celebrates-100-years-of-lds-scouting?lang=eng As that wonderful project came to a close, Mark Francis, Director of LDS/BSA Relations (and headquartered in Salt Lake City across from the Mormon Temple Square) was (with his wife, Nettie) the lead in the book production.  He invited me to come to Salt Lake City to join him with the other historians with whom I had worked on the project – to celebrate our accomplishment.  This visit coincided with a semi-annual conference which Mark and helpers stage each year to help Scouters from all over the country better understand the LDS/BSA relationship.

At this Salt Lake City gathering, I again met Gary Dollar as he was a service missionary for the event.   I had found one of his bolo ties on-line – and this was an LDS Century of Honor Jamboree Scout (#11,144 – which I found for the bargain price of $25.)  As I had opportunity to visit with Gary, he promised to make and send me a cowboy.  (I have a personal love for anything with the western cowboy theme.)  I wrote him a reminder note on one of my characteristic 3×5” colored cards from my pocket.  He put it into the chest pocket of his suit.  My guess is that the card is still in that pocket.

GARY DOLLAR

Gary Dollar bolo tie

I went on-line to see what carved bolo ties might be found there.  I bought three different bolos carved by Guy Nelson.  I have not met him but he carves some good faces.  From Guy, I have his fireman (#4040), a stove pipe man (#4583) and what I call a “country gentleman” (#4757).  (I note that Guy puts his initials but not his name on his bolos – so one has to be a bit more of an investigator to determine who the artist is.)  But, having carved 4,757 bolos, he has surely been around the block just a bit.

GUY NELSON 2

Guy Nelson carved bolo ties

In 2014 I attended a National BSA camp school prior to being the camp director at the Jack Nicol Cub Scout Camp in Colorado.  On the course staff was a Fred Jepsen.  I got acquainted with him after I learned that he was a carver.  It was fascinating to talk with him about his bolo tie production process.  First, he showed me his giant home-made vinyl apron – with giant open pockets – into which he carves – while sitting in his living room with his wife – as they watch movies together.  He also showed me how (like Bill) he makes the Aspen rounds and cuts the blocks from the rounds.  Then he soaks the blocks in an alcohol solution to “cure” for a while before carving them.  Fred gave me a cowboy (#9917).  And a really cool thing … he also gave me one for each of my three Scouter sons.  They even had the right hair colors – black for K.C., blondish/yellow for Rusty and Red for Keith (we got the wrong names on Keith and Rusty).  It was fun for me to later present these to my three sons.  Thanks, Fred.

FRED JEPSEN

FRED JEPSEN carved bolo tie

A few years ago, I went to our council’s Scout-O-Rama show – held that year in west Phoenix.  At one of the booths I saw a friend, Jason Reed.  I have known Jason for years as we have served together on the district Scout leader training staff.  I checked out the booth where he was working and then saw a rack with bolo ties.  I asked who the carver was.  I was surprised when I learned that it was him.  I didn’t even know that he was a carver – but I guess he was just kind of getting his carving start.

When Jason saw my interest, he offered to give me one of his bolos – and he let me pick any one that I wanted.  I was pretty pleased to get his train conductor – and even more pleased when I noted its #10 on the back.  Wow!  Jason lives only two or three blocks from me in Mesa – and as noted, we have been friends.  So, now knowing that he was a carver, Jason has become my first-line go-to guy.  All it takes is an e-mail message and he soon has it made for me.  I love this.  It is like having my own custom carver there for my every beckon call.

JASON REED

Bolo Ties Carved by Jason Reed

At some point when he was feeling generous, Jason presented me with a Santa Claus (Bolo #264).   Ho! Ho! Ho!  I then began to use Jason to create custom bolos for various occasions.  When I was to be the Camp Director of the Colorado Cub Scout camp, I had him carve a pirate (#594) to go along with our Pirate camp theme.  Our family planned to have family photos and the women selected blue and yellow as the theme color.  So, I e-mailed Jason and asked if he had any bolos in blue and yellow.  He did not and together we talked of what I might need in those colors.  I belong to the modern Mormon Battalion commemorative group so I decided to have him make me a Battalion soldier (in blue and yellow) to go with my Battalion soldier uniform.  And a couple of weeks later, I got his return e-mail message saying that it was ready for pick-up (with #623 on the bolo back.)  This bolo looks real sharp with my Battalion uniform!   Another e-mail the next year got me a knight (#652) for yet another Cub Scout camp theme.  (And just $25 each … such a deal!)

I mentioned Mark Francis.   Mark and I had talked of my desire to begin blogging and to publish books.  He suggested Justin Jepsen as a great resource to talk with.  So, I made contact with him.  He had a familiar name so I asked him my standard question: “Who is your dad?”  When he answered, “Fred”, I said, “Oh … Fred the bolo tie carver?”  He said “yes” and then he told me that he also is a bolo carver.  Well, I had to have one of his bolos and he agreed to carve me a custom cowboy – in brown and red.  This came to me as his #1936.

JUSTIN JEPSEN

Justin Jepsen carved bolo tie

Knowing of my love for carved bolo ties, my daughter, Jackie, found a wonderful and unique Christmas gift for me – at a garage sale of all places.  This was kind of a different bolo from the rest of the collection – but it fit all of the parameters.  It was a bolo tie.  It was hand carved (out of gnarly mesquite or juniper wood) and it was a face.  It had the face of an old bearded mountain man.  There is no number on the back of this one.  It simply says, “By MAC”.  So, that has me curious.  Who is Mac?

BY MAC

Bolo Tie carved by “MAC”

 

 

 

 

 

 

My most recent bolo has been a fun one.  This spring I had opportunity to attend a giant Mountain Man Rendezvous for the Varsity Scouts of our Mesa, Arizona Scouting district.  I was there on staff – as a part of an elite group of 18 of the best Dutch oven chefs around.  (I think I gained 10 pounds up there as each of these chefs took turns cooking their best stuff for the group.)

BOYD THACKER

Swedish Chef Bolo Carved by Boyd Thacker

Anyway, carver, Boyd Thacker (also from Mesa) was at the Rendezvous following in the footsteps of the legend – Bill Burch.  So, he spent his time carving and giving bolos (often in trade) to Mountain Man Scouts.  But, he ate with our Dutch oven chef group – a smart man!   Our head chef commissioned Boyd to carve a “Swedish Chef” bolo tie for each of the 18 chefs of our group.  I got his bolo #1317.

Swedish Chef bolo tie carved by BOYD THACKER

It has been real fun to wear the Swedish Chef – because this guy has great character recognition.  Many folks know and recognize him from “The Muppets”.  So, most folks when they see this bolo, smile big and then complement me on it.  They’ll say, “I LOVE your Swedish Chef!”  And then I smile too!

Well, there you have it!  The rest of the story … and all the details of my prized bolo tie collection!  You can probably see why the collection could probably not be replaced and why I love it as I do.  Scouting, history and traditions … they all seem to go together.  Keep getting and wearing those bolo ties … and help maintain the tradition!

[Side note:  If you are a carver or an owner of a Scout bolo tie that you are ready to pass on, I would love to take it off your hands!  As often as I wear these bolo ties, any new ones would be most welcome!]

Best wishes along your Scouting Trails …  Kevinthescoutblogger

See this link for an introduction to Kevin the Scouting Trails Blogger.  Blogging articles have excerpts taken from Kevin’s many personal journals and Scouting Trails books including “MR. Scoutmaster!”, “Keys to Scouting Leadership,” “Gnubie to Eagle Scout”,  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!  Find Kevin on Facebook at:  Scouting Trails Books and Blogs.

To explore or buy Kevin’s books on Amazon, go to: amazon.com/author/kevinhunt

Contact Kevin directly via email: kevin@scoutingtrails.com

 

Bolo Ties are Part of My Scouting Tradition Part 1

Part 1 of a 2-Part Blog Article

Scout 1

Kevin V. Hunt

Scouting Historian, Author, Blogger, Speaker, Scouting Veteran, and Camp Director

We have all been horrified by the images of the many floods, storms, and other natural disasters in recent weeks.  A common scenario with these disasters is the need to evacuate and leave what it has taken a life-time to build.  Imagine being given only a few minutes to collect all that is important to you – and then to get out.  My wife and I faced that challenge this summer at the Scout camp where we worked for the summer.  Sheriff personnel came zooming into our camp on a 4-wheeled ATV.  They pointed out the Brian Head fire -that became one of the largest Utah fires in history – just as it started – only a mile or so from our camp.  All other Scouts and staff were gone for the weekend and only Lou, my wife, and I remained in the camp.  The Sheriff officers gave us just 15 minutes to evacuate the camp because of the pending fire danger.

FIRE ABOVE STAFF TENTS 3

Brian Head Fire – shown above Thunder Ridge staff tents minutes after the fire began June 17

So, what would you take if you had only 15 minutes to grab and go?  That is definitely a challenging situation.  Well, if I were at home, I know what would be my number one priority (after family safety).  And that would be my 140 or so written volumes of my personal journal.   (I have a daily entry for every day since May 20, 1973!)  But being out in the tulies and camped for the summer in a tent, we didn’t have much with us that was valuable.  We quickly grabbed what we could in the short few minutes.  And we got some “good stuff”.  But, in the rush, my wife left her purse and I left my prized collection of hand-carved Scouting bolo ties.

So, yes, we rushed into the tent and started randomly grabbing stuff to take with us. In the scramble, however, I neglected to look up to the tent cross-pieces, from which hung my collection of carved bolo ties. Only later did it hit me that I had left the 20 or so bolos hanging up in the tent. I worried for days that they had all been lost in the fire— I have spent years collecting the bolos and most could not be replaced. They were invaluable to me.

Ultimately, the bolo tie collection was miraculously spared and returned to me. (See this blog where I mention them). You may have seen my happy picture as I got them back.

IMG_5836

Kevin Hunt holding bolo tie collection and wife’s purse saved from Brian Head fire around Thunder Ridge Scout Camp

Wearing a hand-carved bolo tie is something that I have done literally for years. It has become one of my “Kevin Hunt” trademarks and I never do anything in Scouting without one on. They are so much a part of me and who I am, that I wear one almost every day, even in my “civilian” life— and, of course, in most of our family photos throughout the years. They are just so, me.

Being a bolo-tie enthusiast, I have always been a big admirer of Bill Burch. He is the legendary “Grand-daddy” of all carved bolo ties. His carved bolos are now found everywhere around the world. Bill perfected the carving art, creating some 50,000 bolo ties throughout his lifetime. He died in 2012 at the age of about 88. Fortunately for us, though, Bill developed many carving protégés throughout the years who now carry on his grand Scouting tradition, carving just as he taught them.

BILL BURCH BOLO TIE CARVER

Bill Burch – Bolo Tie Carver (Deseret News Photo)

I never had the opportunity to see Bill carve, but as a fellow woodcarver myself (walking sticks specifically), oh how I wish I could have seen Bill in action!

Those who did see him have reported that he would go all over the world to carve, any place where there was a large collection of Scouts and leaders. I’m told that he would sit and carve a bolo in just fifteen minutes or so then string it, paint it and hand it to the Scout or leader, paint still dripping wet.

One of Bill’s greatest enjoyments was to attend Jamborees (and other events) and distribute his large collection of pre-carved bolo ties. He would handpick a bolo for each Scout that came to him and then give them a little talk about the Scout Oath and Law. After his little talk, he would present the bolo to the Scout. (I’m not sure that those boys appreciated or understood how special this gift was, coming from such an amazing man.)

I don’t know exactly when Bill began carving his bolo ties but, it was before the 1970’s. I first read about Bill and his bolo ties in the Scouting magazine when I was about 16. I wanted one of those bolo ties so badly but, being the days long before the internet, I had no way of knowing or finding out how to obtain one. I had that aching yearning to obtain one or more of them for years. I knew that carver Bill lived in Spokane, Washington, but that was all.

I had to wait until I was almost 30 before I miraculously obtained my first prized Bill Burch bolo. My family and I were housing missionaries while we lived in Santa Barbara, California and one of them was actually from Spokane, Washington. Emotion and excitement filled my mind as I asked with hope, “You wouldn’t happen to know a guy from there named Bill Burch, the bolo tie carver, would you?” I loved his answer. With a grin he replied, “You bet!  He was my Scoutmaster!” I then told him of my long-time dream to have one of his bolo ties but, that I didn’t know how to obtain one. His answer was like music to my ears: “Well, I have six or seven of them in my drawer at home. I’ll write my mom and have her send one to me for you.”

True to his word, the coveted bolo tie came in the mail about two weeks later, and was I ever elated.  That first bolo was a cowboy and had written on the back of it “#6501”. Bill and all of his protégés have traditionally sequentially numbered each of their carved bolo ties. Another carver tradition – probably also started by Bill Burch, is to put their own address and contact information on the back of the bolo. So, with this first Bill Burch bolo, I now had his address on the back of the cowboy. I wore that bolo proudly to everything from then on.

I decided that it would be great fun to have a Bill Burch bolo carved to look like me. (Yeah, a bit of vanity… but why not?) I sent him a photo of my ugly mug, as well as one for Richard Hale, a long-time great friend and neighbor. A while later, I received a small box from Bill Burch! In it was a note that read, “Kevin, I don’t do portraits … here it is!” And there was one for Richard also, which I later enjoyed presenting to him as a special “thank you”. Mine was numbered #29,855, he had carved a few since that first one I got!

Kevin Hunt with portrait bolo tie carved by Bill Burch

Kevin Hunt with portrait bolo tie carved by Bill Burch

This bolo and I became inseparable, it went everywhere with me. It has been great fun to see people see it and try to figure out who it is.

“Is that Howdy Dudey?” one asked. “Is that President Kennedy?” My favorite is, “Is that Ronald Reagan?” I didn’t realize that I had so many famous look-alikes.

The most classic comment by far, though, came from a lady while I was waiting for a transfer bus in Arizona. She saw the bolo and looked at it, looked at me, back at the bolo, then back at me. She could contain it no longer and finally pointed at it and asked, “Excuse me, Suh! Is dat you?”

Later still, I got online (Wow … amazing!), went to the Bill Burch website and ordered a bolo of “Uncle Sam” and received number #37,209.  (Bill loved to just give his slides away but he did create a website to sell his bolos just because so many people bothered him to buy one.

Soon thereafter, I had the opportunity to actually meet Bill Burch at his home in Orem, Utah while I was in town. One of the wooden tibs on the cord of my own bolo had come off and I decided to pay Bill a visit since I had his new address. He had recently moved to Orem, Utah, probably to be closer to his Aspen wood for carving.

I showed up at his townhouse, unannounced, and he came to the door, dragging his respirator along behind him. He didn’t acknowledge me nor did he ask who I was. He just looked down and saw the tibless bolo tie. “You’ve got a problem … come on in!” he said as he took me into his home.

We went downstairs, respirator and all, and—to my surprise— he gave me a tour of his entire bolo tie manufacturing area. He showed me the floor-to-ceiling stacks of “rounds” of Quaking Aspen wood, his favorite carving wood. Each round was about ten to twelve inches in diameter and was cut to about two and a half inches in thickness, (the thickness of a single bolo tie). Bill told me how he let the rounds “cure” and then when he was ready to use them, he used a band saw to cut 20 or more “blocks” from each round. He then used these blocks to carve each bolo.

Bill also took me into his display room, where he had pegs all over the walls. Each one had a different bolo style with about 10 or 20 of that bolo style. There were pegs of Baden Powell, Indians, cowboys, Scouts, old guys, cowboys, Uncle Sams, and many more.  Wow, was I ever impressed!  He then showed me his personal collection that consisted of his first bolo, every 100th bolo, and every 1,000th bolo that he had ever carved. I wish I had that collection now! What a fascinating visit with this grand master and living legend, bolo carver. I could have stayed there for hours talking to him.

Bill Burch Bolo Ties

Bill Burch Bolo Ties

He then got to fixing my broken bolo by gluing on a new tib and I bought one of his pegs, a mountain man, #43,668.

While I was with Bill, Gary Dollar, his main protege and carving partner, visited us. Gary has worked with Bill for years and, after Bill’s death, he has maintained the bolo tradition by carving his own bolos and selling some of Bill’s. Later I learned that Gary grew up in my hometown of Mesa, Arizona and is actually the cousin of my brother-in-law.

While at Camp Thunder Ridge this summer, I had a conversation with an adult Scouter who told me that when he was at a Jamboree as a teenager, his cousin died tragically in a tractor accident.  as he was the farm worker substitute and as this boy attended the Jamboree. And after the cousin’s death, this guy flew home to attend the funeral.  He said, “And some Scouter volunteered to take me to the airport.  And he gave me one of these bolo ties.”  He thought this was cool but he had no idea that the good turn guy was none other than the famous Bill Burch, himself.  And he didn’t know that he had a Bill Burch slide. As we talked, he texted his wife. He knew exactly where the bolo was (in his safe) – even after all those years. He had her take a photo of it and she soon did this and texted it back to him.  He showed it to me and sure enough, it was a Bill Burch. The Scouter was a happy guy after he realized what a valuable bolo tie treasure he had.

Stay tuned for Part 2 …

To read more about carver, Bill Burch, check out his website, now maintained by his friend and fellow carver, Gary Dollar.

Best wishes along your Scouting Trails …  Kevinthescoutblogger

See this link for an introduction to Kevin the Scouting Trails Blogger.  Blogging articles have excerpts taken from Kevin’s many personal journals and Scouting Trails books including “MR. Scoutmaster!”, “Keys to Scouting Leadership,” “Gnubie to Eagle Scout”,  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!  Find Kevin on Facebook at:  Scouting Trails Books and Blogs.

To explore or buy Kevin’s books on Amazon, go to: amazon.com/author/kevinhunt

Contact Kevin directly via email: kevin@scoutingtrails.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best wishes along your Scouting Trails …  Kevinthescoutblogger

See this link for an introduction to Kevin the Scouting Trails Blogger.  Blogging articles have excerpts taken from Kevin’s many personal journals and Scouting Trails books including “MR. Scoutmaster!”, “Keys to Scouting Leadership,” “Gnubie to Eagle Scout”,  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!  Find Kevin on Facebook at:  Scouting Trails Books and Blogs.

To explore or buy Kevin’s books on Amazon, go to: amazon.com/author/kevinhunt

Contact Kevin directly via email: kevin@scoutingtrails.com

 

 

 

 

 

Scouts, Sticks and Knives Just Seem to go Together

Scout 1

By Kevin V. Hunt

Scouting Historian, Author, Blogger, Speaker, Scouting Veteran, and Camp Director

Through my years in Scouting and working at Scout camps, I have learned that Scouts, sticks and knives just seem to go together.  They seem inseparable. There is something special about creating something with wood.  And carving seems to be the ultimate.

A few years ago I was the Camp Director of Camp Bartlett.  Those were glorious days!  When I had a rare few minutes to myself, I enjoyed working with wood.  One summer I created a new cradle for the upcoming birth of a new daughter.  I usually had only a couple of free hours each Saturday – after the Scouts had gone home – but I got out a small hand keyhole saw – the only saw I had at camp – and fashioned the beautiful cradle (which we used for several of our children).

KEVIN AT GERONIMO 2012

Kevin Hunt the Walking Stick Carver

And I also loved to carve on walking sticks.  That action was therapeutic for me.  It was fun to just get a stick and go sit out in the woods to carve.  It was fun, too, to see the enthusiasm that the Scouts had as they found me carving.  I could be anywhere on a remote log and within a few minutes I would have a couple of Scouts there on the log with me.  We’d talk about my carving and then I would start to ask them about the camp.  “So, what merit badges are you working on this week?”  “How do you like …?”  “Who is your favorite counselor …?”  And it was amazing what I could find out about the camp.  Using this method, I could learn about everything and a lot about my staff.  And the staff was real frustrated.  They wondered how I could know so much about what was going on.  I didn’t let onto my secret.  I carved a stick just for Camp Bartlett and it still brings me joy and memories today.

That carving tradition continues to today.  While I was at the Thunder Ridge Scout Camp this past summer (in all of its wanderings), I enjoyed showing scouts and leaders some of my carved walking sticks.  Everywhere I went, the boys were especially interested in them.  They were all very intrigued with the carving process and the end result.  I noted too, that still today, it appears that all scouts love to carve, carve, and carve sticks.  In fact, they just love to use the knife and go for it – sometimes with nothing in mind.  But, yet, they carve on.  And Scout camp is a great place to do that.  For at camp, Scouts can earn their “Totin’ Chip Award … that special card that opens up the world of knives and carving to every Scout.  And sticks at camp … we all know that there is a plethora of sticks to be carved on while at camp. There is an ample supply for all.

   THUNDER RIDGE STICK CARVED BY KEVIN HUNT  
2017 THUNDER RIDGE WALKING STICK CARVED BY KEVIN HUNT

Since everyone seemed to be really intrigued with my sticks and carving, I thought that you might enjoy reading a recent blog that I posted in the Voice of Scouting on the subject.  Here is what I wrote:  https://voiceofscouting.org/camp-scouts-sticks-knives

In the blog article, I share facts about how I got my carving start (as a Scout in the Woodcarving merit badge), my walking stick hobby and how I acquired my own carving knife.  I’d also like to share of a knife tradition in my own family.  Our son-in-law, J.D., brought this tradition to our family. For a couple of generations in his family, they have had the tradition of giving a knife to each son as he turns twelve.  And it is just not just any old knife.  It is the best of the “Old Timer” brand and in the grand “Old Timer” tradition.  And it is a pretty cool tradition.  (Read more about the Old Timer here: https://www.knife-depot.com/learn/old-timer-knives

 

J 7

Dad giving son his own “Old Timer” pocket knife

I have been a part of the family tradition as I have experienced it with three of the five sons (so far). At the 12th birthday celebration – as each son comes of age, the dad presents the son with his own new “Old Timer” knife with due pomp and ceremony (kind of like a “right of passage” deal).  And I guess JD got the same knife from his dad when he turned twelve.  Anyway, at each of these three presentations, the Stoddard grandpa has been present to assist with the knife presentation.  So, it has been JD, his father, and each son who has already received his knife – all up there together.  At this last ceremony, my own father – then age 88, was present.  Was I ever surprised when he pulled his own “Old Timer” from his own pocket – and joined the presentation tradition.  And knowing that I had a Scout whittling knife, they brought me up to be an “honorary Old Timer” (though I could have had the title based on age alone).

J 14

Stoddard family “Old Timer” Knife Tradition

It was a grand occasion and I was proud to be a part of it.  And I am sure that the other two boys are counting down the days until they get their own knives.  Maybe, too, I’ll have to invest in one of them “Old Timers” myself .  It looks like an elite group!

STICK SILHOUETTE

Silhouette of Kevin Hunt’s Carved Walking Sticks

Knives, boys (and men), sticks and carving.  It just seems to be a “guy thing” that most of us have born in us.  (But my wife is carving her first stick now … all that time in Scout camp is working on her brain – and her pocketknife!)  Carving … Let’s keep doing it! Carve, carve, carve …

Best wishes along your Scouting Trails …  Kevinthescoutblogger

See this link for an introduction to Kevin the Scouting Trails Blogger.  Blogging articles have excerpts taken from Kevin’s many personal journals and Scouting Trails books including “MR. Scoutmaster!”, “Keys to Scouting Leadership,” “Gnubie to Eagle Scout”,  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!  Find Kevin on Facebook at:  Scouting Trails Books and Blogs.

To explore or buy Kevin’s books on Amazon, go to: amazon.com/author/kevinhunt

Contact Kevin directly via e-mail: kevin@scoutingtrails.com

 

We had one Adventure after Another this Summer at Thunder Ridge Scout Camp

(Originally published on The Boy Scout at blog.utahscouts.org and by the Utah National Parks Council)

scout-1

By Kevin V. Hunt

Scouting Historian, Author, Blogger, Speaker, Scouting Veteran, and Camp Director

 

Greetings, my Trapper Trails Scouting friends …  For over a year and a half, I have enjoyed writing blogs for The Scouting Trail and the Trapper Trails Council.  Thanks for letting me share Scouting times with you.   At the beginning of this past summer 2017, I stated my intention to take a “blogcation” – or time away from blogging.  I did this not because I wanted a break but because I planned to spend the summer at yet another remote Scout camp (this year in Southern Utah).  And as Scout camps typically have little to no internet and WIFI capability, I didn’t know what resources I would have.  And I decided that I needed to write when I could – for the council where I would be working.  But, now summer is over and I am back with my full computer capabilities and WIFI that works regularly.

I thought that you might be interested in how I spent the summer.  Now, admittedly, this blog is about a camp in another council so you may or may not want to read it.  But, Scouting adventures are Scouting adventures … so it may still be of interest to you.  If so, read on and enjoy…  But, if no, just wait for the coming blogs that might be more specific to you.

It was the privilege of Lou (my wife) and me to serve this summer on staff at the Thunder Ridge Scout Camp.  We were both commissioners who served the troops, leaders, and Scouts who came to the camp.  We are from Mesa, Arizona but to get out of the scorching heat – and to help Scouts and leaders – we leave home each summer to serve at Scout camps.  And for a variety of reasons, we have found ourselves at various camps through the past years.  Each experience has been rewarding and wonderful.  And this summer was no exception!  I have to say, however, that our “Thunder Ridge Scout Camp 2017 became one adventure after another ”

Thunder Ridge Scout Camp – located in Southern Utah – south of Parowan, Utah and just below the Brian Head Ski Resort, has been in existence since 1975.  The first Scouts arrived in 1976.  I had the privilege of serving as the first Program Director of the camp in 1977.

Lou and I both took Youth Leadership classes at BYU (where we met and courted).  One of our professors was the great Rulon Skinner.  He taught us that in Scouting (and maybe everything) there is opportunity for “fun, adventure, and romance”.  I have blogged on this subject before, but adventure comes as you do something for the first time.  Fun comes as you do it again.  And Romance keeps you coming for more.   Each summer and each Scout camp has been an adventure – and we have had fun doing these each year.  And we admit that we have felt the romance – the awe – of it all as we have served.

This year at Thunder Ridge, we have literally had one adventure after the other.  The adventures just kept coming!  When we signed on, we knew that we would have fun but we had no idea of the new adventures that would come our way.  But, it didn’t take long before we realized that this would truly be a summer to remember.

And along the way, I have enjoyed blogging about the fun times at Thunder Ridge.  I love blogging but somehow through my articles this summer, I seemed to become the voice of Thunder Ridge.  Thanks to all who read and kept reading my articles.  It was fun at camp to talk to Scout leaders.  Many said that they were searching the web for anything at all – any news – of the camp and its current condition.  One leader said, “Then I found this guy who blogged about the fire and the activities of the camp.  I loved reading his articles.”  (And “This guy” just smiled!)  That scenario happened a few more times.  And a couple of guys recognized me by mug shots in articles.

Then one time, Lou and I were dining “in” at the Beaver Taco.  (Any break from camp food is fabulous – and this was a really great break!  Great food!) Anyway, as ever, I was wearing my Scout uniform.  And this unknown stranger in line began to talk to me.  He asked me what camp I worked at.  I hesitated a moment before saying, “Well, we are from Thunder Ridge but at the moment, we are kind of moving around the country …”  He then looked at me and said, “I have enjoyed reading your blogs.  We are glad you are safe.”

As in the past, I could have provided journal entries with a lot of gory details, but this summer, I have chronicled our summer in various blog articles.  And being a historian, I thought that it might be good to tie all of these blogs together for a better chronological narrative.  (Not that any of it fits together … but here goes …)

As we began the summer, I reminisced about my days “way back then” when I worked 40 years ago at Thunder Ridge.  This blog tells that story and includes actual journal entries from that period:

http://blog.utahscouts.org/camping/looking-back-40-years-camp-thunder-ridge/

Then, as Lou and I began our 2017 Adventure I wrote these lines:

http://blog.utahscouts.org/boy-scouting/summer-adventure-begins-at-thunder-ridge/

I note that in previous years of camp administration, we had always lived in a cabin.  Not so, this year.  This summer we agreed to be satisfied to be in a tent – one of the 10 x 12’ “Bare Bones” tents used nowadays by the Scouts. This, in itself, would prove to be a big adventure.

Lou should have been a Boy Scout.  She took us to camp prepared.  And her preparations meant that our tent was made to look like the Taj Mahal.

20170617_105239

Kevin and Lou tent at Thunder Ridge Scout Camp – Before the Fire

With a “current bush” to the trading post, we were big time.  Lou could blow up our air mattress, curl her hair, light the tent, and we could even watch an occasional “oldies” movie on our antiquated VCR player.  Wow!  But we soon learned that this luxury would not continue through the summer.

We began the summer with a week of staff training and camp set-up.  An adventure of that week was a staff trip to the scenic Thunder Lake (located a mile down the canyon and – as we found out – five miles back up.  An adventure of that trip was witnessing the stocking of the lake with 500 fish.  We didn’t know then that we would have fried fish (en masse) before summer’s end.  Anyway, here is our Big Fish Story at The Thunder Ridge Scout Camp:

http://blog.utahscouts.org/camping/camp-thunder-ridge-big-fish-story/

20170607_154854(0)

Also, during the staff week, our Camp Director, Nick Hutchinson introduced us to his camp philosophy.  He called it “MARF” (which means “Maintain Absolute Rigid Flexibility”).  Little did he know then how much MARFing we would be doing over the summer.  That became our new watchword!

Some Thunder Ridge Scout Camp Staff members

Some Thunder Ridge Scout Camp Staff members

The Camp Staff at any Scout camp makes the program and is the energy and excitement for the great things in camp.  We soon learned that we had one of the greatest of camp staff.  And could they ever MARF!  This article is a tribute to those young staffers:

http://blog.utahscouts.org/camping/great-young-staffers-at-camp-thunder-ridge/

For several days before our first Scouts arrived – and it continued their first day – we were hit with horrific winds that were 60-70 miles per hour in strength.  We thought that we would be blown off of the mountain.  Good thing that the winds happened the weekend that they did – and not the next.  A photo of Lou in the wind tells all:

Lou blowing away in the wind

Lou blowing away in the wind

It was a great day when we welcomed our first Scouts to Thunder Ridge.  They came with energy and anticipation of their week ahead.  We were ready for them and felt that we had a super program for their enjoyment.  During that first week, we had a really great troop come to our camp.  They were the Warriors of Troop 26 (Logandale, Nevada) and they really knew how to do Scouting correlated with the Priesthood.  They were magnificent.

IMG_5605

Troop 29 Warriors at Thunder Ridge Scout Camp – in “Warrior” T-Shirts

http://blog.utahscouts.org/camping/camp-thunder-ridge-here-come-the-warriors/

Saturday morning was beautiful.  I went out of the tent and looked to the gorgeous sunrise to the east.  I was in awe of the beauty of the moment around me.  The camp looked so grand in the sunrise.

IMG_5744

Sunrise at Thunder Ridge Scout Camp on June 17th – the day that the Brian Head fire started a mile away from the camp.

Thunder Ridge Scout Camp sunrise the day the Brian Head fire began.  The Camp looked magnificent in the sunrise.

The Scouts all left camp and were gone that first Saturday by about 10:00 AM.  And all of the staff except Lou and I (who being from Arizona did not plan to leave).  The last staff members left the camp about 11:30 AM.  Within moments, our whole Thunder Ridge experience and summer changed.  Life would never be the same again this summer.   The great Brian Head fire broke out within just a mile or so of our camp.  We went outside and found two Sheriff guys there.  They pointed to the fire – visible just over our staff tents.  We were told that the fire was a mile away but that it could reach us in fifteen minutes.

FIRE ABOVE STAFF TENTS 3

Brian Head Fire – shown above Thunder Ridge staff tents minutes after the fire began June 17

So, we had just that long to get our just a bit of our stuff and to get out of camp.  This blog tells that story:

http://blog.utahscouts.org/camping/fire-sky-camp-thunder-ridge/

BRIAN HEAD PHOTO 4 BY BRAD HANCOCK

Brian Head fire photo by Brad Hancock (sunstonephotos.com)

Following the fire, Thunder Ridge was thrown into a major dither.  What to do and where to go?  Some troops went into a panic and cancelled out completely.  Others transferred to other camps of the Council.  And still others transferred to other weeks of camp.  And staff were notified by the Camp Director about 11 PM on Sunday night that if desired, we could work for Camp Maple Del or at the Scofield Scout Camp.  And we were told that if we chose to work, we would have to be there the next morning.  Yeah, okay …!  Hmmm!

Thunder Ridge Staffers Michael and Jason with Kevin at Scofield Scout Camp

Thunder Ridge Staffers Michael and Jason with Kevin at Scofield Scout Camp

Larry – our rifle range director, went to work at the Beaver High Adventure Base.  Some staffers headed to Maple Dell.  Two Thunder Ridge staffers – Michael and Jason – opted to go with me up to the Scofield Scout camp.  We headed out early the next morning for the long trip.  Lou opted to remain that week with our son and family in Washington (near St. George) and she was a major help to them.  Other staffers opted to “sit this one out” and got back into their own things at home.  Michael, Jason and I had our own new adventure at Scofield:

http://blog.utahscouts.org/camping/thunder-ridge-summer-adventure-turns-to-scofield-scout-camp/

On our way home from the Scofield Scout Camp, I was anxious to try to get up into camp Thunder Ridge so we stopped in Parowan en route to Washington.  The fire officials would not let us go into the camp.  However, we did connect with council officials whom the Sheriff had escorted into the camp (for the first time since the fire).  In our rush to evacuate from the fire, we had not given much thought to what should go and what could remain.  We just grabbed what we could.  And after the rush of the moment, I realized with horror that my prized collection of 20 or so Scout bolo ties (by artists Bill Burch and others) had been left behind.  And my wife discovered that she had left her purse in our tent.  Knowing that guys were going back into the camp, we said, “We can live without everything else, but if you can nothing else, we would like to have my bolo ties and Lou’s purse.”  So, I was very pleased when the guys showed up with these items.  A while later, I greeted my wife at our son’s place holding just those items.  She said, “That is exactly how I pictured you coming home”.  A blessing and a miracle … our prayers were answered!

Kevin with Scout bolo ties and wife's purse saved from Brian Head fire

Kevin with Scout bolo ties and wife’s purse saved from Brian Head fire

I am sure that Camp Director, Nick, and other council leaders, Dave Merrill and Bob Gowans – and others – had to really scramble to figure out a place to hold our Thunder Ridge camp the following week.  But, they pulled off a miracle.  We were informed (as a staff) that we would conduct our camp within the Beaver High Adventure Base.  So, per our usual Sunday night report back, we all gathered to the Beaver High Adventure Base – located in the Tushar mountains high in Beaver Canyon.  And that was truly an adventure operating two camps separately within just one camp.  This blog tells how our entire Thunder Ridge operation including troops, Scouts and staff were teleported to the Beaver High Adventure Base:

http://blog.utahscouts.org/camping/thunder-ridge-scout-adventures-beaver-high-adventure/

Beaver High Adventure Base

Beaver High Adventure Base

While at Beaver HAB that week, I had opportunity to return to Thunder Ridge for the first time since the fire.  Previously fire officials had contacted us and had given us specific but very limited times that we could get up to the camp.  On this occasion, however, we contacted them and made an appointment – to be escorted by Forest Service personnel.  This was my report following that experience – and this also shows photos of the camp and how it survived or was damaged by the fire.  ://blog.utahscouts.org/camping/thunder-ridge-after-brian-head-fire/

Fire retardant on trees at Thunder Ridge Scout Camp following Brian Head fire through camp

Fire retardant at Thunder Ridge Scout Camp following Brian Head fire through camp

I wrote a third blog about Thunder Ridge following the Brian Head fire:

http://blog.utahscouts.org/camping/fire-around-camp-thunder-ridge/

The next week included the 4th of July.  And unlike other camps where we have worked, the council opted to have no camp that week – because of the slim troop sign-ups of the past.  So, having the week off, Lou and I opted to trek north to Idaho Falls to visit our daughter and family there.  They had assured us that Idaho Falls had the greatest of fireworks displays so we decided to take up their offer to be there with them for the fireworks.  And we were not disappointed.  The fireworks were absolutely breathtaking and outstanding.  And while we were there, we went to the Idaho Falls zoo and other fun things. Lou made doughnuts for the grandkids, helped them paint and made clay dough for them.  I played many games of UNO with my five and two and a half year old grandsons.  And I read all of the grands stories from my new big Dr. Seuss book.  And we watched a lot of Hallmark movies late at night.  We spent a couple of nights with Lou’s sister and husband in Sandy, Utah.

The next week we really had an adventure.   There were girls – a bunch of them – at the Beaver High Adventure Base so our Thunder Ridge Scout Camp Staff found themselves displaced to the Tushar Lakeside Campground.  This actually turned out to be really excellent.  I had my doubts at first, but the location was great.

Tushar Lakeside (US Forest Service) Campground above Beaver, Utah

Tushar Lakeside (US Forest Service) Campground above Beaver, Utah

The facility was super.  There was even a small lake – equipped with canoes and life jackets.  Scouts and leaders could hardly tell that they were not at a Scout camp.  Everyone said that they had a grand time.  Leaders were gushing in praise for staging this camp opportunity.  This blog tells of our adventures there:

http://blog.utahscouts.org/camping/homeless-thunder-ridge-road-trip-tushar-lakeside/

We were back to the Beaver High Adventure Base for our next week of camp.  This worked pretty well.  We worked well with the BHAB staff and of course the Thunder Ridge staff did a great MARFing job – AGAIN!

For this week, I wrote a blog about the great cooks that we’ve had this summer at the Thunder Ridge Scout Camp.  The article featured Roland and his team who cooked for us at the Beaver High Adventure Base:

http://blog.utahscouts.org/camping/camp-chefs-make-or-break-scout-camp/

We had a unique Scoutmaster come to our Thunder Ridge Scout Camp.

Army Veteran and now Scoutmaster

Army Veteran and now Scoutmaster, Travis Wood, at Thunder Ridge Scout Camp

Army veteran, Travis Wood, came despite major physical challenges.  Read his story here:

http://blog.utahscouts.org/camping/army-veteran-thunder-ridge-scout-camp/

Our next week was actually a week off.  This was because of the 24th of July celebration.  Lou and I went to Washington/St. George and were privileged to spend the full week with our son and family.  We went to the grand 24th of July parade in Washington.  The rest of the week was spent helping to refinish a cabinet and we helped them get a home ready for sale.  Our babysitting helped them out a lot.  These weeks off gave us time to hang out with family but they were a challenge since the “no work … no pay” scenario existed.  This was not a good situation for us but somehow we survived this excitement.

And then came our final week of our Thunder Ridge Scout Camp.  This week was a bit unusual in that we had the Beaver High Adventure Base camp to ourselves.  The Beaver group had their final week the week before and they were all gone.

Troop 605 from Richfield, Utah

Troop 605 from Richfield, Utah

We had another really fabulous Troop in Troop 605 from Richfield, Utah.  They were in complete Class A uniform and they were spectacular.  I wrote a blog about them:

http://blog.utahscouts.org/camping/troop-605-going-forward-full-steam-ahead/

A couple of other notes.  I have written about our fancy tent which we had at Thunder Ridge.  At the Beaver High Adventure Base we had the same kind of tent – but much of our personal items were still at Thunder Ridge.  So, we kind of had the minimum of stuff at Beaver.  And for the week at Tushar Lakeside, we did not have the “Bare Bones” tents.  We were glad that Lou had come prepared with our own large family tent.  (Which we brought with the hope that we might have some of our children or grandchildren come to visit.  But, they never did  …)

Also …  Lou is one of those people who is very cold-blooded.  I think she has lizard in her genes.  She freezes when the weather gets below 92 degrees and then she burns up if it gets over 93 degrees.  So, this makes life interesting.  (Me on the other hand …  I only needed three or so blankets through the camp nights when the temperatures were in the mid 40’s.)  It was funny to watch Lou.  I think that she must have had about 22 blankets on top of her – on her side of the bed.  I joked that she needed a heavy duty car jack just to lift the covers so that she could get under them.  But, with all of these covers, she survived the “winter” through our summer.

Our Thunder Ridge Scout Camp ended with a bit of drama and more excitement than we wanted or needed.  Our final night in camp featured a massive thunder storm followed by hail.  So, I say we ended with “thunder on the ridge and a hail of a time”.

Hail of a storm on our final night at Thunder Ridge Scout Camp One Hail of a Storm on our final night of camp

Hail of a storm on our final night at Thunder Ridge Scout Camp One Hail of a Storm on our final night of camp

Hail of a storm on our final night at Thunder Ridge Scout Camp One Hail of a Storm on our final night of camp

http://blog.utahscouts.org/camping/thunder-on-the-ridge-and-hail-of-a-ride/

In this blog, I also detail our final day of camp for the summer.  That was actually one of my favorite days and it kind of made the summer worth our sacrifice and effort.

On that day, I worked with three Scouts to help them complete badges.  Aidan got to finish up more of his 1st Class requirements.  I worked with Landon and he completed nearly everything for his 1st Class Rank.  And I was able to teach and pass Devaun on his Woodcarving merit badge.  What a special opportunity to work with these young men!

And I was really pleased that I finally had time to complete another of my carved sticks – this one for Thunder Ridge 2017.  I did the carving – with the fire and thunder – and Lou graciously painted it for me.  But that is stuff for yet another blog.  I promise to get it to you soon.

THUNDER RIDGE STICK CARVED BY KEVIN HUNT

THUNDER RIDGE STICK CARVED BY KEVIN HUNT

And after the storm, we worked together as a staff to close out the camp.  And then suddenly it was all over.  Where did the summer go?

But, there is one more memory that kind of moved front and center in our mind as it came time to leave camp.  After all of the staff closing work was done, Lou and I got our mini-van packed up tightly with all of our stuff.  (And we enjoyed a photo posted on our family “Group Me” site by a son-in-law – of a mini-van on vacation.  How did they find our photo?  (Not really ours … but we felt as if it were!)

 

Packing up the mini-van and our trip home – on a tow truck!

We changed out of our Scout uniforms and headed off toward our Mesa, Arizona home.  And five miles out of camp, our car’s serpentine belt broke.  (Just what we needed … don’t know if that was thunder, hail or fire!)

We had to call a tow truck from Beaver to come for us – and so we got towed as we headed out of camp.  We then spent the afternoon waiting patiently in Beaver for the car repairs to be completed.   (But we had a fabulous mechanic and were very pleased with Anytime Towing and Repairs.  What a great company and mechanic.  We were very pleased.)   It was now late (on that Saturday afternoon) so we headed to Washington (Utah) to be with our son and family – with the Arizona trip still future.  Thunder Ridge 2017 adventures … Ahhh … The memories!

This was not our first time down this race track so this underscored the fact that it was not the greatest way to end camp.  Finances and changed plans.  So, exciting!

I had to laugh at a comment from our long-time neighbor and friend, Richard Hale.  He wrote in an e-mail message to us:  “I heard about your car troubles coming back from scout camp.  I think you guys should just start the trip next year with a tow truck towing your car… “  Hey, that’s an idea!  Maybe we should go for it.  There might be one added benefit.  The truck lift might be able to get Lou’s quilts lifted for her.

Yes, the summer is now over but the memories of the many adventures linger and will be with us forever.  In spite of our evacuation, fire, and being nomads, we had a truly great summer.  It was the greatest of adventures.   (And thanks to all of you who have faithfully read my blogs.  And I would love to have your comments occasionally!  And now that you are in the habit of reading, I hope that you’ll join me for future blogs – here on Trapper Trails blog (thescoutingtrail.org)  as well as on the Utah National Parks website – at blog.utahscouts.org.

I figure that over the summer, Lou and I put right at 4,000 miles on our car.  We covered the length of Utah several times.  From my records, I note that we hosted a total of 86 troops.  These were led by 172 leaders – not counting replacement leaders (of which there was a steady stream).    Lou and I had very direct responsibility for each of these leaders and in our roles as commissioners, we very much enjoyed the opportunity to get to know and serve each one.  These men – and one lady – who was assistant Scoutmaster with her Scoutmaster son – were fabulous!  Such great people for their sacrifice for their Scouts.  And we had 532 Scouts.  They were the important guys!  And we got to associate with about 25 really great young staff guys (and three ladies).  We loved these young people as if they were our own sons (or grandsons).  I tried to be friends with each – and Lou was “mom” to many with her listening ear.  So, I think that we touched the lives of each of these leaders and Scouts – directly or indirectly.   This all makes for a wonderful summer and we feel great gratitude for the blessing that was ours.  And I say again, Ahhh… the memories!

And now, with this blog, the summer is complete. Done … we have the patches and the T-shirts.  It’s over.  Sad day!

Lou and I headed home and we were blessed with a safe trip the rest of the way back to our Mesa, Arizona.  I had to chuckle at one point.  We drove through beautiful mountains and green valleys.  It was all wonderful and grand.  I turned to Lou and said, “Hey, Lou …!”  “Yeah, Kev …”  “I think that we ought to go camping sometime.”  Then she looked at me with stunned shock as that thought tried to register.  “Camping … yeah!  What have we been doing all summer?”  I was serious but she thought I was joking.  It truly was a fun adventure together!

Then I took a moment to thank Lou for her sacrifices and support for me and for the Scouts.  She was a true “trooper”.  I know that she would have preferred being home with our nine children and our 33 grandchildren (while she was out of school and had time) – but she went with me and was fabulous!  And all of her leader, staff and Scout friends loved her.  Thanks, Lou!  (I guess with no summer income, and with no school, I could go to work at Taco Bell – but I would sure rather spend the time with Boy Scouts and their leaders and great camp staff men.)

It really was a great summer.  And what an adventure together!  We (Lou and I –  and all of the staff) MARFed together and we made it through in a grand way.  Thunder Ridge 2017 … Ahhh the memories!  Yes, truly our Thunder Ridge Scout Camp became one adventure after another.

It was great to be home – but Lou and I both started school just a couple of days later.  Our home (be it ever so humble) felt like a palatial mansion after our 10×12″ Bare Bones summer.  And a read toilet instead of the port-a-potty.  And the shower …  At camp we worried about not having enough hot water.  Here in Arizona as someone heads to the shower, we ask them not take all of the COLD water.  Lou went back to her special needs Autism classroom.  And I went back to driving a school bus.  We soon wished that we were back in camp.  That 115 degree weather in a non-air conditioned school bus was just a bit much for me.  And going from about 75 degrees each day – to 115 degrees all at once was a bit of a jolt for both of us.  (It’s even hard to MARF at that temperature … but somehow we’ll survive this next adventure!)  And now, I’ll start another countdown for camp again in 2018!  I can’t wait for that adventure!

Best wishes along your Scouting Trails …  Kevinthescoutblogger

See this link for an introduction to Kevin the Scouting Trails Blogger.  Blogging articles have excerpts taken from Kevin’s many personal journals and Scouting Trails books including “MR. Scoutmaster!”, “Keys to Scouting Leadership,” “Gnubie to Eagle Scout”,  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!  Find Kevin on Facebook at:  Scouting Trails Books and Blogs.

To explore or buy Kevin’s books on Amazon, go to: amazon.com/author/kevinhunt

Contact Kevin directly via email: kevin@scoutingtrails.com

 

 

 

Dr. Richard Moyle – A Giant Man, A Giant Heart, A Giant of a Scouter

scout-1

By Kevin V. Hunt

Scouting Historian, Author, Blogger, Speaker, Scouting Veteran, and Camp Director

Although I’m currently on a self-declared “blog-cation” (because of my summer camp adventures at Camp Thunder Ridge), I need to come out of that hibernation to write about my great friend and Scouting mentor, Dr. Richard W. Moyle.  I noticed on a camp break today of the June 18th death of Dr. Richard Moyle.  Richard or “Dick”  as maybe only I called him, was my Scouting District Chairman when I served years ago as the Sr. District Executive of the great Mt. Ogden scouting district in South Ogden.  The district was then a part of the Lake Bonneville Council, and now the Trapper Trails Council.  With his passing, we have lost a giant of a man, a giant heart and a giant of a Scouter.

The Obituary of Dr. Richard W Moyle noted that he has been involved in Scouting for 60 years!  Wow!  How great is that?  And I can attest to the fact that this was not just minor or superficial involvement.  Richard gave his all to anything that he took on.  And that is what he did with Scouting.  He was willing to sacrifice everything as needed to make the Scouting program work for young men.  He was truly a giant in his Scouting service.  He was long-time recipient of the Silver Beaver Award.

Richard also wore the title of “Doctor” through his education.  He was a Geology professor of great renown at Weber State College in Ogden.

I became acquainted with Dick when he agreed to become the Varsity Scouting chairman for the district.  In this role, he worked tirelessly to implement to new Varsity Scouting program when it was a pilot program.  He went at the program with full steam.  He loved the program and wanted to see that all Scouts of our district had opportunity to participate in it.  He recruited a fabulous team of volunteers to deliver the first ever Varsity Scouting adult training program.  His team conducted the first Varsity Scouting Youth Leadership Course.  He was a proponent of the Varsity Scouting Games and had a major impact in their development.  His team was amazing and energized for the program.

Later, Richard willingly accepted the invitation to become our District Chairman.  Again, he worked feverishly to make our Mt. Ogden District the best and greatest in the council.  He caught the vision of what he and we could accomplish together.  And with that vision, he went forward to recruit the right people to do every job.  He was most conscientious in his dedicated efforts.

Our weekly (or more often) Key-3 meetings (with him, me and our district commissioner, Ron Harrison) were a real pleasure.  Dick was so anxious to make us successful.   Nothing brought him down.  He was the epitome of the positive attitude.  Everything that he did was “how can we make this happen?”  I loved his brotherhood and service.

Dick was also a hunter of great renown.  And with his hunting prowess, he would make anything and everything into jerky.  He would often come to me with his latest meat for my tasting.  “Here is some elk,” he would say.  Or, “Here is some bear!”  (That one was a shock!)  And then another shocker:  “Try some squirrel!”

My wife, on hearing of the death of Dick commented:  “He was just the nicest guy!  He was so personable and genuine.”  He and his wife, Belva (a distant Rawson cousin of mine) were so very sweet.  They were so concerned about Lou and me and our family.  We truly loved them!  They were the greatest friends and supporters of us and our growing family.  They came to our every event.  They were there at our baby blessings and all other family events.  And for years afterwards – even after we had long since moved away – he came to our wedding receptions when these were held in the Salt Lake area.

As I served with Dick, I was also the Camp Director up at Camp Bartlett.  Dick had a son, Wayne, and Dick helped me invite and persuade Wayne to join my staff at Bartlett.  Wayne was the life of every campfire program with his rendition of “Ernie”.  And the camp proved beneficial to Wayne and his parents too.  For at the conclusion of camp, we lined up Wayne with my wife’s former roommate from Snow College.  That proved to be “a match made in Heaven” as they courted and were soon married.

When I left the Ogden area – with a Boy Scout transfer to Santa Barbara, California, Dick  presented me with a marble pyramid-shaped monument on which he had engraved my service to the Mt. Ogden District.  This was a wonderful tribute and recognition of our five years together.  I still have and cherish that lasting monument to our district and personal brotherhood.

With the passing of Dr. Richard W. Moyle, we have all lost a giant of a man.  Richard was a man with a giant heart, and a giant love for Scouting and all of its programs – all with the goal of creating the best programs for our Scouts.  We will all miss this giant Scouter and friend, Dr. Richard W. Moyle.  Thanks, Dick …  I am grateful to you and will long remember your strength and commitment to me, and to the Mt. Ogden District!

Best wishes along your Scouting Trails …  Kevinthescoutblogger

See this link for an introduction to Kevin the Scouting Trails Blogger.  Blogging articles have excerpts taken from Kevin’s many personal journals and Scouting Trails books including “MR. Scoutmaster!”, “Keys to Scouting Leadership,” “Gnubie to Eagle Scout”,  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!  Find Kevin on Facebook at:  Scouting Trails Books and Blogs.

To explore or buy Kevin’s books on Amazon, go to: amazon.com/author/kevinhunt

Contact Kevin directly via email: kevin@scoutingtrails.com

Kevin the Scoutblogger Off on Another Scouting Adventure

scout-1

Kevin V. Hunt

Scouting Historian, Author, Blogger, Speaker, Scouting Veteran, and Camp Director

For the past many months, I have enjoyed blogging and sharing with you of my Scouting experiences.  Thanks for putting up with me – and thanks to those of you who have been faithful readers.

My wife, Lou, and I have made it a lifestyle habit of working at Scout camps each summer.  This is made possible because we both work for the schools in Mesa, Arizona.  We both love Scouts and Scouting and serving as we can.  And of course our Arizona heat is another motivating factor.

This summer experience will be a bit interesting since I worked at this same Thunder Ridge camp a full 40 years ago when I was the camp’s Program Director.  So, I may be in for a bit of nostalgia and a few memories.

The Utah National Parks Council – where we will serve this summer – has just posted a blog that talks of my experiences at Thunder Ridge 40 years ago.  If you’d to check out that blog and my full 10-page journal blog of that summer, I’d invite you to check it out:  Camp Thunder Ridge 40 Years ago as seen by then Program Director, Kevin Hunt.

So, we will continue our tradition again this summer.  And as noted, we will be serving for the next two months at Camp Thunder Ridge in southern Utah.  We look forward to this new adventure – even knowing that this year for the first time since we were married – we’ll be in a tent instead of a director’s cabin.  So, that will be a real adventure.  (I am grateful for a wife who puts up with such things from or with me.)

And with our camp plans, and believing that WIFI and the internet will be like every other Scout camp that we have worked in, my opportunities for internet and blogging will likely be quite limited.  So, I may be signing off for a while.  But, if opportunities and WIFI somehow give me opportunity, you may suddenly hear from me again sometime through the summer.  But, since that possibility is unpredictable at this moment, I will just say that I very much enjoy this writing for the Trapper Trails Council and will take it up once again when I can.

But, until then,

Best wishes along your Scouting Trails …  Kevinthescoutblogger

See this link for an introduction to Kevin the Scouting Trails Blogger.  Blogging articles have excerpts taken from Kevin’s many personal journals and Scouting Trails books including “MR. Scoutmaster!”, “Keys to Scouting Leadership,” “Gnubie to Eagle Scout”,  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!  Find Kevin on Facebook at:  Scouting Trails Books and Blogs.

To explore or buy Kevin’s books on Amazon, go to: amazon.com/author/kevinhunt

Contact Kevin directly via email: kevin@scoutingtrails.com

 

 

 

 

 

Making Older Scout Advancement and Leadership Opportunities Possible

scout-1

Kevin V. Hunt

Scouting Historian, Author, Blogger, Speaker, Scouting Veteran, and Camp Director

We have been talking (in these blogs) about the announced changes in LDS Scouting relative to the older boys.  I have talked extensively about the program planning function and how this will ever be key in creating an effective program for our older youth.  I would like to change gears a bit now to talk about how we might all work together to assist boys ages 14-17 still “be Scouts” and how we might help them become Eagle Scouts.   And I apologize that this blog is a bit longer than it maybe should be.  I will soon head to Scout camp for the summer so my blogging time is a bit limited as I anticipate a summer with little or no internet capabilities.  So, bear with me …  (Read it in installments if needed!)

Admittedly, the new look of older Scout programs will be a rather major challenge for us to face.   But, with our united efforts, it will still be possible.

The Original First Presidency Letter stated: “… Young men over the age of 14 who desire to continue to work toward the rank of Eagle Scout … should be encouraged and supported in their efforts and should be properly registered as Scouts.  Adult leaders who are assisting with merit badges or rank advancement with older boys should also be registered and completed required training.”

Following the announced changes, a Questions and Answers section was added on LDS.org about the upcoming changes.  One question says,

”What if my son is 14 or older and still wants to earn his Eagle Scout? According to LDS Public Affairs, any Latter-day Saint young man over the age of 14 who “desire(s) to continue toward the rank of Eagle will be registered, supported and encouraged.” These young men will need to be registered with the BSA in order to work toward the recognition.”

In the aftermath of the LDS decision about Varsity and Venturing, the Deseret News published statistics that were rather interesting.  These statistical charts showed that the average age of youth achieving the Eagle rank nationally in the BSA is 17.3 years.

The Utah National Parks Council (located in a nearly all LDS Utah council) wrote on this subject and gave other interesting statistics:  “We look forward to providing Scout programs to all interested youth, including those age 14 and older who want to continue participating or are on the trail to Eagle. Of those who earn the Eagle Scout award in our council, 93% complete the requirements at age 14 or older and 67% attain the Eagle rank after age 16.”

Pretty daunting news.  And with the coming changes, this means that we will all have to work harder to make it happen – and probably earlier.  So, what are we to do?  What is to be done?  How can the boys remain as Scouts and how can they achieve their advancement – and particularly the leadership requirements.  All good questions!

Well, I have had a few thoughts on the subject – and which I would like to share with you now.

First …  at the time of the annual BSA rechartering with the Church, the person in charge of completing the charter process should take extra care to contact each and every one of the boys turning 14 after January 1st (and their parents).  (This will be an ongoing question critical in the first year – but to be answered each successive year.)  Each boy should be willing to make a commitment right then about whether or not they want to be Eagle scouts.  And this will be kind of a major decision for them.  Do they want to follow the family and church tradition?  Or are they going to say that they are done and satisfied where they are?  All boys wishing to continue their Scouting connection (and adults who work with them) will still need to recharter with the troop.  That will mean new applications for all older boys.

It is very important that the registration remain current without any break.  If there is a lapse, they may not be able to ensure that they have tenure and leadership for the necessary time.  Boys can’t wait until they are seventeen plus and then suddenly reregister to become a “death-bed eagle” before they turn 18.  One of the saddest days of my life was having to tell a Scout in such a situation that it just was not possible for him to complete his Eagle award requirements before he turned 18.  He was a sad young man.

Another key for the leadership requirement – and tenure – is to remember that the time for these can start as soon as the Scout has earned his Star or Life awards.  Remember too, that a Scout needs to have six months between Star and Life and again from Life to Eagle.  But say a young man gets Life three or four months before his 14th birthday.  That three or four months can count toward the next rank IF the Scout is both registered and in a troop leadership position.  So, it is rather critical to make sure that every young man is in a troop leadership position.   Good record keeping is paramount.

Another key will be working with the council to make sure that all of the current advancement records – from whatever unit – are all transferred to those registered in the troop – after the rechartering decisions.

For many years I have been the advancement chairman for all three units – Scouting, Varsity and Venturing – in my own ward.   And I believe that we have a pretty strong Scouting program and support in our ward.  We have a fabulous 11-year Old Scout leader in Jonathan Nichols.  That guy is a saint!  He has worked overboard to ensure that each boy (who wants to) graduates from his program as a First Class Scout.  And the Scout troop leaders have also been great.  Most of the boys graduate from Deacon/Scouts as Star or Life Scouts.  And then they all struggle to get the other requirements completed.  A few boys get it done about age 15 – which is excellent.  And still, like the National BSA statistics, the majority still get ‘er done when older still.  And this is always a challenge … since by that time, the “fumes” have all kicked in (that’s car fumes and perfumes) and this makes for a major impact on the boys and their advancement.

As I conduct Scout board of reviews for our Scouts, I always ask them two or three questions at the end of each review.  One is “If we pin this badge on you at the court of honor … will you feel that you have EARNED the badge?”  (And discussion follows.)  And the other question (usually just before the “have you earned” question) is “Do YOU WANT to be an Eagle Scout?”  And then there is a follow-up question to that.  It is, “Whose job is it to make you an Eagle Scout?”

This questions kind of shocks some of the newer kids.  We then talk about how parents, leaders, and others can assist them, but in reality, it is their own personal decision to become an Eagle Scout – and it is their own personal duty to take charge and make this happen.

So, in light of the coming changes, it still boils down to this.  Does Johnny, himself, REALLY want to be an Eagle Scout?  And in spite of changes, is he willing to do anything that may be required (even acting independently) to make it happen?  (And we can’t rely simply on over-zealous mothers to make Johnny an Eagle Scout!)

After that decision time, older Scouts can push themselves forward to make it happen.  But, we have seen that often this doesn’t happen on their own.  It will take help from all of us to achieve the goal.

Next then, is that it will probably take a strong advancement person or someone else to help the youth stay on track.  The advancement chair can (as always) continue to encourage and talk with the boys individually in the hall etc. to help motivate and inspire.  Being ready with the updated advancement records of merit badges and rank dates can be very helpful.

That brings us to the subject of how to stay in the troop and how to achieve leadership requirements.

I guess this is a time to share my own personal experience.  I earned my own Eagle Scout award just before I turned age 14 (and so did my four Eagle brothers – and I admit that I didn’t have to be prodded by Mom and others to do it).  As per the church system, I moved up into the next upper level – Venturing Exploring (that was before Varsity Scouting).  In that program we had grandiose plans.  We planned to go to Hawaii.  But, after all of that planning – and a steady diet of basketball – we ultimately didn’t even make it to the giant Arizona metropolis of Sunflower, Arizona.

I lasted only about six months in that do-nothing program.  I then made the choice to go back to the Scout troop and remained there until I went on my mission.  Now, I know that I was a bit unique, but it was a glorious time for me.  I conducted merit badge classes for my younger troop brothers.  I kept the troop records.   I became the troop’s Junior Assistant Scoutmaster – a fabulous title and truly wonderful job for an older Scout.  I served more like an adult in the troop.  I did not report through the SPL but he reported through me to the Scoutmaster.  I have already blogged recently about how I became the catalyst to take our entire troop from Arizona up to the National BSA Jamboree in Farragut, Idaho.  I became the Webelos Leader – and then 11-year old Scout (Blazer) leader when legally too young to do so.  And it was all a grand experience for me – and my fellow Scouts.  I loved the leadership opportunities.

In our upcoming situation, I believe strongly that the Troop Guide position is perfect for some of our LDS older Scouts.  This BSA position counts for Eagle advancement and is actually quite flexible in its job description.  And you can have every boy – if needed – be a Troop Guide.  It is flexible enough that you can use the position – and the boy – to help meet the needs of the older Scout himself – as well as other Scouts in the troop while getting in his own leadership requirement time).

Now you have probably not even heard of this Troop Guide position because it really has not existed in the LDS church – because all of our boys have moved up to Varsity and Venturing at the specific ordination ages – and thus have by-passed the Troop Guide opportunity.

The Troop Guide is a fabulous position but no one knows about it.  The way it works, an older Scout is registered with the troop.  And he is assigned a patrol – either a new-Scout patrol or even an older-boy patrol – or he serves at large in the troop to multiple patrols.  He is an instructor.  He is preassigned specific troop or patrol meetings to teach Scout Skills – or even merit badges.  He does not have to attend every troop meeting but would be there at least once a month – but perhaps more.  (If this is to occur, the troop meetings may need to be on a night other than the Teacher/Priest meetings so that he can go to both – or he would have to miss his Teacher/Priest meetings when assigned as an instructor in the troop.

The Troop Guide can be found with various job descriptions on-line as I found after spending an evening researching it in preparation for this blog.  Again, I believe that it is a flexible position that you can mold any way that you wish.   Here is a description that was written for a Scout with other older Scouts in an older boy patrol.  (And again, every one of the older boys can be Troop Guides and be given specific tasks or roles.)

  • Create activities that are fun and interesting to the older boy patrols.
  • Work with ASM for the Older Boy Program in selecting merit badges to work on at weekend campouts.
  • Attend Patrol Leaders Council (PLC) meetings.
  • Prevent harassment of new Scouts by older Scouts.
  • Refresh older boy patrols in the basic Scout skills.
  • Regularly attends troop meetings, troop campouts, and troop events during his service period.
  • Set a good example.
  • Enthusiastically wear the Scout Uniform correctly.
  • Live by the Scout Oath and Law.
  • Show Scout spirit.

The Troop Guide description for an older boy assigned to a New Scout Patrol is very similar:

  • Help all first year Scouts earn advancement requirements through First Class (serving in a role similar to a Cub Scout Den Chief – but assigned to the 11-Year Old or New Scout Parol
  • Help older boys who have not completed First Class – assigned to help specific Scouts needing his individual help (probably on a hike or a meeting separate from the troop.  (Two older Scouts – Troop Guides – could also be assigned together to one or multiple Scouts interested in advancing)
  • Advise patrol leader on his duties and responsibilities at Patrol Leaders’ Council (PLC) meetings.
  • Attend Patrol Leaders Council (PLC) meetings with the New Scout Patrol Leader.
  • Prevent harassment of new Scouts by older Scouts.
  • Help Assistant Scoutmaster train new Scouts by older Scouts.
  • Guide new Scouts through early troop experiences to help them become comfortable in the troop and the outdoors.
  • Teach basic Scout skills.
  • Regularly attends troop meetings, troop campouts, and troop events during his service period.
  • Set a good example.
  • Enthusiastically wear the Scout Uniform correctly.
  • Live by the Scout Oath and Law.
  • Show Scout spirit.

So, in summary, the Guide would be a leader kind of between the Patrol Leader and the adult leaders.  He could work specifically with the new Scout patrol – and in this role (kind of like a Den Chief – but to older Scouts) he would teach and train Scouts in specific Scout skills.  He could do this with a group or with a couple of boys on their own.  He could be perfect to work with two or three boys who are behind and need some individual attention.  He could be preassigned to teach specific skills at troop meetings or campouts. If on a camp-out, he should not be there to goof off but again to teach specific skills, be the example, wear the uniform, etc.

If you have a group of these older Scouts, they could be their own patrol in troop meetings and on outings.  Of if you have only a couple of them, let them cook and hang out with the adults.  Plan ahead and give them specific leadership tasks.  With advance notice, they can plan ahead and be prepared to be a true teacher and guide.  The Troop Guide is flexible enough for the troop to kind of custom design a role for each young man – with definite things that they should accomplish in their service – new Scout patrol, scout skills training at troop meetings and/or campouts, or by individual assignment to specific Scouts.

Older Scouts can also attend Scout Camp (again not as a goof off – but as a troop leader).  And older Scouts can also be encouraged to attend NYLT and other youth leadership training opportunities through the council and the troop.

Another idea that I have been toying with is to be a catalyst – to start my own “Super High Flyin’ Eagle Battalion troop.  In such a troop, I could invite any and all older boy Scouts (from all around our town) who very seriously have decided they want to become Eagle Scouts.   I am still thinking of this option since it could be real fun with a team of die-hard dads who loved Scouting and want to give their sons the opportunity to also achieve the Eagle Scout Award.  I haven’t committed to this yet, but it is making me think and dream a bit.

I hope that these ideas may be helpful to you.  I would welcome comments about your own thoughts and how to make a success of the coming opportunities.  Let’s all take a personal interest in the older Scouts and give them opportunities to be true leaders – using the skills and training they have already received as Scouts.  Help each young man customize a plan for his leadership requirements and the growth of him and his fellow Scouts.  It could be exciting!

Best wishes along your Scouting Trails …  Kevinthescoutblogger

See this link for an introduction to Kevin the Scouting Trails Blogger.  Blogging articles have excerpts taken from Kevin’s many personal journals and Scouting Trails books including “MR. Scoutmaster!”, “Keys to Scouting Leadership,” “Gnubie to Eagle Scout”,  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!  Find Kevin on Facebook at:  Scouting Trails Books and Blogs.

To explore or buy Kevin’s books on Amazon, go to: amazon.com/author/kevinhunt

Contact Kevin directly via email: kevin@scoutingtrails.com

@ 2017 Kevin V. Hunt