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

 

 

 

 

 

Jamboree Time full of Fun and Tradition

 

scout-1

By Kevin V. Hunt

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

It’s Scout Jamboree time and the hype and excitement is probably building in your council and throughout the country.  There are not enough adjectives to describe the jamboree experience – but most descriptions of a Jamboree begin with “FUN!” and “TRADITION”.  Jamborees certainly bring all of that together.  National BSA Jamborees come around every four years.  And international or world jamborees also happen every four years – but between the BSA events.  (So literally, there is a Jamboree is held every two years.)  Every Scout and leader “should” have opportunity to attend a Jamboree.  They are the ultimate!

Though each Jamboree is unique and different in their own way, yet too, they are much the same.  There is so much of tradition in the Jamboree that Scouts attending the Jamboree this year – in 2017 – will likely experience many of the same great feelings, events, and activities as a Scout might have in 1937 when the first Jamboree was scheduled.

Back in October, I blogged a bit about the National Scout Jamboree that my Troop 155 “The Best Alive” attended together.  This was hidden in a blog of tribute to my Scoutmaster, Jim Johnson, who had just died.  But, since it is Jamboree time, I thought that I would re-visit the Jamboree theme – in this and a couple more blogs.

You might all know by now that I might be as old as dirt.  And our Jamboree experiences might be years apart.  Yet, even so, perhaps as you read you can relate to or get excited about your Jamboree experience whether it is upcoming or like mine – a part of ancient Scouting history.  Anyway, with that in mind, I’d like to share some of my Jamboree experiences with you.

My own experience was actually a bit unique.   For most Jamborees, Scouts and leaders work hard to earn or to get funds to attend a future Jamboree.   Then as the Jamboree event gets closer, the Scout or leader registers with the local council and becomes a member of a Council Jamboree troop.  And a council could have a single such troop (of Scouts from all over) or it could have many troops – each with its own adult leaders and sometimes even different itineraries to and from the event.

When I attended my Jamboree (in 1973) the BSA staged two different Jamborees simultaneously (one in Farragut, Idaho and one at the Morraine State Park in Pennsylvania).  I attended the one in the north Idaho pan-handle.  Also, for that Jamboree, they opened up the event the regular home-town troop to attend under its own regular adult leadership.  And so each troop could create its own Jamboree plan, how to finance it, where to stop along the way, etc.

I had forever heard of Jamborees and had always had an intense desire to attend one.  But, money (as it always does) seemed to play a big role in the decision.  So generally lacking it, my hopes of attending a Jamboree were always “dashed”.  But, when I was about age 16, I read in the BSA “Scouting” Magazine of the opportunity to attend the Jamboree with one’s own troop.  And man, did I ever get excited.  That would be an understatement.  As I read the announcement, I knew that that it was plausible – and too, that I could make such a trip possible for me and my troop.

I don’t know exactly when Scoutmaster Jim Johnson came on the scene but I believe it was also when I was about 16.  And as the Troop JASM, I took on the task of “training him” in his Scoutmaster duties.  Jim and I hit it off immediately and we soon developed a pattern for great things in the troop.  I can still remember those wonderful “Patrol Leader Council Meetings” – held in his living room – wherein we planned and created the troop meetings and outings.  I worked very closely with Scoutmaster Jim and in many ways he treated me as if I was an adult Assistant Scoutmaster.  I helped plan activities, hikes and other programs.  Those were great days and they bring back such great memories.

Anyway, as I read that article that day, I was elated!  I could not believe it.  I had always wanted to attend a National Jamboree – and now suddenly out of the blue – here was my chance.  I rode my bike over to see the new Scoutmaster Jim Johnson.  I said, “Hey, Jim (that is what I always called him) … look where we are going in two years!” (as I showed him the magazine).  He said, “We are????”  But, he was willing to talk about it.  I was ecstatic as I worked to persuade him and he soon bought off on the plan.  And this would be a very major sacrifice for him since the Jamboree was about a ten or twelve day affair and with travel to and from, it would be about nineteen days.   And Jim was a self-employed painting contractor.  So, if he didn’t work, he didn’t get paid.  Jim was soon as excited about the plan as I was.

We went to our church leader – Max Killian – and presented the plan to him.  With a Scout son in our troop, he bought into the plan immediately.  He gave us the charge to earn as much of the money as we could over the next two years – and then gave us the promise that “whatever else you need, you will have”.

So we were then off and running.  The next two years were hectic and busy but glorious and wonderful.  Jim and I met often to talk about our plans and to put them into place with the Troop Leader’s Council.  There was so much to do.   We staged every fund-raising event possible.  (We could do those things in those days.)  We planned and bought equipment.  We trained and re-trained our youth leaders.  We had shake-down meetings, activities and outings.  We made saguaro cacti men – four of them – to be our gate entry into our campsite.

Once we made the decision to attend the grand event, we recruited two other troops (from the nearby village of Lehi – and from our local Mesa, Arizona LDS Stake) to go on the outing with us.  Ultimately we chartered a 51-seater bus for the 52 of us and we were on our way.   Our Troop 155 had 13 Scouts plus Scoutmaster Jim and me.  What a glorious and wonderful trip or adventure it was.  It was the grandest of adventures.  We all had a really great time.

We were to be gone for nineteen days!  I thought then, and have since, how few men would be willing to make a time commitment like that to Scouting and to boys.  But such was the commitment of Scoutmaster Jim Johnson!  I will always be grateful to Jim that he and his family were willing to make that sacrifice for us.  The trip was a dream-come-true for each one of us.

Out Troop 155 group included Robert Wagner, DeLane Davidson, my brothers Kyle and Darcy, Don Carroll, Smith Skouson, Lance Gardner, Scott Johnson, Marvin Peterson, David Killian, Jim’s son – Markley Johnson, John Ray and Kenny Smith.  What a great crew!  We were ready for the fun and grand traditions of a National Scout Jamboree.

Best wishes along your Scouting Trails …  Kevin

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

 

Franklin District 2017 Klondike – Thank you Camp Chef for your support!

What a weekend! There was plenty of cold, snow and fun to be had at the Franklin District Klondike the weekend of February 24-25. By the time 9:00 p.m. came, Friday night, you couldn’t find a place to park at the Copenhagen Campground up near Strawberry Summit. Everybody pretty well spent their time digging and preparing their places of sleep for the night.

At 7:30 p.m. we all gathered around a campfire and through the blowing and drifting snow listened to a guest speaker, Jed Nield from Afton (Crow Creek) Wyoming.  He told of an experience he had 10 years ago while drilling holes for dynamite to blast for JR Simplot.  He got wrapped up in the drill and lost his left arm and his right leg as a result of the accident.  It was very faith promoting as he still maintains a great desire to live and can do many things in spite of his loss of limbs.  All the boys and leaders were very attentive to the program.

After the program the boys were just excited to get out of the cold weather and into their new home away from home.  It was 12 degrees at 4:00 p.m. and a breeze blowing which I am sure with the windchill brought the temperature down to below 0 degrees after the keynote speaker.

At 8:30 a.m. the following morning, a flag ceremony began the days events and A Klondike race and Snow ball toss began.

The Klondike race consisted of 4 Troops at a time pulling their sleds with one rider and as many pulling and pushing as they could with the remaining group running along beside the sled. A snowmobile made track to the 1st Station.  Station 1 consisted of a race to see who could pile up snow to the bottom level of a pre-placed marker.  After that it was off to the Station 2.  Station 2 was a snowshoe race.  Each troop took their fastest man and put him in snow shoes.  He then raced to a stations some 50 yards away and grabbed a pre-placed red ribbon which he needed to carry throughout the remainder of the race.  Off to Station 3.  Station 3 involved the placement of a bale of straw on the sled and taking it across a designated finish line.

The 3 fasted teams/troops were awarded one of three Camp Chef Stoves,  which Camp Chef generously donated.  One was a two burner, one a 3 burner with fold out shelves, and one a 3 burner with shelves and a griddle for cooking bacon, pancakes etc.  Thank you Camp Chef!

As each of the Troops finished up the Klondike race they then went to a snow ball toss contest.  They were awarded points for the number of bottles they knocked down, the ability to hit a moving target, and the skill of hitting a stationary target.  The 3 best winners of the Snow Ball Toss received a certificate to receive a pizza from one of the local Pizza Places in town.

It was cold on Saturday, but you would never know it as you watched the youth have fun.

We awarded all of the prizes, had donuts and hot chocolate furnished by the Preston South Stake and began to clean up and head home.

Our thanks goes out to all who made this possible.  We had a great attendance with somewhere between 60 and 70 boys,( we haven’t got an exact count as yet) and another 30 or so leaders.  I would like to really express my thanks to the Preston South Stake Young Men’s Presidency who worked so hard to make it all happen.

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

By Robert Child img_0049img_0050img_0051

What Does Scouting have to do with Family History?

 

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Kevin V. Hunt

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

Recently I had the unique opportunity to showcase some Scouting history at our stake’s Family History Discovery Day.  I thought that Scouting and family history actually fit well together.  But, a couple of people came to my display tables and acted a bit confused.  A couple of people said under their breath – not knowing that I was listening – “What does Scouting have to do with family history?”  Good question!

Months before this event I had been invited to be a part of the steering committee for this big stake and community event.  I joined the planning committee wearing two hats.  One was in my role as the Stake Historian.  The committee wanted to have the event well documented in our history for this year.  My other requested role (by the committee chairman) was to show some of the Scouting history of the stake.  Sure …  I could do that!

My display tables – and I had three of them – one for Scouting and two for general personal and family history were kind of unique.  And I admit, they did stand out a bit.

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This was a major family history conference and displays were plenteous in the large gymnasium and conference room – in the historic Interstake Center in Mesa, Arizona.  Many local genealogical and family history groups or organizations had been invited to participate.  Most of their displays had a computer as their main feature.  And on these computers, volunteers or companies showed off their latest and greatest tools to do family history research. My Scouting table was full of “Scouting stuff” that I have collected through the years.  So, the tables did catch a few eyes – but I think a great many people enjoyed browsing it all.

First I’d like to take a moment to define “family history”.  When most folks think of family history, I believe they think of Grandma or Great Aunt Clara – who spent their lives researching the family lines and creating pedigree charts and family group records.  That is actually how I got started.  I was age twelve – when I took up most of my life hobbies and interests – many of them through Scouting leaders.  At twelve, I was put into a Sunday School genealogy class that went for six weeks.  That was kind of a short class but it was enough to get me hooked.  And so for most of my teen years – when I wasn’t doing Scouting – I was doing family history research and created many of those charts which I put into a “Book of Remembrance”.  (And Grandma Augusta Hunt and I were a team!)

Over the years, I have come to learn that family history goes way beyond all those charts and family trees.  I believe that family history really is creating a record of our lives and those of our ancestors.  The family history I have enjoyed the most is when I have been able to find photos and histories for the people on those charts.  That is when their lives have come alive for me (even if they have been dead for decades).   Also, I now believe that each one of us has the opportunity and even the responsibility to create records of our life and times here on earth.  And these records can be for ourselves as well as for our current and future posterity.  The Book of Revelation in the Bible says (Rev. 20:12), “… and the books were opened, And another book was opened, which is the book of life …”  Joseph Smith expanded on that theme when he taught that “the books spoken of must be the books which contained the record of their works, and refer to the records which are kept on earth.  And the book which was the book of life is the record which is kept in heaven …”  (D&C 128:7)  And then in the next verse, he says, “… Whatsoever you record on earth shall be recorded in heaven, and whatsoever you do not record on earth shall not be recorded in heaven.”

Wow!  That is pretty strong.  So, yes, records of our lives really are an opportunity and a responsibility.  And so, with that background, I believe that we should work hard to create records of our lives – all facets of our lives.  But, those records don’t need to be limited to paper and computer files.  I think that there are a myriad of ways that we can record our personal histories and those can be different for each individual and family.  I would suggest that each one of us figure out some way to use and show our talents in the preservation of our histories.

Our histories can include various chapters of our lives – such as our spouse and families, our education, our life’s work or vocation, our hobbies and interests, and much more.  As I look back at my own life, I realize that most of my life has included involvement in Scouting in one way or another.  That is probably true for most of us.  If we were Cub Scouts and Scouts in our youth, and then served for even a few years as a Scouting volunteer, we soon see that Scouting has been much of our lives – and so well worth documenting as a major chapter of our lives.  If it is worth doing, it is worth recording.  And that applies to Scouting.

So, how to do it?  What can we do to document our Scouting history and heritage?  There really is no set way to go about it.  Use your imagination and begin to create some interesting records of your Scouting lives.  It doesn’t matter what you do … just do something!  And begin to do it now.

I might be a bit overboard with history and records and Scouting heritage, but here are some ideas that I have done.  I am not saying that you should do them all.  Pick a few of them for yourself and begin to document your Scouting life and times.  Here are some items that were a part of my Scouting family history display that day:

Personal Journal:  I have blogged on this subject many times.  But, with a personal journal with daily entries for over forty years, I have much written about Scouting events and good times that I have been a part of through the years.  And it is such fun to go back and read those entries.  It is almost like doing it all over again.

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This past summer my wife and I were on the staff at Camp Newfork – operated by the Trapper Trails Council.  I wrote extensive journal entries of the summer experience and added many photos to them.   I later blogged these journal entries on The Scouting Trail with the full series summarized in the blog It was Quite the Summer at Camp New Fork.

Walking Sticks:  This may sound unique, but I have a hobby of carving walking sticks.  I don’t just carve them to be carving but they actually contain a lot of history.  I try to carve a new stick at or for each camp that I go to – and each one has carved into it memories about the particular camp.  These are great conversation pieces with my children and grandchildren – and Scouts everywhere.

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Framed Awards:  As I completed my youth phase of Scouting, my mother had me collect all of my badges and she put them into a nice frame for my future enjoyment.  She made one for my Cub Scout awards and another for my Boy Scouting years.

Neckerchief Blanket:   My wife did a great thing for me.  She got all of the neckerchiefs that I had earned or received through the years (including those from when I was a Cub Scout, Scout, camps, and for everything since).  She sewed these all together into a giant king-sized (at least) blanket.  And then she sewed the patches from the various events – onto the appropriate neckerchief.   So, there is a multitude of neckerchiefs and a couple of hundred patches.

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Excel SpreadsheetI created a spreadsheet to document my years of Scouting service.  I have a line for each Scouting position and then columns for the positions, when I served, the unit number, the chartered institution, people involved in that role, and more.  When I wanted to provide documentation for a major service award, I went back through my journals and recorded information for each position through the years.

Slide Show:  I went through the house and collected my Scouting photographs from their various hiding places in closets, drawers, boxes, etc.  I then sorted these by date and experience.  I then created Word documents for the various Scouting events through my life.  I could have used PowerPoint to create these but didn’t.  On each page, I had a title, sometimes a brief description of the event, people, etc.  And I scanned and inserted into each page four or five photos.  And after I created these pages, I then saved each page as a PDF document.  This was a major feature of entertainment for a Jubilee Celebration which I recently staged for myself.  I showed the slide show at the event but also printed each page and had it bound into a nice book for me and for my posterity.

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Scouting Book CollectionScouting has changed much through the years – yet it is so much the same as ever.  And through the years, a plethora of books and handbooks have been generated.  I have a major handbook collection.  It has my old “Lion” Cub Scout book, my own Scout Handbook, a 1928 “Rally Book” and more.  I even have a collection which includes every edition of the Scout Handbook.  My son, Rusty, and I created a beautiful red oak with glass doors display case to keep these in.  It is magnificent!

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Kevin Hunt Scout Handbook Collection in Red Oak Frame

 

Awards:  I am not one to tout or brag about awards that I have received, but I do have them collected in a single spot/box for my own enjoyment.

UniformsI have kept my uniforms that I have worn through the years.  And some of these are really “vintage” now.    I have my old Cub Scout uniform, several of my Scout uniforms, and many uniforms, jackets, hats, etc. that I have worn through the years.  When our first daughter was born, my mom even took one of the old uniforms and created a little girl dress that Jackie wore in parades (when we marched with Scouts) and to other places.

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PhotosTake photos at every event.  You never know when you will want these for a slide show or other special event.  Mark the photos with the name of the event, when it was, who is in the photo, etc.  And with today’s electronic technology, there are a multitude of great programs or ways to organize and store your photos.

Court of Honor ProgramsI created PowerPoint presentations with a lot of photos for each of my three sons on the occasion of their Eagle Scout court of honor programs.  These have become valued treasures for them and for me.

Books from Journals and Personal ExperiencesI go a bit beyond what most folks would, but I have compiled several books from my Scouting experiences as recorded in my journals and personal memories.  I am just now beginning to market and publish these.

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Troop Reunions and HistoriesI have been the catalyst to stage several troop reunions through the years.  “155 … The Best Alive”.  At these reunions I take a lot of photos and have old Scout friends record a paragraph or two of their memories.  And then I have compiled all of these into a history of the troop through the years.   I have created a mini book or history and have shared this with those who came to the reunions – and any others that I’ve run into beyond the reunions.

Letters and CertificatesI am only about half way through this project but I collected all of the certificates, thank you letters, correspondence, and anything paper about my Scouting times and am scanning these and putting them into a book for my own use – and for my own posterity.  I will create a printed book – or book of originals for myself – but after it is scanned, I can store it and share it with my posterity.

TraditionsThese are not always visible (though you can use the ideas presented here to make them such), but it is important to have strong family Scouting traditions.  Keep these alive and keep doing them.  For instance … in our family we have a long-standing tradition of becoming Eagle Scouts.  And in the case of me and my sons, we each have maintained the tradition of each receiving three or four palms beyond Eagle.  Have traditional events, outings, and programs with traditional family or Scouting friends.  Document you and your group doing these things.

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Oral HistoriesSet yourself – or your Scouting parents, wife and children – down and have them tell stories of their Scouting experiences.  With today’s electronics there are so many options for recording your histories and memories.  FamilySearch.com has some great ways to permanently record your history and your photos.  Check it out!  You might want to interview and record your old Scoutmaster, Scouting Friends and troop-mates, and others who have been a big part of your Scouting experience.  (And don’t forget to do this for yourself!)

Well, again, you may not be able to do all of these things.  I have done them … but that it is me and who and what I am.  My challenge is to look at your own life of Scouting (and other) experiences and then find the best way(s) – that is so you – and which uses your abilities and talents (and the help of others) to record those great Scouting moments.  And when you start doing this, you’ll probably catch the spirit of the whole history thing and you’ll want to do more and more.

And so, back to our original question:  What does Scouting have to do with family history?  I think it has a lot to do with it …  Scouting is a big part of your life so it deserves to be a part of your personal, family and troop histories.  Find ways to get the two together … and you will have much joy and happiness through bringing them together.  You’ll be glad that you did it – and so will your posterity and Scouting friends.  Scouting with family history … what a novel and wonderful idea!

And I would love to help you personally to explore ways to do all of this.  Feel free to contact me!  I would also enjoy hearing or seeing what you come up with for yourself!

Best wishes along your Scouting Trails …  Kevin

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monument Recognizing Ogden’s Namesake

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Kevin V. Hunt

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

As I blogged about our summer adventures at Camp New Fork this summer, I threw in a bit at the end of one blog about our return trip – after camp – through Morgan County – on the way back to the Trapper Trails Council Office in Ogden .  In that blog, I said that “driving through Morgan County brought back real fond memories to me.  I recalled with happiness my time there years ago as the professional Scouter – the District Executive – for the area.”

I continued, “Typically I stop at many rest stops along any long journey so my wife and daughter – in their own vehicles behind me – were surprised that I didn’t stop at the rest stop on Interstate 84 near Mountain Green and at the canyon just before Ogden.  And as I passed it on the freeway, I wished that I had stopped at this rest stop.  For as I whizzed by, I had a vision of a former memory that I had forgotten.  So, I wished that I had stopped and would have seen again the monument that Mt. Ogden Boy Scouts created thirty plus years ago.

 

I noted in the article that I had some flashback memories of the monument.  I noted too, my frustration at not being able to find the journal entry for the occasion – and even made excuse as to why I did not have a journal entry about the monument.  In the article, I also stated emphatically that the monument was built in the May of 1980.  Well, now I stand corrected and would like to make some corrections for the record.

Recently, while researching my past journals for another project, I came across the journal article I thought was supposed to be there.  It wasn’t where I thought it would be, however.  I thought that it was in May of 1980 (because that is when the Deseret News got around to publishing about the experience – or that is when we reported it to them … but the Boy Scout truth was that it was in September 1979.  So, as Paul Harvey would say, “Here’s the rest of the story …”  And with this new information, it is worth revisiting …

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 7TH – 1979

“… This afternoon I went out delivering SME (“Friends of Scouting”) train plaques.  [In those days, we recognized folks who contributed $100 or more each year to the Scout Council with a classy wooden plaque – that had a railroad track and an HO scale train car -a take-off from Promontory Point – where the trains came together in the Ogden area in 1869.]

“I first took a plaque to Keith W. Wilcox, an architect and Church regional Representative.  I first met Pres. Wilcox when he was the Regional Representative as I was on my Florida mission.  He was the architect of the Washington, D.C. Temple and later president of the Indiana Mission.  He started telling me about his latest project for Scouting.  He designed the monument which the Weber Heights Stake is building this week-end to honor Peter Skeen Ogden – for whom Ogden City and Mount Ogden [and my district] were named.

“He said when Vince Quan, the event director, came in, he had a real small monument in mind.  President Wilcox said that “Anything the Weber Heights Stake did, had to be great.”  He helped Vince “Catch the Vision”.  He – President Wilcox – said that “most of us aim too low.  We need to raise our sights,” he said.

“Later in the day the Washington Terrace Terrace View Stake had me come to help “recharge” the Scouters of their stake.  I talked for 45 minutes and used President Wilcox’s “Catch the Vision” phrase as my theme.  LouDene went with me to the meeting.   They served dinner after the department meetings.

“After the dinner LouDene and I drove to Mountain Green for the Weber Heights campfire program.  They were camped in the area where Peter Ogden was supposed to have camped in 1825.  They had a good program and this included a store teller – Bill Critchlow – who shared a history of Peter Skene Ogden.  We parked about a quarter of a mile away and walked in.  Lowell Clontz, my Mt. Ogden district chairman, got a kick out of Lou doing this – wearing a dress and 9 ½ months pregnant and all.  He is a lot of fun to be around.  We both enjoy him.  I guess it must have been a humorous sight.

Saturday, September 8th,

“This morning I went up to Mountain Green to see the monument which the Weber Heights Stake was building.  They had previously put up the plywood foundation.  The scouts of the stake were put to work gathering, hauling and scrubbing the rocks.  The stone masons (3 of them) were kept busy setting the rock in the cement.  The monument really is beautiful with the two large commemorative metal plaques.

“I talked to several boys involved in the project to get their ideas for a “Boy’s Life” magazine article that I hope to write.  [I guess “Boy’s Life” didn’t want my article that I completed and submitted later!]

And in other articles, I have talked of crazy and wonderful, Vince Quan – and how he motivated all of the district to create the giant Western fort to house our Scout-O-Rama.  He certainly had the vision for that project.  And maybe it was Keith Wilcox who inspired him to “Catch the Vision” – and perhaps it was with that “higher vision” that he later raised his sights for the creation of that fort.  Maybe after the monument building, he realized that he could do and achieve anything he wanted.  A good thought for all of us – to “Catch the Vision”.

But while we are on the subject, I’ll repeat a bit of what I said in the original article – so that all of the information will be in one place.  So, here goes …

“A Google internet search produced some interesting records about the monument and its construction.  The first is from the Utah Division of State History records for plaques and monuments:  Peter Skeen Ogden Monument built by Scouts

The second is from a “Deseret News” Article May 31, 1980.  This can be accessed at:

Deseret News report on the monument building  Note that this article also gives rave reports about Vince Quan.  (Note that the article does not give a date that the event happened!)

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And included here in this article is a classy photo of the completed monument – as taken by Jimmy Emerson, DMV on July 31, 2013.  And that the photo taken 34 years after the event shows the monument to still be in good shape and there at the rest area for everyone to see.  It is worth going up to Mountain Green to check it out.

So, there you have it … the rest of the story (and once again, I was saved by my journal.  It always seems to come through for me and usually for others, too).

Best wishes along your Scouting Trails …  Kevin

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

The Philmont Tradition and my Lifetime Dream to go There

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Kevin V. Hunt

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

For almost fifty years I have heard of the lore of the great Philmont Scout Ranch.    I have known of the Philmont Tradition and have had a lifetime dream to go there.  I have yearned and hoped that through some miracle I might someday attend a training course there but have never had the opportunity to do so.   I guess I be truthful and say that I have actually had many opportunities to attend training courses at Philmont but never had the money or resources to do so.  With a large family, it just wasn’t possible for me.  And so, that dream has been looming out there forever.  I have said on many occasions that I have done almost everything in Scouting but the illusive Philmont has been one thing that I have never – and probably would not ever get to do.  I had given up on the dream becoming a reality.

Then I received a call from my brother, Darcy – who lives in Pueblo, Colorado.  My brother knew of my Philmont dream and so he decided to make it possible for me.  What a great brother!  Amazing!  Pueblo is within the geographic area of the Rocky Mountain Council, BSA – which covers southern Colorado and even down to the area around Philmont in New Mexico.  And I guess for fifty five years or so, the Council has had a tradition of having a Philmont weekend experience.  This seemed to be a great tradition and activity.  So, we were pleased to join their “Philmont Fellowship 2016 – Creating Connections”.

It was April 30th in 2016.  Again my journal records many of the details of that great day. The day began normally for me – at my usual 4:10 AM – as I arose to get ready to drive a school bus all day.  I drove my kids to their schools in the morning but took off through the afternoon so that I could go to Colorado and New Mexico.

Later that afternoon, a daughter came over and took Lou, my wife, and me to the home of another daughter.  Our son-in-law, Michael then took us to the Phoenix airport for our flight to Denver.  We checked in for the flight.  We will fly home on Allegiant and they will only allow us to take a backpack sized bag – without paying big bucks.  So, even though we flew Southwest Airlines today – and they don’t charge for bags, we had to be compliant with the Allegiant guidelines.  I could not get the internet to work at the airport so I just sat and visited with Lou as we waited.  She probably welcomed the technical breakdown.

We boarded the plane and headed off to Denver.  Darcy drove the almost three hours north from his Pueblo, Colorado home to get us at the Denver Airport.  He willingly made this trek – even with the threat of very bad weather.   We got our luggage and then he was there to greet us.  We then took the train to the terminal parking.

We drove south in Interstate 25.  We drove past Darcy’s home town and continued south toward New Mexico.  It was cold – only about 32 degrees – so literally freezing.  Though snowing, the roads remained clear.  This came as a major answer to Lou’s prayers.  We had a good visit with Darcy along the way.

We stopped at one rest area.  There was a lot of snow on the ground.  We turned off I-25 and headed onto another highway toward Cimarron, New Mexico.  We arrived at Philmont about 2:00 AM.  Laura and Ali had already set up tents for us – so this was wonderful.  In the summers, there are giant tent cities all over Philmont and literally thousands of Scouts pass through the place.  They come all days of the week.  They come in on one day and spend that night in the spacious wall tents (two people to a tent) and then head off on their trek adventure.  They stay out on the trail for ten days or so and then return to base for a final night.

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In addition to the trek groups, Philmont is also home to the National BSA Training Center.  And in this training capacity, it offers a multitude of interesting and wonderful training sessions to Scouting volunteers who come from all over the country.  For almost fifty years I have always wanted to attend a training course here but have never had the opportunity.   I should say that I have actually had many opportunities to attend training courses at Philmont but never had the money or resources to do so.  With a large family, it just wasn’t possible for me.  And so, that dream has been looming out there forever.  I have said on many occasions that I have done almost everything in Scouting but the illusive Philmont has been one thing that I have never – and probably would not get to do.  I had given up on the dream becoming a reality.  So, with that in mind, it was so exciting to actually be on my way there.  (My brother knew of my Philmont dream and so he decided to make it possible for me.  What a great brother!  Amazing!)

Just a bit of History of Philmont from the official website:

“Once inhabited by Jicarilla Apache and Moache Ute Indians, Philmont Scout Ranch was later the site of one of the first pioneer settlements in northeastern New Mexico. The present Ranch is part of the original Beaubien and Miranda Land Grant that the Mexican government granted to Carlos Beaubien and Guadalupe Miranda in 1841.  One of those interested in the New Mexico tracts was an Oklahoma oilman, Waite Phillips, who had become interested in developing a ranch out of the old land grant in 1922. He eventually amassed more than 300,000 acres of mountains and plains in a ranch he named Philmont (derived from his name and the Spanish word for mountain, “monte”).

“The Philmont Ranch became a showplace. Immense herds of Hereford cows and Corriedale sheep grazed its pastures. Phillips built a large Spanish Mediterranean home for his family at the headquarters and named it the Villa Philmonte. He developed horse and hiking trails throughout the scenic backcountry, along with elaborate fishing and hunting cabins for his family and friends.

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“Waite Phillips believed in sharing his wealth with people outside his family. In this spirit, he offered 35,857 acres of his ranch to the Boy Scouts of America in 1938 to serve as a national wilderness camping area. The area was named Philturn Rockymountain Scoutcamp (after Phillips’ name and the Scout slogan “Do a Good Turn Daily”). Fees for the first summer were set at $1 per week per camper, and 189 Scouts from Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma arrived for the first experience at a national backcountry Scout camp.

“After observing the enthusiastic response of the first Scout campers, Phillips augmented his original gift in 1941 with an addition that included his best camping land, the Villa Philmonte and the headquarters of the farming and ranching operation. The second gift was made so that “many, rather than few” could enjoy his rich and beautiful land. Phillips was quoted in the Tulsa Daily World saying: “That ranch represents an ideal of my youth … and has meant a lot to my son and his pals. Now I want to make it available to other boys. … I’d be selfish to hold it for my individual use.” The property, now totaling 127,395 acres, was renamed Philmont Scout Ranch.

“Phillips realized that the cost for maintaining and developing the property could not and should not be derived entirely from camper fees. As an endowment he included in the gift his 23-story Philtower Building in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

“The first season of Philmont Scout Ranch in 1942 welcomed only 275 Scouts, and attendance remained low during the war years. However, in 1946, Scouts from all 12 regions of the country attended Philmont Scout Ranch. Programs and backcountry camps were continually being developed and, in 1949, workers began rebuilding Kit Carson’s adobe home at Rayado – a project that Phillips had urged the Boy Scouts of America to undertake.

“By 1950, Scouts were attending Philmont from almost every BSA Council; attendance was more than 1,700. However, in 1951, it jumped to more than 5,200 and passed 7,000 in 1954. During the 1950s, adult and family attendance increased, with the establishment of the Philmont Training Center.

“In 1963, through the generosity of Norton Clapp, vice president of the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America, another piece of the Maxwell Land Grant was purchased and added to Philmont. This area was the Baldy Mountain mining region that consisted of 10,098 acres. Today, the ranch’s total area is approximately 214 square miles!”

Anyway, back to my own narrative:

Tonight upon our arrival at Philmont, we found no snow at the tents but it was VERY COLD and wet.  Our own tent was set up atop of the large wooden platform.  img_2611It was interesting that each tent platform also has a “current bush” with it.  Lou was quick to plug in her phone!  We “camped” on tent platform #62.  Darcy provided sleeping bags for us and I slept in one that was supposed to keep one warm down to 0 degrees.  In the bag, I felt like the pea in “The Princess and the Pea”!   I was quite worn out by this time – having got up at 4:10 AM back in Mesa to do my bus run.  So, I was anxious to get into my own bag.

APRIL 20TH – SATURDAY

I awoke this morning at the national BSA Philmont Scout Ranch.  It has been my life-long goal to get to Philmont and so a dream at least partially came true today.  It was clear skies when we went to bed but we awoke this morning to clouds and weather that was a bit warmer.  We greeted Laura and Ali – who were asleep upon our arrival last night.

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Darcy and Ali Hunt at Philmont

I went in and took a nice warm shower in one of the many individual indoor restrooms.  These rooms had a toilet, a sink and a shower –and were very nice.  (A bit beyond the usual outdoor two-holers that are found at almost all Scout camps – or at least the ones where I have been.)

Our first item on the schedule of the day was a flag ceremony.  We gathered out in the parking lot with about 50 folks – which included adult Scouters and their families.   Everyone was bundled up tight in their winter gear for the cold morning.  The gathering was rather informal.  Two teen Scouts were invited to raise the colors for the group.

As I looked around I noted that there were deer everywhere.  They were grazing like cows in the meadows around the Philmont ranch houses.

We all headed to one of the dining halls associated with the Training Center.  En route, we marveled at the fabulous buildings of the Philmont ranch.  In typical Spanish architecture, each with red tile on the roof.  The whole place was landscaped beautifully – and even in the winter – when there was no green, it was obvious that this was a very beautiful place.

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Philmont Scout Ranch

As we made this trek to the dining hall, my wife began to have memories come back to her.   The Villa and a giant gazebo seemed to spark those memories.  She had made a trek to Philmont when she was just age 12 or so.  Her father was in an LDS Stake Presidency and he came to Philmont to receive training for his position.  And as is the Philmont custom and opportunity, he was able to bring his whole family with him.  All of the children who were at home were able to make the trip with the folks.  They took the train to Cimarron from Salt Lake City.  I am not sure how they got from the train depot on to Philmont.  Anyway, she has always told me that this was the greatest vacation that her family had ever taken.  She has talked with fondness of the Philmont experience through these many years.  Philmont and the Philmont Spirit left a lasting impression upon her mind and spirit.

We meandered through the gardens to the chow hall.  Upon entry, we were struck with the large wall murals which depicted the ranch and the many wild and domestic animals that inhabit it with the Scouts.  The murals gave a great aura to the place.  And as I entered the dining hall, I felt at home.  It was much like any other Scout Camp dining hall operation – and I had seen a few of those in my years of Scouting (20 summers, in eight camps and six states).

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Laura and Darcy Hunt – in Philmont Dining Hall 1 – with murals in background

We held on to our coats for a few minutes – until our bodies caught up with the warmth of the place.  We laid claim to a dining table and got in line for food.   We soon found that we had a lot of options for food.  There was something for everyone.  I thanked each of the workers who had worked hard to make this meal for us.  It appeared that many of the workers were local folks from Cimarron and other nearby communities and that was great.  With a tray of food, we headed back to our seats.  It was then that I had time to take a look around at the Rocky Mountain Scouters and camp workers who had gathered there.  It was a pleasure to meet the Philmont Camp Director, Mark Anderson.

After breakfast I checked out the rest of the dining hall building – and particularly the large training room.  There were program options that we could do but Lou and I opted to take the tour of the historic ranch Villa – The Villa Phillmonte and museum.  Of course we took a lot of photos throughout the tour experience.  The tour – and our guide – were fabulous.  It was obvious that our guide had been at Philmont for many years – and she had genuine and a very enthusiastic love for the place.  She knew well the ranch history, of the Waite family, and many other interesting details.  In a word, she was Fabulous!

We normally could have gone on one or more day hikes in the nearby mountains but on this day, most of those options were cancelled because of the rain, snow and cold.  The trails were too wet to trek on.   My wife decided that she wanted a nap.   I used the morning to go visit the Camp trading post and so took a walk over there.  There was a threat of bad weather but it held off and let me make my walk.   I enjoyed watching the Rocky Mountain council’s Camp Isabel’s camp director – also a Kevin – as he did “branding” – putting the famous Philmont brand on belts, mugs, etc.

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Camp San Isabel Camp Director – Kevin O’Keefe doing Philmont branding

With my wife and Darcy and family, we took our own little tour around the training center and took many photos.  And through all of this, I wished that I was at Philmont during the summer or for a training course – so that I could have really felt the Philmont Spirit and basked in it.  But, there was evidence of those great gatherings – and I took these all in.

After lunch we – Lou and I and Darcy, Laura and Ali – all went to check out an old adobe fort located a couple of miles east of Philmont.  This place was closed and was undergoing major remodeling so we didn’t get to go in.  We then went to the Historic St. James Hotel.

We talked to the hostess and spent quite a bit of time checking out all of the interesting photos and information around  on all the walls of the halls.  I loved the gorgeous wood work throughout the place.  We learned that many famous people had slept – or died there. There were also a multitude of shoot-outs – evidenced even today with the bullet holes – from all of that activity – still visible in the walls.  Wow! What a place.  I loved it!

After all of the above excitement it now began to rain quite hard.  I resorted to my tent and took my own nap for an hour and a half! Wow!  I never do such a thing!

With the rain, the evening flag ceremony was cancelled.  We just went on into the dining hall for dinner.  It was great to be in there once again.  I loved the spirit of the place.  And there was plenty of food – and I took advantage of that – and ate a whole lot more than I needed.

After dinner, the Council group all gathered into the large training room auditorium.

We there held a great indoor campfire program.  This proved to be a lot of fun – and held in the best of the grand campfire tradition of any Scout Camp.   The program was directed by Council Executive – Phillip Eborn.  I have known Phillip and his legendary professional Scouting brothers in other associations and have found them to be great men.  It was fun to visit with him at the program and before.  I had my laptop computer with me in camp – and pulled up some journal records of former days.  I told Philip about the entry which I wrote for May 19, 2012 when I attended a National Camp School that he was conducting:

May 19th – 2012

“I today went up to Camp Geronimo (near Payson, Arizona) to participate in a full week of National Camp School.  I will attend this school to learn to be a Camp Commissioner.  This school is held several times a year and the location rotates around the region.  This year the camp school is conveniently held at Camp Geronimo.  So, this worked out well for me.  I will attend the Commissioner section of the Camp School.  At the dining hall, I met Phillip Eborn, the director of the Camp School.  He seems like a really great guy – and I later learned that he is also a former director of Camp Bartlett where I also was the director several years ago.”

So, this evening I was excited when this Phillip led the group in one of my old camp favorite songs – “Fleas, Flies, and Mosquitoes”.  He did it with great energy befitting a Camp Director.

As we were gathering for indoor campfire program, folks had given us a paper on which we were asked to write “something unique about ourselves”.  Then through the evening they read several of these papers on some of the program participants.  Then as a person’s unique statement was read, the person was invited to stand to tell more about themselves or their uniqueness.   I wrote about my daily journal writing habit of over forty years – and later got called upon to talk about it.  I mentioned the journal entry that I had found earlier which mentioned their Executive, Phillip.

Many of the Scouters who were there were given opportunity to do a campfire skit.  So, we signed up for our combined “Hunt Bunch” to perform.   We performed a mostly impromptu rendition of an original song about Wade Phillips and Philmont.   This was to the tune of “The Yellow Rose of Texas”.  Actually, we had known all day about the assignment and we had worked on it together through our local meanderings.  We had fun performing together.

I enjoyed hearing of one the oldest of “red-coat Scouters” in the group as he talked of how he first came to Philmont with his hometown troop – clear back in 1968 l- and he said that he has been coming back ever since.  What a great Philmont legacy radiated from this long-time Scouter.

Camp Director, Kevin O’Keefe, led his favorite camp song.  And he was fabulous – a credit to the camp and council with his energy and enthusiasm.

One highlight of the program came at the end as we all gathered in a circle and sang together the Philmont Hymn – which I realized is the ranch’s official song  and later learned was written by John Benton Westfall (1928-May 9, 2009) in 1947 when he was 19.).  Anyway, we formed our circle and sang together:

Silver on the sage,
Starlit skys above,
Aspen-covered hills,
Country that I love.

Philmont, here’s to thee,
Scouting paradise,
Out in God’s country,
Tonight.

Wind in whispering pines,
Eagle soaring high,
Purple mountains rise,
Against an azure sky.

Philmont, here’s to thee,
Scouting paradise,
Out in God’s country,
Tonight.

That was my first time to sing the Philmont Hymn but it quickly became a “tear-jerker” for me.  I felt a little bit of why Philmont has been such a special place to so many Scouters through the past century.  Wow!  It was amazing and hit me hard in my heart and spirit.  Philmont, here’s to thee!

We joined the group for one of the best cracker barrels ever.  Phillip really took care of us.

We had planned to remain at Philmont until Sunday morning but as the program ended Saturday night we looked out the giant windows to the south and noted with some horror the heavy snow that was then falling.  We talked of the situation and the mountain passes that we would have to ascend on the route back to Pueblo, Colorado.  We decided that the road would only get worse as snow and ice accumulated.  So, we made the decision to head home right away.  We packed all of our stuff in a hurry – in a momentary break in the snowy weather and took off.

We encountered good roads most of the way home and got ice and snow on the road only on one mountain pass.  So, we were protected through our travels – and we were grateful for that blessing.  So, in all, it was a very fun day.  And I greatly enjoyed my fun trip to Philmont – and was so happy that I got to make that trek.  And having been there once, I still have two more Philmont dreams that I would still like to accomplish sometime.  One would be to attend a training course there – and the other would be to be on staff at a training course – to help train and motivate others.  Maybe someday I’ll still get to do those!  I hope so! Sometimes dreams do come true …

We arrived back in Pueblo right at midnight – grateful for our safe return trip.  And I was grateful for the chance that I had to be at Philmont – even if for only under twenty four hours.  I felt enough of the Philmont Spirit to make me want to go there again.

Best wishes along your Scouting Trails …  Kevin

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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

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