The camp was dedicated for Scout use in August 1975, and the first Scouts arrived the next summer. They did not have a program director that first summer. So, upon my arrival in 1977, I had the privilege and honor of being the first. (Nothing like being a part of ancient history!)
An internet search revealed that to get to the camp, we should go southeast from Parowan. We left Parowan on Highway 143. After a rapid ascent up the hill, we turned off on the Thunder Ridge road. The Google search also said that the camp would be located after two miles of dirt road up the hill from the paved road turn-off. And then, there was an ominous statement that there would be eleven switchbacks to get up to the camp. My wife almost wanted to head back to Arizona after hearing that one. (She is not a fan of mountain dirt roads, and this one sounded really unappealing to her.)
Those switchbacks proved to be quite exciting. But, we did appreciate the Scout Law signs which began before the first switchback, as they were placed along the road. We counted down the switchbacks up to the camp. Thrifty, brave … almost there … clean… one more … Reverent! We must be almost there!
We went around the final switchback and through the final camp gate. Then, there we were; it was like coming home again.
The view of the camp was breathtaking and wonderful. We saw a beautiful meadow full of yellow dandelions and white asters. The look of the meadow and bowl was the same as it had been 40 years prior. And there were the same pine and aspen trees. I was afraid that the bark beetle would have destroyed the trees in the ensuing years, but no. It all looked the same. Wow. It was truly amazing!
When I was preparing to go up to Thunder Ridge – a hundred years ago, I also served the same summer as Program Director at the Boulder Dam Area (Las Vegas) council at Camp Del Web (located just over the hill from Thunder Ridge). As I tried to envision that camp, I wrote the camp director, Norm Stone, asking about the camp program facilities. He wrote back and his reply was kind of curt. However, after I thought about it, I liked his answer, “There are rocks, a lot of blue sky, a lot of trees, dirt and all of the above that you could want. The only facilities of any merit are the latrines … and I don’t anticipate a lot of program going on there.”
That is about the way it was at Thunder Ridge as I arrived back then. I don’t even know if we had KYBOs. I know that we didn’t have any water system. And I already have had my first showers at Thunder Ridge.
Now 40 years later, Thunder Ridge is totally different and amazing. Many program areas and pavilions are evident. We almost had to drive under the high cope course. There are cabins and a shower building. I found an A-framed lodge and a trading post (in a building – and not the giant Army tent that then housed our whole camp operation – staff cooking, trading post, and more.)
“The Utah National Parks Council has really done a fabulous job”, I thought. After forty years, the Scouts have really taken great care of the place, preserving it for a couple of generations to come.
I noted previously that Lou and I would have a new adventure this summer – that we would not be living in a Director’s cabin – but would be living in a tent.
Upon arrival at camp, we met Camp Director Nick Hutchinson. He directed us to Larry – kind of the do-everything guy (who runs the Shooting Sports track, among other things). We found Larry, and he directed us to one of the staff “Barebones” tents.
We hunted around to find the right tent area for our summer living. We opted not to take the brow of the hill – because of the promised wind up the canyon. We didn’t relish being adjacent to the young staff guys but took a spot behind their tents, thinking maybe they would be a good windbreak. We were very grateful for the special service given us by Rylan, Dan – and super tent builder – James (a very small CIT staffer) who put up our tent for us as we watched (and helped a bit).
We got two of the metal staff cots, and I managed to get them put together. We had brought a new 22” air mattress for the occasion, and we blew it up and perched it atop of the cots. We brought in all of the stuff we had packed in our mini-van. Lou began at once to make our new house a home. We put up a clothes rack, a small table, and other things.
We put down a couple of carpet rolls that we had brought with us. We set up a screen tent adjacent to our own tent. We put our camp chairs and another table out there too. (Such a great outdoor office!)
I had brought a five gallon bucket. With a couple of rocks for weight, I put many of my carved walking sticks into it. My wife discovered the best part regarding our living quarters. To her great amazement, wonder – and gratitude, that we actually had a live current bush nearby. (We had brought a stack of extension cords – in case such a situation might exist.) Wow, she was now all set for her curling irons (so this meant she would not have to roll her hair on pine cones as she did once on a 50-mile hike). With a currrent bush, we could even watch an occasional movie in our tent and plug in our electronics. (Lou lamented, however, that she hadn’t brought her electric blanket!)
Wow! We were off to a roaring start … We looked forward to a great summer ahead! Thunder Ridge … here we are! Ready for action! Roughing it easy!
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 Scout, The 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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