Imagine the challenges that have come from the recent Brian Head fire and its effects upon Camp Thunder Ridge! It truly is mind-blowing for everyone concerned. Scout camp is the ultimate in adventure for Scouts. Leaders too, look forward to this special time with their Scouts. They work and plan for months to create a great summer camp experience. And then there is the Camp Director and staff. Staff dreams of the camp experience and they plan and look forward to helping and serving the Scouts who come to them. And all of that energy centers around a specific camp – its beauty, its traditions, and its program facilities and capabilities. For us, that focus was our Thunder Ridge Scout Camp. And then suddenly, that camp was not available. That is what happened to all of us. But, through the dedicated efforts of many Council leaders, the Thunder Ridge spirit lives on – even in a homeless situation. The show must go on!
There were options: Thunder Ridge could have been canceled for the summer. Troops could have been moved to other camps. (And that was the case for some troops.) Troops could move from one week to another. And then there was another option – to move the whole operation to another location. This seemed to be the best option – since most Scout leaders are challenged to change vacation and other plans at the last minute. Most prefer to keep plans to attend in their planned week.
The Beaver High Adventure Base seemed to be the best possible option – even with the massive challenges that loomed in the situation. Could a whole camp be moved to operate within another? How could the programs be merged? And how would two separate staffs react to each other? Would Scouts have as much program opportunities and fun in a new location? Those were all valid questions. But, with dedicated work by everyone – and an open-minded MARF attitude, it was determined that it could happen. And happen it did!
Our Thunder Ridge Scout Camp staff showed up on Sunday night – the day before the next group of Scouts was to arrive. Then came the fun task of erecting anew the large staff “Bare Bones Tents” (which had been brought from various other camps around the state). With staff homes recreated, the staff was comfortable again and were ready to greet the incoming Scouts on the morrow. (Though it had been a challenge for some to collect “new stuff” while their “other stuff” remained in a questionable state at our original Thunder Ridge Camp.)
Staff arose on Monday per our usual plan. Breakfast in the unique Beaver High Adventure Base Lodge was welcome and excellent (The cooks and their staff made yeoman efforts to expand their cooking and food with limited facilities for such an enlarged operation. Hats off to you men – and Mikaela. You were fabulous!). We were then ready to greet our incoming troops as staff men were assigned to unknown campsites and troops as troop friends. A quick tour of the new camp was helpful to young staff. I only wished that I had had the time for the tour myself. But, the troops were upon us. And come they did!
It was interesting to greet the troops. Many leaders felt that they needed to explain how they had come from Thunder Ridge. We told them that all of us – including staff – were in the same boat. We were all in new territory and we didn’t know how it would all come together. They had questions – many of which we didn’t know the answers to. We promised to get back to them with answers – and we did as best we could. The troop friends became the real heroes as they found their way with their troops to the campsites.
After the initial awkwardness, things began to come together. The troops got settled in their campsites. We ate lunch and regrouped for the afternoon. We were ready for the afternoon program tracks. And the Scouts were raring to get into it all. It was soon evident that the “spirit of Thunder Ridge” could exist and go forward. We all soon forgot about our burned camp and our relocation – though this remained the “hot topic” of conversation through the entire week. We went to work and delivered the same programs and energy that Scouts could experience at Thunder Ridge. Thunder Ridge was alive and well – for all of us. (All of us except for the Thunder Ridge program director. The excitement proved too much for him and he left the camp suddenly. A hiccup … yes … but again, the show went on with energy and enthusiasm!)
And yes, the program went on almost flawlessly. It was amazing and wonderful to behold. And fun became the thrust for all of us. Staff worked hard to make it fun for all. And everywhere I went through the week, I asked leaders and Scouts how things were going. And always I heard the same answers: “We are having a blast!” It doesn’t get much better than this!
On Thursday I had the opportunity to return to the Thunder Ridge Scout Camp. With a team of us working together, we were able to get the rest of the camp staff stuff out of the camp. I was pleased to get all of my own things back … though I had come to realize that it was just “stuff”. And miraculously, the camp was still there – with only relatively minor damage. That trip is a subject for yet another blog post.
Initially, the Thunder Ridge and Beaver High Adventure Base staffs had to suffer a bit of “us and them”. It was truly unique and different to have two different camps operating simultaneously together. But, it got easier as we all “MARFed” together. Flexibility in attitude and actions became the key. Wednesday night Lou and I made a mountain of home-made doughnuts to share with both staffs. This activity seemed to bring us together more. I had to laugh as some staffers ate as many as eight doughnuts. The only drawback was that the doughnuts created a “sugar high” that kept staff hyper later than they should have been that night.
Scouts completed their programs tracks, earned a lot of merit badges, and had great fun. The camp-wide games on Friday proved to be the ultimate in fun and adventure for staff and Scouts. I loved watching the game where Scouts formed a circle, locked arms, and then laid down together faces down on the ground.
It was hilarious to watch as Scouts were then “pulled” up and away from the locked arms – as they tried frantically to remain locked in the circle. Bruised and cut up, the Scouts begged to do it all again. That is kind of how it went through the week. We all got up and had a grand time together.
Well, we all made it through the week. And in the end, the troops, leaders, and Scouts all raved about the good things that they had experienced. The Spirit of Thunder Ridge was “alive, awake, alert and enthusiastic,” (as Camp Director, Nick, sings) and felt and lived by all of us. It truly was a great week and I think that everyone had a grand fun time together – in spite of the challenges. Such fun!
And then the Scouts were suddenly gone … and staff departed for a week off (for the July 4th Week). And now we can look forward to another “homeless” opportunity next week as we again teleport to the nearby Tushar Lakeside Campground (still on Beaver Mountain). We’ll again take the Thunder Ridge staff, program, and spirit with us. Stay tuned for our ongoing Thunder Ridge adventures!
Best wishes along your Scouting Trails …
Author: Kevin Hunt |#thescoutblogger, Scouting Historian, Author, Blogger, Speaker, Scouting Veteran, and Camp Director.
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.
To explore or buy Kevin’s books on Amazon, go to: amazon.com/author/kevinhunt