Our week has been one of mixed emotions. We have searched the internet for all new news of the fire and its monstrous spread to the entire area. We particularly looked for news of our beloved Camp Thunder Ridge. It was heartbreaking as we read Wednesday that the fire had passed through (or around camp). But, we were relieved that the camp “sustained minimal damage” (Per The Spectrum and an article by Kevin Jenkins. (Thanks for the article, Kevin!)
With the fire, it was not a surprise to have confirmed to us that we would not be able to use Thunder Ridge for the coming week of Scouts. But, there were about 25 troops that were scheduled to attend the camp for our second session. And we had about the same number of staff members who had planned to serve Scouting at Thunder Ridge through the summer.
That became a major nightmare for the camp director, Nick Hutchinson, and the staff of the Utah National Parks Council. What to do … Where to send the Scouts and staff … so many questions and so many decisions to be made in such a short amount of time. Kudos to Nick and all for their major decisions and work.
Nick sent an e-mail to staff with the invitation to serve at two other Utah National Parks Council camps. One was for Camp Maple Dell and the other was for the Scofield Scout Camp – located in east-central Utah near Price. I called both camp directors and ultimately chose to go to the Scofield Scout Camp – because of the needs that they had for staff. I was pleased that I would still be able to serve as a Commissioner. (And four troops also moved from Camp Thunder Ridge to Scofield Scout Camp.)
I corresponded with a few staff members and some elected to “sit it out this week”. My wife, Lou, opted to remain in St. George with our son whose family had some special needs of the moment. But, I was pleased when young fellow staffers, Michael and Jason, were willing to make the trek to the Scofield Scout Camp with me.
So, Monday we headed up to the Scofield Scout Camp. We had to stop at a Walmart store en route. Since I had to evacuate my tent at Camp Thunder Ridge in a hurry, and still could not access because of the fire, there was much that I now didn’t have. I had to buy a blanket (since I had no sleeping bag), a pillow and case, new shoes, a bath towel – and other necessities. So, these items and the extra gas expense expanded our financial stress of the situation. Just what we needed …!)
We drove north on I-15 and then went east on Highway 6. We easily made our way to the Scofield Scout Camp and arrived late that evening. We met the camp director, Scott Major, and were happy to start our new jobs.
I was caught off guard as Scott asked to be the Search and Rescue Area Director after the departure of the current/former director that same day. The Search and Rescue track was something that I knew nothing about. But, I was willing to give it a go.
I met my new staff team – Ryelan, George (or “Jorge” as he called himself), and Jackson.
I jumped right into the SAR program but decided to take the role of observer for the first session of the track program (which involved three different sessions – centering around the First Aid, Emergency Preparedness and Search and Rescue merit badges). And this three-session plan was repeated again on Wednesday and Thursday.
Camp Director, Scott, invited me to use my “camp and program director” eye to take a detailed look at his camp. So, I made a tour of each of the various program areas – or tracks and made notes – good and bad – about each. There was a great deal that impressed me. I loved the Scofield Scout Camp “Fort Knox” and the wagon outside.
The rifle range was one of the best that I have ever seen. The pioneering area – with a staffer, Justin, was fabulous. I loved the huge supply of pioneering poles to stir the imagination of the engineering-minded Scouts. And their progress on their giant project (in the process through the week) was exciting to see.
The Aquatics area was fabulous! I loved the many canoes, rowboats, kayaks, “kayak-boards” (which I had never seen). And the nine or so sail boats were the “bomb” (the ultimate). Each one sported a different logo or sail face and these were enchanting as they sailed lightly around the lake. Such a magical look and feel!
The kitchen – retro-fitted in a former boat house – was big and spacious. And the lake-side view from the one side of the dining area made me feel as if I was dining at a fancy restaurant. I loved the old “School” that was brought into the camp – and where Camp Director, Scott lives with his family. The Frandsen Lodge was beautiful with its office, medical room, the spacious training area for leaders and the trading post.
(I was very surprised, however, that there was not a faucet for water anywhere in the grand facility – a challenge for teeth-brushing! And along that same line … there were only four staff showers and two of them did not work. In one of the non-working, there was only a trickle of water. Skinny people would have to jump around to get wet. I am not a skinny person … so even that didn’t work for me!)
Anyway, I shared my findings with Scott and hope that it was helpful for him and his great assistant, John.
In the lodge, I also had a new personal experience for my camp service. I found myself living in a bunkhouse with six or eight other “over 18 guys”. I took a bottom bunk bed and was soon very comfortable there. And I soon learned that one of my bunkmates was a “snorer”. I was reminded of my long advice that I had actually given to others in such a bunkhouse situation when confronted by a snorer. I have always suggested that one go into the bunkhouse and quickly turn out the lights. And before anyone gets adjusted to the darkness, run over and kiss the snorer … and then he will stay up the rest of the night wondering what else you are going to do (and thus allowing a break to hurry and get to sleep). I didn’t actually try this at this bunkhouse, however. I just slept through it.
I met some great camp staffers. I learned that many have been a part of the staff for a long time – like Head Commissioner, Adam, who has been a Scofield Scout Camp staffer for six years. There was a great pride with all of the staffers. And it was a privilege to be serving on their sides. Amazing young men and women! What a great team!
It was great fun to visit with Scouts and leaders throughout the camp and at the meals. Such visits are always a highlight of the camp experience. I was happy that I had many of my carved walking sticks to share with them. But, I greatly missed my 20 signature Bill Burch (and other artists) bolo ties – which I generally alternate wearing each day. How could I have left this valuable collection to burn at the fire? This situation caused me great distress through the week.
Friday morning I was pleased to meet with my SAR staff. I got them to talk and discover and to envision how they might add more “adventure” to their Search and Rescue adventure track. I liked the comment of one staffer: “Now I am glad you had to come from Thunder Ridge so that you could help us.” I think now, they can move forward with a new adventure vision for the rest of their camp season. Go forward, men! I expect big things of you!
Although we were engaged and involved, Jason, Michael and I felt some depression and despondence over our state. True, we were well taken care of, had plenty to eat, had fun programs to enjoy and participate in, yet we were kind of overcome with the whole camp fire scenario. We felt as if we were vagabonds in a foreign world. We wondered about the fire, the damage to the camp, and the future of our Camp Thunder Ridge. On Thursday night of our Scofield Scout Camp week, we all just kind of sat quietly – feeling the immensity of the situation and just kind of basked in the brotherhood and support of one another. We were glad that we were there together.
We had a really great experience at the Scofield Scout Camp and were glad that our Thunder Ridge adventure took a turn up to the Scofield Scout Camp.
And with that, we were ready to move on to the next chapter in our Thunder Ridge experience. Stay tuned!
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.
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