“Wait, a minute,” you may say, “What does Camp New Fork have to do with me?” Well, Scouting is Scouting wherever it may be, so this may be of interest in any other councils. Before the summer of 2016 began, I wrote in a blog about my Hunt family plans for the coming summer. In that article, I wrote: “Well, it is summer time and that means it is time to be off on another summer camp adventure and a blogging hiatus for me, the Scout Blogger.” We went to Camp New Fork in Wyoming, and I would say, it was quite the summer.
After I got up to Camp New Fork, I thought about the adventures that we were experiencing and decided to blog about the whole summer. And so it was that I decided to blog about my summer at Camp New Fork – operated by the Trapper Trails Council – and located at the base of the Wind River Mountains in western Wyoming. It was my hope that you might relate to the stories that I would tell, the mundane things, and the great, wonderful and exciting adventures of Scout summer camp. I was off and running on my summer blogging. And then along the way, I took a plethora of photographs and have now included them with the blog articles.
And while I was at it, I decided to dedicate the blog series to those thousands of Camp Directors, Program Directors, area directors and camp staff members who make it happen each summer. I said, “Thanks, guys and gals, for your dedicated efforts and unselfish service. I know you don’t get paid enough to have that as your main reward. I know that it goes a lot deeper than that … it’s something that’s up in our heads, deep in our hearts, down in our feet and all over you – and me – us … to stay! We could probably sum it up by saying that it’s the Scouting Spirit and knowing from long experience how that spirit can touch the lives of Scouts and leaders everywhere. I know that’s what keeps me going and why I keep doing it year after year.”
So, that was the beginning of a great summer. And now the summer is over and the blogging too, has been created as a piece of history. I invite you to review the summer through my eyes. There were eight blogs – one for each week – but then there is also my summer introductory blog – and one about a side trip to Camp Bartlett. So, really there are ten blogs. So, here it is … a daily account of one wonderful camp and how they (or we) pulled together and made it happen.” Here are the ten blogs and links to each of them:
Blog #1: Summer Camp Adventures
In my summer intro blog, I wrote: “It was 5:15 AM and I couldn’t sleep. Grrr! What is the deal … This was a day off – I told myself. I was out of school for the summer and I really could have slept in for another two or three hours. … I lay there musing and my mind began to race about my pending summer camp adventure. Scout camp! Wow! Just the thought of it gets my adrenaline pumping.
I started thinking of the grand times that I have had over the years. So, in this blog I wrote about the many Scout camps that I have had the privilege to serve at through the years.
In that first blog about Camp New Fork, I wrote about the staff training and camp set-up week. I wrote:
Blog #2: Preparing the Camp and the Staff
“It’s summer … that grand time that all Scouts wait for all year long … the time to go to Scout camp. All over the country about now, Scouts are heading to camp. And in those same camps, Camp Directors, Program Directors, Area Directors and a multitude – yes, many thousands of staff members have been working feverishly to prepare for those hundreds of thousands of Scouts who will be coming to their camps. The story is not new. And the story is not unique to a particular camp, camp director or staff. But, I guess the unique thing about me is that I take the time (make it a priority) to write and blog about those camp experiences.
As my or our story begins, my wife, daughter, Larissa, and one other staff member made our way north from Arizona to work at Camp New Fork in far away Wyoming – a journey of right at a thousand miles one way. (Crazy … Yeah, I know) I was to be the camp Program Director, my wife was to be the head Commissioner, and Larissa was fresh out of the National Camp School (held at Camp Tracy in Salt Lake City) and quite nervous and anxious but enthusiastic about being the Climbing and Cope Director. And so our 2016 camp adventure story begins:
Blog #3: We Roll out the Thunder – Scout Week #1
Roll out the Thunder … that was us as a staff. We had just survived a big staff week wherein we worked hard to get the camp set up for Scouts – and the staff in gear and ready to hit the parade ground running. “Roll out the Thunder” is actually the staff song for the camp New Fork staff and we loved to sing it with gusto. It got us charged up and ready to serve the Scouts who would come to us – or who were already there with us. So, we sang it with enthusiasm at that first flag ceremony with our first group of Scouts and troops.
Roll out the Thunder, Boys! … I love that song and it was a thrill each time that we sang it:
Roll out the thunder, boys! We’ll never go under boys!
We are the Camp New Fork staff, you see.
We are the Camp New Fork staff that’s me.
We can hike the whole day through, row or paddle a canoe.
We can shoot or swim or track a bear o’er the mountains and we’ll
Roll out the thunder boys! We’ll never go under boys!
Yes, I think we were ready for our first Scouts. My journal tells all of the details … Our first week of Scouts – Camp New Fork 2016 Session 1 …
Right after our first week of Scouts, I took my wife, Lou, and four New Fork Staffers (the best) and we made a Saturday trip to Camp Bartlett – where I had served thirty plus years ago as the Camp Director. Here is my record of that adventure:
Blog #4: Camp Bartlett Lodge Re-dedication
A few weeks ago, I blogged about my plans for the summer. I wrote about the dream of returning to Camp Bartlett. I noted in my blog article The Camp Bartlett Lodge New, Old and New Again“ that I looked forward with great anticipation to the Camp Bartlett Lodge Re-dedication festivities.
In that article, I said, “It hardly seems possible now – looking back from 2016 – that I was the Camp Director at Camp Bartlett in 1980 when the “new” lodge was first created. So, I got to use the lodge in its true glory day as a brand new structure built for the use of the staff and Scouts and leaders who would come to camp through the coming years.”
And, in fact, I had the privilege of seeing the planted structure rise from the ground (I was going to say “dry ground” – but it was far from dry) up to the grand lodge that it became. And I got to use it as Camp Director for two summers after its completion. What a great blessing and opportunity!
Blog #5: We Hit the Trail Running Scout Week #2
New Fork Staff at Campfire program
Well, another week at Camp New Fork 2016! It is or was Week 3 and we hit the road running. We had experienced our first week of Scouts and survived it with flying colors. We all felt that the week went pretty well. We had some great reviews last week on our camp program and the staff spirits were running high. We knew that we had good things going and we were ready to hit it again with our second week or session of Scouts. Yes, camp life was good and we were ready to hit the trail running. We were enthusiastic and excited to greet our next group of Scouts. As ever, I recorded the details in my personal journal and I now quote from that record.
Blog #6: A Small Scout Group with the 4th of July Scout Week #3
Well, we made it through our first two weeks of camp – and did it in grand style. And just when we were geared up for big things, with the staff all enthused and energetic – and kind of knowing what they were doing, … along came the 4th of July week. This proved to be kind of a “bummer” because we had only about 30 Scouts in camp – and a lot of staff to keep entertained even with a trimmed-down schedule. But the week – or at least Monday the 4th of July, we were able to stage a few events to help us remember and celebrate our great country of The United States of America.
Blog #7: Accreditation and Great Days for Up Scout Week #4
Our fourth session of Scouts at Camp New Fork – but with the Staff week, really our sixth week of camp was a lot of fun. There were positive things going on everywhere. A big event of the week was the visit by the Camp Accreditation team – wherein a group of red-coat Scouters come to “inspect” the camp and to make sure that everything is safe and that the camp has a good program. Another theme for the week came from one of my all-time favorite authors – Dr. Seuss. I think the guy was fabulous. I love to read his stories to my grandchildren and I have a collection of most of his books. Often during morning flag ceremonies at Camp New Fork – or at least once in each week – I would quote Dr. Seuss as I released the Scouts to head off for their camp day. I would say, “As Dr. Seuss says, “It’s a great day for UP!” Make it an UP day!” So, this 4th Session of Camp – our 5th Week can be summed up with “Accreditation and Great Days for UP!”
Blog #8: Crosses to Bear and Scoutmasters Flip and Flop in Style Scout Week #5
We had a lot of fun activities at Camp New Fork over the 2016 summer, but the Scoutmaster belly flop event – part of the Bull Run – has to have been one of the truly momentous adventures – for them and us. It began with a lot of flops in our fifth week of Scouts and our sixth week of the summer adventure (so this is Part 6 of an 8-part blog series). And actually, we had planned to do it earlier in the season but thunder and lightening cancelled the planned event. It came off in the fifth session, and yes, the Scoutmasters really did flip and flop with style! (And I’m glad that it was them that did it. I didn’t want anything to do with that cold water at the lake – which I lovingly referred to as “The Ice Rink”.) You can read of this event and others as I now make record of our 6th Week of the summer camp season – as seen through my personal journals of that week.
And yes, we had a few challenges this week. So, you can say that we “had our crosses to bear”.
Blog #9: Fire in the Sky and All Around Us Scout Week #6
I have been blogging about our 2016 summer at Camp New Fork. And so this blog tells of Week 7 – or session 6 with Scouts – in the series of eight blogs of the summer. We had a great week with the Scouts but it was traumatic around us. There was literally fire in the sky and it seemed to grab hold of all of us.
Blog #10 We Get Invaded by Pirates Scout Week #7 (Last Week at Camp)
All too soon, our 2016 camp season at Camp New Fork came to a screeching halt. It ended kind of abruptly. Of course we had known for weeks that the final week was coming but suddenly it was done. Our summer was over. It had been a really great summer and Lou and I and our Larissa had a grand time at Camp New Fork. Week 8 (our seventh and final session of Scouts) was very fun and exciting. A major source of energy and enthusiasm for everyone – Staff, Scouts and leaders – was that we got invaded by Pirates! Yes, that’s right … Pirates hit us with all of their gusto and energy and they were everywhere! Ahoy, mates! You can read of our adventures with the Pirates in these journal entries made of that final camp week.
At the end of that blog, I reflected back on the grand events of the summer:
“I was truly grateful for the opportunity of working this summer with this great group of staff members. I have realized individually their great talents and abilities and am thankful for all that they have each given to the camp program. I recognize too, what we have accomplished together. It has been truly amazing and wonderful. I hope that in the process and through the many great times that we have perhaps touched the lives of a few of the Scouts and leaders who have come to us through the summer. I hope that we have together helped to instill the Aims of Scouting as we have worked to implement many of the methods of Scouting through the summer camp experience. And if we have, then it will have all been worth it. I have lived and felt the Scouting Spirit and know that the summer has made an impact on me. I can only hope that I have also been a positive influence on some of the Scouts, staff and leaders who have passed through this great Camp New Fork in this wonderful summer of 2016. I hope too, that the memories of this 2016 camp – whether as Gnubie Scouts or seasoned veterans will remain in the minds and hearts of all even with the passage of time. I know that I still have many fond and wonderful memories of my own Scout camp experiences of my youth – and ongoing through continuing new adult experiences such as I was a part of here at Camp New Fork in 2016!
“Wow! Is that possible? Could it really be over? We couldn’t believe it, but our eight weeks together had passed as if a dream. It really was all over. But the memories will linger on of this very beautiful place and the great people and programs … Camp New Fork 2016!”
Well, there you have it … the Program Director’s journal record of the New Fork Summer.
I ended the final blog with these notes:
One more note … I mentioned our final exit interviews with Travis, Camp Director. In the interview, Travis noted that for next summer – 2017, Ranger Reed will be his Program Director. Ranger Reed was the camp program director in 2015. Travis tried hard to recruit Reed for this summer (2016) and twice was turned down by Reed – since he and his wife had a new baby – and new babies and camp are not a real good mix. Another pleading call from Travis brought Reed and family to the camp.
Travis and Reed have been the best of friends for fifteen or more years since they served together as camp staff members as teenagers in Idaho. And now Travis has Reed committed once again for next summer. The news really was not a surprise to Lou and me. The writing was “on the wall” to be seen clearly – ever since Reed showed back on the scene this summer. So, Lou and I could see what was happening and were not upset by it when Travis confirmed it. If I were the camp director and could have my forever best friend as my number two guy, I would want to do all that I could to make that happen. They will be a great team … again!
So, with this news, there really was not a place left for Lou and I to be on the New Fork staff for 2017. And this leaves us as “free agents” and available. Free agents … that is not a bad thing. It leaves a bit of uncertainty but leaves the door open for a new and potentially wonderful experience for us in yet another Scout summer camp. And since I have been in camp administration (Camp Director, Program Director and Commissioner) in eight camps and six states (twelve summers – plus twelve more summers as a week-long volunteer commissioner at Camp Geronimo), I look forward to a new adventure and Scout camp experience in some other camp and in another new and exotic mountain location.
So, the outlook is positive. Free agents! Anyone need a veteran Camp Director or Program Director and a Commissioner for their camp? Lou and I are willing and able … A summer at a Scout camp in 2017. What could be more exciting? We look forward to the prospects of it all. And ideally, it would be fun to join a team early on – long before camp – so that we can help develop the program, help hire the staff, and all of those fun things done in anticipation of the whole camp experience. Yes, camp … And as I tell people, “I drive a school bus in the winter SO THAT I can be a Scout camp leader in the summer.” Summer camp, 2017 … we are excited about the possibilities and as ever, look forward to again going up to camp! What a great life!
Best wishes along your Scouting Trails … Kevin
Kevin V. Hunt
Scouting Historian, Author and Speaker, Scouting Veteran, Camp Director
Excerpts taken from Kevin’s many personal journals and Scouting Trails books including “MR. Scoutmaster!”, “Keys to Scouting Leadership” 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!
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