A few days ago I posted under the title of "Thrifty" the progressive work that has been done at camp and the benefit of professional services performed at cost. Gary Smith had commented on the work done prior to the the more formal AWPs that we have today which was known then as the West Seattle Work parties. These were a group of scouters that were predominantly from West Seattle (though not all) who came up during the off season to help construct log booms and floats for the beach as well as perform general maintenance around camp. Even major projects were undertaken by them such as the removal of the second story tower on the dining hall. Many of these individuals had a strong love for camp and are today a group of unsung heroes when it came to volunteerism. One of their legacies can be found in the current boat house that was built with their donations. I find it interesting that West Seattle has played a major role in the history of camp. The first building constructed at camp was the Silver Marmot Grill (Booth Hall) and was built by West Seattle High School carpentry teachers. The first camp director was also from West Seattle, so this area of town has been a big part of the CP history.
Throughout the years, there have been a lot of building projects at camp. Looking at our historical photos, there were cabins every where and they all looked professionally built. Back in those days, the wood for buildings came from camp and milled at camp. The buildings for the most part were very simple but then again, they were for summer use. As the years passed there was need for changes; there was a push to return to tent camping, then a push for cabins once again, then a push for a mixture of housing.....now it is a push for single use facilities such as bathrooms and sleeping quarters so that the camp can handle different age groups and different sexes. There is nothing simple today......you just can't build a shower house with 20 shower heads along a wall in an open bay. Complicating this is the fact that there are more rules and regulations that govern how something should be built. There are environmental concerns, building concerns, ADA concerns all of which have different requirements, codes and of course, permits. Don't get me wrong, these are all important but these are also expensive when you pay for a permit AND you pay for someone to come out and certify that you complied with that permit. Don't think they did that back in 1919, though it is interesting to note that we have had septic tank permits since the 1940s.
Through the years, Camp Parsons has had wonderful volunteer support. However the quality of work was based on the expertise of the volunteer. I can tell you that when I was younger there were several things "fixed" by volunteer help that really did not stand the test of time (or construction practices for that matter). I remember lifting things that teenage scouts probably should not have been lifting, digging ditches three feet deep that ran a thousand feet and many other things that today we don't do as we have lifted the standard a little higher and have found that equipment like an excavator or backhoe can do the same work quicker, safer and more efficiently. Where there was not much money for maintenance and building in the past, there is more now and it is being applied in a thrifty manner as I mentioned before. The reason why we are more efficient with our funds is that we have experienced, professional construction individuals that are running our work parties. Bob and Ken are both contractors......they do this for a living and both of them have brought that expertise with them and have cultivated our volunteers to do what they do best......painters paint, electricians set up the electrical, and so on. Sure other volunteers help, but it is no longer left up to a lawyer or an accountant. who has swung a hammer twice in his life to go and do some carpentry, making it up as he goes. I remember many times when either Ken or Bob would come back and check on a project and if wasn't done right, they would tear it down and build it the "right" way. This is what I have seen develop over the past decades. Even today, there are somethings that are better to be sub-contracted out (like drywall) so it is done quickly and done well.
So I never meant to take away from the good work of those individuals in the past but I don't think that even those stalwart men could have taken on the campfire bowl, met jr and the SMG re-model in the time frame that they were done, nor would they have had ready access to heavy equipment that our cultivated volunteers bring with them routinely. I have no doubt that in twenty years from now I would say that the projects we undertake then would not be possible with what we have today.....but then again, that is progress.