Ready For Our Close-Up.......

Well, well, was a little over a month ago that I posted the first news that Fat Smittys was going to donate the money on the cafe wall to the Camp Parsons Dining Hall project.  What did I first hear?  "Oh, sure he is..."  "you're crazy, why would he do that?"  "you are making that up......".  Well, it was mentioned in a little ditty by the Peninsula News.  That story was then picked up by the wire and many of us found it in our regional papers.  KOMO commented on this story a few days ago, and today not only did FOX news mention Fat Smitty's generous gift, we were also contacted by ABC news for a story.  They have it on line now, but not much more than what you have read before. all of you nay sayers I say.....bleh!

Carl Schmidt, the owner of the cafe enlisted the help of Scouts from around Port Townsend to come in and take down the dollar bills that have been accumulating since 1987.  A little over $10,000 was collected, the vast majority being donated to the CP Dining Hall project with the remainder going to St. Jude's Children Hospital.  Mr. Schmidt certainly has done his good deed and on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of scouts that have attended Camp Parsons through the years past and the years to come we say thank you.  That is the least we can do and I have no doubt we will probably recognize him and his business in some other way as well.  Along those same lines, I also have thank the hundreds of staff members that patronized Carl's business through the years as well as those troops who stopped there for a "quick" burger (like there is anything quick about it).  The staff always looked at going to Fat Smittys as a treat, almost to the point where it was an annoyance to me because that was all you heard.  When friends of mine whose sons worked at CP would come up to visit they would say, "oh, I will be back later, I am taking my son and his friends out to some place called Fat Smittys."  I guess I can't complain anymore and instead, go up and have a Smitty burger myself.

It is nice to see local philantropy stay local.  I am surprised how many people who live on the peninsula don't even know we exist even though we have been there longer in duration than almost any other business out there.  I am pleased that there is some local and now national media attention as well, though I am not sure if that is going to help us raise the money we need for the dining hall.  However, it may put us a little more solidly on the "map" for Boy Scout camps.  Then again, I am not sure if we need that now as we can't even fit the people in that want to come now.  Oh well, the publicity is good.  One of my staff members mentioned to me, "well, there is no such thing as bad publicity".  Well, no, there is bad publicity, but this isn't it.

So Fat Smittys, from our new dining hall facility to your cafe.....thank you again for helping us reach our goal to provide a program for an ever expanding scout base.

Knowing Your Job

This topic came to me as I was reading a former staff member's rumination about his current position.  Many of you know of whom I speak; a staff member that worked through the ranks of CP for many years and now is coaching varsity sports.  His ruminations were introspective of his short career; first as a JV coach moving on to being a varsity coach.  When he looked back at his first year he found that he was not only coaching but "playing" the game and "officiating" the game as well.  What I took that to mean was that he wasn't doing his job as coach.  I think he had a line like, "a player should play; a referee should officiate; and a coach should coach..."  Of course when I first read this I did chuckle as my first take was that this is too simple.....a man should be a man; a woman should be a woman; a dog should be a dog........and so on.  However his point is right on; although we may have experience and/or opinions on other people's jobs, we need to focus on what our job is at the time.  If you don't do that, then you will get lost trying to manage things that you have no control over.  I thought his reflection was very thoughtful and fitting of a person that I have developed a lot of respect for over the years I have known him, beginning from when he first worked for me until now.

In my career I employ an ethos which I term a "passionate indifference."  Each day in the course of my work I deal with individuals who have potentially life threatening issues.  Dealing with those "issues" is the easy part, dealing with the individual, or more importantly the family of the individual, is the difficult part.  Even more so if you connect on a personal basis with the individual and/or with the family.  If I could not separate my feelings from my objective decision making I would not be doing my job.  I would fail in my responsibility to make the right decision for that individual......even when the right decision may mean that the individual is no longer with us.  There are other people who work with me whose job is to care for the needs of the individual without having to make a decision about the individual, or care specifically for the family and not the individual at hand.  There are people who I depend on for information and act as a resource to help me make my decision, but I am the one who has to decide.  I cannot do everyone elses job and be successful.  I am sorry I am speaking in generalities, but the specifics are not important.  The important thing is that I know what my job is and focus on my responsibilities so I can be successful which in turn benefits everyone regardless of the outcome.  I take great comfort reveling in success from afar than being immersed in the celebration........that is for someone else.

I hope my former staff member picked up this understanding of focusing on what he needs to do rather than trying to do everything else as he developed his leadership skills at CP.  One of the hardest things for staff members who start at Camp Parsons and work their way through the seasons is letting go of what they want to do and embracing what they have to do.  We hire young staff to be employed "scouts".  In other words, they work for us to deliver the program and their focus is not on their own fun but making sure that those scouts who attend camp are being served.  However the best part of their job is that they can do it while immersed in the program.  They can be with the scouts, go on events with the scouts, jump the pier with the scouts.  They can still be scouts but with a purpose driven by us.  As a role model they are to be seen, heard and known by the scouts, indeed scouts should want to be like them.  As staff members continue on through out their camp career they eventually become directors of various areas.  It is at this point where their immersion must wane.  Their job is not being in the "fray", their job at this point is making sure the staff in their area are in the "fray".  The director develops the program in their area and they get their staff to put it on and engage the scouts when they visit the area.  This will continue as they move up the staff leadership ladder.  I have often said to every Program Director that I have worked with that if every scout attending camp knows you by name but does not know the name of all the younger staff members, then they failed at their jobs.  It is the PD's job to make sure that their staff are engaging the scouts at the front line.  Scouts should not be interested in who the Program Director is.  The Program Director should revel in his/her success when they read the weekly evaluation sheets that heap praise on their staff by name.  Then they have done their job.

At this point in my scouting "career" it is my job to develop and train the staff, support the development of program, deal with scout and staff disciplinary actions and generally support Ken in all the things that he is responsible for.  It is not my place to sing songs, be in skits, present program or even be the on stage face of the staff (who would want to see my face?).  I pick the right people and let them do what they do best.  Sure they are given goals and guidelines but the application is left to them and that is their job.  I am successful only when they are successful.....anything less, then I haven't done my job.

Minding The House

Since my post about the MBC project, I have talked with a former staff member about some of the issues that we have dealt with that has led us to this decision of changing the cabin.  We also discussed the frustration that we face when trying to provide excellent facilities for our staff who seemingly cannot take care of them.  It has been mentioned to me before that it is usually only a handful of individuals that make housing or the bathrooms a "pig sty".  I have no doubt that this is true, but then it saddens me to know that the majority allow it to happen.  The funny thing is that I have lived through all this.  I was a young scout my first season on the CP staff and it was a battle to keep my tent-cabin (wooden floor, partial wall wood/tent and ceiling tent) as clean as possible, but I did get it that way at the end of each week......despite my first roommate.  Laundry was a chore, but I was able to muster the energy to get it done and although I often thought about emptying someones wet clothes onto the counter, I put them in the dryer......staff take care of staff.  I know that things pile up, heck this happens in my current house today and I have to make a conscious effort to get rid of things I don't need.  Unfortunately though, my idea of housework is to sweep the room with a glance.

Human nature must be that way.  At my professional job we have a dedicated lounge that is a comfortable place to relax, have a beverage of soda, tea, coffee, milk, etc as well as a variety of snack foods; muffins, bagels, etc.  My colleagues are well educated individuals all of whom have post-graduate degrees, married and have successful careers.  So what do I face every time I walk into that lounge to get a cup of coffee?  I find a small carton of milk (you know, the school sized ones) open, sitting on the counter with no one around.  Someone doesn't like the creamer, so they go into the refrigerator, open a carton of milk, put just a drop or two into their precious coffee/tea and go on their merry way.  If you did that home what would your mom or dad say......what would your wife say?  So, do I throw it away not knowing how long it was there for or should I put it into the refrigerator?  I open the refrigerator and there are cartons of milk.....???!!!  You go to get a bagel or a donut or a muffin and the first thing you see is one that is partially torn apart.  Someone didn't want a whole one, so instead they either tore a portion of one off or worse, they picked at it then left it behind.  It was like the mice got to it.  Look, eat it or use a knife to cut a piece off.....don't take your filthy hands and tear off a piece and leave us to mop up the crumbs you self-centered educated idiot!!  You look around and find half empty soda pop cans, plates of food, plastic wrappings left on the counters and tables.  What my educated colleagues need is a house mother to remind them of basic manners.  Shameful.

......and now I expect my staff to perform or behave better?

I may not approve but I "get" the pile of wet clothes in the corner of the cabin, the un-made bed, clothes everywhere.  What I don't get is the food.  Why would you ever just let food go bad and rot because you just left it on your desk or the floor....and then why complain when the raccoons and mice show up for a snack? 

However, to get to the root of the frustrations regarding our staff facilities is the physical damage done to our property.  Season after season we some how cannot keep a door on its frame.  I don't think that our staff goes around their home, their school or Seattle opening doors by kicking them open with their feet.  Most people who are sentient usually reach out their arm and use their hand to turn the doorknob to open a door......apparently not our staff however.  Maybe that is a Scout Physics law I have yet to define.  Throwing things into the wall, putting holes through the walls, putting graffiti on the walls, I mean I could go on and on.  The housing for staff is simple, but the worst we offer is a small cabin with bunk beds, an electric heater, lights and outlets which they might have to share with one or two of their peers.  It protects them from the wind, rain and cold.....why wouldn't you take care of this?  I could go on about the bathrooms but I try to keep this blog family friendly.

I am tired of designating money for repairing staff housing for things inflicted by the takes away from other important things that we have to do.  So as we renovate our buildings, I really have to think about how are we going to assure that they remain in good working order, at least for a few years.  This may be a good start to get the staff to care for their home.

January Ruminations

Alaska Airlines has always been a big supporter of the Chief Seattle Council as well as the BSA partly because the company embraces the values that the Boy Scouts stand for and as a result, the caliber of youth that come from the program.  I was disappointed though when I learned today that the company has decided to stop printing its small "prayer" cards that accompany the food which is served in first class.  These cards are usually one line items which are taken from the book of Psalms and do have the tendency to lean more towards the Christian faith than not.  This has generated some discussions (at times vehement ones) from their passengers about the purpose and appropriateness of these cards.  When they instituted this program many years ago (20-30 years I believe) it was based on an idea they found from another airline and they thought it was a good idea.  I personally thought it was a nice touch and I am surprised by some of the negative reactions to that little card.  That being said, the airline is a company that wishes to serve all and although they have the "right" to put out prayer cards they also wish to respect those who either have separate religious feelings or are either agnostic or atheistic and are offended by their presence.  I can certainly understand their position as a) it will reduce some complaints, b)  I doubt those who like the cards will be as vehement at their absence as those who were opposed of their presence and c) it probably will reduce some expense.  For me, it really does not bother me one way or the other as although I thought they were a nice touch didn't really "move" me in any inspirational way.

All that being said, I am not a "bible thumper" in any way.  Even though I am part of an organized religion I do have concerns about "institutionalized" religion.  Any bureaucracy (including churches) are always fraught with human frailty.  I know many "Christians" who have performed un-christian acts as I have observed agnostics be more "Christian" in their daily activities.  This is not to be at odds with other religions outside of Christianity mind you.  Simply put, going to a church doesn't make you any more of a Christian (or any other religion) than going to a garage makes you a mechanic.

What was that saying?  Never bring up religion or politics in polite conversation.......

Camp has endured a fairly chilly period of time this past week.  Ken was telling me that he was keeping his eyes on a couple of potential "problem" trees that were beginning to bend with the snow and ice.  I often wonder if that was akin to watching "problem" scouts.  They bend the wrong way when influenced by an outside malicious force and if they break under that strain, much like ice and snow on a large branch, they can cause expensive and possibly even irreparable damage.  The problem is that you can take out problem trees.........that's not always the case for problem scouts.  I guess one involves a chainsaw, the other is sending them out of camp.  Not sure which one is for which though.

For all of you following the ongoing saga regarding Mystery Beach Cabin; well there is good news and bad news.  The good news is that the cabin will be saved, the bad news is that it will no longer house staff under the age of 21.....indeed, it may well be designated as the commissioner cabin.  The renovation schedule is set; the cabin has already been "gutted" and the plans call for a separate room for a shower and another for a toilet and sink.  There will be three single bedrooms and a smaller "living" area than there was before.  The cabin will be insulated and is planned for year round use.  That latter part is good news as it gives us more options down the road when we have our new dining hall.  So, like many of you, I have spent years in MBC and I am sad to see it change (again) into something else but I am happy that it will be renovated and more importantly....taken care of.  We have a new housing strategy coming up which is being designed around several things to include: a) doors not being kicked in, b) holes not magically appearing in the wall, c) no graffiti showing up on walls, d) bathroom facilities that remain clean.  Impossible you say?  Probably, but we will give it a shot.  Hey, if I have to pick between two evils then I am picking the one I have never tried before.

Work continues on the new dining hall but the money is not there.  We continue collecting small donations but we haven't reached the mark yet at which we can begin with abandon.  As each week passes, it is unlikely we will see a new dining hall now until 2014.  That is fine, we can adapt and overcome as we have these past years....after all, the current building does have some is just that we don't want it to become a "character".

The Influence Of One

It was hard not to expand on yesterday's post as I really wanted the communication to stand by itself, but as I mentioned before, that simple e-mail captures so much.  Each season brings close to 3,000 scouts to Camp Parsons.  In my position, I seldom interact with any one scout but instead look out onto the parade field before meals and ceremonies and just see a large number of scouts and adults.  I often wonder to myself how this organized chaos seems to work so well.  Scouts are running here and there; you go to a merit badge class and you are amazed that anything gets done given the attention span of a young scout; you watch them try to row a boat, paddle a canoe and realize they have no idea what the heck they are doing.  How does any of that translate to finding an interest?  Apparently it does.

This past year, we had a visit from a young man both at camp school as well as camp during staff week.  This gentleman is part of a crew that participates in professional rowing races and was part of a team that rowed across the Atlantic some time ago.  Where did his passion for rowing come from?  From his time as a scout here at Camp Parsons.  It was something that he had not done before, rowing on open water and it became a passion for him.  I have heard similar stories from individuals who went on our Silver Marmot hikes who have developed a passion for hiking, camping and climbing.  When you hear these stories over and over again it begins to sink in that we are doing something good on the Hood Canal as well as countless other scout camps throughout the US.  I think it is good for our staff to understand what influence they potentially have on any one of our scouts who come to camp.  It could be a guitar song that may get them interested in a musical instrument or taking the time to help a scout develop a skill whether it be rowing, knot tying or doing crafts that might light a fire of interest in that scout for that particular activity.  Who knows?  One of the best commercials that the BSA ever had (in my opinion) was one that aired in the late 70's.  It started off with a well known personality, in this instance it was Bruce Jenner (Decathlon Gold Medal winner) who started it off by saying, "If you start a Boy Scout Troop in your neighborhood you have no guarantee that one of your scouts will grow up to be a Decathlon winner..."  and it went on to show Jimmy Stewart who simple says " actor", Neil Armstrong..."the first man to walk on the moon" and other notable figures all of whom were either scouts or Eagle Scouts.  The last one was Gerald Ford who ended the commercial by saying "....or even the President of the United States....but then again, you never know."

Many notable personalities started off with humble beginnings and were influenced by their upbringing and experiences they encountered, many of which involved a mentor.  Take Gerald Ford for instance; he never sought the presidency, he was just a well respected, experienced congressman from Michigan.  In a matter of months, he went from a little known name to become the president.  Could you imagine being his scoutmaster?  We have had several political leaders grow up at Camp Parsons, Brinkley and the former Omache.  Some of those individuals who had influence over them continue to do the same for the scouts of today.  Again, what we do is important and has a purpose if for nothing else than having the opportunity to instill those values found within the program that we hold so dear into our membership.  It has been said many times before, scouting is a game with a purpose.

Everything we do has the potential to have an impact on an individual.  This is what we drive into our staff when train them each season; our sole purpose is to serve those scouts who attend camp.  This is their only week of camping and our only week to give them every opportunity to sample as much of camp as they can.  They will be exposed to the values of scouting by the way we do things but most importantly, they will have fun while doing it.  After all, we are a summer camp, not a summer school.  If we make our mark on even one scout that attends camp, then we have done our job.

Leaving A Mark.....

During staff training we consistently emphasize the fact that the sole reason that the staff exist is to serve the scouts.  They are our purpose in life, they give Camp Parsons life, they are the reason why Camp exists.  Although we deal with merit badge classes or we deal with troops, the individual scout is the focus of our attention.  While they are at camp they are exposed to many influences; from camping in tents or cabins, eating in a large dining hall or cooking their own meals and they have an opportunity to learn many new skills.  This is the purpose for merit badges; it may introduce them to an activity or skill that may turn into a lifelong passion or desire.  So with that being said I was very proud today when I received this e-mail through our camp's website:


I wanted to share something with you about your camp. My son attended Camp Parsons 3 years ago. He had never fired a gun in his life. He went on to be in the dime club and beat everyone in that camp session. Well fast forward 3 years. He is one of the top shooters in the country shooting both nationally and internationally. He will find out next month if he qualified for the Junior Olympics in Colorado Springs. He hopes to qualify for the Olympics in 2016 or 2020 to represent the United States of America.

Your camp has provided this opportunity for him to discover a natural talent. I commend your camp Counselor for taking their time to work with our youth.

In a paragraph this e-mail sums up the purpose not only of Camp Parsons but of the Boy Scouts of America.  Although character development is the key to the program, all types of experiences feed into this.  The scout that is mentioned here was exposed to a skill that has become a major part of his life.  The fact that our staff members took the time to work with the scout instead of just dismissing him amongst the hordes of others speaks volumes.

I could go on extolling the benefits of what camp or the program brings, but I don't think I could say it any better than this simple e-mail.

It makes it all worthwhile doesn't it?

It's Just Snow

Give it a is "rain" by any other name; sure, cold and annoying.....but still rain.  All the social media, all the news media, everybody....snow this, snow that, OMG...SNOW!!!!  Look, I know we don't usually see it all the time on the lowlands, but we do see it every other year and whether it is a dusting or 3 feet, everything comes to a grinding halt.  However there is nothing we can do about it.  Why would you spend millions upon millions of dollars on equipment that you will need for only a few days each year?  Suck it up, stay at home unless you have to get out and if you do then take it easy.

A few of us cannot skip work.  Even if I couldn't get to work today, they would have sent someone out to get me.  The good thing for me though was that the roads were generally empty today.  On my way in I saw a few things that brings home the knowledge that there is always one more imbecile in the crowd than you counted on.  As I was heading down a major arterial, there was a guy trying to ride his bicycle on the road, in a lane.  With all four of my wheels going, I was still moving around a little bit sliding here and there.  Nothing too bad, but enough to possibly clip this guy as I went by.  More importantly, by the time I got near him, he had already fallen.....twice.  He would then try to peddle a little before he put both feet on the ground (still straddling the bike) and tippy-toe the ground to keep balance.  Seriously?  He might as well have walked given the rate he was going.  Of course I also noted a picture in the Seattle Times today of a guy on a bicycle on University Ave.  The caption said, "he still keeps going even though he has fallen three times...."  I wonder what would happen if he got hit by a car.  I know, the driver would be cited and the bike enthusiasts in Seattle would rush to the bicyclist defense saying that he had every right to be on the road.  Well, yes he did have the right AND he is also responsible for his actions in the fact that he cannot control his transportation mode as much as the cars cannot.  In snow and ice, two wheels are more risky than four.  The other thing I noticed were all the "big" trucks zipping about.  You know the ones I am talking about, they are usually owned by teenagers or guys in their early 20's.......or guys in their 50's who act like they are teenagers.  Yes, they do have four wheel drive...all four of which slide when you take a corner too fast.  This one guy came too wide and his left front wheel got stuck on the wrong side of the small median dividing north and south lanes.  He went careening down the road until the divider stopped and he was able to regain control of his vehicle.  Thankfully, no one was injured and nothing got hit.

So snow brings out the idiots of the world and throws everyone else into a panic.  Except at camp where there is now a world class sliding hill on the trail formerly known as the Trading Post to Craft Lodge trail.  Not only that, if you can look closely at this picture there is ice forming on the Hood Canal.....brrrrrrrr....can it really be that cold?  Regardless, stop complaining and enjoy it while you can....just be prepared.

My "Little" Camp

Have you ever noticed that some people can be very demeaning yet be oblivious to their own behavior?  I think we all have said something that came out far differently than what we meant it to come out as.  Things like, "well, that was stupid" or "stop acting incompetent" or "it doesn't matter, you look great in anything..."  These are things that make you cringe when you hear them come out of your mouth yet it is too late to stop or reverse the impact.  Perhaps even worse is when you hear from a second party who relays to you how upset the individual at the receiving end of your little quip was.  These are the times that you wish life had a reverse button so you could go back and either stop or change what you say.

I was at work the other day when a colleague passed me and nonchalantly said, "were you up at your little camp this past weekend?"  I don't know if it was the fact that I was not in a good mood or it was the way he said it to me, but the fuse was lit.  I turned around and laid into this particular person, asking about what he meant by that statement.  I think I caught him off guard because the amount of back peddling he did would have gotten him into the Guinness book of world records.  He was just trying to make small talk when he made that little quip.  I am sure after we parted ways he made a mental note not to bring up that topic again.

Why did I go off?  Well, first of all the camp is not little; 440 acres of prime timber and a mile and a half of waterfront, numerous buildings, 45,000 gallons of fresh water storage, 4 active wells, countless flush toilets and showers, a 550 foot pier and a 400 person dining hall.  This multi-million dollar facility is more than just "little" it is an active facility requiring ongoing professional and volunteer maintenance and generates a significant net profit to fund its activities as well as those of the Chief Seattle Council.  It is not "little" in the fact that it affects over 3,000 scouts and scouters who come during the 8 week season nor is it "little" in the program that is offered.  It is not "little" when looked upon as an active part of the Pacific Northwest history.  We may be "little" in some aspects but the camp is huge in regards to how it affects people who spend time there.

Yes, those are some of the reasons why I went off.  More importantly though, it was my reaction to the perceived dismissal of a fantastic program in a single statement.  Most people outside of scouting don't know what the scouting program offers or the values that it instills in young men.  Many look upon the program as a bunch of bratty, pre-teen boys running around in uniforms run by morbidly obese individuals who wear ridiculous uniforms along with a campaign hat who have a nasty habit of allowing pedophiles to infiltrate their ranks.  I find it interesting that those people who view the program in that manner consider themselves "open-minded" yet hypocritically stereotype a historical program in that manner.  Harsh words? You bet, but I am not going to have the good work that many scoutmasters do as well as our dedicated staff members be denigrated in any way due to the mis-actions of a few.  It is amazing the questions I get from people who don't understand the basis of the BSA program yet feel free to have an opinion based on a TV newscast or an op-ed piece in a questionable printed publication.

I can easily denigrate numerous programs I see in my community as being nothing but "fluff" programs that add nothing to the individual and more importantly, nothing to the community as a whole.  However I don't because it is obvious that it is important to that (or those) individual(s) or it simply may be just fun.  What they believe in or what they do has no bearing on me unless it interferes with my course in life.  So yes, I laid into my colleague for his presumptuous, yet minimal statement which really was not much about what he said as opposed to how he said it.  There is nothing little about our camp and there is nothing little about the BSA program.  I don't think he will make small talk with me anymore.

Snow at camp, at least 1/2 foot but enough to take out the power.  Thank goodness for a generator as we can fire that up and get the Traeger out.......nothing like a good steak along with oysters cooking with snow falling all around you.

A Working Party

This past weekend we had our usual monthly work party at camp and boy, what a party it was.  More people showed up than we were expecting.....all (well mostly all ) with construction talent.  I had to rearrange my schedule as the dining hall committee had a meeting with the Civil Engineer who is designing the service road into the new dining hall.  I can tell you that after that meeting I have heard enough about grades, permits and even being "civil".  The meeting went well and we were able to agree on a course of action.  Greg Batie who was also in attendance took the afternoon to get a jump on the electrical project for the new Trading Post.

We had a number of staff members show up, in particular Andy Briggs, Andy Hoyle, Chris LaLonde and Derek Hayes along with his father Steve.  They all pitched in on the Trading Post helping out not only Greg Batie but Greg Hammond who also attended along with Trent.  Gary Smith also attended our meeting and then spent the weekend working on the Trading Post as well as Tom Rogers and Meredith Daniels.  Basically, when we say "working" this essentially is having Batie measure something out, drill a hole through what he marked then drag wire through that hole.  Simple?  Not so fast my friend, it is amazing that to do that job right you need to be part contortionist.  In any event, the doors are on, the windows in, plumbing is mostly done and the electrical is just about there as well.  Finally we may get this thing done.

We were surprised to have Dennis Hummel and a buddy of his come up on Saturday as well.  Dennis worked at CP in the 70's and spent two years as Head Cook.  To this day I still believe that he ran the most efficient (and feared) kitchen of all the staffs I have worked on.  I worked as his assistant cook for one season and enjoyed myself.....thank goodness the scars have healed.  Dennis and his buddy were able to change out the door on the doctor's cabin.  That was a project that had been on the list for some time.

Matt Jainga and Chris Myers were up on Saturday as well and along with Ralph Gorg and Bruce Duncan cut down the remnants of a large tree that was hanging precariously over the Mt. Olympus campsite.  Not really in a place to do any physical harm to the structures there, but one heck of an attractive nuisance for scouts to try and climb up on.  You see, that is Scout Physics Law #12; any inanimate object which has one end on the ground and angled so that the other end is at least (but not less than) 50 feet above the ground exerts an irreversible attraction to scouts.

I know that I have left out someone (Jim Watson, Alan Hutchinson and Sam Eng), but every ones help was appreciated particularly from Ken who was happy with all the work that was done.  He was a little worried about the food as he didn't know that these many people were coming, but we had plenty of lasagna left over when everything was done.  It was good chatting to the boys in the evening, even if it was freezing up there on the canal.

42 applications have been received; half from returning staff and half from "new" staff (many of whom were CITs last summer).  We are off to a good start for 2012.

Talking With Youth

The title might be a little misleading as my discussion point is not directed at the youth within the Boy Scouting program but instead to the young men (and women) who work for me.  Over the past several weeks I have met with some of our staff and had a chance to talk with them either face to face or by phone.  Yesterday I had the opportunity to mini-interview one of our former staff members and found myself having a very pleasant discussion that covered everything from mutual acquaintances to actual college course work.  This is not surprising as I have found in these past years that I have enjoyed talking with many of my young staff members more than I thought I could.

When I first came on staff, the Camp Director and Program Director were much older than I was.  Still, I felt comfortable being able to talk with them at any given time, however I was very careful with what I said.  I remember that when either one of them happened to be in my area I would begin to have some "angst", a little nervousness that either I had done something wrong or I was about to do something wrong.  When I first became Program Director, most of the staff were not that much younger than I was, probably four or five years in general so my interactions with them were more along the peer line.  Since I have been very much associated with the camp through the years I never felt that I moved too far away from being "one of the guys."  Unfortunately (or fortunately) this past decade has done nothing more than to remind me how much older I am when compared to my general staff........and it is not getting much better as time goes on.

Most people who know me understand that I do not suffer fools well.  Although I am "friendly" I am very "a"-emotional (as opposed to unemotional) when it comes to meeting people, at least to begin with.  Part of it is that I am usually distracted by thinking about something else, however the other reasons include the fact that I may not wish to expend the energy to get to know someone I am unlikely to see again.  Don't take that the wrong way, I meet people at meetings, dinners, events, etc give a hearty handshake and participate in meaningless banter......that is not being fake, just being social.  When it comes to my staff however, I take the time to get to know them, but it is usually at a distance as many will just fade into the mist as time goes on.  We have our usual staff that give a year of service which we call "one and done" and we have our second year staff members; all of whom give their best when they worked their particular summer.  Usually by the second week of camp I have their names down and by the end of summer I think I have a pretty good "bead" on them.  However I seldom engage any of them in any particular discussion.  If they return for several years, then I will get to know them better.

Then there are a handful of staff members that return year after year.  You see them through high school then through college.  You are dragged somewhat into their life as they live at camp for nine weeks and so you hear their stories and see them interact with their peers.  These are the staff members that I do get to know and find myself actually having an intelligent discussion with them......even if they are 19.  As a matter of fact, I could sit in my cabin with several of my peers who are in their 40's, 50's and (gasp) even "60"s along with these younger staff members and the discussion would be just as lively with them engaged on a topic.  From my standpoint I find it refreshing to listen to an intelligent young person who is passionate about a topic talk with an individual who probably shares the same passion "of'" the topic but is jaded by his experiences in life that have made him reassess his views.  For people that I would as easily dismiss due to their lack of experience, I find myself engaged in discussions and actually enjoy them.  In fact I enjoy them so much that if I happen to be in Seattle or some other town where one of our senior staff would be either working or going to school, I seek out time to have a chat or an adult beverage (if they are an adult) with them.

Despite all of this however, the staff are still young and although I enjoy the intelligent banter, they also have work to do.  If they fail in this manner, then it doesn't matter how witty, smart or talented they may be as individuals, they will not be at camp for very long.  That is the hard part.  Every now and then you will have a very talented young man who just cannot do the work that camp requires him to do.  It is not due to the lack of skills, it has to do with the lack of implementation........a fancy word for being lazy.  So there is the challenge in dealing with our youth.....although you may be able to discuss some things almost as you would a peer, they are not peers and they have to follow their own course.

I enjoyed talking with my Camp Director and Program Director when I was 15, I learned so much from them which helped me as I moved on in life.  I was able to apply many of their experiences to what I went through.  Today I find that my discussions with our younger staff helps counter my natural cynicism so although they may benefit from my discussions, I certainly benefit from their energy.

The Art Of Mediocrity

I came to work the other day and was dealing with a particularly difficult case.  It wasn't difficult in a straight technical or knowledge sense, but there were so many mitigating factors that played into how decisions had to be made that it was a constant drain on my mental process to work out this case and make the appropriate decision.  Part of the solution however was dependent on a group of professionals that are there every day, one of whom is dealing with this particular individual.....this professional's observations was key in how I would make my decision.  On this particular day I was presented with a major decision on which course I should take; I turned to my resource, the professional that is there every day and asked what they thought.  The answer, "I don't know, I have been gone for the last several days."  That was it......"don't know" was essentially the answer I received.  I stared at this person for a brief moment and replied "wrong answer."  You see, it is the job of this particular professional who assumes the responsibility of the previous professional to educate themselves on all aspects of what is going on with the individual on whom I have to make a decision.  Whether they were there or not, it is their job to know what is going on.  However the culture "creep" has always been to divorce oneself from responsibility by falling back on the notion that since they were not here, they are absolved of having to get themselves up to speed.  Mediocrity pure and simple and it drives me crazy.

I am sorry to be somewhat vague in the description but I don't want to get bogged down by me explaining to you my profession or put titles on the others I need to work with, it is the point I am trying to get across.  If you truly wish to be called a "professional" then there are certain attributes that you must have and mediocrity is not one of them.  You don't strive to be moderately good, to be just OK or to be just average.  You may wind up like that when compared to your peers, but you don't make that your target.  If you don't understand that, then you better get a different job where a "so-so" performance is considered acceptable.

This is one aspect we try to drill into our staff when we train them.  The term "I will do my best....." is not just a set of words, it is a set-up to remind you that you will always do your best regardless of what you undertake.  Even if your best puts you in dead center of the pack, it doesn't are pushing yourself to be as successful as you can.  Taking the example above, if the said "professional" that I mentioned was caught off guard, then the only acceptable answer would have been "I don't know, but I will find out and get right back to you immediately."  Sure, I would have expected more, but at least the person I was talking to understood that they were not up to the speed they were supposed to be and that recognition is 3/4 of the battle.

Even I have to be careful at camp that I don't fall into the feeling "oh, this will work if we just do it that way."  I remember a saying, though I cannot remember who said it, which I fear may apply to me.  Men of age object too much, consult too long, adventure too little, repent too soon and seldom drive to greatness but content themselves with a mediocrity of success.  OUCH!  I have found myself objecting too much and adventuring too little, though I doubt I repent to soon.  Do I hold back opportunities for our staff and program to be great?  Hard to say, but I know what I expect out of them and they would probably be shocked to hear me say that they can do it better now than I could when I was their age.

Being mediocre is one thing, some people are doomed to be that way and are blissfully unaware that they are.  People who accept mediocrity on the other hand really have no place at Camp Parsons.  When I used to teach more than I do now and someone who I considered mediocre and who knew it came and asked me for a recommendation for a job or further education I would answer (and still do) by saying, "My recommendation?  Sure.  Here is how it will begin, 'Of all the ________who have worked for me, such and such is certainly one of them.  He(she) is consistently and outstandingly average; on a ranking from 0-10 he(she) is a solid 5' that what you want?"  After the individual is done staring at me, they usually walk away and seldom ask me for something again.

There is no art of mediocrity, but there are a lot of people out there who are trying to make it one.


First, let me say congratulations to Alabama on their "national" title, or perhaps should I say SEC Title game redux.  As predicted, it was a boring game (at least for me) that the media tried to make something of this morning....."A decisive victory..."  A bunch of field goals and one touchdown......bleh.  The proof is in the numbers, this was the least watched BCS championship game ever which just goes to show how meaningless this mathematical model of ranking is.  Time to tighten the belt, lose some bowl games and make the remaining ones worth watching instead of just overwhelming us with more.  OK, enough, let's move on.

I was taking the light rail out to SeaTac airport some time ago (don't roll your eyes, I take public transportation every now and then) and was doing some work on my smart phone when I looked up and took in my surroundings.  There were about 20 other people in my particular car section and each one of them had their faces buried into their smart phone or i-pad as well.  It didn't seem that long ago that if I took a bus or a train, I would spend most of my time trying not to look at other people and focus on the passing scenery, even if the scenery was nothing but dilapidated houses.  Today, we have so many electronics that consume our time and interest.  From i-pods, to i-pads and i-phones we are overwhelmed with digital distractions.  When I travel, it is almost rare for me to see anyone read a book in print.  Usually they are reading from a kindle, i-pad or a lap top.  Now don't get me wrong, I think some of these new innovations are great.  Since getting my own i-phone I have found that I no longer need to carry my lap top with me when I go on short trips, I can do just about everything from my phone.  The amount of information that I can get through numerous applications is fantastic.  Everything from finding a good place to eat, movie times, sports schedules, the betting line......everything can be found through my "smart" phone.  I find myself easily distracted for almost an hour at a time.  Sometimes when I look at it or use it to text someone, some of my friends say, "oh here we go again, I guess that phone is better company than me...."  There is some truth to that as I find myself in the same position when I am talking to someone who returns the conversation while looking and typing on their phone.  You feel like saying.."hey, up here."  Despite the benefits of a smart phone, too much of anything is never good.  I know some people that have so many applications that there is no way they could use all of them if they spent a year doing it.

This gadgetry is slowly making its way into camp life.  For years we have had staff members first bring TVs, then VCRs, then CDs, then computers and lap tops, and now we have these phones.  Years ago we began restricting what could be brought up as we found certain things to be distracting.  When video games became the rage decades ago, we would find many of our staff members missing only to be found holed up in their cabins playing a game with others.  We also began noticing more "theft" which was actually people "borrowing" someones elses game for awhile.  Now we have a surge of these smart phones.  We have restricted this as well by allowing our staff to have them, but the phones never leave the room during the week of camp.  If a staff member wanted to use his phone, he would have to do it on his own time.  I have no doubt that staff member have snuck them out and used them clandestinely but the good news is that I don't see them walking around with their heads buried in their phones.  What I am seeing is that more and more scouts are walking around with their noses buried into their phones.

Every year scoutmasters have asked us to extend our wireless service to involve both sides of camp and points in between.  We have been resistant to this for many reasons but the main reason for us not to do this is that we are not going to encourage a behavior that distracts one from their purpose at camp.  For a scoutmaster that is tending to his troop and making sure that they are doing what they are supposed to be doing......not working on their computer or phone.  If the scoutmaster needs to check e-mail or do a little work from camp, then they can come to the office for a short period of time and do that there.....keep it out of the campsites, that is where scouting is happening.

There is a time and place for everything and scout camp is not the time or place for gadgets...particularly for scouts having gadgets.  If I were a scoutmaster once again, I would ban scouts from having cell phones with them during outings (they will never get lost, broke  or "stolen") and make sure all the parents had my cell phone number if they needed to get a hold of their child.  If I can get the staff to live without carrying a phone around with them, you should be able to control a young scout in a similar manner.  If you can't, don't worry....some day there will be an app for that.

A Championship That Doesn't Matter?

Like a good portion of America, I will be watching the BCS championship tonight though I am not sure why.  We have seen Alabama and Louisana State University play already and that was a low scoring boring game.  I felt the same way last year when UW played Nebraska in the Holiday bowl, but that wasn't for the national title......and we won.  I guess if I had any inkling of support for any one of those two teams playing tonight it might make it that more interesting.  However, I am no fan of the SEC, so I am already starting with a deficit.  I will be drawn to watch it simply because it is the national title game and if it is exciting, then great; if it was like last time, I won't make it through the second quarter.

Now take that in contrast to a scout that comes to Camp Parsons year after year.  Many scoutmasters have told me "we like to take the boys to a rotation of four camps so that they get a sampling of what is out there and don't get bored."  There is truth to that, then again I think it is more for the adults than it is for the scouts (my personal opinion).  Despite that opinion however, there is some validity to this.  A scout can go to a camp and think that it is "awesome".  Then they go to another camp and think that is "awesome".  If left to their own devices, they probably would stay at the first place and never leave as they have nothing to compare it to.  I know that scouts love to come to Camp Parsons, you see it in their faces and hear it in their voices.  I think the majority of adults who bring their troops back to our camp do so partly for that reason and partly for the fact that they know the program we run and can count on it to give their scouts a great week of camp.  When you go to another camp, you are going for the experience and the location, the leadership at those camps are the "wild card" that can make or break that troop's experience.  Sure the scouts will have a good time, but the scoutmaster may be miserable having to deal with the staff leadership.

We have offered a consistent program as well as consistent leadership throughout the years, yet for the life of me I cannot tell that one year is the same as others.  Oh sure, I have a hard time keeping the staff straight but there are so many that return and cross over from season to season I forget the specific years when they worked.  The program however has never been the "same".  The structure might be the same, the schedule might be the same, but what is brought to the stage is always.....always different.  It could be a staff personality, a special skit(s), a song, a play a  combination of many things.....but at the end of the day, no one season is the same as the other.  Heck, each week is different from the others.  Every time I think that I have an idea how things are going to go, it is different.  This is not in a bad way, just a way that was not what I thought it was going to be.  Last year for example, we ended our staff training week with a staff that seemed to have the experience and a presence of a staff that had worked together for an entire summer already......even though the majority were first year staff members.

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and hoping to get a different result.  I believe it is the talent, brilliance and energy of our staff that result in a different experience week after week and summer after summer even though we work from the same platform.  Some people would say that this is the result of our experience.  Well it is true, experience is a wonderful enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again.

I don't care about the national title tonight, I do care about a good game.  I hope that some folks don't care about having to feel that they need to move around to different camps, I just hope they care about the program it offers their scouts.  Of course, the two can be the same.....then again, that is always a gamble.

Traveling The World

One of the unique characteristics of Camp Parsons are the visitors we have had at camp through the years.  From Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of scouting through numerous noted citizens that make up the history of the Pacific Northwest.  Governors, Senators, academic leaders, business leaders and many more have spent some time on Jackson Cove these past 93 seasons.  We are a chapter in L. Ron Hubbard's autobiography as he spent a couple of summers at Camp Parsons, which raises an eyebrow or two when we mention that at during the history tours.  Even Robert Gates, the former Secretary of Defense visited us in the late 90's.  I had mentioned several months ago that we had hosted the Condit Campout at Camp Parsons and we had a special guest with us at that time, Alvin Townley.  Alvin is an author who has written Legacy of Honor as well as The Spirit of Adventure and Fly Navy.  Alvin was a successful business man in Atlanta, Georgia working for Arthur Anderson when he took time off and went around the US interviewing notable public figures who were Eagle Scouts and asking them how scouting affected their lives.  Since that time he has left his job for full time writing, speaking and traveling.  He has been to Seattle on several occasions, the one I remember was when he spoke at the annual Eagle Scout recognition dinner, but he was invited back to participate in the Condit Campout and was assigned to my patrol this past fall.  The pictures to your left show our motley crew of myself, Bryan Zemp, Brad Tilden (President of Alaska Airlines) and Alvin.  The picture below that is one of the tasks we had to complete.....this was when we were in first place in the morning.  If you go back to the October blogs, you can read about our disappointing performance, but we had a great time competing together.

I received a note from Alvin the other day telling me about his trip to the Sudan and his experiences there as well as in Kenya where he visited Lord Baden-Powell's grave site.  I am  not sure where he is off to next, but I am sure it will be interesting.

I must admit that I am somewhat jealous of his position.  Granted, it was not an easy choice to make but it was something he wanted to do and he took a heck of a risk doing it.  He left a very successful job, traveled the US on his own dime and probably had to fight tooth and nail to get the interviews with the folks that he did (take a look at the book and you will see who I am talking about) for something that may never have been successful financially (although I am sure it would have been personally for him).  He told me in the past that it was something he felt compelled to do and now, he has become good at telling the story.  Although I doubt I could ever give up my profession, I too have a desire to share my experiences and observations of scouting, gleamed mainly from years of summer camping, to others.  Unfortunately I do not share Alvin's ability to focus on completing this particular task as it has always been second to my work or my first line interests, whether it be with camp, friends or sporting events.  Something needs to be sacrificed for me to put my energies into finishing a book that I begun two decades ago with nothing more than just ruminations.  Well, they still are ruminations......and I must admit, writing this blog certainly has me focused on key elements of my thoughts.

Perhaps I need to take a page from Alvin's biography (not yet written) and focus on what is important to me instead of just living each day as it comes.  Then again, I worry too much about what the future might hold and whether I am prepared to meet it.  I guess if you worry too much you die.....of course, even if you don't worry you die why worry?  Maybe I will write that book.


Yes, I know.....a bit of a strange topic.  However I was driving home last evening and once again found myself commenting on how thick the fog was (where I was at).  I am not sure if anyone else has noticed, but on the western side of the Pacific Northwest, there have been a number of thick, foggy days.  Perhaps that is because the air has been colder than usual and we haven't had a lot of rain, however the ground is still moist.  I have noticed this same thing up and down the I-5 corridor as well as on the Olympic Peninsula.  We were at Forks in November staying with some of Ken's relatives and for two nights we had really thick fog.  I mentioned it out of passing (forgetting where I was) only to be told, "yeah, yeah.....fog.....vampires.  We hear it all the time, blah, blah....."  I guess that is true living in the make believe land of Twilight.

In early December we had a significant amount of fog at camp.  I have told you before how different camp looks (and feels) when it is snowing or even when it is under siege by a major winter storm.  Having the camp engulfed in fog is no different.  However on this particular occasion the fog really was thick.  How thick? Well, if you stood at the shore end of the pier, you could see the glow of the pier light but you really could not make out its shape.  It was just an orb of orange (say that three times fast) in the distance.  It wasn't until I was half way down the pier that I could make out the light in more detail.  The end of the pier was not visible until you were almost 50 feet away from it.  As I walked (and drove) around camp during that evening the same thing played out everywhere.  I could be walking up the parade field without anything but a wall of "off" white in front of me, then all of a sudden a large structure would unveil itself in front of me......a very forbidding dining hall.  It was one of those nights I didn't think I should be sleeping in there.  Through the distance you could hear some wildlife move around but I could not make out exactly what it was or even where it was.  It was then I began thinking that I really wasn't aware of anything that was around me so I promptly went back to my cabin.  When you are in camp all by yourself, it is interesting how many "tricks" your ears (and imagination) will play on you in that setting.

This, of course, is in stark contrast to the summer when rarely there is a truly dark night, the weather is generally warm and you just can't get rid of the scouts from sight or ear shot.  Much like my mini-eulogy to every season there is a purpose.  Not too sure what the purpose of the fog is, but there you go.

We are beginning to receive staff applications in bulk.  I am happy to report that the vast majority are returning staff members.  February will soon be upon us, I hope our boys get them in soon.

Selling Out

There is something frustrating about having things you like to do or things that you believe in, change for the sake of obtaining something better at the expense of losing the ethos of what that "thing" was.  I have raged constantly about the "selling out" of the scouting program by professional scouts, adult leaders and yes, those of us at Camp Parsons.  The main example I will make of myself is that for the sake of ease, when we have a troop cook out during the week, we supply it as a troop and not as a patrol.  If we were true to the scouting program we would have the troops give us their patrol lists and then package the food for each patrol (with enough for the adult "guests") and send it out in that manner OR have the patrols come and pick it up.  That is the scout method way, but for ease and efficiency, we bulk it together.  We make excuses for it by saying that it is a temporary stop-gap until we have the new dining hall, then we can go back to the patrol distribution as we have done in the past.  Unfortunately, our stop-gap has been going on for 16 years.  So perhaps the only thing I can say is that we are consistent.

Now, it may not have anything to do with scouting, but one of my other outlets is college football.  To me, it is a great game to watch particularly when you have so many talented players giving it their "all" unlike a similar number of professional players that just phone it in.  College football was more than just a game, it was an event for students, alumni and supporters alike.  A chance to take a day and breathe it all in.  However, commercialism has slowly crept in bringing along with it greed.  We began having night games and weekday games, not for the love of the sport, but a chance for television companies to broadcast to an audience who is just as likely to sit on the couch than to go to the game.  Along with that came increased revenue for the school, a chance to be on the national stage and as such, a chance to recruit.  These are all favorable outcomes of this slow "creep".  Now I know that I am old fashioned in the belief that athletics offering student athletes a chance for an education of which, the education came first.  That belief faded when you saw areas of studies such as "Sports Media" or "General Education" popping up as majors.  Oh sure, they will toss in that odd athlete who is truly brilliant in the classroom as he (she) is on the field.  They are the exception and not the rule.

We finally received the PAC-12 schedule for next year so that we could plan our work parties and other events around the home schedule for the UW.  As a result of a conference agreement, every team must play three games on a day other than Saturday.  For the UW that means hosting Stanford on a Thursday evening, playing at California on a Friday and.......get this......playing WSU in the Apple Cup on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, in Pullman..........PULLMAN.  I think my WSU staff members and alumni would agree, that is no favor to WSU or to the UW and our respective fans.  Where's the brain trust that came up with that one?  Simply put, it was the contract that the conference made with the media.  To heck with the fact that the heart of the game is in the people who are in the is more important to broadcast to the people who have no intention on attending the game.  For those of us who have to work....we will soon be in that crowd.

For some of you this is not a big deal and would argue that if you are going to continue to recruit on a national basis as well as bring revenue to the conference this has to happen.  Poppycock I say!  The points of the argument are correct if we surrendered to that common belief.  Instead, if we held true to the student athlete mantra, all games would be played at the same time and fans as well as the media would have to chose whom to watch.  Life is tough, make choices and live with what you choose.  If 6 PAC-12 teams played at 12:30 and 6 played at 4 PM on a Saturday, well......make a choice.  Sure, you could be like Notre Dame where you could potentially have a losing season for 8 years in a row, but every game is guaranteed to be broadcast.....then again, they are and they are not really winning are they?

It is a moot point as it is no longer is an argument, it is a fact and that is the way collegiate sports will go.  I just hope other things like the BSA will not falter for the sake of money or hopeful outcomes that are not based on fact.  The methods are the methods and the program is the program.  Then again, maybe we can take the lead from the NCAA and begin camp on a Thursday.  I wonder how many adults would want to take time off of work to drive to the Hood Canal for that?

It is a shame that there isn't a little common sense when looking at this.  Someone who could think logically would provide a nice contrast to the real world.

Back To The Woods

In recent years I thought we had lost one of the best opportunities for older scouts.....the Silver Marmot Treks.  Since beginning the kayaking treks, more troops have been signing up for that instead of going hiking.  I can understand why; there is the fact that there are no limits on who we take onto the canal (except for the number of kayaks that we have) and, well, you can sit and paddle.  Don't get me wrong, it is a great experience wandering around the Hood Canal, but not really a "High Adventure" type of thing when you stay at State Parks or on private land.  When it does become High Adventure due to weather we seldom let the boats go me, we have tried that and have been burned every time.  First they scatter, then they flip, then we have a hard time getting them all back together.  The hiking program is different in the sense that even though you are on well traveled trails, you get into areas which are days away from the trail head.  Not only that, there are opportunities that pop up for cross country hiking in some of the best untouched wildernesses in the lower United States.

That may be changing as we have interest from several troops to go for a week of hiking and from other troops who want to do a few days hiking and a few days kayaking.  This is great!  It has been difficult to push for expansion of our hiking program as it is not cost effective to bring on folks who will only take out one or two hikes in an entire season.  If this works out, we can expand our program and the rotation of staff that participate in this program.

In my experience, the hiking program has been one of the great adventures for older scouts, and when I say older, I mean 15 years and up.  More importantly, the old program was designed for individuals, not scout troops.  Why?  Part of the reason is that with scout troops there already is a hierarchy amongst the scouts and adults; when they come individually, they start from scratch and make new friends.  Each one is giving a position of responsibility that rotates on a daily basis.  They choose where they are going to hike, who was carrying what, when to start, etc.  Our staff tagged along as mentors instead of hike leaders.  Of course, if the need came up, they would assume the leadership position and would never let our scouts get into a situation that they could not handle.  This program lost some steam many years ago when all High Adventure was consolidated into one program based at another camp and when it came back, we had lost our drive of returning scouts who wanted to go.  This was compounded by listening to adult leaders say, "well, our troop does a 50 miler every year, there is no sense in having them go into this program."  I forgot there was a rule that a scout could only do one long term hike per annum.......wait.....there is no such rule.  Despite my mashinations on trying to change this mind set, I cannot.  So the next best thing is having troops come with a select group of scouts to go hiking.  I'll take it.

There are few things that keep young people in the scouting program and one of them is hiking and camping on a level a little higher than what the standard scout troop can do.  More importantly, the Olympic Forest and Mountains are one of the best places to hike.  Although I haven't hiked my favored land in years, I can remember every foot step I took on each trail.  It could have been windy, rainy, and even snowy when I was hiking.....but I couldn't think of a better place to be at the time.

The 94th Year

It was a windless, cold day when I was able to steal up to the Hood Canal to welcome in the New Year.  In the years past this was one of my more favorite activities but between work and other events I haven't been able to do this much.  Outside of a few folks visiting, it was a fairly uneventful yet very enjoyable day.  It is nice when you don't have to work on a schedule and the meals are planned whenever you decide to fire up the grill or crack open a box of something.  Perhaps the best part of the New Year event is that it really is a "non" event when you are at camp.  That evening was no different.  The pier was covered in sea ice (as it was that cold) but it was very calm.  There was a slight cloud cover but what that did was basically reflect the lights from a distant Seattle, Bremerton and cities beyond.  When the New Year came, all you could see was reflections of all the fireworks being ignited and the distant rumble of noise that finally would make its way down the canal.  Of course, there was the sound of a .22 caliber hand gun going off in the cove which had everyone ducking their head like we were taking fire......but that sound quickly drifted away.....

So now we enter our 94th season of camping on the Hood Canal.  What we know currently is that we are full and are taking reservations for 2013 currently.  We know that we have troops coming from Alabama, Texas and points in between.  What we know is that we will have a great, enthusiastic staff once again and soon the camp will be full of excited young scouts enjoying their time at scout camp.  What we don't know yet is what staff are going to fit into certain slots.  The usual "dance" begins as we start looking at our organizational chart and decide who is best to fit into what position, at least for the upcoming season.  I have no doubt things will work out, but in the meantime I will have to put up with lobbying efforts and bartering for some staff to take certain jobs.  Although all jobs are important in my mind, that is not the mind set of most of the staff.

Not knowing about staff positions yet is one thing; another concern is not knowing about things that we have little control over.  How is the weather going to turn out?  Weather can facilitate or ruin a camp event, particularly when it comes to our outdoor buffet and of course our campfires.  Is it going to be a warm summer, or is the weather service right in its prediction that we will have another summer like last years?  One of our favorite out-of-camp eateries, the Timberhouse is now closed without much hope of it opening soon.  The other options in the community are a possibility, but not good ones for us anymore.  What "issues" are going to pop up this summer whether it involves the staff, scouts or the adults?  These are things of which we really have no control over but will deal with as we have through the countless past seasons.  It can be somewhat exciting to deal with the unknown. 

One thing is certain though, as we come to each new year we slowly make our way up the list of "oldest Boy Scout camps" in the United States.  As each year comes, it seems that some other camp in some other council closes due to a lack of funds or attendance.  However that seems to be offset by the fact that those councils have found a way to keep them opened and running mainly due to the support of their local communities.  That actually is a good thing as those facilities are obviously important to that community.  As far as we are concerned, we are looking at a busy future as we continue to expand some of our services and hopefully expand our attendance, particularly with our new dining hall.

For an old lady, camp is looking pretty good at 94.