scouts-l Mail Archive for November of 1999: Flying Camp Director - (was missing story)
Michael Bowman (mfbowman@USSCOUTS.ORG
Sat Nov 06 1999 - 05:23:33 CST
I posted the story you asked about in January 1999, the text of which is
reposted below. At the bottom I mention that some of the staff members that
served at the camp have stayed in touch over the years (some more than 30
years) - the artist is none other than Rich Diesllin, who is the creator of
a wonderful Scouting cartoon series called "Knots or Not" that is featured
at http://usscouts.org - just click on the mini-cartoon on our home page.
The October cartoon just by coincidence features a fire safety message.
Anyway on with the show - read the message below for a humorous recollection
of times gone by.
Mike Bowman, Vice President
U.S. Scouting Service Project, Inc.
Boy what a small world. In 1975 I was Program Director at Camp Buffalo and
now see that you are the head Commissioner there. I remember the ranger in
those days was an interesting, creative fellow. One day I was going past
one of the camp buildings, heard a explosion and saw a flash of light --
followed by language best not heard by Scouts. Of course I went to see what
the story was. Well this fellow had been getting complaints that the
lighting was too dim. He had decided the solution was to wire up a second
live wire to the circuit to double the voltage. When he flipped the switch
the light simply blew out. That was one of those summers.
Okay folks gathered round the virtual campfire - it is war stories time, so
hunker down and listen to this tale rendered in truth of the days of youth
when safety was ignored and the flames roared!
Earlier the staff at Camp Buffalo had served at Cary Camp for the first half
of the season and the Camp Director (Bill G.) performed an act nearly worthy
of the Darwin Awards. Several Troops had cooperated in a massive clean-out
of the warehouse at Cary and other Troops had been working all around the
camp to get rid of the stuff that had been building since the opening days
of the camp sometime back in the 30's. Over the course of four weeks all
the junk had been heaped in a huge pile some 40 feet long, ten feet wide and
about eight feet high in an open field. Bill had driven out there in one
pick-up truck and had dumped some 15 gallons of gas on the pile. (This was
in the days before you had to have a permit or would have thought much about
the environmental impact) As luck would have it he got called away on other
camp business. Meanwhile like some episode of the Three Stooges the ranger
drove up and decided that the pile needed a lot more gas to soak in if there
was any hope of getting it started (he added 10 gallons). He also was
called away. As luck would have it the third stooge, me, drove up and
decided gee this needs to be soaked with a bit more gas and another 15
gallons was poured on. By this time a considerable crowd had gathered to
await the moment when the fire would be lit. I suspect that more than a few
of them percieved that nearly 40 gallons of gas was about to go up in a
fireball and they wanted to watch.
Finally all was ready - we had the water truck nearby and hoses connected to
the pool house in case the fire got out of the cleared area. Bill decided
it was time to light the fire. Everyone was talking and joking about and
not paying much attention. I remember turning around and seeing Bill
standing about mid-way up the pile in the center of the thing with a book of
matches to hand the instant before he hit the matchhead to the striker.
BOOOOOOOOOOM!!!! Flaaaaasssshhh! Blinding brilliance!
And there was Bill flying through the air without benefit of aircraft
tumbling head over heals a full ten feet above us - a considerable feet
given his weight of nearly 350 pounds. Thud! he landed with the air
knocked out of him. We figured he might well be dead. He stirred and got
to his feet a little shakey. He was bright red wherever skin had been
exposed and every bit of hair had been singed right off of him. Apparently
the blast had saved him from more serious burns.
That was also the summer that our camp ranger there decided to get rid of
bee's nests in a meadow field by pouring gas in the underground hive. I can
understand his desire to get rid of the bees because he was deathly alergic
to 'em and had to mow the field often. As luck would have it he drove the
tractor over the hole on the way back to the main area of camp and somehow
the tractor sparked over that hole. Next thing you know we had a field fire
that was burning about three acres. Everyone over 15 was pressed into
services to save the camp and we made a firebreak quickly while using
anything we could to fight the blaze including mattress covers, back-pack
pumps, etc. We ended up with two volunteer fire departments helping before
we got the fire out. I remember that day because I was making part of the
firebreak with a tractor and the flames got a might too close and in an
instant burned part of my shirt right off my back before another staffer
gave me a good squirt from his pumper.
Ah yes fond memories of those days back in Indiana. :-))
And the staff - well some of us are still in touch with each other after
nearly 25 years. The Camp Chaplain, Tom O'Brien, will be the head Catholic
Chaplain at Philmont next summer. Another staffer is doing commercial art
on the net and writes from time to time. The summers there really were a
lot of fun.