Sunday, August 09, 2009

Road Tripping

When I was a boy, working on Boy Scout Camp Staffs, my Camp Directors, Rod Lesley, Clyde Hawkins, and Ron Jones, would take a lucky few of us on “road trips”. We explored the back roads around Camp Bartlett, and even visited Bear and Bloomington Lakes. It was with Clyde Hawkins that I first visited Copenhagen Basin. We had great times, singing, seeing, and sharing.

In 1976, I came to Loll for one week. Dave Youngburg had invited me to interpret for a troop of scouts visiting from Japan. I had my knee injured playing jungle ball in the parking lot so I could not go hiking on Wednesday. In those days there were no Camp Friends; troops went hiking on their own. Wednesday was a sort of “day off” for the staff. There were only about a dozen on staff in those days; anyone with a vehicle would leave camp, the “older guys”would go on “staff hikes” and all the "little uns” would be left in camp with very little to do. So that Wednesday, I loaded Lafe Stapley,Gordon Cazier, and a few others in the LTD and headed for Yellowstone. It made those kids so happy – they actually said thank you. I was sold on road trips.

I came to Loll full time in 1977. Craig Edwards, the Camp Director, let me take the guys road tripping every Sunday after church. We had scouts in camp Saturday to Saturday back then. The only way to “escape” was to leave. There were not many scouts, often less than a hundred, and only fourteen on staff, counting the cook – Joleen Darrington – who spent Sundays with Big Jon. Thus began Camp Loll's “road tripping tradition”.

In the years that followed, we explored all over Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and all that surrounds them; from Cody, to the St. Anthony Sand Dunes, from Pine Dale to Mammoth and Gardner Montana. We traveled in cars and trucks, in vans and for some years in a forty passenger 1971 International Harvester bus.

As my duties, my exiles, took me away from Loll, I took the staffs from Treasure Mt., Bartlett, Aspen Ridge, and Cherry Valley road tripping. As often as possible I brought them to Loll.

In 2001, with our final return to Loll, the Road Trip also returned. Jody and I have a routine. He takes half the Staff one week, I take the other. We “do” Teton Park, Jackson, and Kelly Warm Springs one week and the Lower Loop of Yellowstone the other.

This past Saturday it was my turn to take the crew to Yellowstone. As my camera is dead, I have borrowed the following photos from others.


The drive is a break, a chance to escape responsibility -

and to sleep!

Our first stop on the Lower Loop is West Thumb. Here we see the Lake, many beautiful hot pools, other thermal features and get to smell Yellowstone.











We next start up into the Hayden Valley. A great place to see wildlife. This year I was in my longest buffalo-jam ever; fifty minutes.










Our next stop was the Dragon's Mouth. More Buffalo, more smell, and the Sulpher cauldron too.








Once we were out of Hayden Valley we came to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. I made the hike down to my favorite spot in the canyon, the brink of the Lower Falls.











Then it's accross the Park to Fire Hole River and a swim. Fire Hole was burned over in 1988. How I wish they would have stopped the fires when they had a chance. Still, nature will have its way and the trees are coming back.

























The last stop for us was Old Faithful.

We caught an eruption.


Hung around in the Inn.



Then it's back in the vans for the trip home. Just being together on the long ride is a way to bond and to become a more unified staff.


There are some real benifits to those who wait, and know how to seize the moment.
In Defense of Road Trips
Road Trips cost a lot of time and money. They require planning, coordinating, and supervision, a whole day on the road and “herding cats” to keep the crew on schedule, but they pay off big time.
I think the most important reason for road-tripping is to give the crew a common experience; a bundle of unique memories the staffers will share forever.
They will also give our crew a break making the return home to camp sweet. As Conner's Major was want to say, “A change is as good as a rest.”
Road trips also make one's staff feel special; as indeed they are!
I have had discussions with Camp Directors and Scout Executives who claim Road Tripping is a waste of time and money. I argue they are a valuable investment of both. The time a Camp Director spends organizing and executing a road trip is small effort compared to what a Camp Director demands of his staff, and their pleasure will bring the greater joy to the one who gave it.

2 comments:

Reach Upward said...

I have many fond memories of those road trips, including swimming at Fire Hole, doing Father Abraham at Old Faithful, playing piano at the Pink Garter in Jackson, and even an occasional trip to the dump near Ashton.

One of my favorite memories is when our trip back to Camp from the Wyoming side was blocked in a narrow spot by three drunk cowboys arm wrestling on the hood of their truck. They said they'd move if one of us could beat one of them. Lafe Stapley, who was short but pretty darn tough agreed to an arm wrestle. He had a ruddy complexion and looked more like a Scout than a staffer.

I can still remember the look on that cowboy's face as Lafe pushed his arm down to the hood of the truck. They kept their agreement and moved their truck so that we could continue in the van. You then commented that Lafe had probably caused permanent damage to that guy's ego.

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