Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Karlo - Could Be Anywhere

When my children were young, we would watch a movie called the Dark Crystal. In it the old witch Ogra asks the young Gelfling hero, what has become of his Master, the Oldest of the Mystics. Jen replies, "he's dead." "Oh," says the old woman as she casts her one eye about, "could be anywhere." Karlo Mustonen died in 2005 - he is not gone, he could be anywhere.

In 1979 I was the Nature Department Instructor at the National Camp School held at Camp Kiesel. Among my students, who dubbed themselves the Hobbit Patrol, was Karlo Mustonen. I had seen Karlo at the USU Library, but now we were able to spend a wonderful week together. Karlo had moved to America from Finland at age 19, and cultivated a wonderful Finnish accent. He told me he was going to be the Nature Director at a new camp just established in the Cache Valley Council to be called Aspen Ridge at Hull Valley. He would work there every summer until I met him again in 1994.

The Hobbit Patrol, National Camp School 1979. That's Camp Loll Nature Director, Ray Lokin on the far right.

When a good chunk of the Camp Loll Staff moved to Camp Aspen Ridge, now part of the new Trapper Trails Council, in 1994, Karlo became "our" Nature Director. He was still working at the USU library, but spent his summers with the Scouts. I was very confident he would fit in with our crew and our program. He never disappointed; Karlo was wonderful.


Karlo Mustonen, Camp Aspen Ridge Nature director in 1994. He knew all the plants and collected them to share with everyone. You should check out his pocket.

Karlo went everywhere with the Staff and did everything with our crew. Here he is swimming in Bloomington Lake. That day, we were diving into the lake off of a snow drift.

We went on Road Trips every Saturday afternoon once the troops were gone. Here is Karlo, who loved to swim, at Bear Lake.

That summer we established the Polar Bear Society at Aspen Ridge. The Scouts took their dip in the lower spring. Karlo, as Nature Director, took his place as Grand Poopah of the Polar Bears. Here he leads the camp in the Dance of the Polar Bears.
One weekend we took the Staff up Logan Canyon to hike to the Jardine Juniper. Most of the crew came without water. I had to share my scanty supply with the whole crew. We went up the "back way"; a much steeper and more demanding route than most hikers take. Janice was along with our daughters. When they and Karlo were left behind, I assumed that Janice had stayed back with them to take care of Karlo and the little girls. Most of the young guys were ready to drop. Once we had visited the tree we started across the top of the ridge, I was promising myself I would never go on such a hike again, when suddenly I say my little girls running toward me, Janice right behind. "Where is Karlo?" I demanded. "I am here," came his strong Finish accent from behind a boulder. All us "tough" young guys were put in our place.

Karlo, with Emily and Alison at the foot of the Jardine Juniper.

Janice, Karlo, and the girls. Never a complaint, just climb, climb, climb, right to the top. The big boys in the Staff were glad they hadn't heard their whimpering.

That summer the Nature Staff came up with a skit called the Nature Boys. It was some kind of rap gang imitation. Karlo soon became the leader of the pack.

Here he puts the Nature Staff through their paces.

After that one summer at Aspen Ridge, we decided to go to California, to Camp Cherry Valley. I was certain that Karlo would never leave his beloved Aspen Ridge at Hull Valley. When I told him I was sorry, but we would be leaving for Catalina, he eagerly declared, "I will go with you."


I was so worn down that first summer at Cherry Valley, I took very few pictures. Here is our crew in front of the Dining Hall. Karlo was our wonderful Nature Director. You can see him fourth from the right.

Karlo mastered Cherry Valley, learning all the local flora and fauna, running the Sea Lab, and supervising the Tuesday night service projects. Boy that was a busy night. Karlo carried a radio and went by the number of Cherry Nine. I remember one extremely busy night, when call after call came down to Karlo, he finally instructed all who were listening over the radio, "call some other Cherry."


This is Ben Prall, our Wee Scout of the week about to be mobbed by the camp girls for wearing his Camp Cherry Valley tee shirt. Karlo stands by third from the right.

Among Karlo's many duties over the years was delivering the Hike Day orientation speech. His wisdom and careful instruction saved us from many problems, guaranteeing many happy hikers safely back in camp without leaving a trace.

Here Karlo makes sure everyone knows just how to behave on the trail. Over the years thousands of boys and leaders learned the secrets of hiking success from Karlo.

Here Karlo enjoys an ice cream cone in Two Harbors on the day we left for home.


Karlo did everything everyone else did. Here he is snorkeling in Cherry Cove. He collected all kinds of wonders for the Sea Lab. Like Phineas in A Separate Peace, Karlo could get away with wearing pink without a problem.

Karlo was always a valuable leader among the Staff, an invaluable member of our very successful team.

Karlo in the Dining Hall (Mess Hall, or Galley) at Cherry Valley.

Up and down the canyon a dozen times a day, Karlo never seemed to wear down.


Karlo on the beach at Cherry Cove.
Sometimes Karlo had to leave us for a few days in the summer. After he retired from the University he went back to work part time in the Library. We had to be careful not to pay him too much because he didn't want to mess up his Social Security. Every now and then the Library would need him and he would fly off and back, all on his own. One summer he was the President of the Sons of the Utah Pioneers. I chided him, "how can you be the son of a Utah Pioneer, you didn't move to Utah until you were 19?" "I am the pioneer!" he explained.

We didn't have a Polar Bear at Cherry Valley, instead Karlo became the Beach Master and led the dance of the Sea Lions every day at Flag Ceremony. The flippers on his hands helped him get into character.

Karlo also built all the camp fires at Cherry Valley. Here he is with Dave Hopkins and his daughter Emily at the Cherry Valley Campfire Bowl.
Karlo was always in the campfires. He did two skits every week. On Monday he led the "Emergency Broadcast System". "This is just only a test. If this had been an actual emergency, you would have heard the following." Then everyone would scream. On Friday he would do "It's all around me." "Karlo, what's all around you." "I'm surprised you did not notice, it is my awesome Boy Scout belt."

The Beach Master bursts onto the field.

Karlo was always there for the boys. Week after week he would be on the evaluations among the things the troops liked best about Cherry Valley.

Among the odious tasks we faced at Cherry Valley was making 800 sandwiches every Tuesday night. Karlo and Janice were a team.

Karlo with his masterpiece camp fires. The wood supply at Cherry Valley was pretty poor, but Karlo made the best of it week after week. He got so good at the process, he even wrote a book on the subject.

Karlo on our last boat home.
In 2001 we all headed back to Camp Loll. Karlo was now the Camp Loll Nature Director. Although into his seventies he continued to do everything.


Here is Karlo at Kelly Warm Springs. What a body!!!

Some of the guys might have been a little skittish to get in, but not Karlo!


Karlo sending troops into the Yellowstone back country. They always came back safe and sound and left no trace on the wilderness.

Karlo at the heart of the Camp Loll Staff.

Every summer, on the way to Loll, the Staff stops off in St. Anthony to pay their respects to our American Heroes at the War Memorial there. In 2003 the Lodge at Loll caved in. And Karlo took a new job, lodge manager. He set up a desk in a corner of the down stairs and organized all of the camp's equipment. To this day, we call it Karlo's corner. Many of the tools we still use were Karlo's gifts to Camp Loll.

Karlo at the tank in St. Anthony.

Karlo with Ross DeVries. Ross managed the building of the Barlow/Wadman lodge, in 2000 and 2001, and rebuilt it even better in 2003. Here he and Karlo survey the progress.

Karlo with Kristie Stettler and Tim Moser.

After a long summer at Loll, Karlo gets ready to lead the caravan home.


Karlo loved to do the Tee Shirt skit. He'd rip the jacket open and the girls would come running. Everyone loves Karlo.

Karlo sports his gifts at the Camp Loll Christmas party the summer of 2004.

Karlo would leave a little early for the campfire, and be there at the bowl to make sure the fires were just right.
2004 was Karlo's last "mortal" summer at Scout Camp, at Loll. He passed away during the summer of 2005 at a hospital in Logan, Utah. We like to say, "Karlo Mustonen, buried in Hyde Park Utah, lives at Camp Loll."
Thank you Karlo for all you gave to everyone who ever knew you. Thank you for all you gave to Aspen Ridge, Cherry Valley, and Camp Loll. Your gifts and your influence live on in service to Scouting.


Dan said...

A great man, and a great experience to know him. He was there all 6 summers that I worked at camp, what a guy. Will and I have often talked about how Will came upon him one day speaking to a squirrel. Now, you might say, lots of people talk to animals, but we both swear, that squirrel was talking back.

He won't ever be forgotten.

Alisa said...

Karlo was a very dear friend. I worked several summers with him. He was a joy to know and work with. He never complained. I can still see him at the camp fire bowl holding his arm to the square as all the scouts filed past. He was a great example to me. I miss our talks.

Jody said...

The last time I talked to Karlo was just before we all left for camp and Karlo was recovering from his surgery. Julie and I visited him and they had not let him eat anything for weeks he said. Everything he ate when down a tube into his stomach. He told me he would dream of sitting at camp eating Tuesday lunch potato bar. His funeral was on a Tuesday while camp was still running and Julie drove to Logan to represent us all at his funeral. I remember sitting down for baked potato lunch and thinking Karlo's funeral maybe in Logan but I wondered if Karlo wasn't with us overseeing Camp Loll potato bar lunch. I have thought of Karlo every week at camp every time I eat a potato, like the fox thinks of his prince when he sees the wheat fields, and his memories have made potato bar lunch even better. Karlo’s wheelbarrows went to the dump this summer. Like Karlo they had put up a great fight and went to the well deserved reward. The wheelbarrows are gone but Karlo and his influence will always be at camp for me. Thanks Karlo

Daisy Chick said...

I never had the opportunity to work with Karlo, however I met him at camp and he and I became good friends. I loved visiting the Library at USU because Karlo would always call out my name and we would visit and talk about camp and my major and life. What an incredible man who left a great legacy of service, kindness and dedication. Thank you for this wonderful post.

Quinn said...

There is a legendary tree I call Karlo. It sits about 20 yards above Navajo spring. The large spruce splits the stream in half and water falls down the the steps formed by the gnarled roots. The tree is one of the tallest and probably one of the oldest along the stream. More astonishing is the fact that the tree leans hard to the east, but despite the hardship it continues to endure amongst the saplings; a testament to life and time, just like Karlo.

Dan-o said...

Karlo was my mentor and perhaps one of my best friends at camp. He taught me from my first summer as a member of his Nature Staff to work hard, be happy, and lead with love. I only worked at camp two summers when Karlo wasn't there and his absence was a void, though his memories will impact me forever. At Aspen Ridge we'd sometimes ride to Church or on adventures in his old green Volvo. It was always a treat if you got to ride in "Codename Karlo's" car. Maybe a little bit Chitty Chitty Bang Bang esque, but a wonderful adventure nonetheless. I can attest to the plants too. I swear every flower he picked up was named "Sticky Monkey Flower". I love and miss you my friend! For me, you live on at all of the camps you served!

www.granada-3d.com said...

It can't really have success, I feel so.

Harold Stuart said...

Karlo was one of my scoutmasters when I was growing up. He was a wonderful, kind and compassionate man. We later had more in common when I was called to serve as an LDS missionary in his native Finland and have also served as a scoutmaster. I learned a great deal from his example and am grateful for his influence.

Thank you for remembering this great man.