Saturday, October 30, 2010

Why We Play Games

Games are fun; they build team spirit and provide opportunities to development sportsmanship. In scouting, games give every boy a chance to participate and feel important and they give boys in leadership a practical chance to organize and implement activities that involve and entertain the entire unit. Just playing games makes winners; an important part of the Summer Camp experience.

Baden Powell said, “Scouting is a game, a game with a purpose.” Summer Camp is the ultimate game of the Scouting program; the place where the Aims and Methods connect.

Camp builds fitness.

Fitness is not just physical health and strength – it impacts many levels: mental, emotional, and spiritual.

Hike day challenges every boy and adult. Deep in the backcountry, one becomes weary of walking, but there is no quitting; no try – just do. On the trail, boys reach the limit of what they think they can do and then force themselves to go beyond. They explore the limits of their physical fitness and push past their accustomed comfort level. They find that their mind and spirit can push their body to quality. All boys can grow. Even the strongest find a route to fitness as they serve others who are challenged by barriers they barely notice.

The hike to Survey Peak is one of the most demanding offered at Loll, therefore it is one of the best for building fitness. The rewards of effort are immediately evident to a boy when he stands on top of a mountain.

Rain in Camp is particularly helpful in reaching for fitness. Most campers come from places where they ignore weather, but in Camp they must face and fight it.

Rain, hail, thunder, and lightening add excitment and real danger to life out-of-doors. It is dealing with such real world challenges that give the game of Scouting the magical power to make something better out of those who play the game.

Consider Edger A. Guest’s epitaph for Daniel Carter Beard:


"Do you fear the force of the wind,

The Slash of the Rain?

Go face them and fight them.


Be savage again.


Go hungry and cold like the wolf,


Go wade like the crane.

For the skin of your palms will thicken,

And the skin of your forehead will tan.

You’ll go ragged and weary and swarthy,

But you will walk like a man."

The rain comes, Scouts put on their rain gear, they build up their fires, see to their tents and their buddies; they walk like men.

If there is no rain one can always take a dip in Polar Bear Springs. The way facing the icy waters builds confidence is truly magical.

The Polar Bear tells the boys that ten seconds in the icy water will make them men. It does.

Swamping Canoes is a great exercise in fitness. Most people who upset their boat in an icy mountain lake assume there is nothing left to do but die. At Loll each week, dozens of little boys, two by two with their buddy, tip their canoes and dump themselves into deep, cold water. Then, they right the swamped boat and push it up across another canoe to drain; all the while, treading water for long freezing minutes. Then they climb back in and help the next pair do the same. How fit they are. If they capsize again, anywhere in the world, any time in their life, they won’t die, they will do what they know by experience they can.

The best way to learn you can do something is to do it. The Canoeing Merit Badge teaches life saving and life changing truth.

Swimming for any distance in Lake of the Woods builds fitness, but a Mile Swim, now that’s something. The summer following the liberation of Iraq, I sat in my office early one Saturday morning. A big, strong, young man came in. He demanded to know who was responsible for the flag retirement ceremony the night before. I was a little nervous; burning a flag can stir many emotions, and such questions are occasionally followed by a scolding. I took responsibility. “I just wanted to thank you,” he said. Relieved, I went on to explain that Bryan Purdie, our Field Sports Director was the one who trained the crew, and that our staff put on such a ceremony every Friday night at Campfire. “I would like to thank your staff,” he continued. I invited him to breakfast. Once we sang our morning song, I turned the time over to our guest. He thanked them for the beautiful ceremony, and the respect it showed to our nation and to our flag. He explained that the flag and what it stands for meant a great deal to him. He was a Captain in the Marine Corp. Not many months before he had led his men up the Euphrates River valley to Bagdad. His Sargent was killed in the battle and several of his men wounded. Then he told us that as a boy, he had done his mile swim in Lake of the Woods. “Whenever anything got hard in the Marine Corps,” he explained, “I just told myself, at least this isn’t as hard as swimming a mile at Loll.”

Swimming a mile in Lake of the Woods gives a boy a life time of bragging rights.

Fitness is knowing that one has the strength to take care of themself. In Scouting everyone plays the game, not just the strongest, or the best, or the ones with talent or a gift. Everyone who is willing is able, and every experience brings growth.

At Camp one lives Citizenship.

I’ll bet I have seen more flag ceremonies than you. I love watching flag the ceremony where everything goes perfectly; when the flag goes up without a hitch, when everyone is in step, when the Senior Patrol leader remembers everything. But I also enjoy flag ceremonies where the scouts start the flag up the wrong rope so it gets stalled at the carabineer half way up the pole, when the SPL can’t remember what to say and there is a long and awkward pause. I even like it when the flag gets to the top; then the guard steps back to salute and the flag starts back down all on its own. I like these ceremonies because, although I’ve seen such things many times, I have never heard a snicker or jeer. Imagine that, two hundred plus tired teenagers standing in lines while some kid from another “team” makes a blunder, and not making a peep. Why? Respect – respect for the flag, respect for the ceremony, respect for their country. Yes, and respect for the Scoutmaster standing ten feet behind them and for the Camp Staff standing straight and silent in front. And there is sympathy too. Watching someone else suffer, embarrassed or in pain touches young hearts made tender by truth. And no doubt there is some empathy. Every boy is thinking, “tomorrow that could be me.” And what do we need to be good citizens? How about respect for each other, a bit of sympathy, and some empathy too.

This troop is not perfect in their performance or in the respect they give to their flag and country, but they are learning the how of doing both.

In Camp, boys learn by their service to each other and the camp, the blessings they have at home. In camp they must deal with the mess in the shower house. They cook their own meals, gather wood, haul water, burn the garbage, and pack the bear box. No utility delivers the power; no mom is there to provide the meals, no dad to pay the gas bill. There are no garbage men, and no one to pick up after them. The consequences are real world too. When there is a mess in the shower they must stand in it or clean it up, when they leave the trail they see the forest die; leave litter on the trail and fail the inspection, leave your garbage out and get mauled by a bear. When boys complain about cleaning up that mess in the shower, it is the perfect time to talk to them, to point out to them that their parents have cleaned up after them for years. When they grumble about the duty roster, a wise leader will remind them that, back home, some one takes care of them every day.

At Loll Scouts and leaders see the beauty of the Yellowstone wilderness. They are reminded that it is their treasure, such treasures were once the perview of kings.

This is the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. It is where the Park gets its name. It belongs to me, and to every American.

In America we are all kings, each of us a ruler of our nation and each of us obligated to preserve it for future generations.

At the Friday flag ceremony, after the mile swims cards, the Rambo head bands, and the ACE bracelets have been handed out I tell a story.

Rulon’s Story: Years ago a friend of mine looked out the third story window of his high school. This was in the beginning of World War Two. As many of you know, America wasn’t doing very well in the early days of that war. Our fleet had been badly damaged in the Pacific, our armies defeated in North Africa and the Philippines. Out that window, Rulon saw the flag of the United States flying upside down on the pole, a sign of deepest distress. Rulon told his teacher. The teacher said, “Oh, I hope not.” He took a quick look out the window and left the room. Moments later, as Rulon Skinner watched from above, that young teacher and two others approached the pole, they slowly lowered our flag, set it right upon the halyards and quickly raised it up. Scouts, within one year, all three of those teachers were dead. They had given their lives in the great World War Two; they made the ultimate sacrifice for everything we hold dear. They died for our freedom, our peace, our power, and our prosperity. Scouts, I hope you will remember, every time you see your flag, that the red stripes represent the blood of those who have given their lives for our country. Their sacrifice gave you this beautiful wilderness and the opportunity to enjoy it. Remember that this week, as we have worked together, learned, and played together in this wonderful place, that soldiers have died to give this to us. On the far off battlefields of the world our heroes still pay the price for your freedom and happiness. We must always give them the gratitude and respect they are due. But Scouts, I want you to realize that there is more than one way to give your life for your country. I pray that none of us will ever have to die for America, but I hope that from this day forward, you will continue to be men who live for their country, men who live for America.

Character Development:

When Rulon Skinner was the Scout Executive for the Utah National Parks Council, he put together a High Uintah Camp and encouraged the units in his Council to attend. In the middle of the push, a mother came into his office; she slapped her hand down on his desk and demanded, “What could my son possibly get out of a week in the woods that’s worth $25.00.” (Kind of dates the story doesn’t it?) “Why madam,” Rulon replied, “Scouting develops character.” “My son’s already a character,” she replied. “He doesn’t need developing.”

What is Character? My mother used to say, "character is what you do when no one is watching."

I’m a big Paul Harvey fan. One fall I worked as a farmer. At the time I was engaged to a farmer's daughter. I lost the daughter and the farm within six months, but that fall I spent many hours driving her father’s tractor up and down seemingly endless grain fields in the hills above Soda Springs, Idaho. I found out that farmers spend a lot more time on their backs beating on their tractors with wrenches than they do plowing with them. For those long days my life revolved around Paul Harvey. I started the morning listening to a fifteen minute Paul Harvey news broadcast. At noon, he came on for half an hour and I ate my lunch. Finally, at day’s end he gave the Rest of the Story. It was time to head for the shed.

Here’s a monologue from Paul Harvey called "My Hope for You".

"We tried so hard to make things better for our kids that we made them worse.

For my grandchildren, I'd like better. I'd like them to know about hand me down clothes and homemade ice cream and leftover meat loaf sandwiches. I really would. My beloved grandson, I hope you learn humility by being humiliated, and that you learn honesty by being cheated. I hope you learn to make your own bed and mow the lawn and wash the car. And I really hope nobody gives you a brand new car when you turn sixteen, I hope you have a job by then. It will be good if at least once in your life you see a baby calf born and your old dog put to sleep.

I hope you get a black eye fighting for something you believe in, I hope you have to share a bedroom with your little brother. It's all right if you have to draw a line down the middle of the room, but when he wants to crawl under the covers with you because he's scared, I hope you let him. When you go to a Disney movie, and your little brother wants to tag along, I hope you let him.

I hope you have to walk uphill to school with your friends and that you live in a town where you can do it safely. On rainy days when you have to catch a ride, I hope your driver won’t have to drop you two blocks away so you won't be seen riding with someone so uncool as your Mom. If you want a slingshot, I hope your Dad teaches you how to make one instead of buying one. I hope you learn to dig in the dirt and read books. When you learn to use computers, I hope you also learn to add and subtract in your head.

I hope you get teased by your friends when you have your first crush on a girl, and when you talk back to your mother that you learn what ivory soap tastes like. May you skin your knee climbing a mountain, burn your hand on a stove, and stick your tongue on a frozen flagpole. I don't care if you try a beer once, but I hope you don't like it. And if a friend offers you dope or a joint, I hope you realize he is not your friend. I sure hope you make time to sit on a porch with your Grandpa and go fishing with your Uncle.

May you feel sorrow at a funeral and the joy of holidays. I hope your mother punishes you when you throw a baseball through your neighbor's window and that she hugs you and kisses you at Christmas time when you give her a plaster of Paris mold of your hand. These things I wish for you - tough times and disappointment, hard work and happiness.

Written with a pen."

I was lucky enough to have watched Ronald Reagan’s funeral. It was the week between school and camp. I watched all day as I packed for Cherry Valley. Of all the speakers, my favorite was George Bush the First. He had been Reagan’s Vice President. Think of all the things he could have said in praise of Ronald Reagan: how he had saved the American economy, brought back our national pride, saved us from Jimmy Carter’s malaise. President Bush could have spoken of the defeat of Communism and the collapse of the Evil Empire. Instead he told a simple story of how he had learned from this man of great character. He said: “. . . I learned decency; the whole world did. Days after being shot, weak from wounds, he spilled water from a sink, and entering the hospital room aides saw him on his hands and knees wiping water from the floor. He worried that his nurse would get in trouble. The good book says humility goes before honor, and our friend had both, and who could not cherish such a man?”

The Scout Law is all about Character. If a boy is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent, he will have good character.


In the begining we did everything in the parking lot. This is a Flag Ceremony - a young Senior Patrol Leader, Jeff Curtis, leads the Camp. Jeff was on Staff the next year.


One of the first "events" we held as a Camp was the Two Mile race. The entire camp would meet in the parking lot and anyone who wanted to could race up to the top of the Hill and back down. Dean Mohonri and I stayed with the spectators. We told stories and had some great talks with our campers. This is where the storyteller part of my camp persona had its beginning.


Another Camp wide event had always been the Water Front Olympics. One game was the Match Relay. The participants included a wader, a swimmer, two guys in a canoe, and two runners who relay the match back around the end of the lake to strike it on the Staffmember's clip board. This Staffer is Jeff Curtis.

One of the problems with the Water Front Olympics was that most of the Camp stood around for several hours doing nothing but watching while a few heroes played.

Another problem was that during the Olympics all the rules the Scouts had been taught all week long at the Water Front were broken. This is the In-and-Out Canoe Race.


Although the Olympics were our big inter-troop program, we've long had activities in the parking lot. Here Staffer Dave Barton plays an Indian Game with his class. The man in the pigtails is Red Tail who was on the Staff at Treasure Mountain Scout Camp. I had met him at Camp School and he had come on a visit to Loll. The next year many of us would be at Treasure Mountain.

Let the Games Begin: My experience at Scout Camp has always included Camp Wide Games. The Highland Games which we run every Thursday night at Loll evolved over many years out of the best aspects of similar activities from many different camps. We have added many new activities, dropped some events and adjusted certain aspects of others; combining the good points of many. I owe a lot to my Program Directors over the years: Leonard Hawkes, Curtis Grow, Trent Warner, and Jody Orme. We have reduced the pressure of competition between units, emphasizing individual achievement - that which the Greeks called Arete. Some events have been eliminated for safety reasons: we no longer do match-lighting with a hatchet or build fires in the spruce grove. Some games have been dropped due to time or space constraints. At the Loll Games we no longer play Blob, nor do we play Old Sow as part of the Wide Games event. Scouts will play Old Sow for hours, and we would never get out of the woods. Since we also offer Scout Craft Skill Events on Tuesday night, we have segregated those events into that venue. For all the progressions, the purpose, the Aims, of the games remain Fitness, Citizenship, and Character Development.

I also want to warn you; you’ve got to understand; that if you don’t provide boys something to do they will come up with it on their own; they’ll tar the hog.


During Staff Week at Treasure Mountain we held a Staff Olympics. That's Leonard Hawkes in the Green with the flag staff. Brian Bock and Shaun Oborn also came from Loll, and as you can tell by their tee shirts are not about to forget it.

After each event we awarded medals and crowns of fir. Note the Olympic Flame burning in the background. The winner of the gold here is Dave Shupe, Jerry Lainheart won silver, Brian Bock at bronze.

Tarred Hog: Of course there is another reason why we play games at camp. I understand why kids need games because I was a kid once. In fact I was a rather rambunctious youth, to the point that my parents found it difficult to live with me. Oh, they didn’t mind the winter that much; I was either asleep or in school most of the day, but as the long summer days approached; when I say long summer days, I’m not kidding, we lived in Anchorage Alaska, and the sun doesn’t go down for any appreciable amount of time in the summer in Alaska; my parents became concerned. Their solution was to ship me off to my Grandparent’s place in Montana. When I say shipped I’m serious. In those days we took the train from Anchorage, Alaska to Whittier. Then it was on the ship from Whittier, Alaska to Seattle, Washington. Then we, my brother, who is four years older than me, always traveled with me, would be on the train again until we got to Brigham City, Utah; where my uncle, Ephraim Madsen Johnson would pick us up at the railroad station. Then it was off to my Grandparent’s place in Montana.

My Grandpa leased a big ranch right in the middle of the Indian reservation up in Montana. In fact my brother and I were the only white kids within thirty-five miles. It wasn’t that the Indian kids wouldn’t play with us. They particularly liked to play cowboys and Indians. In fact their favorite variation was known as Custer’s Last Stand. I was fourteen years old before I figured out that getting beat up four times a day wasn’t part of every boy’s summer activity.

In those days I thought my Grandpa a perfect man. Now, looking back, I can see he had his flaws. For example, he used to talk politics at the dinner table. In fact, I remember one night his saying that the Mayor ought to be tarred and feathered. The town was thirty-five miles away but it was the only one so we knew everybody in it. This Mayor weighed well over three hundred pounds, and the thought of him completely covered in feathers stuck in my mind. It was something I wanted to see realized in the tactile world but I knew the Mayor would not cooperate. Does that stop a kid, especially a kid with imagination and time on his hands? I say unto you – it is impossible.

My Grandpa had on that ranch a hog that looked an awful lot like the mayor; I figured he would do in a pinch. But, I knew my Grandpa would be protective of his hog, so I had to find a time when I could get my hands on the hog without my Grandpa knowing it. Now this wasn’t going to be difficult since I was an observant child and I had noticed a cause and effect relationship that I could use to my advantage.

You see, my Grandma, belonged to a group know as the Sweet Adelines. How many of you have heard of the Sweet Adelines? It is a singing group. These ladies would rotate from one ranch to another, do some singing, considerable gossiping, and eat fancy treats that they never take the trouble to prepare for their families. I know that sounds a lot like the Relief Society. Be that as it may, I had noticed that whenever the Sweet Adelines came to our ranch, Grandpa always had work to do out on the north forty. All I had to do was find the day on the calendar circled in red and marked Sweet Adelines and I knew the hog would be in my power.

That day we headed for the barn. My older brother was with me; he was very useful in activities that required muscle. We didn’t have any tar. But does that stop a kid? No. You see my Grandpa had a big Folgers Coffee can filled with pine pitch glue. Now the only difference between tar and pine pitch glue is that when pine pitch is cold its as hard as amber, which is really what it is, and when heated to the proper temperature it takes on the consistency of honey. In fact it makes a great trick sandwich if you’re into that kind of thing. We hauled that can of pitch down to the barn and put it on the wood stove to warm. We didn’t have any feathers either, but my Granny did collect goose down; to stuff pillows and comforters and the like. The only difference between a down and a feather is a feather has a stick down the middle and a down does not. I figured I could over look this, so we pulled two big bundles of down from the loft and headed for the pig sty. All that was left was to get the cooperation of the hog.

This wasn’t hard because I knew what hogs like, they like corn. My Granny had some corn. It’s called Indian corn. You know, red and purple, all shot through with gold and silver. She had a big bundle of it which she hung at the front door every Thanksgiving and left it there through New Years. But this was July so I knew she wouldn’t be needing it. I handed the bundle of corn to my brother. His job was to stand in front of the hog and keep its attention. This left the hind end, which was the part that looked most like the Mayor, for me. I slathered that pine pitch all over that hog’s hind end. You talk about your glazed hams; this was a thing of beauty. Where every bristle bent, it caught the sun like a rhinestone. Then I pasted on those feathers. Have you ever seen those Hostess cupcakes made out of marshmallows, all covered with shredded coconut; a pink one and a white one. Well, get rid of the pink one; take two white ones and squeeze them together just a bit and you have a picture of what I was looking at.

But, I noticed that there was a bald spot, about the size of my hand, on the left side – that’s running with the hog. Now, my hands were smaller in those days, but I have always been a perfectionist, so I figured I’d touch up. When I got to the pitch can, it had gone cold. All the pitch was either congealed on the sides of the can, or gluing the brush to the bottom. I ran back up to the barn, put that coffee can on the stove and pumped the bellows a couple of times. You might imagine the sound of that pitch as it began to bubble and flow down the sides to come to a boil in the bottom. That can was so hot, I had to pick it up with a pliers. I ran back to the pig sty, loading that brush up with that boiling pitch. When I got there, I planted it on that hog’s hind end. He forgot all about the corn, he forgot about the pig sty, he forgot about my brother. He went over the top of all three and up the front lawn and into the parlor with the Sweet Adelines. The only creature on that ranch with a sorer hind-end than that hog; myself, with the possible exception of my brother.

At Treasure Mountain we held the Water Front Olympics in Treasure Lake. Here a very young James Coburn serves as the "wader" for the Match Relay.

Jerry Lainheart, a true winner whose story I will tell someday, was our anchor man on the running part of the race. We always had the staff compete in the games, although they were always disqualified on some pretext.

This gross violation of Water Front safety rules was called the Centipede Race. The good thing about life guarding on Treasure Lake: all the life guard had to do if someone's boat went under was yell, "stand up!"

Because Treasure Lake was so small we had to come up with some suplementry events at T. M. We played our Wide Games on the field infront of the flag poles. Here Scott Pierce directs the Tug-O-War.

Shawn Oborn and Red Tail, in full Indian garb, run the Trading Session.

Here we play Blob on the Flag Ground at Treasure Mountain.

Doug Hopper and Shawn Oborn man the Caber Toss.

This is Cave Man Bowling done right.

Here the Chamberlain brothers participate in the Indian Scalp Game with the campers.

Here are some games to play with Scouts:

Old Sow: Sticking with the pig theme; we all know how an old sow is plumbed. There are so many feeding stations and sometimes there are more piglets than there are places to eat. If you’re the runt, and no little girl with her spider show up to save you, you starve. That is the premise behind Old Sow. (I was taught the game by Vern and Winston before I ever went to camp. The game has many names, but the one Vern used seems best to me.)

These Scout Leaders are learning Old Sow at a Round Table at Camp Bartlett in1985.

Scouts love Old Sow because it has the appearance of violence. One begins by arming each scout with a club or staff, one they can wield like a hockey stick. Recently I’ve been suggesting scout staves; they are smooth and are for sale at the Trading Post. The Scouts can get their own Old Sow Stick out of the woods but be sure to remove all the snags; they will dig furrows in the palms of the player’s hands during the heat of the game.

The Scouts form a ring around a central hole. This hole is the belly button of the old sow. Each Scout digs a small hole at their point on the ring to represent the feeding stations on the sow’s belly. There must be one more player than there are holes in the ring. This odd player begins at the belly button by using his stick to push an empty tin can toward any other hole. The mouth of the can should be smashed shut so no one can shove their stick in it during the game. The goal of the game is for the runt (the guy in the middle) to push the can up against any other stick in the ring while that stick is still in its hole. If he does this, he claims the hole; the player thus ousted must take his place in the middle. If this happens to any player three times in any given game that piglet “starves to death” and must go to hog heaven. One of the holes is then filled in and the game continues until there are only two piglets and two holes left. These are the winners and they are taken to the butcher – the ultimate goal of all good piglets.

Of course no player is going to stand by while the runt pushes the can (his snout) into their feeding station. As the runt approaches, the defender will take their stick out of the hole and try to knock the can away. The challenge is that once the stick is out of the hole, any player in the circle can claim it by placing his stick in any empty hole. This leaves the other players to race for any vacated hole and the entire group scrambling.

The game requires a referee to enforce one very important rule. No one is allowed to raise the business end of their stick above the ankle bone. This confines all damage to the feet and boots of the players.

Bat and Moth: Some call this game Marco Polo, but in a Camp setting, the nature theme is more appropriate. The Scouts form a circle. Start fairly big – arms out stretched. This forms the cave in which the bat will hunt the moth. Pick one to be the bat and blindfold him. Once the bat’s eyes are covered, select another player to be the moth. Spin the bat around a few times to muddle his sense of direction and then begin the hunt. The bat says “bat”. At the speed of sound, the moth must say “moth”. The moth can dodge and weave as much as he likes. The bat repeats his call again and again, the moth responding as the bat chases his dinner down by sound. Explain about how bats hunt as a set up to the game. If the bat has trouble catching his dinner, the referee can call, “cave-in,” at which the circle moves in on each other, restricting the moth’s movements and improving the bats chances. If the bat gets too near the cave wall the cave can call out, “cave”. Once the bat has nabbed his dinner, he removes the blindfold. He becomes detritus – part of the cave – the moth is blindfolded and becomes the new bat. Continue the game until all have had a chance to play both roles.

Loll Staffer, James Phillips sets up Bat and Moth in the Spruce Grove, 2010.

Indian Curling: I learned this game while visiting the troops. A great old Scoutmaster had his boys contentedly playing it. I stole the game at once and added it to Loll’s trove. I usually introduce this game by reminding every one of the 1992 Winter Olympics. They were held in Utah, and the curling event was held in Ogden. The “Second City” basked in this temporary fame. I usually get a joke or two off on Ogden.

To set up the game, find one large and as many small rocks as you will have players. Place the big rock (about the size of a human head) in the middle of an open space. Everyone then selects a small stone and puts one foot against the center stone. Then everyone simultaneously takes two giant steps back. Then go around the circle of players and have each cast their stone. The thrower whose stone lands farthest from the big one, must leave the game. All who remain return to the center. This time they take three steps back before casting their stones. The process of casting and elimination continues until you have a winner.

These games are fun, more importantly, all develop Fitness, Citizenship and Character. All require some physical effort,: running aiming, dodging. And there is more. In Old Sow, note who keeps track of how many times a player has been sent to the middle? Each player does, and no one cares. The game is about having fun, not about winning or losing. One develops strength and skill and cunning, with no need to worry about scores.

There is more to Bat and Moth than running and dodging. I’ve noticed an interesting detail: the amount of time between the bat saying bat and the moth saying moth is often reversely proportionate to the distance between the two. This isn’t physics, but maintaining good form in this case is a good way to develop character.

In the same way, determining whose stone is the farthest from the big rock is a wonderful exercise in democratic consensus. Won’t it be great when it means more to a Scout to do what is fair and true than to win another toss?

My Dad always used to say, “as you travel down life’s highway, let this be your goal; keep your eye upon the doughnut and not upon the hole.”


In 1986 we were back at Loll. Once more we held the Water Front Olympics, but now we sent the Gods to run around the Camp and gather the Scouts to the Flag Pole. We got this idea from Treasure Mountain. T. M. is such a big camp you have to do a lot of gathering. We continued the practice at Bartlett and now at Loll. These Gods are, left to right, Dave Maughn, Alan Francis, and Bruce Liston.

At the Flag Pole we provided some activities for the guys before sending them to the beach. Here Mark Danials demonstates Indian Dancing.

Scott Parsons was Mark's drummer. You can see the Scouts playing Blob in the background.


This is Curtis Weller, lighting the torch for the Staff Week Olympics. In the background the various departments represent the city states in competition.

The Commissioners come all ready in costume; left to right, Dave Hopper, Curtis Grow, Paul Bates, and Dave Barton.

Doug Hopper heads up the Water Front crew.

Paul Bates give his best to the Push Up competition.

The Marathon was twenty-six times around the Island. Trent Warner leads the way. Remember Phillipides.

Here Trent participates in the Poetry Contest, in those days an important part of the Staff Olympics.

At this medal ceremony, Dave Hopper takes the Gold, Larel Parkinson with Silver, and Doug Hopper in the Bronze position. The torch burns on.

In the late 80's and early 90's the Olympics were still the "main even". Here the Gods prepare to make their ceremonial dive into the lake. Let the Games begin.

It was in the summer of 1987 that we decided we needed something to do on Thursday nights; too many lost boys and fights. The parking lot was too crowded and full of stones - Leonard suggested the Spruce Grove. Doug Muir, our District Forest Ranger, agreed and we started the games there. We had been holding an honor trail, modeled on the one we learned to do at Treasure Mountain, and it meshed perfectly with the new location.

Indains ceremonies were to be an important part of the Wide Games and the Honor Trail. Doug and Dave Hopper set the standard.


One of the best things about the Wide Games is that the boys get to play with the Staff. Here at the Indian Arm Wrestle friendship is a hands-on experience.

There was no horn, no schedule, just organized Chaos. In the beginning, everything came from Chaos.

Paul Harris teaches Indian Dancing.

Trent Warner organizes the Bat and Moth game.

The Camp Loll Cooks attend the games in the Grove: left to right - Shannon Conner, Carolyn Conner, and Lorinda Hopper.


The Water Front Olympics were still the premier event. Our Gods still made the rounds on Friday Afternoon. Craig Miller makes a great God.

Here is the Commissioner Crew of 91 - left to right, Dan Reeder, Craig Miller, Paul Bates, and Mateo Remsburg.


We did play Blob in the Spruce Grove. Here Curtis Grow supervises the monster. Too much dust and too many trips to the Health Lodge.

As always the Staff models and the Scouts follow. Here Jason Jackson, left, arm wrestles our real Indian, Trent Warner.

Trent then goes on to direct the Scouts in competition. The boy in the purple shirt and home-made shorts is Lafe Conner. He is a winner.

What Is a Winner?

The Nail Driving Game: For two years I was the District Scout Executive in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Jackson was a great place to be a Professional Scout. The most onerous part of a DE’s job is raising his own salary. In those days we called it Sustaining Membership. Money we had to raise to support the Council and in the end to pay our own salary by begging for donations. I admit that one of my favorite things about being a Public School Teacher is knowing that people must pay my salary or they go to jail. In Jackson the DE had no such worry. First the District had $800,000 in the bank. In 1982 the interest on $800,000 was about a $100,000 dollars a year. We couldn’t spend the money fast enough. But that was not all. Every winter, ten thousand elk move out of the parks onto the Elk Refuge just north of Jackson. In late winter all the bulls drop their antlers, and a few weeks later all the scouts from Jackson, in those days, five packs, five troops and two explorer posts, gathered them up to be sold at auction on the third Saturday in May on the town square. We would collect two dump truck loads of antlers and sell them for a fortune. People came from all over the world to buy the antlers. There were jewelry makers, beautiful belt buckles can be made from the big rosette that butts up to the skull. Elk antler is used for knife handles. Buy a bone handled knife anywhere, and nine out of ten will be made with Jackson Hole antler. The biggest chunk of the antlers went to a consortium of Orientals, Japanese, Chinese and Koreans. I’m not sure what they did with the antlers, but I understand it has something to do with why there are so many Japanese, Chinese and Koreans. The profits went to feed the elk for the next winter; they also paid for the District’s SME and for our District office in Gas Light Alley, kitty-corner from the square.

Jeff Wilcox with a fine skull collected on the Elk Refuge and ready for auction. Jeff still lives in Jackson. He has taken the Camp Loll Staff on some wonderful rides down the Snake River.

The Antlers are bundled and made ready for sale.

Two dump trucks full of antlers stored in with the Fish and Game.

At Auction.

In that office we held our monthly Cub Scout Round Table. As anyone who has ever attended a Cub Scout Round Table knows, this is the most important meeting for a Cub Leader. There all the activities for the Den and Pack meeting for the month are presented. Our Round Table Commissioner was Peggy of Peggy’s Cakes of Jackson Hole. One night we had just finished playing the Nail Driving Game. You place two boards at one end of a long room with a nail started equal distance, into each. At the other end of the room you form two relay lines and arm each with a hammer. The first runner in each line takes the hammer to the nail and gets one swing. Hit, miss, bend it over, or ting in out, he gets one swing then runs back and hands off the hammer to the next in line. The relay runs until one team drives their nail flush. By the way, make sure that the boards are thicker than the nails are long, otherwise you are going to attach them right to the hardwood.

That night we finished the race and everyone was panting and blowing as we put our chairs back into the semicircle. Peggy produced a huge pink paste-board box filled with beautifully decorated cupcakes and began handing them out. She gave one to everyone – One to “she who ran with the cutest wiggle”, one to “he who held the hammer with the most determination” and so on. Soon everyone in the room had a cupcake, or the remains thereof, in their hand. Peggy stood back just beaming. “Whenever you play a game in Scouting,” she said, “you need to be sure to give everyone a prize.” Sitting right in front of her was the Cub Master who was also the Little League baseball Coach. “Why’s that?” he demanded. “Because we want to teach them to be, (I’m not sure why she chose these words), good losers.” “Lady,” growled the Cub Master, “show me a good loser, and I’ll show you a loser.” That fellow was lucky I was there, because she was considerably bigger than he was. I got in between the two of them and pushed them back into the far corners of the room where all they could do was shout at each other. But they got me thinking, “do we really want to teach our kids to be losers, even good losers?” I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this over the years, and I’ve decided that it all depends on how one defines the word loser; how one defines the word winner.

Roy Nakatani: I started out my Camp Staff career at Camp Bartlett. Every Friday afternoon we held the Coup Stick Trail. I always pronounce the “p”. When folks point out that it is pronounce coo; I counter that all French words are improved by Anglification. We held the Coup Stick Trail on what has come to be called Grizzly Field, a name applied to the flat north of Fife Lake by the youth training course long held at Bartlett. We just called it The Field back in the 70’s. Each troop was to bring a long stick to the event and we provided them with a leather thong. They would tie the thong to the stick and line up by troops. We divided the troops into two groups which would rotate from game to game; each group moving in opposite directions every fifteen minutes at the honk of a horn. Thus each troop would face a different opponent on each rotation. Staff Members were assigned to direct the events. Each Staff Member had two handfuls of feathers, one red and one blue. At the end of each event we would give the winners a blue feather, the losers a red one. The troops would tie their feathers to their thongs, and when the games were over the troops would line up. You could tell, just by looking, the winners from the losers.

This is the 1984 Camp Bartlett Staff at their Olympic Games on Grizzly Field. This is the view looking down toward Fife Lake.

Still at the Staff Olympics, the race was once around Fife Lake. You can see Grizzly Field in the background.

And the winner is - Tim Price! Note the toilet paper finish tape.

There were a lot of games. One was the chariot race. You take and lash three poles together into an A frame, put a kid on it, and dragged it down around the pine tree and back. Then the staff member would check the lashings, finally the team would take the chariot apart and lay out the poles and ropes. It takes twenty minutes to do the Chariot Race, so nobody ever got finished with the event. There was just a bunch of people standing around the pine tree yelling at each other. On the other hand, the Tug-O-War only takes two minutes, tops. Whoever got to run the Tug-O-War got a thirteen minute nap between every horn honk.

By my third year on staff, I had worked my self up in the camp director’s esteem to the point that I was appointed Tug-O-War Director. I was determined to do my best and “spice” up the action. There was a ditch running down the middle of Grizzly Field, so I would run the rope across the ditch, so the winners could drag the losers down into the ditch. That would be great fun, for the winners, and for me. Of course the problem with a ditch at Camp Bartlett is that by the middle of July, the water’s dried up. That didn’t stop me, I just ran a hose from the nearest bib to the edge of the ditch. Then, when the losers went down into the mud, I’d squirt them.

Now, you probably think it’s a pretty easy job, Tug-O-War director at a Boy Scout Camp, but there are challenges. For instance, have you ever noticed that Scout troops come in different sizes? How do you have a tug-o-war between a troop of eight kids and a troop of 18 kids? At the time I was 17, so I knew everything, and I knew how to handle this. I’d look across the field and count the number of scouts in each troop. When they got to me I’d turn to the bigger troop and say, “you can pick eight guys.” Want to guess which eight they picked, and do you want to guess who won that Tug-O-War? But, it was fair.

Everyone is a winner at the Highland Game's Tug-O-War.

One day I looked across the field and there came Roy Nakatani of the Ogden Buddhist Church. There are those who remember Roy. To my mind he was perpetually 87 years old. He walked crushed down, not from age but because around his neck hung a silver everything: Silver Beaver, Silver Antelope, Silver Buffalo, and swinging back and forth like a pendulum the Silver World. Behind him came four little Boy Scouts. In the Buddhist Church there were no Blazer Scouts, those boys came in right out of the Webloes. They were all in perfect uniforms, shiny black hair, and golden skin. I don’t want to say they all looked alike, but they all looked alike. I looked the other way, and there coming across the field, twelve Scouts from Pleasant View, Utah. Do you know how you tell a Scout from Pleasant View, Utah? They wear their shirts open so the hair on their chests will show. Oh, there were kids in this troop who could walk erect, two or three, the rest were dragging their knuckles. When they got to me, I turned to them and said, “you can pick four guys.” There was a chorus of little voices from behind me. “No, no, we’ll take um all on!” What the heck. We lined that rope up across that ditch, and started tugging. What those little Japanese boys were doing was feeding that rope to those gorillas from Pleasant View, but the way they did it would have impressed you. The kid in the front would hang on till he got dragged right up to the ditch, then in the last split second, he’d let go and run around behind the other three and pick up the rope again. The next one would be dragged, kicking and screaming, to the edge, and he’d let go and run around behind. This kept going until pretty soon, and I mean pretty soon, all four of those boys were hanging on to the knot at the end of that rope. They were all hollering, and I swear they were yelling “banzai!” When, sploosh, they went down into the mud. And I did squirt them, it was my job. But they were cheering, and out there at the end of the rope, those gorillas from Pleasant View were cheering, and down around the pine tree, sixty guys were cheering. And who were they cheering for? They were cheering for those muddy little boys in the bottom of the ditch. I gave them the red feather, but do you think they felt like losers?


Rowan Conner attends the Games with his Grandma.

The Highlanders became part of the Wide Games while we were at Cherry Valley in California. Jason Jackson pointed out that the Commissioners and the Scouts lived in the Highlands while the rest of the Staff lived down canyon in the "lowlands". He started wearing a kilt, boy did that catch on, and the whole Staff went in search of their Celtic roots.

Highlanders love their woad. These fearsome Celtic heroes are, left to right, Tatton Blackner, Russell Stevens, and J. D. McBride.


Jody has long run the Highland Games in the Spruce Grove. Here he goes over the event list with the Scouts.

These Highlanders are Josh Barton and Chad McCombs. You can bet that every Scout at these games wants to be a Highlander too.

Shad Burnham is also a great Highlander.

The nemesis of the Highlanders is the Wee Scout. Here he has "dissed" the Games and faces justice. This Wee Scout is Mitch Sutherland. Watch for him in the pictures coming up, it will be proof that the weeist Scout grows up.

At this monent one wonders if he will even live out the night. This is of course the most gratuitous violence, but remember - don't try this at home -the Wee Scout is a trained professional.

Sometimes the Highlanders look a little like Smurfs - it's all part of the fun. Here they are teaching the scouts to dance a jig.
Cody’s Story: Years ago I directed a camp in California, Cherry Valley on Catalina Island. All the scouts arrived at the same time, on a big red boat. They came marching into camp together; troop by troop, lead through the middle of the salina by their Camp Friends. One day a boy named Cody came to camp. He was a handsome boy of around 16. At least his body was sixteen; his mind was probably four. His mother walked ten feet behind him all week, just to keep him safe. We all know boys like Cody; he would say exactly what was on his mind. Standing at flag ceremony, just at the most reverent moment, when the flag was almost at the top of the pole, Cody would call out, “This is so neat!” Or when the Highlanders were beating up the wee scout, Cody would yell out, “I love you guys.” Whenever you spoke with him he would hug you. By midweek everyone in camp knew Cody. Some people would call Cody retarded; some might say he was a loser. On Thursday night we played the wide games. Cody was winning at the Indian Arm Wrestle. It didn’t matter who he went against, the smallest Scout or the biggest, burliest adult leader. Dan Simpson, the Staff Member running the event, would squeeze Cody’s bicep and say, Cody, you’re so strong. “I’m so strong,” Cody would say. “You’re the Champion,” Dan would explain. “I’m the Champion,” Cody would repeat. Half the camp gathered around the picnic table to cheer Cody on. Then came the kid who wasn’t going to let Cody win. He sat down across from Cody, took his hand, and in a few moments put Cody’s hand down. Everybody turned to walk away. No one wanted to watch that jerk arm wrestle. Dan went to Cody; he was expecting tears, a broken heart. It was Cody who comforted Dan. “It’s all right to lose,” he said, “it makes you strong.” Almost every Scout that comes to camp has more going for them than Cody, but Cody was not a loser, Cody was a winner.

Opportunity: Every one of us is dealt a different hand in life. At Camp Loll we have our challenges. I’d love to have less dust on a warm day, and no rain at all, no fire danger, and no bears. I’d like enough kayaks for every boy to get one every time, and enough climbing equipment and instructors to put the whole camp in harness. I’d love a bigger parking lot, close to camp, and a lake that was warm but still crystal clear. We go with what we’ve got. Some Scoutmasters have troop committees who arrange everything for camp. Set up the transportation, raise the money, and buy the food. Others have never heard the term troop committee. When I was a boy we meet in the Third/Fifteenth Ward Scout House. It is a wonderful fieldstone and log cabin, with two fireplaces. It was situated in a grove of spruce trees. It has ample storage for all a troop’s gear and drips with Scouting ambiance. When I was a scoutmaster in the Ogden 67th Ward our troop met in the nursery. My guys could never figure out why the same lady who encouraged them to play with the toys ten years before now got mad when they touched them. Some boys are beautiful, big, strong, fast, smart, or rich, others are not any of these things. All must play with the hand they are dealt. What makes one a winner and another a loser has everything to do with what’s inside and nothing to do with scoreboards.


At the Indian Scalp Game the whole troop starts out in the battle. It can be inter or intra troop and gives everyone a chance for individual achievement. It is not always the biggest or the strongest who is the last one standing.

Everyone get a chance to play - here the adult leaders try their hands at the Tug-O-War. It's about getting everyone playing, everyone winning.

At the Indain Leg Wrestle one stays in as long as they can throw the other guy. When you lose the wrestle you need not lose your dignity. Just get up and cheer the next guy on.

This is the Indian Rope Game. The Staff brings down a tub of ropes and the Scouts play as long as they want. Many stay at it from start to dark.

This is at the Indian Dancing. Feather grabbing? Well, everyone is has a great time.

At the Rock Put, there is a furthest cast mark, but it's really about getting past your last cast.

At the Hagis Huck, little guys as well as big get a chance. You can try and try, the bar goes up and up. Everyone get cheers and cheered.

I have a favorite poem called Opportunity, by Edward R. Sill. I am a school teacher, so I have to explain poetry before I recite. There is a man looking out over a battle field. He doesn’t know if he is really there or just dreaming. On the battlefield, soldiers are hacking at each other with swords and hunkering behind shields. On one side of the battlefield he sees the banner of the prince about to go down in the dirt, down in defeat. On the other side of the field this man sees a craven, which means a coward or a quitter. The guy is looking at his sword and thinking, “If I just had a better sword, I could do something; I could save my prince; but this piece of junk.” And he breaks his sword, chucks it, and leaves his prince to die.

Opportunity by Edward R. Sill:

This I beheld, or dreamed it in a dream:-

There spread a cloud of dust along a plain;

And underneath the cloud, or in it, raged

A furious battle, and men yelled, and swords

Shocked upon swords and shields. A prince’s banner

Wavered, then staggered backward, hemmed by foes.

A craven hung along the battle’s edge,

And thought, “had I a sword of keener steel –

That blue blade that the king's son bears – but this

Blunt thing!” – he snapped and flung it from his hand.

And lowering crept away and left the field.

Then came the king’s son, wounded, sore bested,

And weaponless, and saw the broken sword,

Hilt – buried in the dry and trodden sand,

And ran and snatched it, and with battle – shout

Lifted afresh he hewed his enemy down,

And saved a great cause that heroic day.

In Scouting we fight the great fight for the king’s sons. We have wonderful “blue blades”, like Camp Loll. But Camp Loll is only one tool in the year round, life long battle to build Fitness, Citizenship, and Character. When a unit leaves Loll, the fight to make winners out of boys does not end. Each must use what comes to hand, and do their best to save that great cause even if it just by playing games.

The first competition at the Highland Games is a battle of the bards, Jody v me. Jody teaches all to sing, "Bung It Out the Window" and we go the rounds; nursery rhyme after rhyme. The activity stirs everyone up enormously.
I win a lot, but Jody wins quite often too. That's OK, one cannot be jealous of one's children, you just take credit for all their accomplishments. Jody is my son by another marriage, not my own.

Here come the Highlanders to deal with another generation Wee Scout.

The Highlanders teach the Scouts to sing "McTavish Is Dead": McTavish is dead and his brother don't know it, his brother is dead and McTavish don't know it. They're both lying dead in the very same bed, and neither one knows that the other is dead. Then they teach the scouts a jig to dance while singing the tune.

These excellent specimens of Celtic manhood are, left to right - Cory Christensen, Travis Billings, and Matt Bredthauer.

Everyone dances and the energy grows; faster and faster until our heads explode, well almost.

Check out this big, strong, handsome Highlander. That's right - it's Wee Scout Mitch Sutherland, all grown up. Growing up is what the games are all about, it's a great way to show you are a winner.

A second set of Highlanders dance and sing to the Scouts delight. Here we replace Travis with Jacob Mortensen.

Every Scout wants to be these guys. They completely immerse themselves in the game, they demonstrate enthusiasm and good sportmanship; they are obvious winners and they don't need any scoreboard. The Scouts grow by joining them to play.
Dan Mauchley greatly enhanced the game by adding the flag of St. James to the pageantry. He brought us two and they parade all over the camp on Highland Games' night.
Dallin Slater shows his colors.
The Tug-O-War goes on and on.

The Staff work to get everyone involved; everyone gets involved because the staff works.

Fighting without violence, victory without defeat; it can happen when everyone is a winner.

A good Staff Member gets right in with the scouts, like Christian Lippert here at the Indian Arm Wrestle. Because he wants to do it, they want to do it, because he is postive in any circumstance, they are positive in their participation.

Mike Mortensen sets the stage and the mood for the Caber Toss. There are no losers if everyone does their best.

Like "Feather Picking" Stick Stepping has become part of Indian Dancing. I blame my son Shaun. The truth is it is an excellent game. There is no one to beat but oneself, and everyone who can find a stick, and we bring a lot, can play.

At this Indian Dance, Doug Hopper's son, Jackson, follows in his father's tradition.

Nelsen Riches give a boy a shot with the put. The games go on and on, into the night. The Scouts do not get tired of playing - they must be bribed out of the grove by stories and the Honor Trail.

Some Caber!
When I was a little Scout at Camp, I never dreamed of speaking with the Camp's Water Front Director. Here, at the games, scores of boys get to play the game with him. Mike Sutherland now is the Waterfront Director at Loll.

When everyone is a winner, everyone roots for the winner.

Could it be the "Old Man and the Sea"? One can hope that the memories of the contests and efforts of this night will strengthen these boys in the years to come.

Ben Dansie demonstrates Steal the Bacon with Andrew Crookston.

After darkness falls the troops still stand.

There can be no doubt this boy is giving his all.

There can be no doubt why they want to play the game.