Longer ago than I wish to remember, I was an enthusiastic Cub Scout and only briefly a Boy Scout. It was the Great Depression, and the troop folded. But we made up for it later with our two sons, both of whom were avid Boy Scouts in India, Egypt, Greece, the Washington, D.C. area, and Turkey.
I did some assistant scout mastering in the D.C. area, enabling me to whitewater canoe with the kids on the Rapahanock and bike tour on sections of the B&O Canal.
I’m always fascinated with the activities of our local scouts, our future leaders. One of our several very active groups, Troop 220 on the Key Peninsula, spent an exciting week in July at Camp Parsons in Brinnon on Hood Canal.
“This year marks the 95th anniversary of Camp Parsons’ continuous summer camp programs, and it is steeped in tradition going back to the days of Baden Powell,” Troop 220 assistant scoutmaster Spencer Wiklund said. “This was a step back into my past, as I attended Camp Parsons as a scout over 25 years ago. Some things have changed, and some have not.”
Scoutmaster Matthew Mills said Camp Parsons has remained virtually the same all this time. Buildings have been added and remodeled, but the essence of the camp, the waterfront, campfire ring and the parade grounds remain the same. It even hosted a visit from Powell, the founder of Boy Scouts, during its early years.
“Summer camp is a time for our troop to learn new skills and earn merit badges, learn to work together as a team and make new friends,” Mills said. “Like most troops, 220 annually attends a Boy Scout summer camp.”
While many troops attend the same camp year after year, Mills said, they like to sample a variety of camps throughout the Northwest.
“We have journeyed to Camp Hahobas near Belfair, Camp Meriwether on the coast of Oregon and Camp Fife near Goose Prairie. This year we decided to venture to the longest-running camp in the state of Washington, Chief Seattle Council’s Camp Parsons.”
During the camp, Troop 220 scouts completed a combined 60-plus merit badges, and most of 220’s first-year scouts accomplished many of the requirements to advance in rank.
Merit badges included archeology, communications, cooking, oceanography, rowing, small craft sailing and wood carving, to name a few.
“It’s difficult to choose one highlight as a favorite,” Mills said. “We had a canoe-swamping battle, played dodge ball in Hood Canal, climbed Parsons tower, invented a new Frisbee game, enjoyed a campfire filled with skits and jokes with a neighboring troop, and completed the annual Parsons Hullaballoo Relay Race and Octopus Cup.”
The 26 Troop 220 scouts were led by seven adult scout leaders, who delightedly recaptured some of their youth.
To Wiklund, the main highlights of the camp were the canoe swamp, during which four people in a canoe tried to sink another canoe. The floating dock dodge ball, the climbing wall and bouldering wall, as well as the nightly campfires, were frosting on the campout cake.
“On the top of the list was the one night we all took a moment to look out over the water and reflect on what we were doing, who we were, and why we were here,” Wiklund said. “I feel very lucky being able to be with this group of young men, watching them work together, struggle and grow and learn things about themselves, as well as what they can do as a troop.”
And that’s really what it’s all about!Hugh McMillan is a longtime freelance writer for The Peninsula Gateway. He can be reached at 253-884-3319 or by email at hmcmnp1000@ centurytel.net.