I remember the day well – June 8, 1974.
A big tornado rolled through my hometown of Tulsa, Okla. that early Saturday evening. I had been packing my trunk for Boy Scout camp and when the sirens went off, everyone, including my dad, crouched down in the hallway of our two-bedroom home on Florence Place and waited the storm out.
It’s one of only times that I remember my dad coming inside seeking protection. Most of the time when a storm hit, he’d stand on the front porch with not a fear or worry watching as the storm clouds, rain, hail and wind rolled through. Not this time!
The storm first touched down on the westside of Tulsa in the Brookside area, which sat along the Arkansas River that rolled west of downtown Tulsa and continued in the southeastern direction.
After doing considerable damage to homes, businesses, restaurants and even the local NBC affiliate, the tornado lifted and took a northeasterly route near our home before touching down on the northeast side of Tulsa, again doing considerable damage to businesses, churches and homes.
I remember hearing the tornado. It sounded like a freight train coming through the living room wall.
We were one of the lucky ones and didn’t have any damage from the tornado going through.
Boy Scouts was the activity to be involved in back in the day for a big city kid. I started in Cub Scouts and my Aunt Louise Horton, wife of my mom’s older brother, was my first scoutmaster. I moved on up the ranks to Webelo, then to Boy Scouts by the end of elementary school.
I attended Boy Scout Camp for the first time in 1972 at Camp Garland near Locust Grove, Okla. Camp Garland is about 50 miles east of Tulsa and just up the road about five miles was Camp Scott, home of the Girl Scouts.
I remember on more than one occasion some of us boys talking about sneaking out of camp and making our way to the girl’s camp. It was just boy talk as it was too far away and would have gotten us into big trouble.
I attended camp from 1972 through 1976, the last being the summer between my sophomore and junior year in high school.
I always attended camp the second week of June, arriving on Sunday and departing on Saturday. We had a swimming pool and would participate in canoe games on the nearby Spring Creek. There was a rifle and archery range and many scouting activities to enjoy.
And of course the mess hall for our meals, unless we were working on a merit badge and had to cook outdoors. I can’t forget about mess hall duty and the time I poured the silverware down the shoot and it spilled out all over the kitchen floor. Apparently, I was supposed to wait as there was no basket in place for the silverware.
There was also an outpost were any scout could enjoy a cold ice cream or some other sweet treat. We also had a beautiful outdoor chapel and I often attended. In fact, chapel was one of my favorite times at camp. It was so peaceful.
At my first camp in 1972, my parents gave me $3 to spend. I only spent $2. They were so pleased that I got keep the extra $1.
We camped in tents and I can remember a few storms that rolled through camp. I always sat my trunk on rocks in case it rained. When it rained, water would run through the tent and the rocks kept my belongings from getting wet.
One particular storm, I believe in 1974, the high winds knocked down trees and large branches in the heavily wooded campgrounds. I have always been quite the sleeper and when the storm hit, most campers got up and handed for shelter. Not me, I stayed in the tent and slept through the storm. Thankfully, my tent held up in the wind and I enjoyed a good night’s rest.
I remember another year going on a five-mile hike and overnight camp to earn a hiking merit badge. It was not my most memorable event at camp as I wore blisters on my feet from the hiking boots. And to add insult to injury, a rain and windstorm blew through and tore our makeshift camp to shreds. My sleeping bag got soaked as did my clothing.
Scouting was fun. I didn’t rise too far in the Scouting ranks, only making it to Second Class. Later in life, rankings have little meaning. It’s all about the experiences, memories and friendships developed along the way.
It seems like it was just yesterday when I was a kid and got to go to Boy Scout camp.
Have a great week and always remember that “Good Things are Happening,” every day and always.