The Virtual Museum

The first Boxwells

Boxwell Reservation at Old Hickory Lake is actually the fourth camp to carry the name “Boxwell.” The first Boxwell—“Camp Boxwell”—was a four acre site on a private farm in Linton, Tennessee, a small community between Bellevue and Fairview off of Highway 100. This Boxwell was a very different beast than the modern camp. It housed 60-80 Scouts a week, each staying in large World War I right man tents. Advancement only ran for about two and a half hours in the morning and the afternoon was filled with recreational activities, such as softball, horseshoes, volleyball and other games. The paid staff consisted of only a few individuals (the Camp Director, the waterfront director, the cook, the medic), while the rest of the camp program was run by adult volunteers. There was no set slate of merit badges offered; it changed every week. And camp went on as long as there the 60-80 boys to fill a week. Oh, and there was morning calisthenics and nightly campfires. Camp Boxwell lived at Linton from 1921-1929.

The second Boxwell was at the Narrows of the Harpeth, today part of the Harpeth River State Park. This famous Kingston Springs location owned by Montgomery Bell was, by 1930, owned by Justin “Jet” Potter, who leased the site to the Nashville Council until the 1940s, when the Council purchased the property outright. The program there was generally the same though it transformed some over its run from 1930 to 1948. Youth staff was used at this Boxwell, eight Eagle Scouts every summer who had attended Boxwell before. Native Americans were integrated more tightly as well, leading to the creation of the Wa-Hi-Nasa Lodge in 1938. the regular instructors at this Boxwell were Harry “Beany” Elam and Rev. Alonzo Adamz. Boxwell remained at the Narrows from 1930 to 1948.

Both of these Boxwells were really the product of two men: Council Executive William J. Anderson and Camping Committee Chair, later Council President, Leslie G. Boxwell. Boxwell was a local businessman and Anderson was the track coach at Vanderbilt University. In terms of camp, Boxwell was the physical arrangements man and Anderson to program director. For Anderson, Boxwell was a training school, teaching young men how to be citizens. Scouts elected council members, and the council made and enforced the rules of the camp. Anderson and Boxwell guided the council camp until 1947, when they both retired. In September 1947, a new Council Executive—Ward E. Akers—took control of the Council and 1948 would be the last summer at the Narrows.

Akers had dreams of a larger Boxwell, one better fitting the post-World War II United States. He was unhappy with the Narrows, but did not have a better location chosen. A temporary site—Rock Island in Walling, TN—was chosen in 1949 and became Camp Boxwell’s home for the next 11 years. This Boxwell was very similar to the modern camp. It utilized campsites. It had advancement in the morning and afternoon, dedicated program areas and program staff. It utilized a family campsite and had opening and closing campfires. Boxwell remained at Rock Island through 1959, by which point a new camp was under construction: Boxwell Reservation at Old Hickory Lake.

Exhibit Images

Below are images related to this exhibit. Click for a larger version.

The First Boxwells Photo Gallery

The first Boxwell: Linton

Walter Whittaker, Camp Cook. Elam-Stevens Collection. The Linton Waterfront. on the South Harpeth. Elam-Stevens Collection.

Camp Boxwell at the Narrows, 1940.  James Kilgore film still. Morning Calisthetics at the Narrows. Elam-Stevens Collection.

Swinging Bridge at the Narrows. James Flatt Collection. Original Dining Hall at the Narrows. James Flatt Collection.

rock_island_commissary rock_island_dining_hall2

rock_island_campsite The Rock Island "Crib"--the Swimming Area

Virtual Boxwell History Fun Fact

An excellent source of information on Boxwell is For the Good of the Program by Grady Eades. This 2021 book can by purchased on this site. Simply return to the main page or contact the webmaster.

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