Gale and Jim Frost
December 6, 2005
Gale Frost was a camper in 1926-27 at the Square Lake Scout Camp. In 1928, the first year of its operation, he was a camper at what was originally known as the Rotary Boy Scout Camp, later St. Croix River Camp and now Fred C. Anderson River Camp. He earned his Eagle badge as a member of Troop 17 in St. Paul.
In 1929 he was hired as the crafts person at the river camp and in 1931-32 he was waterfront director. In 1933-35 he ran canoe trips, taking groups of Scouts from the camp to Taylor’s Falls and back on three-day adventures. Between trips, he taught canoeing and rowing merit badges; he was featured on the cover and in other photographs in several early editions of the canoeing and rowing merit badge books.
He was recruited to set up a model beach and teach water safety at the Schiff Scout Reservation in New Jersey in 1936 and then went to Sioux Falls, S.D. as assistant Scout executive. In 1938-43, he was Scout executive in Great Falls, Mont., and then left Scouting to train military swimming instructors for the American Red Cross. He returned to the Twin Cities in 1944, went into the agricultural products business, retired from a successful sales career in 1976 and then worked for 25 years as curator of the Minnesota State Fair History Museum.
He was married to Elaine for 60 years and they had five children. He believes that his camp experiences had a profound and lasting impact on his life. His swimming at camp led him to the swimming teams at St. Paul’s old Mechanic Arts High School and St. Olaf College in Northfield. He says teaching aquatic classes gave him confidence and made him a comfortable speaker, leading to success as a salesman. His advice is to get set with something you like and learn all you can about it.
He remembers David Brink, who succeeded him as waterfront director and Harry Bartelt, the first river camp director and later Scout executive in Duluth. One of his tent mates was the camp cook, Larry Gates, who later became a well-known stage and screen actor. The first year he was at river camp, there was only a shack for a mess hall; the second year Good Medicine was built. Cost for campers was $6 per week and most came for two weeks.
Gale’s three sons were all Boy Scouts and all camped, sometimes with their dad, at both Fred C. Anderson and Tomahawk Scout Reservation. Bob is now a writer and has written for publication about his camping experiences. Tom earned his Eagle Scout badge as a member of Troop 80 in St. Paul. Jim was a camper at Tomahawk from 1955, its first year of operation, through 1958. He was also on the staff for five-plus years and ran two beaches at Tomahawk. Gale and Jim are the only father and son to serve as waterfront directors at two different St. Paul area council camps. Gale Frost died July 17, 2007; he was 94.
Jim was an apprentice (today’s counselor in training) in 1958; was an assistant at Beaver Point and what was then called main beach for three years, 1960-62; director at Beaver Point in 1964, and director at main (Chippewa) beach in 1965.
New during those years was the heater-stack system of food delivered to campsites; before that, almost everyone walked to the dining hall in Chippewa for all three meals. Campsites north of the dining hall were informally called “short walk” and those in Sioux Camp were called “long walk.”
Jim remembers wrestling the old steel pier on main beach into place each spring and the huge snapping turtle and infamous floating pier at Beaver Point. He believes that camp gave him self-reliance and life skills. Also that the guys he got to know were among the best and brightest friends he has had in his life. He gets together with Steve Flood and Chuck Perkins every three or four months for dinner and reminiscing about Tomahawk. He also has been in touch over the years with Steve and Dave Albrecht, Andy and Tom Creager, Bill Dorgan, Hugh and John Gwin, Carol and Don Kelsey, Jim and Steve King, Pat McCardle, Gary Norman and other early ‘60s staffers; the group has had several reunions. Jim, Dave Albrecht and the Creagers visited Tomahawk by motorcycle during workweek in 2005.
He spent 35 years in the event business at the Minnesota State Fair, Clay County Fair and Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Iowa, and Dakota County Fair in Farmington, Minn., and is now living in Hayward, Wis. Jim’s advice is to do everything you can to convince younger generations the value of living outdoors and learning the skills that go with camping and aquatics.