Tuesday, June 27, 2017
 

A LETTERS TO DICK FIHN
FROM LLOYD “KNUTE” KNUTSON


Note: Lloyd also served 12 years as the Director of Program at Philmont Scout Ranch.

February 6, 2004

When I look back I have only pleasant memories of Tomahawk. Keep in mind I was but 32 at that time so a lot of years have gone by and I don’t think I’ll be able to recall all the fun events, and some of the not so fun.

You probably have the early facts but I’ll recap.

All the property was owned by Axel Nielson. He was a “restaurant” person, from Chicago. I’m not sure of how the Council became aware of the land but one day C.D. Caldwell (Director of the Field Staff of the Council) asked me (I was the D.E. of the North Star District to go with him to “look” at some camp property in north central Wisconsin.

We drove to Long Lake, stopped at a resort on the very south end, rented a boat (small) and proceeded to cross. It was windy and we damn near capsized. We pulled the boat up and walked up the east side to about where the entrance is now. We came to a logging road and took it west. We were surprised when we got to the little lake. Then to the west arm (which was impressive that day). We then worked our way back to the boat and made it back to the resort. The people there had been concerned about us!

That was my beginning. In the next two years I traveled all over that 2000 plus acres. I recall the very large White pine almost in the center of the land. I remember the Osprey Nest. It was huge. I once flushed about 6 buzzards, who were busily devouring a dead deer.

I had very little to do with the layout and site selection, though I had no criticism.

Bob Bryant became the Camp Ranger. He was very good and had a lot of talent. Much of the success in developing the camp I give to Bob!

One event you may not be aware of is that the North Star District had a Spring Camporee on the camp. We used the east side. It was great! I could write a book on that Camporee but suffice it to say it was a success and “Tomahawk” (though not named as yet) was an accepted fact!

My first season for Tomahawk was 1957. Dick Molby Jr. (an import from Detroit, MI) was the Camp Director. Ed Dery had responsibility for the food services. I had the good job of Program Director! Bruce (fish) Foster was sort of my assistant and a great guy.

I can’t recall a lot of the staff, you, Dave Franks, Ray Chun, Dave Fihn, Jim King, Gordy Lothson, Dave Benson, Pat McCardle, Ralph Underhill and others. There were a number from the St. Anthony Park (Farm Campus) of St. Paul. One was “Benj”, more on him later.

We had a pretty large staff. We had {rotating Doctors, two nurses and a Protestant Chaplin and a Catholic Chaplin.

Everything was new. There was a large big waterfront and about 5 or 6 smaller waterfronts, one on the little lake. (eds. note: This little lake is either Lake Elizabeth, Beaver Lake or Nielson Lake. Depends on when you were at camp and what name was in vogue. The proper name seems to be Lake Elizabeth - but take your pick). Also, there was a waterfront on the east side for the residents of Family Island.

Foster was good at clearing out beaches. He used a high-pressure pump and got the tree roots out with Hydraulics!

Molby brought to camp the concept of a Chicken BBQ. This was the big Wednesday meal, Followed by the OA Pageant and the calling and tapping out ceremony.
(Note: I really used the Chicken BBQ event - had it when I moved to Rochester, took the idea to Portland and used it in one of the 5 camps and even used it with staff at Philmont. I still do it every fall here in Lake Geneva at the Church we attend).

I have several “stories” to relate on the Tomahawk BBQ!

I. I could not keep handles on the mops and brooms we had in the kitchen and dining hall. They were always broken. So one evening after the BBQ and OA events I stayed afterwards. The staff was not aware of my presence. Sure enough, when all was quiet and dark the raccoons and skunks came out to the picnic area to eat the spoils the Scouts had left. The staff were on the Dining Hall roof, all quiet! All of a sudden they jumped off the roof and ran around trying to beat hell out of the raccoons and skunks. So there went the broom handles.

II. One of the staff (from St. Anthony Park) had some very expensive “Bridgework” in his mouth. When he ate Chicken he took the brace out. He left it on the paper plate and it went into the garbage and from there to the Landfill!! His mother called me and said it was imperative that he FIND the bridgework! So I sent the kid and Foster to the landfill. After about 4 hours and a lot of garbage they came back with the “Brace”.

III. There is another story, same kid (I’ll skip his name). He thought he knew a lot about animals. Unknown to me he and some others had somehow caught a small (young) skunk! There was a Scout Master in camp, I think from Faribault or Northfield who was a “Vet”. “Benj” said that the “Vet” knew how to fix the skunk. I said NO to “Benj”.
Well they went to Rice Lake and got something from the Drug Store that supposedly was to put the skunk to sleep! It didn’t. I came into the Dining Hall for the noon meal. I could smell SKUNK! I headed for “Benj”. I planned to choke him. He motioned to me and pointed to the Scoutmaster. He really smelled. I didn’t do anything, just left the Dining Hall.

This is in 1957. Vehicles were not an item that young staff had. But they did get some down time on weekends or at least took some. I kind of took a few hours off also.

One Saturday evening my wife and I and some of the “older” folks drove around to the resort area on the west shore, about 1/2 mile from camp by water. We were actually across from the main waterfront.

Here in a typical “resort” Beer Joint we found our staff who were 18 or trying to look 18. Keep in mind, you could drink beer in Wisconsin at age 18!!! They were having a great time, singing, playing the guitars and getting free beer. They had come across the lake by boat and canoe to enjoy themselves.

I’ll wrap this epistle up with recalling a favorite pastime I had at Tomahawk in 1957.

Things were usually “quiet” in the early afternoons and the 4:30 to 5:30 period of the day. I would go to either the Archery Range or Rifle Range and Split Rails.

The North Star District {particularly the St. Anthony Park area) wanted to do “something” at Tomahawk in memory of a Scouter, James “Dad” Drew. (I never knew him.) So some money was raised and it was committed to the Rifle and Archery Ranges.

I felt that the trails to those areas were very attractive and no actual plaque was to be put up so I set out to make Split Rail fences. Bob Bryant helped by dropping off the type of logs that could be split. I wonder if the fences are still there?

Well, lots of time has passed and I’ve had many camps to relate to. All, I admit I liked and worked to improve.

Eds: note On several occasions , while driving back to the Ad Bldg from the Service Lodge, after the noon meal a short time was spent visiting with “Knute” and trying ones hand at rail splitting. It was one of those interludes that stick in the memory bank

My greetings to you and to all the guys of our time, when you see them. As always.

 

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