Girl Scout Camp Latonka

Camp Latonka 04-09-2016I’ve been scanning a lot of Boy Scout stuff recently. Dad, my brothers and I were members of the Anpetu-We lodge of the Order of the Arrow, the Boy Scout National Honor Society. I liked the Order better than the Boy Scouts because we were older boys, selected by our troops, and dedicated to service. We spent weekends building things and doing repairs at Camp Lewallen, for example; things that we could point to years later and say, “I built that.”

While doing a search, I ran across a note on Facebook saying that “as the Brotherhood of Cheerful Service, we have an opportunity to assist the local Girl Scouts at Camp Latonka again this year.” I hadn’t been on a work day since probably 1967, and I had never been to the Girl Scout camp located on Lake Wappapello in Wayne County. This was going to be a chance to kill two birds with one stone.

The worker bees

Camp Latonka 04-09-2016When I got to the camp, I saw several trucks and cars around the dining hall, but there was no sound of saws, hammers or other activity, so I just roamed around shooting mug shots of the facilities.

I finally ran into the group taking a lunch break before heading down to tear rotted boards off cabins, do some painting and general clean up. I shot this group photo of the Order of the Arrow members and The Friends of Camp Latonka in front of a stack of rotten wood that would be burned in a bonfire later.

A beautiful site

Camp Latonka 04-09-2016Without going into a lot of detail, some of which can be found here, a merger found the Girl Scouts with two camps in Wayne county. The Missouri Heartland board decided to retain Camp Cherokee Ridge at Patterson, and “divest” lands not needed, like Camp Latonka.

If I was cynical, I would say that the Latonka site, with waterfront access to Lake Wappapello and great overlooks of the lake, would be prime pickings for developers, with the proceeds going to support other Heartland activities. Fortunately, there was enough of an outcry that the camp has been given a new lease on life. It still depends heavily on donations and volunteer labor to keep going.

Camp mugshots

Pictures of people can be divided into portraits, which attempt to capture a person’s personality, and mugshots, which are merely records of facial features. Since I had never been to the camp before, I knew nothing of the “soul” of the place. What you see are merely mugshots that I hope will stir some memories for some of the hundreds of girls who have passed through the camp. Click on any photo to make it larger, then use your arrow keys to move around.

Meddling With Medals

KLS pins and medalsNothing like packing for a trip to empty out the sock and underwear drawers. Buried in the back of one of the drawers were two plastic boxes with foam inserts holding a bunch of pins and medals I accumulated while at Central High School (and, maybe SEMO).

 

When we got close to Cape, the weather alert kept going off with Tornado warnings; Lila was pulled over at a rest area north of town because a twister was reported south of her. Mother was headed to the basement. Things calmed down by the we all got home, but I decided not to unload the car tonight. We’ll fill you in later. Here’s a piece I put aside in case I needed a filler.]

The turtle and arrow at the top left signified that I was a Brotherhood member of the Order of the Arrow, the national Scout honor society. The turtle was our lodge symbol. I enjoyed Order of the Arrow much more than regular scouting because we were older boys and did work projects that had lasting value.

Missouri College Newspaper Association (maybe)

The rectangular pin on the left is one I don’t recognize. It has the initials MCNA. I was a member of the OCNA, which stood for Ohio College Newspaper Association, so I’m going to guess this was the Missouri equivalent.

National Forensic League

The next four were from debate club. The blue medal was for being elected Outstanding Representative at the State Student Congress in Jefferson City. The red one was for being Superior Representative. NFL, in my case, did NOT stand for National Football League.

The two pins showing the guy in a robe were for the NFL, too. I think the top one might have been a charm like you might put on a bracelet (no, I didn’t) or necklace. The other was a pin that you wore on your lapel.

Journalism and academics

Top right is a pin for National Honor Society. Some of the class of ’65 got in early in the year. I was in the ones who just barely made it. In fact, I’m pretty sure that it was activity points for stuff like debate and the school publications that counted for more than my grades.

The second pin was for Quill and Scroll, the journalism honor society. It notes that I was a photographer. You’ve move up in rank based on the number of column inches of your work you had published. I was working at The Jackson Pioneer and freelancing for The Missourian, so I had a lot more opportunities to get in print than someone who might do a couple of stories for The Tiger. On top of that, picture column inches counted the same as written column inches, so photographers could wrack up inches faster than writers.

 

 

Sharing with Dad

I’m blessed this Thanksgiving season that I have a great family, including Mother, who turned 91 in October and still has a zest for life.

I never come to Cape without making at least one swing through New Lorimier Cemetery where Dad is buried. One thing I’ve missed over the years is the opportunity to share with him some of the stories I’ve covered and the fascinating people I’ve met. I never went into much detail, but it was nice to know that there was someone out there who wanted to live vicariously through my war stories.

A few trips back, I decided to keep sharing what I’m doing in what might sound like an unusual way. After I shot the train squishing coins on the tracks in Wittenberg, I left a railroad spike and a smashed quarter on his tombstone. The spike is now driven into the dirt at the base of it, and I retrieved the quarter to give to Brother Mark.

The blue tile came from Cairo

This time I left behind a blue piece of tile that used to be the floor of a building in Cairo. If I don’t come up with something more interesting, on my next trip back home I’ll leave some stone slivers I found on the ground at the base of a wall around the Fourche a du Clos Valley Roadside Park near Bloomsdale.

It’s not very conventional, but it works for me. And, I have a pretty good idea that it works for him, too.

In case you were wondering

In case you were wondering what those three objects are in the circles on his stone, Dad was active in Boy Scouting and Order of the Arrow. The carving on the lower left represents the Silver Beaver, “the council-level distinguished service award of the Boy Scouts of America. Recipients of this award are registered adult leaders who have made an impact on the lives of youth through service given to the council. The Silver Beaver is an award given to those who implement the Scouting program and perform community service through hard work, self sacrifice, dedication, and many years of service. It is given to those who do not actively seek it.”

The object on the right is the Order of the Arrow’s Vigil Honor, “the highest honor that the Order of the Arrow can bestow upon its members for service to lodge, council, and Scouting.” They meant a great deal to him.

You can click on the photos to make them larger.