Fires at Camp (Bill Dixon)

Marv Antonoff mentioned the "few fires" we had at camp. That is, Fires at camp vs. Camp Fires which we had many. I also vividly remember the lean-to in Div. 3 burning down. It was 1950. I was scoutmaster of a camp I think was called Tecumseh. Funny, I was a camper for two seasons (two weeks) in Camp Oneida and two seasons in Camp Pathfinder and was Ass't Scoutmaster and Scoutmaster of Kennebec. Those names I doubt I will ever forget. However, I am not sure of the name of the camp I was a Scoutmaster...for a full season in 1950.

Dan Riviera was the Program Director and for part of the season the Camp Director. Marv was the Campcraft Director. The campcraft area was on the side of a steep hill. It was amazing that anything stood up in the area. At the top of the hill were several camps. I had the one as you came up the path along the water pipe. Facing the top of the hill, Dick Weidman had a camp to the right and I believe George Riorden. As I recall the camp that had the lean-to fire was Georges.

It must have been well after bed check. In our lean-to we had Marty Stein and Freddie Cutner and me. Not surprisingly I was asleep. The kids were why we woke up. A few lean-tos were closer to the next camp. When I awoke and stepped out it seemed like the entire sky and area was lit up. My first instinct was that the entire camp was going to burn down. The flames seemed enormous shooting up toward the trees and the sky! I told Marty and Freddie to be sure that all the kids in our camp were awake and up. I honestly thought that we might have to evacuate. I also told them to keep the kids in the camp area and do a count. Do not let them leave toward the fire...although, of course. all were watching.

When I got there, Dan and Marv had already arrived. The heat was also significant. As Marv said...a sight he would not forget...was Dan cutting down a rather large tree that stood next to the lean-to in flames. The water being passed along from the Willey was not going to save the lean-to so it was also thrown on keep him cool from the heat of the fire. Marv also had an axe and started cutting trees. I carefully I would be able to tell this detailed story 51 years later.

It must have been two to three hours before we were certain that there was no danger of trees burning and spreading the fire. We had to put four kids somewhere as well. The kids in our camp pretty much lost interest after the actual fire was out and dribbled back to bed. Some kids can sleep through an atomic bomb. It was one of the two highlights of that season. The other being the lost induction team which I believe Marv and others told a few months ago.

The year was 1950 or possibly 1951. It absolutely was a Saturday night and it was the second Saturday night of the period. Probably the second or third period. It was Talequah campfire night. Marv and I were going to do a skit at the campfire as our Divisional contribution. Each Division was to have a skit and a song as part of the program. As usual Marv and I had not done adequate rehearsal and we had not even finished writing the skit. We were doing just that as the entire division left for the Talequah lawn for the retreat ceremony. I had always liked that ceremony but we figured we could write and rehearse and be ready if we skipped the retreat ceremony and the lighting of the council fire. A truck comes tearing along and someone yells there is a fire in Division 1. We hop in the truck and tear down the road. There was a cabin in Kennebec burning down. It was daylight and the fire was not leaping up and was well under control when we arrived. Others might have been more involved in that fire. As I also recall we got to the Talequah campfire in time and the skit was a hit!

That as not the first fire I saw at TMR although Marv is so very right that there were few fires considering all the possibilities of fires starting with all those kids. It was 1947 and I was the SPL in Pathfinder. We had a very nice staff cabin that was on a higher level then the campers tents which were about 30 yards away. It was late afternoon. The scouts had returned from open swim but it was still too early for evening retreat and supper. Everyone was just goofing off as usually occurred at that time of day. That included Jim Minor who was the scoutmaster. He and I were just lying around

We heard someone yell "FIRE"!

Jim Minor leaped up...he had no shoes on...and started running toward the tents. One tent had a line of fire moving up on one side from the frame where it was tied and the flaps were rolled. It was amazing how it just crawled up the tent roof. I followed Jim at a much slower pace. When Jim got to the tent the flames were at the very top of the main beam. Jim leaped on the platform and knocked down the first pole. He ran through the tent and knocked the other pole down. While he messed up some beds...he eliminated the chance of the trees going up... I remain impressed to this day. Jim Minor was a terrific guy.

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