Joe Cook (John Cleary)

Joe Cook had the best understanding of how scouting works of any camp director I worked for. At times he overdid things to make a point -- but he got it across. He was big on the patrol method. We used to joke that he wanted patrols to go to the latrine together and take their patrol flags with them. All kidding aside, he had an effective sense about how to help each camper feel important among his peers.

Joe also had a good sense of humor about himself, which he tended to use too seldom. He did seem to have a well-honed ability to get other professional scouts and some other adults upset. Maybe he had an insight into what the scouts needed and didn't always understand scouters. Maybe he was just plain on target and simply not politically adept. It was great to serve on his staff. I was a scoutmaster at the time, along with Jack Cullen, Carlos Bendix, Jim Keavney and Kurt Nelson. I don't recall him being called "Uncle Joe". Al Nichols was always referred to as "Uncle Al" (with a kind of Brooklyneese scorn). We really didn't know much about him, in fact.