By: Siddeeq Shakoor
Camp Parsons, where the mountains meet the sea – my home for 2 months. After 12 hours of flying and 3 hours driving, I arrived at Camp Parsons in Brinnon, Washington. Situated in the Olympic Peninsula on the shores of the Hood Canal, the camp itself was the most beautiful place I have ever been to and every moment of my time there, my heart felt more and more at ease. From the trees and wildlife to the beaches and sunsets, I was in awe for my entire stay.
I came as a representative of ScoutsTT as part of the International Camp Staff programme that the Boy Scouts of America offers. It was an honour for me to be part of the CP staff and I quickly learnt that the Scouts on staff were amongst the best young men the BSA has to offer. The first week I spent on camp was for staff development and training and in a mere few days we went from strangers to brothers of the camp. The staff is usually divided into Beach, Tower, Kitchen, Scoutcraft, Dish Pit, Ecology Conservation, Trading Post, Craft Lodge, Scout Skills and Office.
For the next 7 weeks I worked as part of the Scoutcraft team, teaching Scouts who came to camp every week different skills and lessons that are the foundation to Scouting. I taught camping, wilderness survival, pioneering, orienteering, communications, cooking, signs, signals and codes and Scouting heritage. We also ran the obstacle course, patrol power sessions, cooking demonstrations, teaching the proper usage of knives, axes and saws and proper fire etiquette. My role was not only to serve as a camp counsellor, but to add international diversity to the programme at camp. I did daily sessions with troops on International Scouting where I spoke about Scouting throughout the world, the Scout Regions, Scouting events and how they can get involved, Messengers of Peace and my own culture, experiences and country. Also I got the opportunity to address to the entire camp on the first day of the week, explaining that they are part of a worldwide programme and that there are Scouts all over the world just like you and me. The feedback was usually outstanding and throughout every week I got to share a lot with many Scouts, Scoutmasters and parents who were very interested in learning about international Scouting. Most Scouts who came to camp never knew that Scouting existed outside of the BSA and I loved being able to tell them how diverse and vast our great movement is. Being on staff we put on unforgettable campfires for the entire camp each week.
The skits and songs the staff performed were extraordinary and the talent of the staff could be highlighted in the performances. The tradition of Camp Parsons is richer than Bill Gates himself who also came to the camp in the past. This year was the camp’s 99th summer of continuous Scouting and the legacy of the camp is tremendous. The founder of Scouting, Lord Baden Powell himself also visited the camp in its early days making this camp a million times closer to my heart. Part of Camp Parsons’ traditions includes the Order of the Silver Marmot, a reward system for distinguished campers in the past but now for staffers and high adventure Scouts with knowledge of the Olympic terrain. The highlight of my time at camp was being inducted into the Order of the Silver Marmot on my last week, with most of the first year staffers and getting my Marmot necklace which I will continue to wear with pride.
Of the many memories I had at camp, getting thrown off the pier twice by the Scouts, staff functions (Christmas in July, Know your director, Staff Jeopardy etc.), wilderness survival outpost, living in MBL, Snaptag, berry picking, rifle and archery shooting, being first year of the week, spending weekends with families from the council, being in a float plane flying over Seattle and back to camp, rappelling down the tower and singing songs with the staff after campfire were my favourite. My time at Camp Parsons has made me into a better Scout, learning things in great detail to teach them to my Scouts, managing the busy schedule of a staffer, and getting less than 6 hours sleep for 2 months.
Though the beauty of the camp is stunning, what keeps Scouts coming year after year is the hard work that the Staff put in. I am proud to have served with my brothers on staff to make the 99th Summer of Camp Parsons another success. And…
"That’s why Camp Parsons… that’s why I love you."
"There is no better place than Parsons
Where the mountains meet the sea
Where scouting skills are put to the test day in, day out
Where the scouts who come are the best there is no doubt
Brotherhood, Camp Parsons, silver marmot
These three things are dear to me
Brotherhood, Camp Parsons, silver marmot
Always stand on guard for thee
There is no better place than Parsons
Where the mountains meet the sea"
Tremble with fear,
Camp Parsons Staff 2017
Timberline – Order of the Silver Marmot