We all have our favorite Christmas memories and I’ve written about some of mine in these columns before.

Today I’m remembering something that happened the week before Christmas in my early teens, somewhere around 56 or 57 years ago.

As one of Jimmy Simmons’ BSA Troop 214 crew, I share a memory with about a dozen other ex-scouts who spent some chilly nights at Camp Rotary near Temple Hill. It was one of Simmons’ famed “winter camps” and this one occurred the weekend before Christmas, after schools had been dismissed for the holidays.

I’ve been trying to decide on the exact year but I do remember we had loaded into Simmons ’40-something Ford (The Green Hornet) after he had replaced the ’35 Ford (Black Widow) so that put it in the early ’50s.

We stayed in the concrete block camp buildings and cooked our meals on individual campfires that first night, probably a Friday night. Those were the coldest places I’ve ever tried to get a night’s sleep and that particular night, a light snow fell.

So the next night, we decided to move to the Lower Cabin where there was a big stone fireplace and all sleep in one room.

When it came time for supper, we decided to pool our resources and make a one-pot meal. Some of the ingredients in that incredible stew included pork and beans, Vienna sausage, several kinds of soup, hot dogs, canned spaghetti and whatever else a 12-year-old takes to eat at a winter camp including some Cream of Wheat.

I recall that stew vividly. It looked awful but it tasted pretty good, especially if you ended up with part of a hot dog or sausage. With crackers and Kool Aid, it was a feast to savor. And we cooked it in one big pot in the fireplace.

Before dark, we all set out to gather enough wood to sustain us through the night. And it was a cold one.

We huddled together on cots or on the floor in sleeping bags around the fireplace, frying in front and freezing our backsides off. You had to do a lot of tossing and turning to make it.

That’s just one of many experiences at Camp Rotary over a half dozen years in Scouting, some of which I don’t recall with great fondness like the winter camp just described or the time I wandered headlong into a hornet’s nest.

I don’t know what Scouting is like these days but I wouldn’t take anything for the time I spent in Troop 214. The old camp has seen great improvements in recent years, has been expanded and the Lower Cabin rejuvenated, mostly through the work of some old Scouts like Judge Benny Dickinson and the late Ted Simmons.

There are too many things for kids to do these days but in my youth Scouting offered many of us an outlet that we couldn’t have found anywhere else. Scouting is alive and well and I can recommend it highly.

Joel Wilson can be reached by e-mail at afwilson@glasgow-ky.com.

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