FRANKLIN COUNTY — More than 450 Cub Scouts and Webelos attended a Day Camp at Hull Valley last week — possibly for the last time.
Without the backing of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which will end its century-old partnership with the Boy Scouts of America at the end of this year, there may not be enough boys to hold the annual day camps, said Brandt Purser, one of the camp’s directors.
This year the boys and their leaders spent a day tooling leather, making and tying rope, learning about first aid and chemistry, making treats over a campfire, playing games, shooting arrows, and otherwise having a ball. They came from 32 troops in Franklin County as well as Cove, Smithfield, and Richmond in Utah and from the Grand Teton area.
“The boys are having so much fun they are forgetting their electronics,” said Bob Humpherys, a Den leader from Troop 417 of Smithfield. He has been involved with the Scouting program since 1984.
“It has been a neat experience,” he said. He has enjoyed watching boys “come through as rough-hewn stones and leave as Eagle Scouts, as a polished stone,” he said.
“I hope the Church will continue some form of a day camp because its just such a good experience for the boys to come and interact with each other and be in the woods,” said volunteer Tamara Dahle.
She’s one of a crew of dedicated adults who has sacrificed her time each year to make the memories those boys take home with them. They have spent the last six months brainstorming, organizing, sewing, shopping, mixing and otherwise planning, according to Purser and co-director Dawnell Greene. Both have spent decades volunteering their time, and that of their families and friends, to make sure boys at Hull Valley have the time of their life for at least a day.
“We’ve had so, so many youth leaders and they are really good men and women,” said Dawnell.
Dave and Cheryl Gregory are a couple that has spent the last 30 years planning their vacation time around day camps at Hull Valley, she said. They thoroughly enjoy working with the boys – who are the reason they come back. But they come back for more than just the fun.
“We have to have leaders,” she said.
A woman once told her that day camps were so fantastic that she wished they could be held once a month during the summer months for the boys. She then went on to say that she didn’t ever go, nor could she.
“I have a job,” the woman said.
The Gregorys, the Greenes, Purser and many of the other volunteers have always had full-time jobs, too. Day Camp is their summer vacation.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’ll have to find a new vacation,” Dave Gregory said.
He’s known for making sure the leaders take a crack at shooting a BB gun or launching an arrow along with their boys. It’s awesome to see them and the kids hit a bullseye, he said.
Teaching young boys life skills and sharing with them an understanding of the principles of science and art, and how much fun it is to be physically active, is important to them. It’s important enough that Hannah Greene, Dawnell and Chad’s daughter, has spent each of her 18 years at the camp for her birthday. In recent years, she has become one of the volunteers herself.
Their daughter-in-law, Lizzy, grew to love helping create day camp activities when she was dating her husband, Josh.
“I like serving. I love the planning and all the things that go on behind the scenes,” she said. This year, she taught the boys how to blow up a balloon with vinegar and baking soda and the science behind it.
Dawnell sings the praises of her helpers. “I give the idea and they rock it,” she said of the volunteers.
Humpherys said that although ending partnership with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ may impact Hull Valley, it doesn’t mean the end of Scouting.
“Scouting is not done, it is just done in the church,” Humpherys said.
The BSA will continue to offer all of its programs and The Trapper Trails Council is trying to organize troops on a community basis so boys and girls who want to continue the experience can, he said.
Cub Scouting now offers separate dens for girls and boys, and Scouting-age youth have opportunities in single-gender troops as of Feb. 1, 2019, states the Trapper Trails Council website.
No troops have been formed in the Franklin County area. The closest is Troop 769 in Smithfield, under the direction of Jacob Dutson. There are also seven in Logan, one in Nibley and one in Hyrum. They are part of the new Mt. Naomi Scouting district.
The Trapper Trails Council has Scouting activities scheduled at the camp throughout June.
Hull Valley Scout Camp, which is 357 acres surrounded by National Forest land at the top of Cub River Canyon, was purchased from the A.C. Hull Family in 1966. Day camps were first held there in 1968. Older Scouts began holding camps there in 1977, and adults began participating in Woodbadge Leadership Camps at Hull Valley in 1979.
Camporees have also been held there, including one in 1976, when former Latter-day Saints President Ezra Taft Benson spoke. He used to bring boys to the area when he was a Scoutmaster of Whitney’s Troop 37 in Franklin County.
Through July this year, Camp Hull Valley will host youth groups, such as girls camp and other Scouting programs, from around Idaho and Utah in three and four-day sessions. The camp provides trained staff and equipment at activity stations (including a climbing wall, rifle range, archery range, tomahawk throwing, canoes and paddle boards). Although groups arrive with their unique schedules, the camp staff helps to facilitate each group’s program and provide adventure-based experiences at each station, according Jeremy Bell of the Trapper Trails Council.