Will the Real Paul Bunyan Please Stand Up

As an interesting counterpoint to the dominant narrative of industrial decline and the resultant disinvestment in the typical sorts of structures such as factories, schools, and the like that most of my other posts deal with, I offer this example of yet a new manifestation of the faded glory of the once-great Michiganian Empire in the form of something that has gone abandoned for a lack of humans to justify its existence: a Boy Scout camp.

Yes, the school districts and catholic parishes are not the only institutions facing the reality of being forced to close down and consolidate their facilities, the once-proud and vastly popular Boy Scouts of America have been forced into cutbacks too. Once they operated large camps all across the wide state of Michigan, but in the past several years have been forced to idle or close some of their camps, simply because there just aren't as many Boy Scouts anymore.

Sure, there are plenty of things to blame besides a declining population in Michigan--the battered image of scouting in the face of political kerfuffles regarding the exclusion of gays, religious conservatism, and of sexual abuse allegations (whether true or paranoia-based), as well as a general decline of interest with the outdoors in our youths. You can blame smart phones and video games too, I won't stop you.

You could blame the fact that boys who are interested in scouting are often stigmatized with the stereotypical "Boy Scouts is gay" rap by their jocky peers, even though the skills Boy Scouts presumably learn makes them ten times more manly than those lazy sacks will ever be (try it sometime--ask some haughty jock bully to start a fire in the rain without gasoline, navigate through the wilderness without a smart phone, or perform first aid in an emergency. It will be hilarious entertainment, I promise). Personally I blame today's lazy, worthless parents, but it doesn't matter--scouting is on the decline.

By this point you have almost certainly guessed that I was a Boy Scout. More importantly, while I was a scout I spent a lot of time at this very camp that I am about to show you, during a very formative part of my life. It was the experiences I had there over the years that helped forge me into who I am today--gave me the appreciation I have for the outdoors, the hunger for exploration, and the love of the Great Lakes State that I call my home. So this is going to be a rather sentimental post.

Paul Bunyan Scout Reservation is located deep in the woods of the northern Mitten, in Oscoda County near Mio. I have to admit I was a little heartbroken upon learning recently that it had been closed. I was always excited when June rolled around, not just because school was letting out, but because it meant that soon I would be heading up there for a week, where I would be granted a measure of personal freedom that I was not afforded at home.

I was raised pretty strict by today's lackadaisical parenting standards, so this was a big thing for me to be let to wander freely in the woods for a week. I also loved it because it gave me the chance to use the rifle range and rowboats that were there, but I think most of all it was about exploration. Every year I wanted to check-off new areas of the huge camp that I had not been to yet.

I realized it had been over 17 years since I had last been to Paul Bunyan. I was somewhat afraid that I might find it drastically changed, or in poor condition. It had only been closed down for about a year, so it was probably in decent shape still. Once I spotted the old, motionless petroleum well that sat near the road leading into the camp, I knew we were very close. The rain cast a gloomy feel over the day's decidedly nostalgic proceedings, but I wasn't about to back out.

As our truck pulled up the long sandy drive from the main road and I saw the yellow gate with the big unmistakable letters "PBSR" welded into the posts, my heart jumped suddenly in recognizance. This was it...I was back.

It was like being in a dream. Of course it was locked, so we would have to park and walk from here. I was concerned that a guard or caretaker might be lurking somewhere within, but I felt confident that if they had any shred of human compassion they would understand an old scout's desire to see his old camp once more before it fell into complete ruin (for what it's worth, recent tire tracks we found within the camp indicate that it is regularly patrolled).

Before the trip, I had somehow miraculously found my copy of the camp map, which happens to be dated June 1995, but like a dumbass I managed to forget it at home, so I would have to navigate by memory.

Click for full size
It turned out that we had actually somehow arrived at the service entrance to the camp instead of the main entrance, which might be why I couldn't find the huge Paul Bunyan-shaped sign welcoming scouts to the camp. Right away I saw something that I didn't recognize, some bran-new modern toilet and shower building:

This was definitely a recent addition, because when I camped at PBSR, there were never any flush toilets anywhere, and our shower building was very crude indeed. I guess modern scouters just can't hang?

We soon passed what looked like a standard troop campsite, a cleared area with a stack of wooden platforms meant for erecting the tents on:

I'll admit that having wooden floors was one grand luxury we did enjoy, though I suspect it may have also just been a way of giving us the extra responsibility of being required to constantly sweep them. Anyway, one other bonus was that you didn't have to bring a tent to PBSR, they supplied all the tents that were meant to go atop the wooden platforms--a large heavy-duty army style canvas job that went together with wooden poles that were big enough to be Roman infantry spears.

One of the first jobs upon getting out of the car was dragging all the heavy platforms into place and setting your patrol's tents up. That's where we lived for a week. There were also steel army bunks that we put inside the tents to put our sleeping bags on. These luxuries sure made up for the other things we had to sacrifice on. A wooden outhouse was nearby for our toilet needs, and a water basin with a crude faucet provided us with water, though I suspect that they may have been spring-fed, based on the artesian geology of the area:

A pipe bent over the basin with holes in the bottom of it that sprayed down into the basin, which allowed it to function as a group hand-washing sink. A bar of soap hung from it in a nylon stocking.

Finally, I found one of the big signs along the entry road that greeted visitors into the camp:

It says, "50 YEARS OF SCOUTING, 1962-2012; PAUL BUNYAN SCOUT RESERVATION, LAKE HURON AREA COUNCIL." What a blast from the past for me. The last time I saw this sign was in 1996 or '97. The only history on the camp that I can find comes from Wikipedia, and states that PBSR embraces 600 acres of pristine land bordering the Huron National Forest, close to the AuSable River. It was purchased in 1959 and opened as a summer camp in 1962. According to a plaque near the Waterfront, PBSR was founded by Arthur E. Henry (and seems to imply that the Lake Huron Area Council was once called the Paul Bunyan Council).

Unexpectedly, we came upon the designated Shooting Sports area, one of my favorite places to hang out in camp, and I instantly got excited:

The geography of the camp is quite varied, topographically. The forest floor is sandy, but pockmarked with giant crater-like depressions called ice block pits (or "kettle holes"), some of which have filled with water. They form when a block of ice from a retreating glacier is stranded, and after it melts away a kettle-shaped depression is left around where it used to be. The shooting ranges are set up down in one of these kettles, so as to make it easier to ensure that no stray bullets would be going anywhere they're not supposed to.

This cratered geography was another thing that made PBSR so fun to explore. If you found a remote kettle to climb down into you could achieve complete solitude, because sound waves from surrounding areas pass right over the top of the depression without going down in, so even if someone is making a lot of noise close by, all you will hear is complete silence. A friend and I found this out the hard way when we were off exploring one day near our troop's campsite; our Scoutmaster had rung the bell for us to assemble and march to dinner, and because we were down in there we couldn't hear it, or any of the people shouting our names, so we got in a little trouble for it.

Along the steep climb down into the crater, the first stop was the archery range:

I was only perennially any good at archery, so I didn't spend a whole lot of time here; like any American teenager, I was into guns by this time. 

Here, several archery targets lay stacked on a picnic table under the shelter:

We also took this opportunity to get out of the cold autumn rain for a moment.

It was very unusual, and a little unnerving for me to be here this late in the year; I knew Paul Bunyan as a place of green leaves, warm daytime summer temperatures, and sunny azure skies. Today's drab palette, autumnal chill, and falling yellow leaves made for a decidedly moribund atmosphere to accentuate the loneliness and desolation of the now-abandoned camp. The occasional broken fence or unattended fallen tree laying across the path also served as an eerie reminder that this place was slipping into disuse:

I can't deny feeling a definite sadness at seeing what had once been such a cheery place now in such dour disposition.

Approaching the bottom of the long curving stair, I could see the rifle range come into view. The flagpole next to it was for signaling when the range was active and for visitors to be cautious, as well as quiet and respectful of those trying to shoot:

It was here at this range that I learned how to shoot, and to respect the deadly power of firearms.

It was also on this range that I shot targets that qualified me as Marksman 1st Class under the NRA system.

I think the distance was only 50 feet, and we only used .22 rimfires. We also could do trapshooting next to this range, which we of course used shotguns for.

The numbers on the beam above the shooting stations were used to call out commands to us instead of the range master having to know our names.

In order to go onto the firing line--or for that matter in order to even approach this structure, one had to request permission to enter from the range master. If he was not busy.

If you failed to ask permission and you just waltzed right in, you could expect to be barked at pretty harshly, and kicked out of the range for the day.

Moving on from the shooting ranges, we headed back up to the central area of camp, where most of the buildings would be. There was a big crossroads there, and a map kiosk that I don't particularly remember.

Not far away however, I could see the shape of the Dow Lodge coming into view. That was the mess hall where we ate most of our meals:

That was another luxury of weeklong summer camp. We were expected to be kept busy with earning merit badges, so in order to free up more time for activities we did not have to prepare our own meals like we would at any other camp, and instead we were marched to the mess hall where it was cooked for us.

We formed a line to get our food from the kitchen by this wash basin, where we (presumably) were expected to wash our hands:

I am not sure exactly where the name "Dow Lodge" comes from, but obviously the Dow name looms large in the annals of Michigan's history, so I am forced to wonder if the Dow Chemical Co. either donated land or money to help found Paul Bunyan, or if it was named after some other person named Dow. I also considered whether the famous Michigan architect Alden B. Dow had perchance designed it, seeing as it bears a few familiar conventions of his and was built in the correct era, but I don't have a good enough eye to say for sure. In any case it probably would not rank amongst his most glorious achievements.

EDIT: According to a counselor who used to work at the camp, the Dow Lodge was indeed designed by Alden B. Dow, and funded largely by Herbert and Grace Dow. Furthermore, the building has remained essentially unchanged since it was built in 1963 or '64, he says. 

It essentially consisted of an enclosed cabin at either end, connected in the middle by an open-air dining shelter. One end was the kitchen, the other was the camp administrative office. This is the dining area, which was filled with long tables and benches when I was here last...today it was strewn with old dead leaves that had obviously been there a long time, as well as the fire brigade wagon, apparently set here in storage:

Another thing that stands out in my memory is that each troop present in camp had their troop flag mounted from the beams of this structure, and whichever table their flag hung over was the table they ate at. Here is a photo of what that would have looked like:

Courtesy of Troop 87
These white panels cover the "IN" and "OUT" doorways to the kitchen:

This photo is taken from just about the exact spot where I always sat at our troop's designated table:

Here are the 12 points of the Scout Law, one of the things that all scouts had to memorize, along with the Oath and the Motto:

Evidently the rustic old wood-carved map that was here when I was a scout has been replaced with some computer-generated modern crap:

Pardon me for a moment, but I suppose it is possible that some readers who did not grow up in the Great Lakes may not have ever heard the tall tales of the legendary lumberjack, Paul Bunyan. Paul Bunyan was a giant of a man who lived in the days when the great primeval forests of Michigan were being logged.

He was so tall that his head stood in the clouds, and with his axe he could fell more timber in one day than a whole crew of men with chainsaws. His companion was Babe, the blue ox. Paul was strong enough to change the course of mighty rivers with his bare hands, and even dug Lake Michigan as a watering trough for Babe. His exploits became the fodder for fireside tales passed between lumbermen on long winter nights.

Many towns claim to be the home of the true Paul Bunyan, a character who some claim originated from a real historical figure. The state of Michigan has designated Oscoda as the official "home" of Paul Bunyan, because it was the Oscoda Press that published the first Paul Bunyan story, in 1906. Other Michigan towns with claims to Paul Bunyan history are Bay City, Saginaw, Grayling, Averill, and Ossineke, as well as several in Minnesota and elsewhere, but it is pretty well established that he is a Michigan man.

Those who claim the character developed from a real lumberjack most often point to Fabian "Joe" Fournier, a native Quebecois who worked the forests of Michigan from 1865 until his death in 1875. A character named "Saginaw Joe" is often listed among Paul Bunyan’s crew in the stories, and it is said that this was a reference to Fabian Fournier, but it is simultaneously claimed that once again he could have also served as the human inspiration for the larger-than-life character Paul Bunyan himself.

The original Paul Bunyan tale that was written down may or may not have evolved from an older spoken lumberjack legend, but one thing is certain--that first printed tale in the Oscoda Press did not describe Paul as a giant; that was something that came about later as the tales became more popular. And as with any tall tale, it got bigger with every retelling.

The far end of the Dow Lodge housed the trading post during my time, but more recently it seems to have been converted to the first aid station. Delightfully, aside from the red and white cross sign, nothing else has changed about its appearance:

I used to spend a lot of time here too, since it was where you could buy snacks like candy, jerky, and peanuts, and ogle other scoutly items for sale such as pocket knives, compasses, or flashlights. I think it was also a place where you could buy merit badge handbooks if so needed, or any other uniform parts you may have required.

Unfortunately it was well sealed, so I couldn't take a peek inside.

Anyway, the main reason I hung out here so much I think was mostly to talk to the kindly lady that ran the counter, who took an interest in me and always asked how I was doing on my activities. Now that I think about it she was the only female interaction that any of us ever had here, and as such we probably subconsciously sought out her motherly attentions, since being away from home for a week can seem like a very long time for a young kid.

Just down the back of the hill from the trading post was a trail that led to both the chapel, and the lake. The chapel sat at the bottom of another steep "kettle hole," which as I explained earlier lends it an incredible privacy and acoustic isolation from the rest of the world beyond its protected bowers. The sign reads, "ENTER, TO WORSHIP":

The quiet isolation made it a perfect sanctuary for religious service, which we attended briefly on Sunday mornings. 

There was no camp chaplain to my knowledge; usually our own Scoutmaster would lead non-denominational services, as on any other outing. Clearly it is not big enough for everyone in the entire camp to attend at once, so I assume it was scheduled one troop at a time. I would imagine that PBSR was big enough to accommodate at least a couple hundred scouts at once.

Once again, the presence of downed branches left strewn about gave the impression that the camp was being let go to the mercy of the elements, and would soon be descending into ruin.

The pulpit and altar, depending on how formal your troop liked to get with service:

Our troop was based out of a public school, not a church, so we generally kept our religious activities to a minimum.

Now our path turned toward Lake Paul, which I had been itching to see.

Taking photos in the rain was very uncomfortable, but I had driven a long way to get here so there would be no pussing out. The north end of Lake Paul:

More downed branches blocked our path...down that way to the right is the area where the "Nature Area" marked on my map is located:

My memory of it is rather fuzzy, but it was where you would spend a lot of time if you were going for the Environmental Science merit badge as I recall. There was a nice wetland back there to study.

At the very north tip of Lake Paul however was the "Fire Bowl," where camp-wide gatherings would be held. Benches were built into the slope overlooking the placid water and the fire pit on the beach, which on a summer evening was an incredibly gorgeous scene. It was from here that I saw my first meteors.

I think there were usually a couple campfire evenings per week, where there would be the usual skits and songs and stories. I was never much of a public speaker or showman or anything to do with being in front of other people, but nonetheless each patrol had to put on skits for the whole at least once. Let's just say I was J.C. Penny.

We started back up the hill toward the Dow Lodge again, where I wanted to see the old camp flagpole:

This was probably the most military aspect of the camp, in that every morning before breakfast, and every evening before dinner, we were expected to march to the flagpole circle and fall into formation around it for raising and lowering the colors, accompanied by the appropriate bugle calls, during which we saluted. Afterward if there were any announcements that needed announcing, we continued to stand at attention while they were given before being dismissed to chow. As a result, "Reveille" and "To the Colors" ended up stuck in my head for most of the week since that was really the only music available (I didn't have a Walkman).

Not sure what this nearby area was called:

It had a cool totem pole, which I seem to remember. Of course carved with all kinds of apocryphal scouting-related symbols whose meanings I am sworn to secrecy on, haha.

Anyway, this shelter was the Handicrafts Area, where merit badges involving manual skills were taught. I remember it for the time I spent there for the basket-weaving, woodcarving, and leatherworking merit badges.

The signs under the main sign read "ASK TO ENTER," and "NO SLUSHY ZONE." I don't remember there ever being slushies...what the hell kind of operation are they running these days, a fat camp?!

And yes, that is a vehicle parked under the shelter...when I spotted it I got nervous that maybe there was a caretaker around here after all, but it clearly had not moved in a long time:

This truck would've been fresh off the assembly line the last time I set foot at this camp.

Apparently they recently added pottery to the list, because I am not sure I remember the kiln over there:

Or this pottery wheel:

I also seem to have a vague notion that the wooden shelter itself didn't exist back then either, and that we actually were doing crafts under a large fly, but again my memory is pretty hazy.

This building across from Handicrafts was the Quartermaster's Depot however, which I definitely remember. Just like in the army, the Quartermaster was the staffer in charge of supplies and materiel. If for some reason we needed to check out or drop off tools or the like, this was where we did it:

I believe he also had the only mailbox in the camp. Which I guess makes him the Yeoman as well. I took a peek through the fence, to see...BABE!

"Babe" was an old airport baggage tractor I presume, cleverly dressed up as a blue ox in deference to the Paul Bunyan theme. They used it to move around the trailers stacked with canoes, and other hauling tasks. When I was at camp, Babe was the only motor vehicle to be seen anywhere. What a blast from the past to see Babe again!

I remember one contest that was the stuff of legend, which involved being in a canoe with the rest of your patrol, and being tied next to other canoes with other patrols in them. Everyone was armed with fire buckets, and the object was to try and sink the other patrols' canoes by bailing water; the last canoe still standing was the winner. Obviously for a bunch of 12-year-olds this was pretty epic stuff.

Here was the old shower building that I remember:

Go ahead, crack your gay jokes about communal showers now. I'll wait.

Anyway, it looks like they're just using this one for storage now, but I remember some pretty hilarious times here, mostly involving a patented method that we taught ourselves on how to make a proper rat-tail out of your towel. Basically it turned an ordinary wet towel into a bullwhip that gave a rambunctious kid the ability to leave horrifying welts on his fellow scouts, and--when wielded in capable hands--even blow holes in particle board walls and break light fixtures. The surprisingly loud, authoritative "SNAP" it made on the concrete floor commanded as much fear and respect as a gunshot. I remember that taking a direct hit from one meant you wouldn't be walking right for quite some time. No soap was dropped.

Ahem, this next shot shows what I believe to be the feature marked as "Round River" on the camp map; it was one of the kettles whose bottom had filled with water and formed a bog, sort of like an island in the middle:

It's hard to make out through the trees, but that is a very steep depression in the ground, probably 50 feet deep. Sorry, I didn't have the time or energy to climb down into it for a closer look, so here is an aerial view of what they look like...there are actually several such kettle bogs in the area, one of which is called Eyeball Pond:

You may recognize several place-names on the different camp maps that hearken back to the old tall tales about Paul Bunyan, such as Round River, Big Onion, Pyramid 40, Blue Snow, Feboloson Flats, Ox Bowl, etc., and it's of course no accident. Each one has a story behind it, and especially in the case of Round River, I have to wonder if this very spot is what served as the writer's inspiration for the corresponding Paul Bunyan tale in the first place, since as I mentioned earlier the first known printed version of it originated right here in Oscoda County. 

In 1910, Detroit News Tribune columnist and Oscoda native James McGillivray published the tale "The Round River Drive." It was an extended version of the original tale that was printed in the August 10, 1906 Oscoda Press by an unknown author (but who was most likely either James himself, or his brother Will McGillivray, the paper's editor). James McGillivray was a former lumberjack, having worked lumber camps of Michigan in his youth.

Anyway, the tale of the "Round River Drive" tells of the day that Paul Bunyan and his buddies cleared the “pyramid forty” along the Round River, which refers to a 40-acre lot that is so topographically steep that clearing it of trees it represented a formidable task, equivalent to much more work than any mere 40 acres ought to be. When Paul and his crew had finished the monumental task of clearing the timber and rolling it to the river to be driven downstream to a sawmill, they noticed after awhile that they had rafted past what looked like their own camp at least twice. Eventually they figured out that the river went in a circle and had no mouth, and that they had in fact been going in circles. 

The tale is of course meant as a humorous tongue-in-cheek commentary on the incredibly laborious and seemingly unending nature of logging work. But did this very unique spot at my old summer camp within Oscoda County inspire the author to write the original Round River Drive tale printed in the Oscoda Press in 1906? Or did the Lake Huron Area Council of the Boy Scouts simply name the features of their new camp after the old tales when they bought this property in 1959? I am very tempted to go with the former case.

Even though the pedigreed university folklorists of American academe (most notably Richard M. Dorson) have contended that the Paul Bunyan tales are essentially "fakelore," I have to disagree. Dorson defined fakelore as stories that were concocted by a profit-oriented print source, instead of being generated organically through the oral storytelling tradition that all true folklore ostensibly comes from. Anyway, I plead immunity from Dorson's proclamation, since I--a red-blooded American too young to know better--grew up under the assumption that Paul Bunyan was as legit a folk hero as they come. Sure, it may likely have had a contrived print-based origin, but what happened in the ensuing 100 years that came after is that it has in fact become something of an organic oral tradition, as youngsters like myself learned the stories by listening to them as they were recited verbally around a campfire, without having ever known they may have been invented in 1906.

Furthermore, I would like to tender these ancient land features as physical ties to a story of a mythical man, and landscape. Even the shape of Lake Paul and Lake Bunyan when viewed from above, form the shape of a bootprint--not coincidentally, it is said that the bootprint is that of the giant Paul Bunyan himself, made as he strode across the vast virgin tracts of northern Michigan in the days of legend.

Speaking of Lake Paul, here we were:

We scouts added an unofficial place-name onto our own vernacular version of the PBSR map, to refer to the ineffably steep path that led from the trail down to the beach at Lake Paul. We called it "Cardiac Climb"...

Now that I was here, it didn't look quite so steep as I remember it, but then again it was much easier coming down than going back up! Anyway, I was ecstatic to be back on this remote glacial sand beach again where I had so many memories. If I'm not mistaken, Lake Paul may be spring-fed?

Here were the stiles that led down to the swimming area...the two posts to the left used to hold the "buddy board," which I was sad to see missing:

Half of the floating dock sections were pulled in too, and sitting on the beach. They normally would have formed an "L" extending out into the middle of the lake, enclosing the shallow swimming area from the deeper area.

Rowboating was my favorite, because they were bigger and more macho than canoes (which I also liked, but not as much), so whenever I had leisure time I was sure to put in at least an hour or two on a rowboat. There were a few kayaks available as well, but in order to use them you had to be tested first, which involved demonstrating how to safely extract yourself from it while capsized, and get back in. I said f%$# all that noise, I'll stick with my big ole rowboats and stay dry. 

The lifeguard tower:

Since it was no longer off-limits to me, I decided to climb up there and have a look.

There was also the legendary snapping turtle that was said to inhabit the depths of Lake Paul, whose shell was as big around as the hole in a kayak. Some of the swimming counselors had reported seeing it at times lurking in the darkness at the sandy bottom while they were snorkeling, and that it had tried to come after them. Once again, that, and my natural disinclination for swimming in lakes usually kept me in a rowboat or canoe unless I was absolutely required to swim. The aforementioned "Fire Bowl" area is at the far edge of the lake:

Speaking of swimming, I don't dislike doing it but I have a bit of a phobia about being in water that I can't see the bottom of, or that is too deep to stand up in. I also don't seem to float as well in lakes as I do in pools, and I don't like the comparative coldness of lake water, so the lake swimming experience for me has always been an ordeal of necessity. That is, I needed to pass a certain level of swimming proficiency in order to be allowed to use boats, so I did only the minimum I was required to.

That practice worked well for many years, but when it finally came time to advance in rank, there was a point at which I needed to get the swimming merit badge. This meant that I had to do a lot more swimming in deep water than I wanted to, which was murder. I was required to do a certain number of laps in the deep water without touching the dock, then I had to tread water for several minutes. I wouldn't be telling you all of this if I didn't rank it as one of the more traumatic experiences in my life.

The next challenge was to jump into water over my head fully clothed, and without touching the dock remove my shoes, socks, shirt, and pants (so as to avoid sinking), and then utilize my pants as a flotation device by tying the legs together behind my head and filling them with air at the waist. So all of this involved a lot of time being underwater (as well as winded and terrified), and then I had to demonstrate that I could float with my pants like this for several minutes. I just remember the rest intervals between these crucibles as being spaced-out times of extreme exhaustion and sparkling little pixies floating everywhere, brought on by lack of oxygen to the brain. 

The final, and most terrifying of all the trials was to dive to the bottom of the deep part of the lake, and bring back a handful of sand to prove I had been there. This went against everything my mind told me I ought to be doing in a body of water, but it had to be done or my manhood would be held cheap in the eyes of my peers (who were all better swimmers than I). Just being here brought back some of that nervous knotting in my stomach I felt that day in 1995 as I prepared mentally for this unthinkable feat.

I woke up that morning in a grim mood. By the time I jumped off the dock, I had screwed my mind into such a flinty determination that I imagine I was psychologically in the same place that green soldiers go to when they know they will be entering combat for the first time. When the cold water shocked my body the adrenaline started pumping, but I was still afraid of the blackness below. I was told to open my eyes while I dove, so I could see where I was going, but I didn't want to. There wasn't a single thing down here that I wanted to see. I kept them tightly shut and timidly dove feet-first by waving my arms upward repeatedly.

I became frightened as the weightlessness set in and my feet suddenly felt the water temperature sharply drop as I penetrated downward into the depths where the colder water stayed, and soon I was enveloped in it, panicking now because I had still not reached the bottom yet. The loud clanking sounds transmitted through the water from the floating docks jiggling against each other above me seemed quieter now, making it feel like I was so much further away from the surface, and the world of air. What in the hell was I doing down here? My brain switching over into primitive survival mode, I furiously waved my arms to keep pushing me downward into the freezing blackness...I was running out of breath. My feet impacted into cold sand suddenly enough to startle me, and without pausing I crouched down to grab two huge handfuls of sand, and to use every ounce of strength in my legs to spring upward again as hard as I could.

The ascent into warmer, lighter water took much longer than I had hoped, and I was seriously running low on air. In a last-minute moment of panic I worried that I might be coming up underneath the docks themselves, but luckily reemerged at the surface in almost the same spot I had started. Nearly choking for air, I weakly made my way over to the dock and slammed both clenched fistfuls of sand down onto it in front of the counselor as proof for payment of my fell deed, before pulling myself out of the black lake with shaking arms. I must have sat there on the edge of the dock regaining my strength and sanity for several seconds before stumbling back to the beach to dry off and get dressed. I remember that took awhile too, as I sat for several more minutes alone on a bench vacantly staring off into space while the sun warmed me back up and my heart stopped pounding in my ears. It was without a doubt the most dreadful crucible I had ever surmounted (at least until I was old enough to learn the cold depths of female betrayal).

Looking to the south end of Lake Paul, there is a tiny inlet through the reeds that you can barely see in the center of the frame, which led into Lake Bunyan:

I was all proud of myself one day because I had actually managed to successfully take a rowboat through it and navigate around in Lake Bunyan. I think it was technically off limits to do that since it is beyond the sight of the lifeguard, but I managed to get up enough steam with the big rowboat to tuck the oars in and coast all the way through the narrow channel, weeds hitting the sides the whole time.

Leaving the Waterfront area, we came across something that was definitely added well after my days at PBSR, a zipline over a kettle bog, named the "Beamish Beast:"

The sign touts the length as 780 feet, and the height as 60 feet. I have to admit I'm quite jealous of the later scouts who were lucky enough to have had this toy at their disposal.

Another merit badge area, which I can see included astronomy, one of my favorites:

I suddenly remembered that in July 1994, the Shoemaker-Levy 9 comet collision with Jupiter was scheduled to occur, coincidentally while I was at camp. So I decided to take the astronomy merit badge that year, and we had a telescope that was brought out to the "Ski Bowl," to watch. The Ski Bowl was another huge depression in the ground, but it was clear of trees and was the best spot in camp to get a look at the night sky.

Unfortunately it was either too hazy or our telescope wasn't powerful enough, but I don't think we managed to see the event. I do however remember getting hooked into some moronic argument with another scout about whether the explosion would cause some sort of incineration of Jupiter's atmosphere, causing a chain reaction that could destroy the Solar System, haha.

We happened to pass behind the Quartermaster's again, to see that much of the camp's storage space consisted of old semi-truck trailers. I guess that's where the tents and cot frames were stored maybe.

Having seen as much of my old scout camp as we could see in the rapidly deteriorating weather conditions, we made our way back to our truck, with a head full of freshly-warmed memories of pleasant times from long ago. I had experienced the fine reverie I had come for, and now it was time to leave this place and its ghostly memories, and return again to adult life out in the real world.

"Wimachtendienk, Wingolauchsik, Witahemui."

Geology of Michigan, by John A. Dorr & Donald F. Eschman
Bloodstoppers and Bearwalkers, Richard M. Dorson
Buying the Wind, by Richard M. Dorson
Michigan Ghost Towns, Vol. II, by Roy L. Dodge, p. 67


  1. I have to say that I really enjoyed your post. I went to the Owasippe scout camp for the Chicago area council for several years until I became an Eagle last year. All of these pics bring those memories flowing back. Your camp looks almost identical to ours. I know your same experiences with the tents, the beach, the chapel, the shooting range.....its looks just like it. Even the terrain, the trees, and the sand at your beach all look exactly the same as my camp. I'm really glad that someone else had a really good experience at a scout summer camp and wanted to share it with the world. Hopefully I will not return to Owasippe ten years from now and find everything -not abandoned- but...just locked up and covered with leaves, the uncertainty of it all is the worst. I think that the BSA, even with it's conservative views, is the best youth resource in the US. Nowhere else can a young man learn leadership, group management, life skills and lessons, survival skills, and make lifelong friends all in one organization. I am so glad that my summers were occupied with scout camp, because when I look back, I see my friends sitting on their asses, diddling with their computer games while I was out and about in a perfect wilderness far away from the concrete jungle. All of the canoe trips, merit badges, fire bowls, songs, lunches, hikes (authorized or not,) and shenanigans that made up our summers should honestly make up the summer of every growing boy. When people think of "BSA" they think of "dirty scoutmasters" or "dorks on uniforms" when they should really be thinking about the true values of scouting, the good active fun it provides, and all of the knowledge people can get from it. We need more guys like you who tell the world of their experience, with all of its goods and bads, so that people will know that scouting is so much more that what reaches the front pages of the news. Thanks for the great post.
    PS: I got my hat from J.C. Penny

    1. Thanks for the great comment.

      Also, can I have my hat back now?

  2. All the Sox fans cringe when they see a Tigers hat, so no.

  3. I loved summer camp also, some of the best memories I have. My summer camp, Camp Tapico outside of Grayling, also closed as part of the recent realignment of camps and councils. Its a shame to see that happen but as you pointed out the interest is just not there anymore. This was a great post and makes me think about all the trips to camp and all the good times. Hopefully someone has the forethought to keep these places in usable condition so that they may be re-opened sometime. I suppose that wishful thinking and they will probably sold off sooner than later. Maybe I need to make a trip and document my camp before it gone...

  4. I loved your description of PBSR as I too spent many summers there before it was closed. I did not attend there as a youth, I first came to the camp with my son and the next summer I found my self Handicraft Director which I did for 17 summers at PBSR. I was the one responsible for the kiln and wheel and yes the pavilion came much later, as we spent many years under tents and fly’s.

    I watched the building of the climbing tower and zip lines during the last few years at the camp, as well as many pavilions spread around the camp and used for teaching merit badges, like the Handicraft pavilion. There was also a new building called the Besser Conference Center, that you didn’t see on this trip.

    The Dow Lodge was indeed designed by Alden Dow, and much of the money came from Herbert and Grace Dow, but the building remained very close to the way it was when built in 1963 or 1964.

    I was very saddened that the new Michigan Crossroads Council didn’t find a way to keep the camp open, maybe it will one day become used as a High Adventure Camp, as a base for exploring not only PBSR but the many lakes and rivers near by in The Huron National Forest.

    1. Wow, were you the white-bearded gentleman with a prosthesis who ran the Handicrafts? If so, I believe that I took my basket-weaving and leather-working merit badges under you, as well as probably some others!

      That's awesome about the Dow Lodge too! Thanks!

    2. Another former employee here, Charlie Andrews. I Started working there before Skip, though we eventually worked together. The old man with the prosthesis was Mr. Pashby of Milford, MI (I've lost track of his first name) When I started working at PBSR in 1990, he was in charge of handicrafts and his wife Vera was the head cook. I have many fond memories of PBSR as both camper and later as staff, and even later as part of a long-range planning committee that did many service projects there. (I "retired" from PBSR in 1999) I always expected PBSR to get the ax sooner or later as the old LHAC never wanted to invest any money there, but only at Camp Rotary, which they only lease and do not own.

  5. https://m.facebook.com/#!/groups/174926455914068

    I'm not sure how many of the blanks you want filled, but there are many of us who could help. Your post was awesome. I worked the camp from 96-04 and miss it.

  6. Thank you so much for this. I was right with you on this wave of nostalgia and deep sadness for the generations who will never share those memories I cherish so dearly from Summer camp, to Order of the Arrow, to TLT.
    Do your best.
    Do a good turn daily.
    Be prepared.

  7. When did you attend camp at PBSR? I was there for a week in 1994 with my son and his troop, then on staff from 1995 to the closing in 2012 as Handicraft Director.

    1. Yep, I was there all through the mid-1990s...we must have crossed paths.

    2. Hey Skip, were you not able to take the pottery wheel with you?

  8. I worked at Paul Bunyan for 10 years starting at the age of 15 up until 2012 when it closed. It broke my heart to have my summer home taken away. I've worked at other camps over the last couple summers but I haven't found anything close to Paul Bunyan.

  9. Ben "wookiee" Stacy here, worked there from 92-98 tents were stored in the stro, matresses and cots in the trailers. The chapel held about 350 or so staff sat down on the bench off to the side in the front and then on the ground if you weren't one of the first down there and the overflow campers / adults would sit / squat on the ground at the sides and back of the benches with services being Friday on the way before the Friday night fire. Great to see Babe is still there, Janet was the trading post lady, Ranger Jack was the head QM, and the Fred Teedie was doing it after that.

    1. Oh man, you just stirred up some old memories haha...I remember hearing "the stro" but I can't place what it was.

  10. Barry Sherman here loved working up there. Looks like I worked with a few of I guys I worked with Fred teedie in the stro

  11. For the authors pleasure, from a scout probably 10 years younger than you. The new trading Post was that little hut by the Logos that had a ramp to it (it came along about the same time as the bathhouse's, 2007ish). The computer generated map was a national initiative to give each camp a clear trailhead style map that could be used similarly at other facilities. The council is now the Water & Woods Field Service Council. You didn't end up making it to the OA bowl (behind all the other campsites by waterfront by a long ways) which may or may not have been *there* 10 years prior. Yes the pottery kiln and turning table were nee but that's from "skip" the director and I'm surprised he didn't take them wherever he ended up. From 04-07 there were many issues with staffing at PBSR specifically with food service. One week we went they didn't have enough hot food for everyone, causing a ration system I remember that caused the kitchen director to be fired and leaving every scout scurrying for pb&j's or salad if their Scoutmaster wouldn't go to town for them to get additional sustenance. The pavilion where the astronomy merit badge was held was the newer nature area. That area you didn't recognize near the flagpole was just a meeting placed sparsely used during summer camp. The camp is currently for sale at an asking price of $1.6 million as-is. Also, I just learned of this camps closing a couple weeks ago (I recently rejoined my old troop as an assistant Scoutmaster to try to boost the ideas of going outdoors for activities) and was pissed. When I asked one of my friends who was on staff the last summer before they closed he said "When we started they said they guaranteed us another job next year if we came back, but just when the last group left we were told that council sold the camp." But the council did pick up Cole Canoe Base in Alger, Northwood camp in Alger, and D-Bar A in Metamora. Those along with Rotary meant one would have to close and PBSR was already down to a 3 week summer and had troubles keeping staff.

  12. The saddest part for me in the whole PBSR camp history was that they closed it on what would have been the 50th year of operation. What a great time to promote this area but council instead put the lock on the gate. I was a scoutmaster and all of my sons attended and we all had a heck of a time there with me learning as much as they did. We went back for winter camp and even in the off season to help prepare sites and give back a bit. Skip Bleecker was very good in the handicraft area and we still have some of the projects that he taught us to do. So many good memories of this camp, council really blew it when they let this wooded jewel go.

    1. I remember taking the pottery merit badge and chanting "Skip! Skip! Skip!"

  13. Went both here and Rotary when I was a scout, thanks for the memories. Disappointed in the national failure to promote and support scouting and keep places like this open.

    Eagle Scout Jeff Hayner

  14. I've stumbled across this article multiple times, and always enjoy the guaranteed trip down memory lane. I was Scoutcraft Director for three years, and Archery Director for two (02'-06'). Sure kills me to see the camp up for sale. I spent so much time there as a Scout, it never occurred to me that it might not survive to be shared with my own kids someday. Brutal.

  15. Great Post! I worked there in the late 60's, managed the store. by the way, the original out houses were also designed by Dow.

  16. I love your story you touched on so many things I remember from my times going there. The story of the big snapping turtle that no one ever saw but the week I was there was rumored to have been caught and the shell hung on the wall to dry (where they stored babe) but once we got there to check it out, it was gone. So the legend continued.
    Thanks again for sharing your story

    90,91,92 troops 796 (I believe)

  17. I just happened to come across your article on PBSR and appreciate the photos. My grandfather was Arthur E. Henry or Art, the founder of the camp. He was the Boy Scout Executive for the Paul Bunyan Council in the 1950s which then later merged into the Lake Huron Council which inturn is now Woods and Waters. The land was surveyed by him and then purchased by BSA wit his recommendation. He mapped the original trails, named many of the features and laid out the location of the original structures. He spent many, many summers at that camp from the day it opened until the mid 1980s. The beach was dedicated to him in the 1990s with a plaque and a ceremony for the family. As a little girl in the 80s I remember spending the "off weeks" with grandma and grandpa in their "tin tent" Airstream trailer exploring many of the places you talked about. Is Lost Lake still there? Grandpa was so proud of me when I could by memory lead him right to it! I also caught my first fish at Lake Paul. Art's entire family (including daughters) spent heir summers working at PBSR and several of my Uncles went on to earn Eagle Scout, Order of the Arrow and Silve Beaver.

    As a kid I thought that PBSR was grandpa's camp. When my family heard of its closing we were understandably saddened. I think grandpa would be sad too but reading about all of the happy memories boys have had in the decades since the founding of "his" camp have shown that his and PBSR'S influence still live on... which is exactly what he would have wanted.

    1. I remember Art very well. As a boy scout from Troop 4 in Midland/Mapleton I sometimes visited him in his office in Midland. If my memory serves me correctly the Council office was off Ellsworth in Midland. Paul Price was Art's District Executive for the Chippewa District. I remember sometimes visiting Paul in his office as well. At my Eagle Scout Ceremony on March 20, 1967 Paul awarded myself and another Scout in the Troop our Eagle Scout Medal. I remember talking with Art and Paul about a career for me as a professional scout. This post of PBSR has brought back a lot of great memories of my summers spent at summer camp. I remember every picture. I was saddened when PBSR closed and the Paul Bunyan Council merged with LHAC. Both Art and Paul were great Scouters. I learned some things about Art that I never new until now. I never realized Art surveyed the property and then purchased by BSA with Art's recommendation. I didn't realize he mapped the original trails, and named and laid out some of the features at PBSR. I am glad the beach was dedicated to your Grandpa with a plaque and ceremony for your family. Art did a lot for the Council and he deserved this honor.

  18. Here is a link that I just found. My father attended camp here in the 80's and he used to take me past it whenever we were in the area.


  19. Joining the party over 5 years too late but just learned today that PBSR was closed and the property sold. Bummer.

    I was counselor there the summers of '94,'95, and '96. The first year just for two weeks as a Counselor in Training, first in the Scoutcraft area and then in the kitchen. Another guy from my troop had worked in the Nature area the past and current summer and conscripted me into service at the end of our troop's week there.

    The second year I worked the whole year with Skip in the Handicraft area. The year after that I was back in my original job in the Scoutcraft area. I nearly cut off my right index finger that year when a lock blade knife I was trying to use undo a knot in a rope snapped closed on me. I was in a full arm splint to keep that finger imbolized so the nerves could heal for the rest of the summer. Was a couple of years before I got feeling back in that finger.

    For the record, there were always Slush Puppy brand slushies in the trading post. A cherry or blue raspberry slushie and a Slim Jim were my daily treats.

  20. I loved your post as well. Eagle Scout Troop 975, Rose City, 1977. We came every year from 1970 through my last year, 1977. We had the same tents and pallets, but no cots. We brought ait mattresses, that air last one time during the week totally went flat.
    Dow Lodge was a place to hang, not have meals. Meals were done patrol style at the site. A big wicker basket was dropped off with food for that meal. Each site had a hand pump at the road for water. Send one big boy and one small one. It almost always required a gallon of water to prune it. New scouts would use that gallon and the scout had to ask st another site for a gallon of water.

    I remember an obstacle course that took you up the dreaded hill Blood, Sweat and Tears. Great camp, great memories. It was sure a blessing.

  21. Thanks for sharing these pictures and your story of Paul Bunyan Scout Reservation. I really enjoyed the trip down memory lane.

    Let me give the first comment of 2021. Before Lake Huron Area Council, there was Paul Bunyan Council and Art Henry was our Scout Executive. When Lake Huron Area Council was formed, the former Paul Bunyan Council became the Chippewa District of LHAC. I was a member of Explorer Post 61 when PBSR property was purchased. We were the first "official" scout unit to camp on the property before any structures had been built. It was a polar bear camp and I recall that the temperature hit -26 degrees. Later on when I was Scoutmaster, I enjoyed taking our troop to PBSR which our Scouts preferred over Rotary and at least 3 other camps from which we could choose.

    I agree with those who question the decision to close PBSR. It surely is a special place!

    Norm Lake

  22. That nasty, computer-generated map you found was actually generated by foot and by snowshoes. Tristan Jones, who spent a year as Archery Director and--I don't remember the title--Program Director (?) for a year or two, mapped all the sites and trails with a backpack GPS for a Geology class at Central Michigan University. We (I'm his Dad) went up there two Saturdays and walked it. Walked around all the campsite boarders and trails--the roads I drove and he sat on his tailgate with his spacey looking antenna pointed up. We had to slow down under the trees because they interfered with the satellite signals. Tristan then had to reconcile his data map with a USGS topo map.

    Someone mentioned the Ski Bowl. Going down was a snap, but imagine trudging up the south side of the bowl in snowshoes. Sure we got good and tired, but the real fun started later. After we got back home I laid down to recuperate. My legs cramped up so hard I could barely call Mother Jones into the bedroom to massage them. Anyway....

    I don't recall how many years he spent at PBSR. I do know that at the end of his camp week he came running up to me, saying that he had been asked if he would like to return the next week as a CIT. I signed off hispermission, raced home, did his laundry, then hauled him back up. Well, he was 15 1/2 and that was when he left home. School or college would let out and he was off to camp. He still maintains contact with some of the Scouts and councilors with whom he worked.

    PBSR was a SCOUT camp. The hills were as high as the holes were deep. Things were primitive, labor was always manual, and the skills and values developed live on with those who attended. And I'll bet that those boys still won't cut a live tree that isn't absolutely necessary. Ranger Jack taught them that. And how!

  23. Thanks so much for this! I spent a lot of time there before ~1995 or so. Wes Powers

  24. I just stumbled onto this. I'm a bit older than most of the other posters, having attended the camp from maybe 1969 to 1976. One summer, I was a counselor at the Bear Lake Camp between Grayling and Kalkaska (yep, there were two camps between those towns, Bear Lake belonged to the Lake Huron Area Council). Interestingly enough, the gentleman running the camp that summer was one of the staffers from the scout service center in Auburn. His name was Art Henry and he was the same man named in your article as the founder of the Paul Bunyan Scout Reservation.

    I went to Rotary one summer, but preferred Bear Lake. One funny thing is that the enclosed shelter at the main lodge was NOT a dining area. Each troop did its own cooking, at its own campsite. The same held true at Bear Lake. Some of us scornfully referred to Camp Rotary as "Hotel Rotary" because the scouts going there were so effete as to have their food served to them.

    I sincerely doubt the running water at the camp sites comes from artesian supplies -- someone must have come up with the money to run water lines out to the camp sites. I say this with some degree of assurance because I remember how we would take turns with the old fashioned hand water pumps when preparing meals and doing the dishes.

    To show you how far the Scouts have fallen, when I joined it was still the Paul Bunyan Council. We lived in Grayling, and there were TWO scout troops in that little town (troop 77 and our newer troop 177). After the merger to create the Lake Huron Area Council, the numbers became 977 and 997 respectively. As you can imagine there was a lot of good natured (and occasionally not-so-good-natured) rivalry. We would string a money bridge across the Au Sable River in downtown Grayling every summer for the 4th of July celebration.

    I remember one Klondike Derby at Paul Bunyan ... it was early February and pretty cold. It was well after dark and we were snug in our tents -- and no one was particularly bothered until we heard a crunch-crunch-crunch sound slowing approaching through the crisp snow. One of the scouting officials asked if everyone was ok, he was checking in because it was something like 35 below and they wanted to be on the safe side. Everyone assured him that they were OK and he crunched-crunched into the distance. Then, about 5 minutes later, one little voice whispered "I'm cold"... Before you knew it, the Scoutmaster and I were the only ones left in the camp. I have no idea why it always worked out that way, but the Klondike Derbies always fell on one of the coldest weekends of the year.

    Occasionally, I get depressed when I hike on the trails near my home in Lake Orion. People are hiking with their headphones on and their eyes fixed dead ahead on the trail. I am amazed how many times they will walk within maybe 20 feet of a small deer herd and not see it. One time, I saw a Great Horned Owl (I still find it hard to believe that one) take off from a branch maybe 6 feet above some walker’s head. When I asked him what that was like, he had no idea the bird was even there, the music drowned it out... Maybe the world we be a better place if young people were banned from having cell phones. I know a woman who tells me that she gave her kids phones so that she could check up on them. If my mom had done that back in the 70s, I would have either "accidentally" dropped it in the AuSable or lost it out in the hills south of town...

  25. Wow!!! What memories. Eagle Scout from 131 (Linwood). I just learned my troop is no longer around and my favorite place growing up (PBSR) was sold. We camped every year at the Ox Bowl. I loved that site and how you felt like your troop was all alone at night. And there was nothing to a young teen like playing a night game of capture the flag in the actual Ox Bowl. I still remember one game, the only time I actually reached the flag, I was running full tilt with the flag down into the bowl. I look behind me, to see how close people are, look forward and run straight into a tree. Busted up my face and made me see stars. But it was worth it. It was one of the best summers I had up there.

    Thank you for such a great walk through my childhood.

  26. Thanks for such an excellent post (Bessie!) and reminder of a couple weeks from my summers in ‘86 and ‘87. Troop 767 in Midland. I don’t remember all of it, just that I got only archery MB my first week, followed by several MB the next year. We also had TLT there one week and I did my OA ordeal there as well. Sad to see PBSR pass into only our memories.
    Casey Jenkins

  27. I love all the comments here, I was a young scout when the roads to PBSR were being cut thru the woods back in 1961, we had a fall camporee, Paul Bunyan Council. over the years I had one of my sons work with me on staff for summer camp, I spent 6 summers on staff. Sadly, I also was there the day we removed all items of interest and history of PBSR and closed the door on it before the new council put it up for sale.
    I have one question if anyone can answer: When did Art Henry pass away? And where is he buried? When all items of interest were removed, the plague with his name on the big stone was removed and put into storage somewhere. I would really like to see something done with it, maybe at the Auburn Office with the other historical items.

  28. Coincidentally, 2012 was the first year I camped here, and therefore the first year of the "50th anniversary" sign out front.
    And yes, the pottery merit badge was in that pavilion, and the instructor was Skip. We would chant "Skip! Skip! Skip!" if we ever saw him. The ziplines were the highlight of the camp. We even had a "bat zip" where you'd zip at night with a specially made glow-in-the-dark shirt.
    Fun fact: while I only camped here as part of Vassar troop 201, I see the picture of the Dow building has the Millington troop 552 in it. I was later part of that troop.
    I was not part of scouting for very long, but PBSR was the best part of it. My troop took a trip nearby, and we hiked through the abandoned grounds right about when you did, the fall of the year after it's abandonment. Wish I could go back.

  29. Nice piece. The comments add to it. It provides an interesting walk down memory lane. As a Scout in the Paul Bunyan Council, I remember meeting Art Henry a couple of times as well as Paul Price. I spent 5 years as a camper, 1966-70, then on camp staff for 1971 as an assistant to the quartermaster and the trading post director, and 72 as the trading post director. In 76, I was fortunate enough be be sent to National Camp School (name?) to be trained as a waterfront director. Worked that summer as the water director on staff. That year, the staff worked at PBSR, then the last part of the summer worked at Bear Lake. Each camp had 3-4 weeks of campers. Bear Lake was interesting to me because they had a dining hall. In my PBSR experience, the scouts cooked at their sites. At PBSR, as camp staff we had breakfast together, with lunch and dinner at a troop’s camp site. I think Friday evening we had dinner together as staff. At Bear Lake, it was mess hall. Some troops may have prepared on site. Bear Lake was spectacular because of the waterfront where sailing could be offered.

    One day just before lunch we had a sailboat turtled on the other side of the lake. Fortunately the scouts handle themselves well and there was no safety concern. In fact a cottage owner who was out sailing, sailed over to help them. After we closed the waterfront as we normally did for lunch, a couple of us took the motor boat over to help right the sail boat. By the time we got there the cottage owner had left. He had gone to get his power boat to help tow the sail boat to shore. He returned and the sailboat got to shallow water. We were getting ready to drain/flip the sail boat. As we scouts and staff we were struggling with it; the cottage owner jumped in and the sailboat was righted. The cottage owner seemed to do it all by himself. I know we were impressed by how muscular this older gentleman was. He didn’t say a much and we thanked him as he left. We later figured out the cottage owner was Gordie Howe, at about age 48.

    I do not remember calling it the Dow Lodge during my time. Some called it the loggia. Either way it was a cool place to hang out with tables and
    the trading post at one end. I remember the stro building. I was told it was named after the donor who financed it. Scouts and their camps provided great experiences.

    (Unrelated to PBSR, but interesting, later after the merger to Lake Huron Area Council, I remember seeing the Paul Bunyan council strip (shoulder) used in the sewing template on the back cover of one of the handbooks (not sure if was Cub or Boy Scouts. I presume they did that so no one would feel slighted.)

  30. I had spent 2 summer Camps at PBSR. I made Eagle scout in the Spring of 1970 in my Troop in Grayling. I was asked later that spring if I wanted to work at PBSR. I did that summer and it was a great tume even if I did run into Poison Oak. It is sad to see how run down the camp has begun. That last summer before I went to work to Glenn's Market was such fun.
    I remember doing the mile swimm and getting a few merit bages at PBSR. The thing is those skills I learned as a Eagke Scout served me well in both the Navy and Army. They were useful in both Iraq and Afganistan.


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