A moment in Scouting history

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 12, 2014

KANNAPOLIS — A lot of things were different in 1935.

What today is Boy Scout Camp Cabarrus was a Civilian Conservation Corps camp, district Scout Commissioner Jeff Parker said.

When the 63-acre site was turned over to the Boy Scouts in 1935, the first camp committee placed a time capsule in the chimney of what is now known as Eagle Hall.

Inside it were some artifacts that showed what the Scouts of that time valued:

There were five stones from the Holy Land, sent to local Scouts from a Baptist mission group in Israel.

There was a “grapeshot,” a round lead ball reportedly taken from a British ammunition dump.

And there was a brick, reportedly from the place where the last American Indian attack in Cabarrus County occurred.

Those artifacts, plus a handwritten note from the first camp committee, were brought out of a tin box in which they’d been stored for most of the last 80 years, during a celebration of the centennial of Boy Scouting in 2010.

Parker said it was intriguing to see those items preserved by Scouts and leaders of the past.

In the years since, Scouts in Kannapolis and throughout Cabarrus County have gathered items for a new time capsule, celebrating the anniversary of Camp Cabarrus and the legacy of Scouting in the county.

Tuesday, guests gathered at Eagle Hall to witness the items that will soon be sealed back into the stones of the chimney.

It was part of an event that also featured facts about Scouting programs in Cabarrus County, and an appeal for the local Friends of Scouting annual fund drive.

As of Tuesday, over half of the $266,000 annual goal had been pledged. Those donations, along with United Way funds, help support Scouting programs in Cabarrus County.

The larger steel box, gleaming silver, sat on a table beside the items from the 1935 time capsule, which will also be sealed back up inside the chimney stones.

“In 50 years, they will be able to see what we were doing between 2010 and 2013,” Parker said.

The time capsule dedication was held as part of a Friends of Scouting kickoff event.

Business leaders, local politicians and residents joined the Boy Scouts at Eagle Hall to see history being made.

“Unfortunately, none of the people who were here in 1935 are still with us,” Parker said.

The new time capsule is set to be opened in about 50 years, when Camp Cabarrus will be nearly 130 years old.

Jeffery Rasmussen, Scout executive for the Kannapolis district, said Camp Cabarrus remains an important place for Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and other Scouting programs in the county.

That’s reflected in the contents of the new time capsule, which will include an autographed neckerchief with signatures of all the Scoutmasters, assistant Scoutmasters and district committee members who took part in the Scouting centennial celebration.

Flags, T-shirts and patches will also be placed in the capsule.

Three CD-ROM disks are also being included, with pictures, historical records and scanned news articles about Scouting in Cabarrus County.

Rasmussen said he isn’t concerned about the Scouts of 50 years from now being able to get those CDs running.

“The way I see it, if somebody had put microfilm in the original box, we’ve got a microfilm reader,” Rasmussen said.

Just the same, Rasmussen said the Scouts of the future should be able to find a CD-ROM reader, “if only at a museum.”

In the weeks ahead, the niche in the Eagle Hall chimney where the tin box rested for 75 years will be carefully expanded to hold the new capsule.

Both the old and the new will be sealed back into the chimney, with both the original 1935 time capsule plaque and a marker for the new capsule.

Rasmussen said he majored in history in college. “Just knowing this information is being preserved does my heart good,” he said.

“People don’t realize that in order to make history, they sometimes have to make it themselves,” Rasmussen said.

Allen Orvin, who got involved with the local Cub Scouts about 1970, is today a Scout commissioner in Kannapolis.

“Oh, it’s fantastic,” Orvin said of the time capsules that will preserve memories of today’s Scouting programs for another generation.

“I’m 75 now, I hope I make it 50 years!” Orvin joked.

Kannapolis City Council member Dianne Berry was among the local officials present.

“We want (Scouts) to know that we’re behind them, that we believe in Scouting,” said Berry, whose son, Matt, is an Eagle Scout and whose father was a local Scout leader. “I spent a lot of weekends at Camp Cabarrus,” Berry said.

Just as the historical artifacts from 1935 are a window in history, Todd Walter, Central N.C. Council Executive for the Boy Scouts of America, said the time capsule will teach the young men of the future important facts about life today.

“It was a much more agrarian society,” Walter said. “There were no cellphones, no computers.”

Today, Walter said, “we have a lot of people who want to make sure our kids understand what life was like then. It was a much different world, and it will be a much different for their children and grandchildren.”

The time capsule shows faith that Scouting will still be there for generations to come, Walter said.

Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.