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Chris Macaig Visits BHAC & Shares this thoughts...

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  • David Fabie
    Thanks Chris! ... Chris Macaig Writes: On my way up to the BHAC site, I wended my way through the old narrow streets of Garmisch, the houses of the old style
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 24, 2005
      Thanks Chris!
      Chris Macaig Writes:

      On my way up to the BHAC site, I wended my way through the old narrow
      streets of Garmisch, the houses of the old style with their high
      gales overhanging balconies laden with overflowing flower boxes. The
      green, brilliant pink and red flowers keeping the eyes pleased and
      the bees busy at their work as the cows kept the farmers busy. I
      followed patiently as a Bavarian farmer hopped onto his bicycle, his
      herding stick balanced along the handlebar from long practice. The
      forest green high socks of the traditional Bavarian leading up to
      similar green pants held in place by suspenders. His checked shirt,
      neat and clean, but clearly for working. As he turned to look for
      traffic, I could see his full brown beard – like his clothes, neat
      and clean but quite full. His browned face the face of farmers
      everywhere – a bit weathered from constant exposure to the elements.
      The hat, again traditional, also well cared for but obviously worn
      for function rather than style, crowned the ensemble. Meanwhile his
      son – a blond boy riding his own bicycle – was ringing the bell to
      spur the cows along up the next street and into the yard for the
      remainder of the day.

      It was fortuitous timing, as I often followed the cows through the
      town or up the road to the camp, those bovine ladies of refinement.
      My visit to the camp today brings many familiar sights – the water
      points standing mute amidst the still tended meadows, the green signs
      proclaiming a wildlife refuge similarly mute and looking as they did
      those many years ago. The cow dung, both fresh and old, baked by the
      sun is a reminder of those curiously courteous Bavarian ladies of our

      I traced the small pathways between campsites again, and briefly
      lingered in the shade of the forest where I had seen staff and boys
      busily tending to the elaborate walkways built ten feet and more
      above the ground – the old Scoutcraft that boasted the only "Ewok
      Village" as some staff derisively called the platforms and walkways.
      Now this forest of evergreens is the site of innumerable stumps among
      the tall straight trees. The stumps are varied in their color, many
      moss covered from the forstmeister's visit of 15 or more years ago,
      and some that fresh cut color that will yield sap and teach the
      incautious tired hiker a lesson when used as a seat. The natural
      progression of harvest and decay, the stumps are a reminder that the
      land is still of value. The forstmeister's handiwork can also be seen
      all through the forest in the form of green plastic tubes, planted in
      rows. I thought it would be great fun to explain to Scouts that these
      are PVC forests, and that next year these tubes would be large enough
      to begin to harvest. Instead, these are to protect young trees and to
      push them into straight growth for later harvest as board and beam
      lumber. Taking into account that at heart, all Scouts are
      naturalists, I gain comfort from the knowledge that the forstmeister
      finds his living in the value of the land and the forest, and that
      this protects the paths that deer and other animals will traverse
      once I am again gone from this small series of glades.

      The Kramer - our Kramer for a time – beckons me from across the town,
      whether the top is obscured by cloud and rain or the shining stone
      point gleams dully in the sun. Perhaps the Kramer beckons me from
      across the great cold pond we call the Atlantic. I have been back
      several times since finding this idyllic place in 1987 and I already
      find my thoughts drifting to the next time… next time… next time.

      We arrived in Garmisch in time for good weather and arrived in time
      to see the highest flood in over 100 years. The news updates spoke
      constantly of the devastation in nearby Eshenlohe and that the
      rainfall was greater than in the last big flood (of '99). But
      Garmisch is prepared and Bavaria – as Scout camps, wherever they are
      found – are not just for the good weather. In addition, I was mindful
      to remind my son (First Class) that the motto `Be Prepared' is not
      just for home or when in uniform. In the flooding of the town that
      took place, my First Class Scout proved his class by hauling sandbags
      with the Feuerwehr lads and townspeople of Partinkirchen. A Scout is

      I traced the outlines of the old Staff Campsite in the trees – where
      the Scoutcraft director elevated his platform and built a deck
      addition to his tent. The view from the old site is obscured now by
      trees that have grown quite high. The spot where the staff photos
      were taken in 87 and 88 is no longer the vantage point to look across
      to the foothills and mighty spikes of the Zugspitzegruppe of
      mountains, as the once waist high trees and grasses have reclaimed
      the land. The only part of the Quonset hut that remains are the
      cement steps leading up to the cement pad – now cracked in
      innumerable places with grass growing almost as thick as the
      surrounding meadows. I meandered about Keane Lodge briefly, snapping
      a couple of photos and standing in the rain – it must rain at BHAC,
      or I would not know the spot. Although I had an umbrella (naturally),
      I did not bother to get it out. I would not be out for long as the
      evening was coming on and supper called me back. A bit of rain was
      not to be feared – no tent for me this time, I would be warm and dry
      no matter the weather out.

      On my way back to the home we had rented, I was again fortunate in
      being "stuck" behind a horse drawn carriage. Leisurely clopping its
      way through the narrow Sommer Strasse I had neither the inclination
      nor the room to pass and so I gawked at the buildings and the local
      people here a woman tending her flower box on the third floor
      balcony, a child dispatched from a side door to run to the local
      store for some errand, the merchant pushing chairs against the tables
      to drain the rain and let them dry quicker for the evening patrons
      who would sit and swap tales of the day. And the mountains looked
      down on me as they had all those many years ago.

      The forests once so familiar, the fresh air, the changes in the land
      and in the observer – all musings of a Staffer on holiday, a lovely
      time had by family. I had returned to Garmisch for holiday and to
      photograph the various paintings and buildings that drew me back time
      and time again. Hoping to write a bit and to perhaps even publish a
      book on the paintings and natural beauty of the area, I am fascinated
      by the region and the people. BHAC is a part of that too – and so I
      will return again to traipse the forest and relive the bittersweet
      moments of arrival and departure, of camping in the rain and shouting
      myself horse at those campy and goofy campfires, of the camaraderie
      between staffers in those times of sunny - endless but over too
      quickly - summers.

      And so I leave you with my memories of Staff men, so proficient in
      humor and song, so well suited to friendship that renewed after a
      winter's absence, so interesting each and every one. Unique summers,
      unique memories and cherished thoughts of those people, those times
      and The Place. Next time perhaps I should find a tent or build a
      shelter and stay a night. Next time I must come on a sunny day. Next
      time I should try to coordinate with those boys of summers – can it
      be almost 20 years ago – and chew the fat. Perhaps there should be a
      campfire involved. Next time I should bring a fresh roll to capture –
      but there isn't a camp to capture, no shorts and long socks. Next
      time… next time… next time! I'm already salivating for next time!
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