A picture of Tom Pears

Cyber Home of Tom Pears
Applying Appropriate Technology to Learning


Our New House
Truck Postcard
A Letter
Pics I Bought
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AH Davenport
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Camp Kawanhee
A Memory Book


I don't remember a lot from my first years at Kawanhee. I was in Falcon, Panther and Hawk in 55-57. But I do remember collecting lead!

Bruce "Smily" Conners was in my lodge. It was probably Panther. We had started to realize that the best hours at Kawanhee were 11-12 and 4:30-5:30. That was when they let you do what you wanted! Sure, there was free swim. And probably some crazy guy was standing over on the Skunk Ridge dock hoping for a dare devil water ski ride. But Smily and I had discovered nirvana. You could go anywhere you wanted! You didn't have to stand in line. You didn't have to plane a board. You didn't have to do what they told you!!

Our first great free time endeavor, and in this the whole lodge participated, was collecting lead from the rifle range. My wife found out about this and now attributes most of the failings of myself and my daughters to this short but intimate relation I formed with the heavy poison. I don't know about where you live, but here in Massachusetts, young children await any opportunity to chew on their houses just to get a taste of lead. When one sells a house, the paperwork involved in the lead paint aspects are monumental. But luckily for me and my lodge mates, we were free from this fear. We could suck on the stuff to clean it off. We could sleep with it. We could collect it to our hearts content.

Of course the problem was that the lead available on the rifle range was in the same place where the campers shot. You had to go there when no one was shooting. I'm sure at least one of my brighter bunk mates tried to go at shooting time. But eagle eye Nick must have spotted him before anyone could do him in. And of course that brings me back to 11-12 and 4:30-5:30, non shooting times! So we would go out to behind the targets and dig in the dirt. Like any mining operation, there were good seams and bad. Of course the piece de resistance was the "perfect bullet", the lead head that had entered the ground and remained perfectly shaped and un-squished. Most of the lead looked like it had been chewed up by a garbage disposal. What was recognizable as a bullet, was often also bent back on itself so the front was touching the back. But nothing was below our standards. I'm sure we even collected our share of small heavy dirty rocks. We kept them in a coffee can as I remember it. Each lodge member had his own and I am sure many hours were spent trading and arguing over who had stolen what.

Not only was the lead collected, but also the shell casing! At least they were bright and shinning. You had to dig them out from between the boards where the shooters lay. One could spend hours collecting. And of course when your mother unpacked your trunk, she would find the priceless collection safely stored right next to your unused bar of soap.

I'm still regularly accused of putzing. It involves spending a great deal of time organizing something and yet the finished organization is viewed by some outsiders as not significantly different from the initial organization. I think I probably first perfected this skill while working with Kawanhee lead. I certainly learned that the most valuable time is when they (camp, job, wife…) don't have anything scheduled for you to do!

Tom Pears