Carlton Weaver was a citizen of Wilburton, committed to his family, a noted newspaper editor and a respected statesman.
During his lifetime he acquired some of the most beautiful land in Oklahoma, yet he set it aside for the good of future generations.
In 1929 he gave 120 acres of his land to the Boy Scouts of America. It was named Camp Tom Hale, honoring a McAlester businessman and Boy Scout supporter.
Over the years, what started as a Scout camp became Robbers Cave State Park, a destination for people from every corner of the earth to enjoy the peace and tranquility of its natural setting.
And though the Scouts have always been a part of that, they no longer had a campground reserved for their use. That meant they were situated in existing campgrounds on a first-come, first-served basis. Since often the Scouts were coming from several hundred miles away, it was usually late at night when they arrived and that further complicated the availability of camping sites.
In March of last year all that changed when Troop 232 came from Waxahachie, Texas, to be the first group of Scouts to occupy our new, dedicated Scout camp, Eagles Nest. Since that time a second dedicated camp has been built in an area near the Whispering Pines RV park. That campground has not yet been named.
While the two campgrounds embody the same Scouting spirit and are open to all Boy and Girl Scout organizations, each has its own unique qualities.
Eagles Nest is a primitive site that works well for the older Scouts, and the newer campground is closer to restrooms and potable water that works well with the younger Scouts or those who require nearby restroom facilities.
Both campgrounds have been well-received, and 2013 looks to be a banner year. Even in these cold winter months, we've had Scouts vying for camping space at Eagles Nest. On the weekend of Jan. 19, Boy Scout Troops 76 and 222 came from the Tulsa area for a winter camping experience.
In December, when the night temperatures dropped to 21 degrees, Troop 15 came from Oklahoma City for a cold weather excursion. While I was sitting by my warm fire at home, I thought about those kids and shivered at the prospect. I was gratified to discover they were alive and well the next morning and exuberant about their experiences.
But that's what Scouting is all about. The mission is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law.
It's no wonder Carlton Weaver loved the Boy Scouts, and we can all be glad he had the vision to create a place for them at what has since become Robbers Cave State Park. And now the tradition continues with our new Scout campgrounds, and what a wonderful tradition it is.
Daniel Parks works as evening park attendant at Robbers Cave State Park. He is also the volunteer Scout camp coordinator and writes a column about the park.