Monday, April 15, 2002

This is a little different from what i usually put on this blog; not print material per se, but a response to a request for my perspective on how the day went at the Apr. 13th

Saturday Open House at Octagon

Greetings to all --

As promised, a report on the Octagon Open House last Sat., Apr. 13th, including what i saw and what i learned from other folks posted at various areas through the afternoon: Despite less than 48 hours notice in the local paper (The Advocate), almost 200 people total showed up from around central Ohio, primarily Licking County, to take the tours and share the activities at both Great Circle & Octagon areas of Newark Earthworks State Memorial.

Jim Kingery, the Newark Earthworks/Flint Ridge site manager, and a crew from the Ohio Historical Society (OHS) in Columbus set up a tent at the Octagon, which proved to be much less necessary than the forecast had indicated. About 12:30 pm the skies parted, the sun shone, and cars instead of rain poured in, broadly filling the "country club" parking lot. (The club had sent out some sort of mailing reminding members that there was no golf that day, and at least 12 of the 130+ at the Octagon said they were members; the club pro stayed at the door of the clubhouse and told three arriving golfers that they weren't golfing here today, and kudos to him for staying around to take the heat! I suspect more than the 12 were, in fact, with the club, perhaps up to 20, and i hope they learned a great deal . . . . .)

I understand that over 50 showed up at the Great Circle who didn't transit over to the Octagon, and participated in atl-atl activities and tours of that part of the memorial. At Octagon, groups of about 50 were split into two tours of a half-hour each and then swapped, both at 1 pm and 2 pm. The 3 pm group was around 25, and a few showed up toward the end and tagged along or walked the paths. Martha Otto and Brad Lepper, archaeologists out of the Columbus OHS center did most of the guided interpretation. Jim Strider, the VP for external relations, was in Chicago that day, but his second-in-command was present throughout, visited both sites, and was very happy with the turnout and level of positive interest. He seemed to indicate that this first "golf-free" date came up very suddenly in the OHS/Moundbuilder Country Club discussions, and their thought was to take it even on short notice, with more "build up" on the next few. I also get the impression that they know they inadvertently and unnecessarily upset their own site staff, archae staff, and FoM by "springing it on us all", but thought that we'd all be delighted by any golf-free days they could assemble. The intention does seem to be to target the Oct. date as one where the program/plan is done largely by Native American/Indian participants.

My own personal take was that everyone who came -- including the club members -- were delighted that the course was open, excited by the chance to get a guided tour out among the earthworks, and interested in asking questions and having them answered. A number of folks did ask the "reconstruction" question (didn't the CCC/national guard/WPA build these from the ground up?), and seemed quite accepting of the answers folks like Brad and i replied. Most appeared quite willing to return for future events and bring friends; a sign-in sheet was somewhat imperfectly offered under the tent which gleaned some addresses and e-mails for future publicity.

While i was, like everyone else, kind of surprised by the suddenness of the Apr. 13 event, i'll happily concede that every golf-free/public emphasis day at Octagon State Memorial is a good day in my book. I do think now is not too soon to start planning what should be this site's and central Ohio's biggest event for public access to a common cultural treasure, and that's the prime axis moonrise (max. northern with full phase) on or around Nov. 18, 2005. Having felt the awe and wonder of standing in "the neck" when, on a winter late afternoon, the sun was setting through haze down one end and the moon rising just off to one side of the other, i think the experience of seeing and interpreting the moonrise along the full length of the Circle & Octagon, to no doubt thousands of visitors between early October and early December of that year, will leave an impact that could dent even a country club's complacency. To start planning selective tree removal (and stopping the planting and plaques for club member planting along primary viewscapes!), determining lighting and site management for evening/nighttime visitation, as well as the general, Native American community, and science community PR work will all take every bit of the 3 years we've got -- so we can let the moon and the builders have their say, the telling that they deserve in how this site will be seen and used in the future.

Sunday, April 14, 2002

Hebron Crossroads
By Jeff Gill

When robins start building a nest on your front door wreath, you know Spring is knocking.

Actually, tapping and scratching is more what the vernal robins have been doing. We spent about a week wondering what wind currents were banging about the ornamental wicker wreath that’s been on our front door since we moved in last fall. Like many families in newer houses, the so-called front door is rarely used by visitors, let alone our family, so Joyce got a shock when she opened the door and saw a mass of straw, twigs, and mud cradled in the bottom arc of the wreath.

Right now, we’re of a mind to let Mrs. Robin be (yes, we’re those kind of people) and raise a family on our doorstep. The UPS delivery person is probably the biggest threat those prospective eggs face, but we’ll keep you posted.

Excitement out the back door, too: many folks on the west side of Hebron have seen odd lights just beyond the last houses or heard a rumbling across the rooftops carried along by the wind. Much as I’d enjoy starting some good extraterrestrial rumors during this last season of "X-files", the truth is that a gas well is being drilled these next few weeks just below the Smith house, and right behind ours. The assembly of the drilling rig and the beginning of the work has been impressive, and the view at night is reminiscent of a pre-dawn view of an Apollo gantry at Cape Canaveral getting ready for launch, with bright white lights and tiny figures bustling under giant metal structures, surrounded by ramps, catwalks, and trailers. You just have to mentally add the rocketship.

Actually, the truth is pretty dramatic. The crew is drilling down to a geologic formation 5,000 feet below, or almost a mile. As I write this, the first 400 feet of casing is going down to protect the water table, and then they’ll be drilling about two more weeks. From the perspective of an almost four-year-old boy, seeing this directly out his bedroom window is way cool; I mean Chris, not me.

The forsythia is finally in full bloom, in a yellow that nicely complements the many "We paid for this sign, and we will pay for Lakewood Yes!" signs that are blossoming around the area. May 7 is an election day, and in many ways more important than folks realize, as the primary contests directly shape the better publicized general elections. "The Music Man" just wrapping up at Lakewood High, the soccer leagues busting out all over, and the service projects by young people like Dan Osborne of Troop 33 out at Dawes, all show how young people contribute to our community in many ways, and all well worth supporting.

Speaking of Dawes Arboretum, you no doubt know that Arbor Day is April 26 this year in Ohio (you did, didn’t you?), and on Saturday the 27th we’ll see events all day on the grounds of our own piece of Arbor Day history. Sterling Morton, the founder of Arbor Day, dedicated one of the trees at Dawes back in 1927, and his vision was one of the streams of inspiration that watered Beman and Bertie Dawes’ work that brought us the arboretum.

From 10 am on through the afternoon there will be wagon tours of the grounds with a narration telling these and other stories about local history and the natural world, and your intrepid correspondent will be one of the wagoneers. We all tell the truth, mostly.

For the more adventurous, tree climbers and chain saws, workshops and entertainment will round out the day. The first 250 families through the gates will get a tree to plant at home, so come early!

The next day, April 28, is the St. Jude Children’s Hospital Bike-a-thon at Evans Park; Glenna Jones of Clay’s CafĂ© is co-ordinating this event from 1 to 3 pm. They hope to raise $1000 for this very worthwhile charity, and if Daphne Cable can get in 2000 miles I’ll have to meet that goal personally. If you’d like to participate or contribute, call Glenna at 928-3739, or just tell ‘em while you order a stromboli.
While we’re looking at our calendars down the road, mark 7 am on May 3 for the annual Full Pool Breakfast. I’d better check with Jimmy to see who’s going to cover this story, but as a member of the Greater Buckeye Lake Chamber of Commerce, I’ve enjoyed attending this event the last few years and meeting many other community leaders . . . plus George Pugh usually asks me to do the invocation.

One way or another you’ll hear more about this event, since Sam Speck, the head of Ohio Department of Natural Resources, will be our guest speaker. No word on the status of the "pool" on what the level of Buckeye Lake is on May 3. That sounds like a job for my colleague Jimmy! George and members of the Chamber can sell you tickets for the meal and program, which is at the Buckeye Lake Yacht Club. Nancy Dix of Hebron (remember, Harbor Hills is a Hebron address!) will have some special presentations; Nancy is also one of the newest members of the Ohio Historical Society board of trustees, and congratulations to her on that new and important responsibility.

Jeff Gill is pastor of Hebron Christian Church and a proud member of the Greater Buckeye Lake Chamber of Commerce; if you have new commerce to promote or other worthwhile news, call him at 928-4066 or e-mail
Commissioner’s Corner
By Jeff Gill, District Commish

Thanks to the thirty-plus unit leaders who attended both Steve Hoar’s brainstorming session for the district, and just as significantly at the Youth Protection Training (YPT) after lunch. Steve Crissinger, our new District Director, is off this week at a long-scheduled training week in Irving, Texas, and will find out the official word on a number of questions, from our hope that the "high adventure" age will be lowered to 13 from 14 (where it stands currently), to what the desired cycle on adult YPT is.

Current signals are mixed, but we expect to provide regular "full training" in youth protection on a biannual basis, and to offer a refresher at events like camporees and one of the roundtables for those who’ve had the complete YPT within the last few years.

Anyone who reads the paper (on wood pulp, on-line, however) knows that child sexual abuse is on people’s minds and in public discussions again. Thanks for all the positive feedback both on my piece in The Advocate (click and for the energy and attention as Jim Francis and I got to work with so many of you at Falling Rock. If you have more questions about youth protection in Scouting or any other youth organization you serve, e-mail me at anytime!

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Commissioner’s Corner
By Jeff Gill, District Commish

"Three snows after the forsythia blooms" is what I grew up with; many of you know folk wisdom and woods lore about weather, planting, and gardening that holds up well to scientific scrutiny.

Have you ever thought about a troop or pack project of gathering those nuggets together from the family members and neighbors of your Scouts? The noted "Foxfire" series of books started just that simply. Springtime is one of the times of year that folks are thinking about those things – from "Spring forward, fall back" to "green skies, barn flies!"

There are many advancement awards in both Cubbing and Scouting that this kind of project fulfills, from Showman to Citizenship in the Community, from service project hours to leadership posts. Let me know what obscure wise words you learn if you try this, and send them to and I’ll print ‘em!

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Commissioner’s Corner
By Jeff Gill, District Commish

Have you colored in your patrol mascot, or x’ed all the squares, or checked off the boxes toward summer camp fees?

Many Scout troop use a troop bank approach to paying for summer camp, with credits marked in from product sales or troop activities by the troop treasurer, and payments added across many weeks or months by the Scout himself. Five dollars a week from January through May adds up to $100, but $5 at a time is a whole lot easier than bringing in the $100 all at once! Even starting now, $20 a week for four weeks is more manageable for most families.

Of course, the other reason for this approach is that money paid in the winter will help maintain commitment in the spring and anchor the choice to the summer. When a last-minute invite to Cedar Point for a day the week of camp terminates a registration, odds are the level of felt commitment wasn’t what it could have been. Help your Scouts start anticipating camp as a can’t miss event! If you’re looking for ideas to promote summer camp, e-mail me at, or send me the ideas you’ve seen work.

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Commissioner’s Corner
By Jeff Gill, District Commish

Warm weather and the onset of daylight lasting past the meeting time of your unit always makes me think of the first packing demo leading up to camp.

Even Cubs getting psyched for Day Camp can participate (June 13-15!). Just don’t do it yourself! Find a youth who’s been to camp and who has a good sense of their gear, and let them come early and lay out on a groundcloth their contents. Ideally, your PLC and/or SPL will pick out this person, but whoever it is, resist the temptation to improve on their presentation – at least at first. One good idea about what to bring, what not to bring, or how to pack it, will last longer in the other scouts’ memories than 15 great ideas from you.

I’ve listened to dozens of packing demos, and can honestly say I’ve never heard one that I haven’t learned *something* from. Listen, learn, and then teach the critical elements you believe were missed or underemphasized. I’m betting there won’t be that much left to say! If you learn something really great, let me know at

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Commissioner’s Corner
By Jeff Gill, District Commish

Last week we were thinking about the senior scout leading the packing demo as you get set for camp. The obvious – but deadly ;-) – next step is to have everyone bring their packs next meeting for layout and review.

This really can be a helpful program, and as long as the kids don’t start channelling my old platoon sergeant (that’s why we don’t call it an inspection), everyone learns stuff in your parking lot or church basement that they’d really rather not learn on a rainy Sunday night in a muddy campsite setting.

A fun and success-building addition: have the adults going to camp bring their packs, too. Ideally, they’ll speak silently of how to do a neat, efficient, pared-down collection of gear. Realistically, adults procrastinate just like the kids do, and need that prod so we don’t bring a ton of un-needed stuff either. And the carefully not-so-well-hidden teddy bear in the scoutmaster’s pack makes a nice touch . . .

Contact me at

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