We filled the day

There was not a lot of empty time on a Camp Hudgens schedule.  We had two, a staff and a camper schedule.  If we got a complaint from a volunteer counselor, it was usually due to the tight schedule.  Through the years we loosened it up as much as possible but always kept it as efficient as possible. 

We had two main areas:  Land Skills and Water Skills

We presented the campers a look at all skills areas on Monday.  Usually after supper on Monday, we took the campers to the lake for orientation.  Then we returned to the dinning hall for a skills meeting.  They signed up for a land skill per buddy.  At that time, the chapters split up for the skills areas.

These were the skills offered for the week, you picked it and stayed with it all week long.  You picked one land skill and one water skill.



Crafts:  This was a fun filled week of leather craft, beads, lace, plaster casting, clear casting, trivet craft, pottery, and even a dabble with screen printing.


Nature: Originally taught by Doc Sivells (, Charley Farmer, Fred Loper, and Jimmy Kinnemer, this was an entomologist dream with shadow boxes of all the insects of Hudgens.  Don't forget Mallard M. Duck.  One of the fun parts was distilling water, making a survival hut, and weather.


Archery: Bob Gilmore was the expert archer of the day.  Bob was patient and often it was not archery the kids learned, but Biblical principles and patience.


Riflery: Early on, it was a separate area from Archery until we combined the ranges.  We started teaching the Daisy Shooter Education program.  They supplied the rifles, targets, 80lb sack of bbs, and forms to keep track.  One year, we showed a video called, "You can surpass yourself."  It was a program where you taught kids to shoot aspirins from the sky.


Rowing:  It was mainly for the #3 swimmers and later it included #4 so that they could still have a waterfront experience.


Canoeing:  #2 swimmers could do this and they learned how to carry, now to recover from a tip, and how you fix a leak that often happened with our old style canoes.


Sailing: #1 swimmers got to rig a Dolphin.  By day 2, they piled into the Lido and went out on the main lake.  By day 3, they were mostly out with a buddy without the instructor in the boat.


Tubing:  This came mainly in Sam Porter's years and we tubed or skiied every #1 or #2 swimmers.

Beginner Swimming: This was for kids who could not make at least one full length of the pool.  We mostly taught the Red Cross Beginner Swimmer program.  Cards were awarded at the last ceremony before the kid went home.  In the last several years of camp, we went away from offering it as a full class due to time constraints.  The last time I taught it I had already switched to the Red Cross Whales tales program.


Photography: This came as a side activity. We gave out cameras wit B&W film and then the campers brought them back and developed the negatives then printed on Kodak papers.



The main skills areas

Kickball was often the favored sport of the evening.

Softball was an option chosen by the older kids.

Basketball was team activity between cabins or tents.

Sand volleyball was an option to get a lot of people involved at one time.

Flag football was the favored activity of Unit III.

Night capture the flag got me and Reece Watson in trouble with Bro. Paul.

Why the 100,000 gallon trapezoid?  I have found records about how the pool was conceived, planned, built, and operated.  I operated it myself from roughly 1985 to 2005.  The only reason it was not squared off is money.   They only had $50,000 to build the pool and Fiesta Pools of Tulsa put in the lowest bid.  It is 18" thick with 1" rebar because of the high possibility of shifting.  In the early 80's, the skirting was replaced and french drains added around the apron.  It has had three filtration systems that I can remember and was ready for #4 when I left in 2007.  It used gas chlorine at first and the tank sat on a medical scale.  I gassed myself a few times.  We switched to a tri-chlor system under the guidance of Charlie Loper who installed the last new system.  If I had stayed, I would have suggested a dual pumping system for the times when the pump had problems.

Canoe trip from under the Lake McAlester dam to near #9 landing at Lake Eufaula

Low Ropes, Climbing Tower, Zip Line

This is another historical footnote.  During the 80's-90's, we would often be privledged to hearing what sounded like an army of mosquitoes taking over the camp.    Turns out all those years it was the alcohol racers.  These are half sized boats with upset weedeater engines.  They burned a form of alcohol which made them very dangerous, a Ricky Bobby kind of thing.  We put up with them through the years.  The worst time they kicked in a race was on Thursday or Friday night when we were starting the campfire service.  It meant we just had to sing that much louder until they quit at sunset.  By the time the pastor spoke, it was dark and they had loaded up and gone home.

This is a post card for the Old Towne War canoe.  Camp owns two of these and one is upside down in Pennington and the other is upside down in the Dinninghall.  The history of them is they were once rides at Springlake amusement park.  The lake is still there but the park is gone.  You got into these and they gave you paddles.  You rowed it around a brief course and then back.  Bob found out they were available and acquired them for camp.  Early one, there were canoe races.  Your whole group raced from Dock #1 across the cove and back.  As time went on, the canvass became brittle and we took them out of service.

Just to the left you see the boat course.  These canoes, at Hudgens, were a couple of the rides used in the course.

Le Hobo dinner

Tim Jernigan of Fort Worth took this photo while starting a Unit I hobo dinner cookout.  Some interesting things going on in the photo.  First of all, this group would have stopped by the Unit Lodge to get the gear.  That's a WWII surplus backpack, a canvass water carrier that weighed about 40 lbs, and an army shovel.  The type of shovel you got issued was usually a trifold enternching tool.  We also issued a wooden handle Ames shovel which was harder to carry but worked a lot better for picking up hot coals and meals.  Next the group went by the kitchen to get provisions from Mrs. Goddard.  This would have included foil, raw meat, carrots, onions, potatoes, apple, cinnamon/sugar mix, matches, salt, pepper, forks, cups, coolade mix, napkins, and trash bag.

Unit I cookout

Unit I campers had the priveldge from 1959 to about 2004 to make hobo dinners on Wednesday evening.  You know the drill, a slice of onion, a meat patty (with pepper), another slice of onion, thinly sliced potatoes, carrots, maybe some sliced bell peppers, and for me a few fresh or pickled chilis.  Add a little more pepper and maybe a pinch of regular or seasoned salt.  Cook it by buring it in coals for about 15 minutes.  If you don't have enough coals to do that, then 10 minutes each side should work.  Always seal it up very tight with no openings or leaks.  We served it with slices of bread and some coolade.   I always like making hobo sandwiches with it.  I also would often send out A-1 steak sauce.  Cook them at home in a 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes.  If steam is seaping out of a seam, check them to make sure its not burning.

Dutch Oven peach cobbler

Unit II got to cook out Tuesday morning for breakfast and Wednesday evening for supper.  The supper included a peach cobbler.  First of all, there aer several ways to make it.  One method is to use a white cake mix.  The other is to use canned biscuits (botton left).  No matter what method you use, you can use the same filling.  To make it, simply by a large can of canned sliced peaches.  Add a cup of sugar, some nutmeg, cinnamon or allspice, and some water if the canned peaches was thick.  If camping, dig a hole and build a fire.  Let it cook all the way down to coals.  Remove enough coals to fill the lid (like on the left).  Pour th cobbler mix in the pot (or use an insert). Cover and place in the hole with the coals.  Cover the lid in coals.  Let it cook 15 minutes until it starts to boil.  If the bottom of the biscuits or mix looks done but the top is not done, then remove and let it continue to cook on the top until nice and brown (like on the right.)  If doing at home, cook in 400 degree oven for 45 minutes, but check it.

Pan fried potatoes

The secret to cooking with iron skillet is heat regulation.  To achieve that means you need to cook with coals and then regulate the distance between it and the skillet.  The worst thing you can do with potatoes in an iron skillet is too low heat.  The oil needs to sizzle when you add a single chip in the middle.  You then need to make sure the heat stays high enough to keep cooking.  The level of oil is also important.  You are not deep frying the potatoes.  So about 1/4 inch of oil is fine but you can slowly add more oil if necessary.  Be sure to put some onions in for flavoring.  Add a pinch of salt and pepper as it cooks.  I also like to add some fresh chilis to taste.  Don't overly turn them either.  Let them crisp up on one side and then turn it.  As Mr. Food would say, Oh So Good.

Iron skillet minute steaks

There are a few ways you can cook minute steaks next to a lake at a camp.  One is to just season them and fry in a small amount of oil.  The other way is to dip them in some milk mixed with a small amount of sugar.  Then dip in flour, eggs, and flour again, then fry until golden brown.  Then be sure to cook some kettle fries like you did above.  Also open a can of green beans to make grandma happy.  Finish the meal off with a dutch oven cobbler.  Grandpa says MM Good.

Some other campfire foods

Eat out the orange.  Add eggs and bacon then seal like in the photo.  Put on coals and cook until the eggs pop the top.  Do the same with a large ruby red grapefruit.

My grandmother made the absolute most rich good tasting eggs.  I tried everything I could to try to crack her secret.  The clue was that she baked a lot of pies that had a meringue top.  Then it hit me.  She used the egg yokes in scrambled eggs and it made it richer.  It worked, that's the secret, drain off some of the whites.


This is a campfire favorite.  You take a banana and open it up and slice it down the middle and separate.  You then add marshmellows and some chocolate chips or candy bar.  You seal it up in foil and then cook it on the fire for about 10 minutes.  It tastes a lot like a banana split

Your Campcraft Refresher

How's your knots?

How's your fire building?


Figure 8


Clove Hitch

Fisherman's knot

Square knot

Sheet bend

Camp Hudgens sponsored an off camp backpacking trip on the Ouachita National Trail that is located in southeast Oklahoma near Heavener, Ok.  We either started or ended at Cedar Lake on Holsom Valley Road.  I preferred to end at the lake because it made for a nice last day and great final morning.  We would put in where the trail crossed HW 259.    The trip was an equivalent week to a camp week.  Hikers arrived on Monday and went through the usual registration and swim tests.  That's because we did swim at the lake once we reached it.  We did hike orientation on Monday and left out on Tuesday morning.  We hiked to campsite (1) and set up camp at the saddle below Mt. Billy.  We experienced what it was like to be in a tornado one trip as a funnel clipped the top of Mt. Billy and clearcut the top.  The wind in our camp was around 80mph.  I had secured the campers under a rain fly and I was riding it out in a geodome tent.  We were safe because the funnel could not drop down in the valley.  On Wednesday, we hiked to (2) Horsethief springs and set up camp.  We hiked to the overlook vista and could see 40 miles away.  We did orienteering lessons there.  On thursday, we hike to (3) Cedar lake and set up camp in a spot in the park.  The hikers swam in the crystal clear lake and we all got warm showers in the park bathhouse.

The camp backpacking trip

For the backpacking tirp, we used the Christian High Adventure methods.  It is minimum impact camping.  We used small Coleman fuel stoves.  We packed as much of our waste out as we could.  We mostly used freeze dried foods such as meats, tomato powder, egg powder, puddings, powder cheese cake, sasonings, Squeeze Parkay, wax cheese, and bisquick.  We took baking adaptors for the stoves so you could bake a rather good pizza.  Food has very little weight if you take away the water.  We carried a virtual feast.  We made spaghetti with meat sauce, pepperoni pizza, curry beef with noodles, macaroni and cheese,  cheesecake, pancakes with fresh made syrup (brown sugar and mapline), and popcorn.

The idea is to convserve weight as much as possible.  Toward that goal we only carried two-man tarps since we hiked in the buddy system.  You shared a tarp with a buddy.  You could set it up with an air gap or if rain was possible or present, you could set it up on the ground.  Our tarp tents had numerous straps on the ridge line so we could actually make doors that closed.  Our tarps were larger than the one in the photo.  We set up camp in a mid level area of a mountain or hill.  Never in the valley and never on the top.  The tarp was tied to a tree with nylon string.  On more advanced trips with experienced hikers, we would let each group do their own cooking.  They could team up with other 2 man groups if they wanted.  The trip leaders would sleep together.  Each day, a new hike leader was designated for a half day.  That person would read the map, set the pace, make the rest stops and insure we reached the designated target camp in time to set up camp, cook and eat a meal, and have an evening worship time before the sun set.  Lunch was always a snack of trail mix, peanuts, carob chips, and raisins.  On the trip, we covered advanced orienteering with map and compass triangulation, basic astronomy, survival, nature, weather, and made regular stops for meditation, personal vespers, evening worship, and personal devotion time.  On one trip, one of the campers was learning how to preach and asked if he could go around Cedar Lake park and ask people if they wanted to attend the evening worship at our camp.   He rounded up 20 people.  That was very neat.

The RA Canoe Trip

The annual canoe trip was just one week and attached to Camp Hudgens.  They started on Monday afternoon and originally ended Friday afternoon.  When we went to going home on Fridays, they moved the end to Thursday afternoon.  In the beginning, they didn't even meet at camp at all.  Bro Paul wanted them to at least come in on the end of the trip to participate in the closing campfire service.  We usually put them at Unit I lodge and later Unit III lodge.  Without fail, they almost always got into some kind of trouble while at camp.  that's because their discipline struture was nonexistent and camp structure was very military.  My earliest memory of the trip was in 1979.  The original trip leader was still in charge.  I don't recall his name.  The week was terrible with constant rain.  I just know that they rolled in on Friday at noon.  They came into the dinning hall and looked like a rag tag group who had gone through war.  The leader was not very happy.  I remember him telling Bro. Paul he would never do another trip again.  In 1980, we met a guy named Herb Shaw.  He was the new leader for the trip.  His new rag tag group had nicknames such as bear, rotten, and squirrel.  Herb started with the original route then decided to change it to a more scenic route on the mountain fork branch of the river.  Herb lead the trips until he was hired on as camp caretaker and at that time the trips came to an end.

Toward the last years of the canoe trip, Herb had switched the location to the lower mountain fork river near Broken Bow.  He did this due to over commercialization of the Illinois River.  I guess you can just about say that about the mountain fork now.  They kept the same schedule for the trip but it became more and more difficult to coordinate the logistics.  Costs also went up on fuel, groceries, insurance, etc.  It was then decided that when Herb became camp caretaker, we would end the trips.  Herb then donated the canoes he had purchased for the trip to camp.  Due to his dilligent maintenance, they were the best canoes we had.  It greatly benefited the waterfront program.

Bob Gilmore

Bob pre-dated me by a decade at least.  He was a devout Eagle Scout and an Army veteran.  He is buried in the McAlester cemetery.  Herb Shaw handled his funeral with some help from me as I could give it.  Bob helped any where he could and spent a lot of time off season helping Lloyd.  He helped with the canoe trips and also did the primer canoe trips from Bull Creek to Coal Creek and then to Lake Eufaula.  Bob was an avid outdoorsman with significant wilderness skills.  When Bob passed away, he was working for the City of McAlester.

bob gilmore marker.jpg

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