Near ASHTON, Idaho — As the veteran camp director added up the years on his Scouting and teaching resumes, he had a scary thought.
"I am getting to sound a little old, aren't I?" he said with a chuckle.
Truth be told, Delose Conner is only 57. Yet he has spent the majority of his life — 39 summers — working at Boy Scout camps and influencing the lives of thousands of young men and women from Wyoming to California.
That doesn't include his teaching career — 25 years of molding young minds through history, government and literature at Layton High School.
This summer, the avid Scouter is back at one of his favorite locations in the great outdoors — Camp Loll — a pristine spot that includes a frigid lake, tall trees and swarms of monstrous mosquitoes. That's where Conner is supervising a staff of 64 and about 300 Scouts and adults each week.
Oh, the campfire stories he could tell.
Things got a little hot for the camp director during the Yellowstone blazes of 1988.
There were a couple of times in past years when bears had to be trapped, but nothing serious since 1993.
Twice, boys were lost, but both were found safe and sound. One boy was spotted and picked up by Indiana Jones himself — Harrison Ford was flying the Teton County Sheriff rescue helicopter when he located the wayward Scout.
There was the summer the staff had to replace the roof on the lodge after a hard winter's snow caused damage.
The only tragedy in all of Conner's years at Loll was when a Scout with a heart condition had a heart attack and died.
"More than 99.999 percent of things which happen at camp are wonderful and positive," said Conner, a 2009 recipient of the Silver Beaver Award.
While Conner organized schedules and oversaw camp operations, his wife, Janice, raised their kids. Two weeks after he was born, Conner's son Bryon was at Camp Loll. At age 8, he was baptized by his father in frosty Lake of the Woods.
"It's a great place to raise kids," Conner said. "You have all these wonderful examples of how they should be when they grow up. They got to be food friends because they didn't have anyone else to play with."
When Scouts depart for home, Conner hopes they leave with a greater appreciation for Scouting, their country and the Lord's natural handiwork.
The most gratifying part of Conner's job is seeing the growth of his camp staff members. Many of his staff members have gone on to serve missions and successful careers in all fields. The history teacher has mentored doctors, dentists, lawyers and high-ranking officers in the military, among others.
"I haven't got a good mechanic yet," Conner said, joking. "But they are wonderful people and I have been a little part of their lives over the years. I love the friendship and camaraderie."
Thomas Grover worked under Conner for four of the seven summers he worked at Scout camps, including three at Loll. Everyone wanted to work on Conner's staff, Grover said.
"He had such loyalty. Staff members returned for multiple years. He ran a fantastic camp," Grover said. "I had four camp directors and there is no comparison to him. He transmitted enthusiasm. He knew how to instill the principles of Scouting in an exciting and meaningful way."
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