Edited by Jon C. Halter
Illustration by Bill Basso
Last fall we combined a troop family camp-out with a unit service project - cleaning trash and debris out of the Shenandoah River. When the work was finished, we enjoyed fishing, swimming, and floating down the river in inner tubes.
I thought our 2-year-old, black Labrador Retriever would enjoy swimming alongside my inner tube, so I fastened a long leash to her collar and tried to coax her into the water. While everyone else donned a life vest (PFD), hopped into a tube, and set off floating downstream, I sat in my tube tethered to a dog who refused to swim - or even enter the water.
Three attempts to get her into the current ended with my being towed back to shore - to the sound of gradually fading whoops and laughter from the rest of the troop. Finally, I fastened a PFD on the dog and let her lie in my lap on the tube. As we traveled down the river, all I could think was, Next year, the dog gets her own inner tube!
Our troop schedules projects to provide opportunities for Scouts to meet service requirements for rank advancement. I had to complete the service requirement for Life rank, but I really didn't want to go on the next project - a visit to a local nursing home where none of us knew any of the elderly residents.
Our purpose was to enable the residents to enjoy an evening of bowling. At one end of a lane, we set up 10 lightweight plastic pins; at the other, we put up a ramp the residents used to push a bowling ball toward the pins.
At first, each bowler would smile a little after knocking down a pin. Then we began to cheer them on, like it was a championship match. They began to enjoy it more and more, and we realized that if we hadn't been there, most of them probably would have spent the evening just sitting in front of a window or a TV set.
One resident kept calling me "Charlie." (Perhaps I reminded him of a son or grandson.) He would say, "Remember when you and me used to do this?"
I would reply, "Yes," and this seemed to make him very happy. He talked and talked about what he and Charlie used to do.
Although I was not Charlie, I understood that for a few hours I made someone happier than he might have been had I not been there. I felt good knowing that I had helped him remember some good times.
Eagle Scout, Troop 119
At a Metro station in suburban Maryland, our Webelos den had missed the scheduled train for a day trip to Washington D.C. As we bought tickets for what we hoped was the right train, a man noticed our confusion and assured us that we hadn't made another mistake.
He then joined us in our car and acted as a tour guide all the way to L'Enfant Plaza. He pointed out highlights along the route and told about his experiences when he had been a Boy Scout. He then made sure we got off at the right stop and transferred correctly to our next train.
After our first stop at the National Air and Space Museum, we went to the National Museum of Natural History, where another man complimented us on the boys' conduct. Once again, he made sure we knew where we were going next and that we were having a good time. He said that he was involved with Cub Scouts in the Baltimore Area Council.
After our final stop at the National Aquarium in the Department of Commerce building, we were tired and dragging. Back at the Metro station, we were inquiring about the train to Maryland when yet another kind man stepped up to offer assistance. He too, was a former Boy Scout.
I have been to Washington, D.C., many times, and I'm certain I looked thoroughly confused on more than one occasion. But this was the first time to be offered help so readily, and I know it was because of those Webelos Scout uniforms and what they represent.
Once a Scout, always a Scout.
Den Leader, Webelos Den 2, Pack 808
Bel Air, Md.
As the council Philmont coordinator, I had to plan the meal stops and day tours for our group en route to the BSA high adventure base in New Mexico.
In Colorado Springs we stopped for a day of sight-seeing. However, at breakfast I was informed that the dining facility couldn't prepare dinner for us as previously planned. So I went to a nearby restaurant, where the manager agreed to serve us 38 ham dinners that evening.
The dining room was full when we arrived and the customers were slightly surprised to see 38 uniformed Scouts and Scouters enter and take their places behind chairs. Together we said aloud the Philmont grace, then sat down to an elegant meal.
As one man was leaving the restaurant, he stopped at our table. "I was greatly impressed with your group of young men and would like to do something for them," he told me. "I would like each one to have an extra dessert."
He pressed some money into my hand and, before I could respond, left the restaurant.
So each member in our group had an extra ice cream dessert, another example of how traveling with uniformed Scouts affords many opportunities to make favorable impressions-and sometimes gain unexpected benefits.
Scoutmaster, Troop 178
On the afternoon of our autumn "Back to School Night with Scouting," I made a hurried trip to the council service center for extra books and patches to give out at the meeting.
This was to be my second year as committee chairman and assistant Webelos den leader, and I had put off buying a new uniform shirt for a long time. Encouraged by another Scouter at the service center, I decided to finally buy a new shirt.
At the meeting, I organized our Webelos den for the flag ceremony. I then stood proudly before them, straight and tall, shoulders back, and, hoping for a compliment on my shirt, asked, "Do you notice anything different about me?"
After a pause, one boy smiled at me. You could see the glow of satisfaction on his face when he said, "Yes, you've lost weight, haven't you?"
Committee Member, Troop 111
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