Edited by Jon C. Halter
A shattering experience
After returning from a day hike with our Scout troop several years ago, I received a telephone call from one Scout's mother, informing me that I had helped to cause a broken window at their house.
She explained that her son caught a small garter snake during the hike and, to take it home for further study, had put the snake and a small amount of grass in the insulated beverage container he took on the hike with his sack lunch.
Arriving home, the Scout dropped everything immediately at the back door and went to watch television, forgetting about his prize captive.
Mom, wanting to clean things up, unscrewed the container lid and added some water, shook the container, and began to empty the contents into the sink. When she noticed the snake, however, she screamed and threw the bottle through the window.
Looks clean, smells even better
When my wife and I visited Camp Wehinahpay, of the Conquistador Council, Roswell, N.M., recently, it was easy for me to describe in detail my experiences as a staff member some 30 years ago.
For one thing, it was the place I first saw Scout first aid in action, when my buddy Carlos tended to the severe ax-induced ankle wound of a camper. I learned some of the laws of life there: Don't run downhill; never call the dining hall a "mess hall"; rain happens.
I also learned a lot about self-sufficiency, and the lessons learned often served me well as a Marine Corps officer and in my 28 years as a police officer.
I learned in a special way what it meant to be "clean," for example. On Saturday afternoons, after the campers from the previous week had departed and the next ones had not yet arrived, we would do a week's load of personal laundry in the two washing machines available to camp staff. In huge cardboard barrels near the laundry area, we found a powder "detergent," which had a nice citrus fragrance.
It wasn't until we were storing camp gear at the end of the season that we discovered we had been using lemonade mix for six weeks to wash our clothes.
But we looked clean and smelled great.
That knot can be drafty
Webelos Scouts are invited to participate in the Klondike derby at the Bay Lakes Council's annual Voyageur District Winter Rendezvous. At one station, the soon-to-be Boy Scouts listened as an instructor showed them how to lash three poles together to make a triangle: start with a clove hitch, do your wrapping, do your frapping, and end with a clove hitch.
Then the Webelos Scouts tried to do the project themselves, with the instructors asking helpful questions like "How do you start?" and "Which direction do you go with the rope?"
The Webelos Scouts were congratulated as they neared completion of the project.
"Now, what knot do you end with?" the instructor asked.
One excited Webelos Scout piped up with the answer: "I know! A cleavage!"
Another reason not to ditch tents
With today's emphasis on conservation and Leave No Trace camping ethics, the practice of digging a ditch around a tent to drain away rainwater is a thing of the past. However, on my very first camp-out (at a fall camporee in 1959), we pitched our tent according to the Scoutmaster's instructions, with a four-inch ditch around it with a 6- to 8-inch hole at each corner.
We were very proud of our accomplishment and felt our tent looked just like the pictures in The Boy Scout Handbook. And two hours later, it rained heavily.
My dad didn't arrive until after 7 that evening, and it was dark and still raining as he made his way toward the leaders' cooking fly. When he accidentally stepped into one of our tent's corner holes, his yelling could be heard all over the camporee. Inside, we lay on our cots without making a sound.
My father was no longer with us when our troop held a reunion in 1998. But when I told the story to our former Scoutmaster, he vividly remembered the occurrence and had a hearty laugh.
C. David Hall
You think this is bad?
In 1997 our troop went on a five-mile overnight hike at the Triple U Buffalo Ranch, where the movie set for the motion picture "Dances With Wolves" is still located.
After setting up camp, the Scouts explored the buildings on the movie set. A ranch hand drove out and gave them a gift of buffalo meat to cook.
That evening a violent cold front hit. Dark clouds billowed on the horizon. High winds bent poles and blew down tents. Thunder crashed. Lightning blasted close by. Rain poured down in buckets. Everyone took shelter in the movie set's leaky buildings. It was a miserable, wet, muddy night.
The next morning, as the rain continued, the Scouts ate breakfast, repacked their backpacks, and hiked out. As they trekked homeward, we noticed that they had a spring in their steps and a look in their eyes that seemed to say: "I made it. I took what the weather threw at me and came out O.K."
Since then, if anyone in the troop whines about the weather or some other problem on an outing, the response from our veteran Scouts is: "Well, at least it's not as bad as the 'Dances With Wolves' camp-out!"
I help out with tickets for a community theater group. At one sold-out show, the lobby was full of people who had signed a waiting list to purchase reserved tickets that had not been claimed.
It was very noisy and requests for quiet went unheeded, so I put up the Cub Scout sign. Within 10 seconds there was silence, and we proceeded to call out the names on the waiting list.
As a former Cubmaster and district chairman, I have had opportunities to quiet down roomfuls of people, but nothing was quite as unique as that occasion.
Either way, it's true
I was leading the first meeting to organize our new Wolf dens, and I had many things to tell the new parents and Cub Scouts. After we had decided on the den leaders and assistants for each den, I wanted to stress the importance of our leaders being in uniform, and I announced that "All our uniforms need leaders!"
Everyone got a big laugh at my unintentional creativity in phrase-making. This saying stuck, and I now repeat it every year. And all our leaders do wear official Cub Scout adult leader uniforms.
May-June 2002 Table of Contents
Copyright © 2001 by the Boy Scouts of America. All rights thereunder reserved; anything appearing in Scouting magazine or on its Web site may not be reprinted either wholly or in part without written permission. Because of freedom given authors, opinions may not reflect official concurrence.