Eagle Scout's story is inspiring

As a Cub Scout den leader and mother of two, I was deeply touched by the article in the May-June 2003 issue about Matt Riley, a young man who, while battling cancer, became an Eagle Scout.

His enthusiasm and undying courage should be an example to all Scouts. Keep up the good work, Matt. The younger boys of the world need you as a role model.

Laurie Dampier
Pack 359
Slidell, La.

A vote for digital cameras

I believe the May-June 2003 Outdoor Smarts column on photography, while stating a preference for film cameras, gave a false impression about the high costs of digital photography.

If you already own a computer and color printer, the comparison between digital and film is really printer ink and paper versus film and processing.

Personally, I find it easier to view digital photos on my computer and send e-mail files or make photo CDs to share with others.

With film, you have to buy and then carry many rolls on a backpack trip, then pay for processing when you return. (And many pictures will not be worth keeping.)

Digital requires no film and allows you to edit as you go. Also, you can later enhance and zoom pictures on the computer, creating new photos from details that would not be easily viewable on a snapshot from film....

...[My experience is that] digital photo quality from cameras in the $200-$300 range is terrific. My advice is to get started now and then upgrade when you outgrow your camera's quality.

Michael Freed
Los Angeles, Calif.

A difference in rescue techniques

The Way It Was column "Breaking the 'Death Grip'" in the May-June issue brought back good memories of 50 years ago when I was hired to be an assistant waterfront director at Greater New York Council's Ten Mile River Scout Camps.

Before camp, I was sent for a week of rigorous training at the Aquatic School held at the Schiff Scout Reservation in New Jersey, where I learned the skills necessary to be a good aquatics director.

One point that was constantly stressed during that week was that only under extreme circumstances were we to make body contact with a victim. We were taught to "Reach, Throw, Tow, and only then Go."

The Lifesaving merit badge, which I taught that summer, did not include the breaking of strangleholds. This was hard for me, because I had learned all of these techniques in the American Red Cross water safety instructor course. We were all cautioned against using Red Cross techniques. I guess that things have changed.

Dr. Karl E. Bernstein
Woodmere, N.Y.

Thank you, Chipmunk Patrol

The final activity at summer camp for Troop 98 was a 20-mile bike trek. We started out early, a smooth ride, winding up and down along backcountry roads.

By midday we were more than halfway through the trek, and I was looking forward to returning to camp. Unfortunately, my next memory was waking up in a hospital in Kansas City.

The crash happened so suddenly. Two Scouts bumped tires, then slid to the ground on their bikes. I was right behind them, and my immediate reaction was to jerk my bike to avoid them. Instantly, I was airborne over the handlebars. My forehead hit the ground and jarred my helmet sharply to one side. The blow knocked me out, and I skidded on the gravel for more than 20 feet.

The Scouts from the Chipmunk Patrol quickly sprang into action. Casey McNamara and an adult leader, Bernie Comiskey, helped clear my airway and dig gravel out of my mouth. The other Scouts, Justin Smith, Brian Comiskey, and Steven Glasbrenner, came forward with the first-aid supplies. Under their collective coolheadedness, I was kept comfortable until help arrived.

I sustained serious injury to my face and eye, but after 200 stitches in my face and three eye surgeries, I am almost healed. I give my warmest thanks to the Scouts of Troop 98, for without their help I may have lost sight in one eye.

You never know what curves life will throw you, and it helps to Be Prepared.

Joe Meinhardt
Blue Springs, Mo.

Earn the religious award

I loved Scouting as a youth. I earned my Arrow of Light Award and 31 merit badges, became an Eagle Scout, achieved Vigil Honor in the Order of the Arrow, attended the 1985 National Scout Jamboree, and worked on camp staff for three summers.

But the one thing I did not do was complete my God and Country award. We started on it as a troop, but after a few weeks we lost interest, probably because it didn't involve advancement or camping, so we turned our attention to more "fun" activities.

As a result, I have always regretted not earning a Scouting religious award. If I could suggest one thing to every Scout and Scouter, it would be to strongly encourage the pursuit of the religious awards.

Paul McDonald
Lenexa, Kan.

Religious emblem programs are developed and administered by various religious organizations and approved for wear on the Scout uniform by the Boy Scouts of America as a way to encourage youth to grow stronger in their faith. (An adult religious recognition award is also available, presented by nomination only, for outstanding service to youth both through the religious institution and Scouting.)

Although each religious program has its own award, the universal religious emblem square knot is worn as recognition on the Scout uniform over the left shirt pocket. The silver knot on purple (BSA No. 05007) is worn by youth or adult members who earned the emblem as a youth, while members who receive the award as an adult wear the purple knot on silver (No. 05014). Adults who received both the youth and adult awards may wear both knots.

A list of all religious emblem programs available to BSA members is on the BSA national Web site at www.scouting.org/awards/religious/awards/index.html.

Webelos Scout is now an Eagle

My son, Todd, is the boy second from the left on the cover of the 1998 printing of the Webelos Scout Book.

That picture was taken in 1998, and Todd is now getting his Eagle Scout Award.

I really appreciated the dialogue in the May-June 2003 Front Line Stuff column about whether Eagle courts of honor should be individual events or a shared experience.

Keep up the good work printing articles that benefit Scouts at all levels.

Lynn Matsuzaki
Alhambra, Calif.

Why we give our time

While serving on an Eagle board of review, I began to wonder how much time is contributed by adults (other than a boy's parents) to help a boy achieve the rank of Eagle Scout.

I estimated the time for counseling a minimum of 21 merit badges; providing patrol advice on overnight outings, summer camp, high adventure trips, and troop meetings; serving on boards of review; and the hours served by the Scoutmaster. This came to a minimum of slightly more than 100 hours per year (or a Tenderfoot-to-Eagle total of around 800 hours) of nonparental adult leadership for each Scout who reaches Eagle.

This total helped me appreciate how much time other adults will contribute so my two sons can get to Eagle. And it made me feel ever more committed to help others in a similar way.

Recently, while describing the adventures my wife and our two sons and I have enjoyed in Scouting, we were asked "How do you find the time?"

My answer? We make the time, because so many others have already contributed—and will continue to contribute—so much to our sons.

Jeff Hare
Scouting Coordinator, Troop 390
San Jose, Calif.

'This is what it's all about'

Scouting magazine readers will appreciate the message one of our assistant Scoutmasters received last April via e-mail and shared with his fellow troop leaders:


I thought you might enjoy seeing this. I was stunned when I got it. Looks like I might be taking a bit of a side trip.

(This is what it's all about, I think.)

— Larry

Dear Mr. Larry Neal,

Six years ago, I was a Wolf Cub Scout of the pack of Duri, Indonesia. I was leaving to move to Scotland, and you, the Cubmaster of the pack in Indonesia, handed me a written letter as I was leaving my last pack award ceremony.

I still hold that handwritten letter, and it means quite a bit to me. You encouraged me to continue the long trail to Eagle, and that if I achieved Eagle, you would attend my Eagle court of honor....

...Right now, I live in Cairo, Egypt. (Yes, the place with the pyramids.) I am 14 years old, the Venture patrol leader of Troop 701 from Cairo...I [have] 28 merit badges and lots of Scouting experiences under my belt.

My Eagle court of honor is scheduled for June 7. It is not necessary for you to go out of your way to attend—times are difficult right now with the Iraqi crisis. I will clearly understand if you have to decline...I hope that I haven't caused a problem. I wish to hear from you.

Yours truly,
Peter Turlington

Ray Goodson
Scoutmaster, Troop 180
Vacaville, Calif.

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October 2003 Table of Contents

Copyright © 2003 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.