Worth Retelling

Edited by Jon C. Halter
Illustration by Joel Snyder

Six what?

People come by their nicknames in curious ways. When I was a Scout at summer camp in the late 1930's, a staff member would drive the camp's pickup truck to town to make necessary purchases.

One day the staffer assigned to this duty forgot to take the list of needed items. He phoned camp from town and had the typed list read aloud to him, after which he did the errands and returned to camp.

The list had included a request for six copies of the map published by the chamber of commerce and used by staffers when leading hikes. Unfortunately, the camp's phone system did not always transmit words clearly and when the truck arrived at camp it contained six brand new mops but no maps.

For the rest of the camp season, the staffer was known as "Six Mop Smith."

Robert J. Whittier
Duxbury, Mass.

Changed for the better

After I became a Cub Scout in 1966, a new family moved into our suburban neighborhood, and their two sons also became Cub Scouts. But they were different from the rest of the neighborhood in one way: They were African-American.

My mom was our den leader, and I remember her telling my brother and me that we would be having more than our share of den meetings at our house because some other den mothers didn't want "the new boys" in their homes. My brother and I protested that such attitudes were not consistent with the Scout Oath and Law.

Mom explained that we would "work around this." And eventually we did; the family stayed in the neighborhood, and the two boys stayed in the pack (and eventually graduated from the local high school).

I always considered it a tiny victory in the racial conflicts of the 1960's...

Years later, I became a troop committee chairman, just as my father was back then. At a district roundtable, I looked around the room at the 30 men and women (mostly white) listening attentively to the two Scout leaders (who happened to be African-American) conducting the session.

I marveled at how, in my brief lifetime, a historical change of attitudes had taken place, and I quietly thanked God that I live in America, where such a transformation can occur.

Bob Shaw
Williamsville, N.Y.

Cast in a good light

On an overnight at the local council camp, a Scout in my son's troop—who already had a cast on a broken arm from a previous mishap—toppled off the balcony of a cabin.

The Scouts snapped into action with their first-aid skills. They quickly calmed the boy, determined he had no serious injuries, covered him with a blanket, and called 911.

When the paramedics arrived, they pulled back the blanket and were startled to see the hand-to-elbow cast on the Scout's arm.

The Scoutmaster looked at the paramedics and deadpanned: "When we do first aid, we don't mess around."

Deborah J. Beyer
Paw Paw, Mich.

A visit to Scotland

In June 2003, Troop 131 traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland, where we were reunited with Scottish Scouts who had visited us in Arizona the year before. We stayed with Scottish families while exploring that beautiful country. We saw many wonderful sites and hiked 10 miles in the Cairngorm and Ben Macdhui Mountains.

We spent one night at an old castle that had been converted to a youth hostel, walked the Royal Mile in downtown Edinburgh, and toured Edinburgh Castle. We also experienced a ceilidh, a traditional Scottish gathering, with our host families.

While it was hard to say goodbye, it was a beginning of new friendships and a better understanding of how other citizens of the world live. We concluded that other people are not that different from ourselves.

The new and renewed friendships made the trip such a wonderful cultural experience.

For us, the world suddenly became a much smaller place!

Paula S. Keefer
Troop 131
Pinnacle Presbyterian Church
Scottsdale, Ariz.

'I'm O.K., Mom'

M y son, J. T., had a wonderful time at summer camp earning merit badges for rowing, archery, wilderness survival, and fishing.

We were worried about him attempting the Wilderness Survival badge on Thursday night. The boys go into the woods as a group, build individual shelters apart from each other out of sticks, branches, and leaves, without disturbing the environment, and then spend the night in their shelters alone. But J. T. felt he was prepared; he could recite from memory the priorities for survival in a wilderness location and had assembled a small survival kit containing bug spray, tarp, blanket, and rain poncho.

On Tuesday afternoon, J. T. was working on the Fishing merit badge. He had caught a three-pound bass the day before, but this time he caught his finger. He was holding his favorite torpedo lure, attached to his line, when he accidentally dropped his pole. The hook went through his left ring finger and wouldn't come out because of the barb.

At the emergency room, J. T. bravely endured several injections into his finger. Then the doctor enlarged the puncture in order to remove the barb.

At home, two calls came to our answering machine while we were out, to let us know what was going on. The first was the Scoutmaster's wife, assuring us J. T. was O.K. and that he didn't want to come home. The second was J. T.'s voice: "I'm O.K., Mom, and I'm not coming home." My husband and I had to laugh; he sounded so young on the answering machine.

The rest of the week was a breeze. J. T. stayed up all night in his survival shelter, bothered mostly by mosquitoes. He learned that next time he should bring a net—and get more sleep, because he slept through breakfast the next day.

As parents, you never know what to worry about the most, or if it even helps to worry at all. J. T. successfully completed all four merit badges that week, which was his main concern. As for me, I was glad to see him safe, at home in his own bed.

Kay DeVos
Springtown, Tex.

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