Wednesday, August 18, 2010
The Boy Scouts
I know some of the readers of this drivel will find it hard to believe but yes, I was indeed a boy scout. I made it to age 15 and the Star rank before the twin discoveries of beer and the opposite sex waylaid my single minded merit badge quest. I learned a lot in the organization, especially in the camping and outdoor skills department, and our troop had virtually every meeting outdoors, rain or shine, summer or winter. No church basements for good ol' Troop 133. This week I've been inundated by Boy Scout stuff including a customer/buddy relating his Scoutmaster experiences, one of my co workers attending Wood Badge training at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, and some paddling friends from St Cloud returning from a kayak trip to the Apostles.
I learned a lot in the scouts and still think its a great organization, no matter what the ACLU, the atheists, or various gay rights groups think. "I want to be in your group but I don't like your rules so please change them or I'll sue you" is always an interesting concept in my mind. Also, if the United Way wants to drop the Boy Scouts that's their prerogative, just like its my prerogative to drop the United Way. I think that electing our own patrol leader from amongst our buddies was my first inkling that this democracy deal was a pretty good thing. But enough political crap. The Boy Scouts, and this blog I would hope, are about having fun and maybe learning a thing or two along the way. My first long trip away from the parents was to Philmont Scout Ranch (one of those guys in the above image is me) , a two plus week trip in the very interesting year of 1968. Among the things I learned were that your clothes got really smelly if mom didn't wash em, Mexicans ate different food than we did, Greyhound buses are really hard to push when they run out of fuel, and no way was I ever joining the army. They had us stay at Ft. Carson army base on the way back and I think our impression was exactly the opposite from what the army had hoped. These big 'adventure base' experiences like Philmont and the Charles Sommers Wilderness Canoe Base, where No1 son put on several hundred canoe miles one summer as a 'Charlie Guide', are kind of the peak experiences for scout campers but good troops organize a number of smaller trips, which can be easily as instructive and as much fun as the big ones. From the trip report on the Apostles adventure, it sounds like that one fit the bill.
From talking with the guys on a rainy Mississippi River paddle, it sounds like they did all the right training, practiced rescues, had the correct paddles (see image) and lined up a double, always a great idea if someone is injured or ill on a trip. Gitchee Gumee gave them some flat water, a bit of bumpy water, a nice day at the sea caves, and and some hard paddling. She also gave them a great experience that will provide both lasting memories and valuable lessons. I guess that's what I got out of my Boy Scout experiences and would hope that its still the core focus of the organization.