In this short story, short being the operative word as my mind tends to wonder, I will talk about the impact scouting has had on our family. The year was 1997. My son was bridging over (that’s scout lingo, but you knew that) to the Boy Scouts. I was not a happy camper.
As a young miscreant, I was involved with Cub Scouts. I was a Webelos Scout and was looking forward to joining the Boy Scouts. My first meeting was held in a dark wood shack at the back of my elementary school. I didn’t know anyone, didn’t like anyone, didn’t feel welcome and never went back. In retrospect, shame on them for not making me feel welcome and shame on me for not giving it more of a try. Because of my experience I was not hopeful when it was Jason’s turn. He returned from that first night and I was prepared to support his decision to pull out of scouting. Instead, mister smiley face walked into the house. He was excited about the troop, the upcoming trips and the people he met. He talked about Dominic Doughtery, Jeff Kile, Ryan Banks and the McDougles. He said Jeff Kile was the Den Guide and made scouting sound fun. Where was Jeff thirty years ago? We learned this troop was a High Adventure troop. We found this meant it was going to be an adventure trying to schedule all the activities into our calendar. I checked, its official, the President of the United States doesn’t have as busy of a calendar as this troop does. In the first year, we’re sure a number of families and scouts shared that roller coaster they call a learning curve. Tip one; carry a really big duffle bag. Jason started his first weekend trip with a duffle bag the size of a big backpack. Needless to say we had to upgrade. Today he packs everything comfortably in a very large bag. A good pair of hiking boots, a warm sleeping bag, and a backpack, round out the standard equipment needs for members of Troop 212.Jason has been on many different adventures. For a few years the troop camped and were used as manpower for an air show at Flabob Airport. The young scouts directed traffic while the older scouts acted as valets, parking cars. In retrospect, I’m not sure which insurance rider costs more, the one for the air show or for the ground show involving the scouts. Every winter there is always a Snow Camp. The idea is to camp in the snow and be involve with snow packed fun. They were great. Everything was always well planed. There were activities, scout tasks, games and competitions, all involving snow. The scouts packed everything in, except the snow. Many of those years, Mother Nature was not cooperative and didn’t provide the snow. A number of years, snow camp was soggy ground dirt camp. Being true scouts, they endured, overcame and adapted.
One trip each year that is always right on target is the Randsburg outing. For those who have never been, we build a large shooting range where the scouts become familiar with the safe handling of shotguns and 22 caliber rifles. The adults enjoy getting there a day or two early for set up. The scouts are treated to a weekend filled with gunfire. Sort of like the Fourth of July in downtown Long Beach. The days are noted for the high winds and the nights are known for the super sized campfires. Do you know what a snipe is? Ask any new scout that has been out on an outing and they will tell you a Snipe is a small nocturnal animal that lives in the bushes and comes out at night. They know, because they spend hours and hours looking for them. The new scouts never seem to find them, but are assured by the older scouts they are out there.
There are dozens of stories like these. In the short time I have, there is no way I can do justice to many activities the troop involves itself in. This troop does a fantastic job of turning young boys into young men. It has changed families as well. Through scouting, we have met and are proud to call friends, many of the families involved with Troop 212.