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Watching my sons in Boy Scouts stirs up so many memories of when I was a youth in Scouts. Summer Camps, rainy campouts and in particular the '81 Jamboree that a small town kid got to travel to Washington DC.


Would be interested in hearing anyone elses Boy Scout stories as a youth and/or as an adult leader.

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Here are mine:


Order of the Arrow was a big deal in my troop and at the summer camp we attended. Our lodge had a combination of OA and Mic-O-Say traditions so it was interesting to say the least. I spent two years on the Exec committee, driving all over the council to meetings, untold numbers of weekends at camp working, etc. Hard work, great friends and many memories.


My Jambo story is from "More Rain" state park in Pennsylvania, 1977. Mud up to our ankles, what's better than that!


For a simple farm boy from Illinois it couldn't be beat.

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Spring of 1972 I went on my first campout with my new troop. We drove up into the mountains of North Ga. Along some gravel road, they stopped the cars and we all piled out. We loaded up our gear and carried it from the cars, down a small embankment, across a fallen tree over a creek, into a meadow. The Eagle scout troop guide showed us where to pitch our canvas pup tents. Later that evening we built a fire on which to cook our hamburgers.


After dark we all gathered for the snipe hunt. We were given directions on how to attact the snipes and bags to gather them into. We dutifully went to the far side of the meadow, found the proper sapling to kneel beside, shake in the proper method, while calling the cry of the snipe. Periodically all around could be heard the yelps of boys catching their snipes and running back to camp. After a while, we newer scouts returned, initally dejected we had not been successful at our first hunt until we learned more about the illusive snipe.


The next morning we started a new fire and cooked our bacon and eggs over an open fire. Most of us had never cooked anything at all. Cooking our own food over an open fire was quite the accomplishment. There were no patrol boxes or patrol gear, just eager boys fresh from Webelos, learning at the foot of an Eagle scout.


Half of that patrol went on to earn the rank of Eagle.

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The Troop of my youth always had great Campfires, at least that's the way I remember them. But no matter what else we did, sang or screamed, we always closed the same way. First the troop would sing the following:

Troop :       Softly falls the light of day,

As our campfire fades away.

Silently each Scout should ask,

"Have I done my daily task?

Have I kept my honor bright?

Can I guiltless sleep tonight?

Have I done and have I dared,

Everything to be Prepared?


Then an older boy would sing with the Troop Humming Vespers the following. He would stop and allow another boy to recite lines of the scout oath, it would look like this:

Speaker 1  Day is done


Speaker 2  On my honor I will do my best



Speaker 1  Gone the sun


Speaker 2    To do my duty to God and my country



Speaker 1  From the lake,


Speaker 2  and to obey the Scout Law;



Speaker 1  From the hills,


Speaker 2 To help other people at all times;



Speaker 1  From the sky.


Speaker 2 To keep myself physically strong,



Speaker 1  All is well, safely rest.


Speaker 2  mentally awake, and morally straight.



Speaker 1  God is nigh. May the Great Scoutmaster of all the scouts be with us until we meet again


I still get chills thinking about it

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Crossed from Webelos to Boy Scouts in Panama, Canal Zone, 1974. The troop was small but superb.


I was only in the troop for 3 weeks before we moved from Panama to Arizona. However, I had the privilege of going on 1 day hike with the troop.


Deep into the jungle on Howard Air Force Base...no adult the entire day, the SPL lead about 12 scouts. Each scout had a machete. SPL taught us new scouts many things about the jungle. It was a well-organized, disciplined hike with no horseplay.


I know times, rules and organizations change...but I smile every time I hear someone comment on the Evils of Sheath Knives.....


Earned Eagle in Arizona, moved immediately to Alaska.


So I got to experience scouting in jungle, desert and woodland (with lots of winter camping).

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Wow, these are some great memories.


The temperature of the first day of my first campout was a humid 80 degrees. An Ice storm came that night followed by 6 inches of snow. We were so unprepared for it that we broke camp at day break. I will never forget the SPL getting everyone up and telling us not to eat the yellow snow.


The adults in our troop were big on wilderness survival and wanted us to learn how kill, clean and cook game. So I experienced cleaning and cooking a 400 lb hog, turkeys, and chickens. While many here may find killing and cleaning animals hard, we found cooking to be the challenge.


Our troop took second place at Camporee every year. We could never beat troop 84. That was back when Camporees were serious business.


Great subject.




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Here's one I penned last month after a non-unit campout with friends from the pack. We wanted to go very austere (no running water and no toliets at the campsite), so not approved for the cubbies, so we did it as a group of families together... anyways, sorry its so long - but the stew was an unexpected surprise and really did trigger these memories.



From campout 3/14/09 Dinty Moore Stew


As we pulled into camp at 3100 ft ascending from our afternoon hike on the valley floor, the temperature had dropped over 20 digits to 56 degrees. The onshore flow was picking up as dusk was rapidly approaching. Paul, Jim and Anoop tended to getting the stove started and dinner cooked. The boys, Carson, Ryan, Aaron and Rohith returned briefly to their boulders for one last climb before sunset. I was sure glad to leave the thousands of day-trippers on the valley floor, returning to our secluded camp and occupied myself with getting the campfire started in the tin washbasin that was required for any open flame inside the state park. Once lit, Anoop took over tending the flames. I wandered off to a nearby grove of trees providing me a windbreak for starting my lantern. Fellow campers, present company included, have poked fun at my stubbornness in using such an old Coleman lantern on campouts. They ask me if I know that Sports Chalet sells newer models.


Its an old 1940s model handed down to me by my uncle Mark. He and my aunt Cecilia never had kids and he had gotten the lamp from his father, now since past away. Still in the original red metal carrying box and it still had the 1st glass globe it came with. Jim commented that it would likely fetch a good price on E-bay. Other than putting new mantles in it Ive always gotten it to light, even if it was a bit testy sometimes. Tonight, I wouldnt be so lucky. In my impatience to get the dang thing going, I probably flooded it out by over priming the thumb-pump. At least the other guys had their lanterns and we werent relying on mine for camp light.


Ive always kept the lantern and the old Coleman stove Mark gave me. They still work and I cant seem to bring myself to discard a piece of camping gear that is still useful. Maybe its my connection to campouts of the past. Maybe its my link to my family back in Nebraska. On this trip, Carson and I slept in an old 3-man dome that my father bought for our family sometime in the early 1980s. Anoop and Rohith shared the second one. Aside from the elastic in the poles loosing their resilience and some slight off-coloring of the canopy from decades old water sealer, they work as well as when Dad bought them. Good thing too for tonight, they would be tested. The wind would not die with the setting sun.


I return from my unsuccessful lantern lighting to find the four boys all huddled around the fire asking about food. Jim fashioned a makeshift windbreak from a tarp, some cord and a U-shaped piece of tubing he found discarded on the perimeter of the camp. Its not much to look at, but it does the trick. We setup the folding table on the downwind side of the windbreak and bust out the mess kits. Salad, BBQ chicken and rice. Paul should plan the meals every time, I think to myself as we dig in. For sentiment sake, Jim breaks out a large can of Dinty Moore Stew. Tearing the label from the can, he vents the lid and places it directly on the coals to cook.


While the boys finish off their chicken and prepare to gorge themselves on Smores, I pull the lid back on the can of stew using my pocketknife pliers. I then move whats left of my rice to the side of the bowl and scoop out a generous helping from the smoky can. As I peal off the lid, I hear my fathers voice in my head telling me that this is how they cooked it in Viet Nam. I remember questioning back then, if they really had Dinty Moore stew in Viet Nam. Twenty some years later, I still dont know the answer. But, I do know my father cooked his C-rations this way in the Army. He had passed this culinary campfire knowledge to me. Now Carson, his 8 year old grandson was fresh with the same skills needed to make his own hobo stew. As I brought the first tastes of slightly overcooked, campfire smoked, canned stew to my mouth the aroma brought back a flood of boyhood wilderness memories.


The time in Colorado when we hiked Notch Mountain together as a family. I think this was the reason Dad bought the dome tent. My sister had to of been a year or two older than Carson was now. I was probably about 13 and somewhat experienced in my camping with scouting. We did a 10 miler from base camp to the summit to look across the valley at Mt of the Holy Cross. I remember the awe of being above the tree line for the first time in my life. I also recall my father getting pissed off at me and my sister because we ran so far ahead on the trail. He made me carry the daypack for part of the journey, just to slow us up. There is something magic about a hike like that. Pushing up to near 13000 feet, having a snowball fight at the summit in the middle of July. I remember we were not supposed to cut the switchbacks on the upper route and we carried out everything that we took in with us. It might have been called Leave No Trace back in those days, but I only knew it as, Leave the place better than you found it.


By my second and third bite of stew, my thoughts were on to the boundary waters of Minnesota. That trip was just Dad and I with the scouts. My mother and Jennie had gone to Chicago with some friends as I recall. Fifty miles in seven days by canoe and portage. We bear-bagged our food every night and still managed to have a sow and cub come into our camp and make a try for our food about half way through the trip. I thought it was exciting. My father had other adjectives he would have used to describe the encounter.


I caught the largest fish Ive ever landed on that trip. It was a huge pike. As fishing stories go, the thing gets bigger in my mind every time I think of that fish. I know this. We had 6 or 7 guys in our crew and we all ate off that pike that night. This is the same trip I scarred my foot. My lure got fouled on some rocks about 20 feet from shore. Since the water is so clear, I could see the lure. I decided to put on my trunks and swim out to untangle my line. Before my father could speak the words of warning, I was down to my shorts and in the water. Not only had I shed my clothes, but my hiking boots too. The rocks in the boundary water lakes are unglaciated. This means unworn and sharp. I thought I had just stubbed my foot on the way out to the lure. Once back on shore, I found a deep L-shaped gash on my right foot that probably should have had stitches if there would have been an ER within 250 miles. We butter-flied it shut the best we could and thankfully it didnt get infected. Thats alright scars, like my stew, are reminders of adventures you have lived. I would examine that scar as I slipped into my sleeping bag later tonight some 25 years later.


Finally as I finished my stew, my thoughts turned to the people that I have known through camping and those who knew me. There was Dorothy Molter the Rootbeer Lady on an island in Minnesota. She lived out there by herself and sold homemade root beer and packs of spare leaders and hooks to any of the canoeists that came her way. I read on the internet that she had passed away. No surprise, she was well on in years when I was 15. Some society dismantled her cabin and moved it to a museum outside of Ely. You can still order a 6-pack of her root beer online if the mood strikes you, but I doubt it tastes as good as it did on her island oasis.


There are others, my own family, my mom and sister, especially my father. He didnt have to take time to show me about the outdoors, how to hunt and fish, how to respect and care for the world around you, but he did. Some of my best memories as a kid involve him and a tent in Colorado, Minnesota, or at Camp Augustine on the Platte in Nebraska. There is Dr. Mike Kleppinger, my old Cubmaster and father of my friend Stan. I last heard Stan was teaching high school music somewhere in Iowa. He and I used to play poker for candy late into the night on campouts, in the same tent Carson and I would sleep in tonight.


There was Dr. Will Locke, my Jr High history teacher, ardent scout supporter and the guy who hatched the idea of the Notch Mountain trek. He led a group of older scouts up Mt of the Holy Cross at the same time the younger ones did Notch. I remember him as a tall lanky guy who liked to run. His appreciation of nature and the outdoors was strong and he passed it on to any student that would listen. I think Dr. Locke and Jim must be long lost twins; they are sure cut from similar cloth. The first time I met Jim, memories of Dr. Locke jumped into my head.


Mr. Stewart was my Scoutmaster. He drove around in an old Army Jeep and they lived in a house on the edge of town. He was all about the camping, getting outdoors. His son, Joe, was a year ahead of me in school. Joe was a good kid, but could be moody sometimes. I think he got a kick out of playing the role of disaffected youth a little too much. Maybe it comes with the turf of being the scoutmasters kid, similar to being a preachers kid. Being a year older, he was cooler than me and I was never really sure if I fit in with him or if he was going to exclude me from his circle of friends. I remember in high school, their house caught fire and was pretty much a total loss. I asked Joe about it. He replied that it was all cool because it meant he got to get all new stuff. I dont really know if he truly felt this way, or if it was a teenager playing off a huge loss in his life because he didnt want others knowing how bad it hurt to loose your belongings. Anyways, that comment always stuck with me. Funny how a few words or a single sentence can stick in your brain like that.


I vividly remember Mr. Stewart at scout camp. We were gathering for a huge bonfire. I dont know where I got it or why I was even trying it but for some reason I had my first dip of chew in my mouth on the way to that bonfire. We get there, about ten of us in our Troops group and sit down. Now, Mr. Stewart could have sit anywhere with our group. But, as you might guess, he plops down in the grass right next to me. Now, how am I supposed to spit without being seen by my Scoutmaster? Im not sure if he did it on purpose or if it was an act of God, but I sat through that bonfire with a wad in my mouth and no place to spit. It got to the point I couldnt take it and forced myself to swallow the saliva building in my mouth! I remember only two things from that bonfire. First, I puked in the tree line on the way back to camp. Second, I have never to this day ever been inclined to try chewing tobacco ever again.


I wonder if Im doing them all proud. It feels wonderful to spend time with friends and especially my son outdoors, but its really a selfish endeavor. Its male bonding, father-son time, but the undercurrent to it all is nostalgia. I often ask myself if Im doing a good job of paying it forward to the next generation. Do I find the right balance of fun and teaching when Im out camping with Carson and other boys from the pack? Will they overlook the lessons and just see it as fun, much as I did as a kid? Finally, will they grow to understand the importance of having places to go camp, nature unspoiled, appreciated? My hope is that once Carson has kids of his own, hell look back on these times with a great sense of wonder and awe. They should be the epic adventures and romantic remembrances of his childhood. They are for me.


Maybe thats why I use the old tents, the old stove and lantern. Heck, our mess kits are even my fathers and mine from our respective days in scouts. Its nostalgia in action and a tactile connection. I will likely never have the opportunity to have my sons camp with their grandfather. The old gear is the link between generations, the tie that binds. Its funny to think all those memories were triggered by a musty tent and a can of stew. I count these new campmates as close confidants in my history, just as I hold on to those that shaped me as a youth.


It was a one-nighter, not even a full weekend campout, but it left a history in my soul. It was the campouts of the past, mixed with the campers of the future. Almost as if the flames of the campfire forge the bond between the campers who sit around it. Three days after the trip, I happened to smell the stale smoke from the camp fire still seeping from Carsons heavy coat in the laundry room. Even then, in that split second I was transported back to the memories. Joe, Stan, my father, Dr. Kleppinger, Mr. Stewart, Dr. Locke, their faces all there. But this time Carson, Jim, Aaron, Rohith, Anoop, Paul and Ryan infused in the memory as well.


I pray the memory will be enriched as future campouts add to the play list in my mind. Luke and Jennifer are not far behind. How exciting and exhausting it will be to have both boys out under the stars, my wife along for the adventure instead of at home with the baby. The two brothers climbing the boulders of Anza Borrego, spying for chuckwallas or scorpions at dusk. If by chance we are ever lucky enough to summit Whitney or Half Dome together, will my sons be struck with the same awe I experienced that first time above the tree line? I hope so.


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Wow...just thinking about this for a few minutes I have been able to remember so many wonderful events.


I certainly learned a whole lot in scouting and I built some of the strongest friendships of my life.


The most memorable events are probably


2001 Jamboree - I had my Eagle Scout Court of Honor at the Jamboree, the NESA booth and national committee helped out, it was really nice. People from all over the world attended.


Icelandic Jamboree - I went to the National Icelandic Scout Jamboree. My brother and I joined the BSA troop on the US military base in Iceland for the event. It was amazing. Not only is Iceland an exceptionally beautiful country, but there was scouts in attendance from all over the world. I remember our campsite had a Icelandic troop to the left, a Faroe Islands troop to the right, and a Scottish troop and Swedish Troop across the road.


Sea Base - Sailing on a 100+ foot schooner in the Florida Keys for a week. I was the crew leader, it was a wonderful experience leading 35 people on a sail boat.


Holding my Vigil - anyone who has received the Vigil Honor can certainly relate(This message has been edited by Stephen_Scouter)

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Excerpt from my LJ blog from last August upon the death of my scoutmaster, Phil Mason:




My very first hiking trip with the troop was to Baxter State Park. I had been in the troop less then 6 months and was definitely not ready to attempt to climb Katahdin, especially not up the near vertical Abol Slide Trail. A little less than half-way up, this very young 11 year old gave it up. Scouting rules were a little different back then. They allowed me to sit there and wait for them. I waited some four or five hours, but I obediently stayed put. I found myself climbing back down with Mr. Mason, who leaned over and said, "I think you were the only smart one in our bunch today."


One of the patrols that climbed up had brought along a day pack with their lunch--meat and cheese sandwiches, except they didn't make them in advance. They brought all the stuff up that mountain to make them: meat, cheese, mayonnaise and mustard in glass jars. Do you see where this is going? On the return hike down, the older scouts did not want to wait for the younger scouts. No rest breaks. They wanted down/off. So, this heavy knapsack kept getting passed back from one scout to the other until one of the new scouts pleaded with Mr. Mason to carry it for him. He already had a pack on his back and asked, "Is there anything breakable in it?" The scout assured him it didn't have any breakables. At which point, Mr. Mason accepted the bag and winged it down the trail. When he caught up with it, he'd toss it again. He forgot about it at some point. I don't remember if it was before or after he caught up with me.


We didn't locate the knapsack until the following day. Thankfully (or not), the rangers do a patrol of the various trails up/down Katahdin daily. Wherever Mr. Mason had forgotten to pick it up, that pack sat in the sun for several hours with churned-up left over sandwich material, smashed jars of mayo and mustard...oh, and the unlucky owner's spare socks. We found it OUTSIDE the ranger station well away from the rest of the lost and found articles the following morning. It was well away from everything else for a very good reason. You could find it by smell. I think they simply trashed it rather than try and clean it.




That trip was in August of 1981. For those unfamiliar with Maine, Katahdin is our highest peak, just a few feet shy of 1 mile in height. Doesn't sound tall compared to some of the peaks out west, but the elevation gain from the base of the mountain to the peak is close to 4,000 ft. The Abol Slide trail is roughly 3 miles from base to peak and very, very steep--it's hand/foot holds in places. I placed the above tale in the sympathy card given to his family. I learned that most of them hadn't heard this tale from him. As a result of this trip, glass containers were banned from troop outings. Gee, I wonder why. :)


More info on Katahdin: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Katahdin

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My first camping experience was provisional Cub Week at Camp Hart in PA. My first night there my tentmate realized why they told us no outside food was to be kept in our tents. We were awakened by a raccoon dragging his bag out of the tent for the peanut butter and cookies his mom packed for him. He cried himself to sleep for the first three nights, his parents picked him up on the fourth night.


I remember every camping trip I ever attended with my troop (Troop 109 in Philly). The summers I spent on Camp Staff at Treasure Island, our troop had at least one member on staff every summer for 45 years or more. We were the biggest troop in the city taking 60 boys to summer camp, camping every month, it is the shining light of my childhood.

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There are so, so many memories that come back to me - but the one that stands out is my first summer camp which was at Lost Lake Scout Camp south of Fairbanks, Alaska.


The memory that stands out is waiting for the sun to drop (in July, that far North it never really "set"), and watching the OA members in Native American dress cross the lake in a canoe with lit torches. They came ashore and Tapped three campers for their Ordeal. I didn't understand all of what was going on, but I knew it was not only impressive, but important. I resolved right there in the middle of the wilderness to one day experience what those three young men did that night.


The bookend to that memory was one of my last as an active Scout - paddling the canoe across the lake at Camp Tiak in South Mississippi to assist in Tapping several campers for their Ordeal.


Scouting always proved to me to give back what you put into it - in Spades. Paddling that canoe across the lake (and it seemed to take FOREVER), I kept thinking back to that evening just seven years earlier in Alaska . . . .


The things dreams are made of.



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I don't remember much of scouting in my youth. Being a Girl Scout in the 60's was dreadful and I wanted to be a Boy Scout like my brothers.


Fortunately, I have two sons and through them I've had the most marvelous fifteen years in Scouting. I cannot begin to write what all those years have done for me. I think often that I've gotten much more out of Scouting than I have given. After years of Cubmastership and Cub Resident Camp Director, standing in front of a crowd and leading songs and generally acting goofy, I no longer have the paralyzing fear of public speaking.


The best memories come when I attend and Eagle Court of Honor for a boy who was once one of my cub scouts. Most recently, the Eagle Scout's parents had a slide show going during the reception. Several photos of Eagle Scout as a Cub receiving an award from his Cubmaster, or standing next to me on a campout. My we looked so young!


In the Cub Scout years I remember taking my Webelos Den to Cub Resident Camp for the first time. Many of those boys had never been out of town and I still remember the look on their faces when we topped a hill along the drive and they saw mountains for the first time. Their amazement at how noisy the woods were at night. How dark it got. Swimming in a natural lake.


So many memories of new Boy Scouts learning to do something for the first time. Watching the struggle and the triumph of accomplishment. New guys refusing to jump in the lake their first time at summer camp. Those same new guys getting over their fear and excitedly announcing that they passed the swimmer's test.


The amazement on their faces the first time they try roasted pineapple. The nicknames they earn because of some blunder on a campout and how they come to embrace that nickname as a badge of honor, always eager to tell a new scout how they earned the name. The general silliness and imagination of a group of "too cool" teenagers playing a made up game during free time.


The transformation of a boy thinking 'what's in it for me' to 'how can I help you'. The sayings that have become legend in our troop - sometimes a guy's just gotta barf (sick first year camper), hey look, Patrick, more up (a very strenuous hike), you better be good or Patrick will beat you with a broom (Patrick's disastrous first attempt at leadership, although it has become something of a fish story over the years), allow me to demonstrate the Webelos Leader to Boy Scout Leader transition kit (new ASM), I heard a bear, I know I heard a bear (that scout has the nickname bear bait), make sure you wear gloves when you lift that pot handle....OK make sure you wear dry gloves (very nice burn on my hand which led to me being presented with our troop's OSHA gloves - Official Scoutmaster Hothandling Apparatus), and my favorite - Mrs. B., you're not a regular girl.


So many priceless memories.



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First camp out in Dec'70 High Rock Lake, NC (Joined Royal Order of Siam that weekend along with first Snipe Hunt)

Learning how to stay dry after complete cold, soaking wet weekend at Spring '71 Camporee ( I was wet from Friday night until I got home Sunday afternoon)

Scout Lifeguard June'73

Eagle Dec '73

Vigil July'76

Years on Camp Staff '73-'77, '81

NOAC '75,'77,'81

BSA in Germany as a very young SM - took troop to summer camp in Piza, Italy by train from Munich

BSA in Korea

Camp Staff Reunions '00 and '05

#1 Son earning his Eagle in '05

#2 Son earning his Eagle this fall

#2 Son and myself to Philmont this summer (Planning has been tons of fun, now it's almost time to go....)

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