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As the SM of a small Troop, I sometimes get discouraged. Too much work, not enough hands. My grass is always too tall, my oil needs to be changed, my wife is unhappy, my weekends spoken for far into the future. In the Troop, it sometimes seems that for every step forward, we take two back. I know we're getting better and making the right moves, but once in a while, the funk gets the upper hand.


Here's a world-class funk-cutter.


A week ago Sunday an F-5 tornado ripped through a town named La Plata, about 5 miles from here, in Southern Maryland. Few lives were lost, but the level of destruction was overwhelming. Hundreds of homes and businesses were destroyed. Words are inadequate to describe the devastation. This isn't Kansas, for Pete's sake - this is home!


With schools closed, one of our Scouts called the Troop, and then the authorities, to see if we could help. (The boy behind this effort was my son - hear the buttons popping?:)) After delays caused by safety concerns and such, we got our chance. The boys, a couple of parents, a few chainsaws and a big boxful of good intentions headed down this last weekend.


The scene was that of a war zone. The neighborhood we went to had been devastated, with pieces of shattered houses, homes, lives, in huge piles along the street. Kids toys smashed. An untouched house here, and next door a lot with only a heap of rubble. The grass gone in many places, blown away. Towering trees broken and tossed like straws. And on and on and on. It was a scene to put a lump in the throat and unshed tears in the eye, not all of them belonging to young Scouts.


Assigned to tree and brush clearing, the Troop began to work. Among hundreds of other volunteers, the boys dragged and hauled and rolled and cleared and piled the debris. We moved from house to house, doing what we could to help. The sounds of heavy equipment and the chainsaws the adults were using never stopped. Working with the boys on the hauling crew, I saw our rest breaks grow more frequent as the day wore on. It was hot and dusty and hard.


The volunteer effort was scheduled to end at 6 PM that evening. At the last house, work not finished, we sat in the driveway resting before packing up. The lady of the house came over and, sitting with us for a moment, thanked the boys for all their hard work. It was clear that our efforts meant an awful lot to her. As she finished, the PL of our younger boys, weighing maybe 90 pounds, sweaty, dirty, tired, wearing the scratches from the mountain of brush he had hauled that day, spoke. He said he was sorry we hadn't finished for her, and that he and his patrol would stay, if it was allowed. When I said we had to leave, he turned his back on me and said to the lady, "We'll come back. We'll come back for as long as you guys need us. That's what we do."




When my grass gets too tall, and my work is piling up, and the boys are bucking the system, I'm gonna think back to last Saturday, to the spirit of those boys, to the PL's words. I'm sure this scene has played itself out hundreds of times in hundreds of towns, but this one is all mine. And I'm gonna hang onto it forever.



Waldorf, MD












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Ed, thanks for supplying the link to Scouting Way.

They are always looking for stories. You can sign up for their email list and get them emailed to you automatically. They also list the names of Boys who have recieved their Eagle Award and Girls who have received their Gold Award.


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