Edited by Jon C. Halter
That’s a relief!
Having completed a 10-day canoe trip in Bowron Lake Provincial Park in British Columbia, eight of our older Scouts and several adult leaders were on the final day of the trip home to Washington State by car. Other than the Scouts being in uniform, we had no indication on our car of the nature of our group or the purpose of our trip.
However, as we stopped at a service station, we became aware that a Royal Canadian Mounted Police patrol car had been following us and had pulled in behind us.
All the adults in our group wondered the same thing: “What infraction of the law had we committed?”
The Mountie exited his car, walked over and asked, “Are you American Scouts?”
We responded in the affirmative and were happily relieved when he asked his next question:
“Do you have any patches you’d like to trade?”
Paul L. Milligan
When I was a Tiger Cub leader in Omaha, Neb., our den visited a local forested park to hike and work on requirements for the Map and Compass belt loop.
As the eight boys huddled over me, I placed a map on the ground and showed them how the physical features around us—streams, trails, roads—were represented on the map.
Then I pointed to the image of a compass and asked what the arrow and big “N” stood for. Without a second of hesitation, the boys all screamed “Nebraska!”
The other dads all began laughing. They knew that I, as a University of Colorado alumnus, was just beginning to learn how deeply the roots of our Big 12 Conference rival, the University of Nebraska, were imbedded throughout the Cornhusker State.
There’s fun in mud
I could write a book on the comments from young boys I have heard as a Scoutmaster, but the following is my favorite:
After years of watching his older brothers participate in Scouting, the youngest son in a family of Scouts was old enough to join our troop.
On the new Scout’s first camp-out, as I was explaining the program to him and the other new Scouts, I noticed he had become very fidgety and seemed annoyed that I was taking so much time.
When I finished, I asked him: “Bobby, you seem pretty anxious to get out of here; are you in a hurry?”
“No, Mr. Rhodus,” he replied, “it is just that there is a mud puddle over there, and it is drying up the more you talk. Can we be excused?”
I could hardly keep a straight face, replying, “Well, we better not let that happen; so you guys are dismissed for now!”
Where were those guys?
While serving as master of ceremonies during the campfire at our fall family camping weekend at Camp Rainey Mountain, I led 1,100 Scouts, parents, and siblings in the “hat cheer.”
I told everyone to yell as loud as they could when I tossed my hat into the air but to stop the instant it hit the ground. It was a clear night, and the echo of yelling from the surrounding mountains was astounding. We performed the hat cheer many times during the campfire, and each time it echoed back louder and clearer.
A week later, the mother of one of my Tiger Cubs told me she had asked her son what his favorite part of the weekend had been.
“Mom, it was so cool,” he replied. “We did this neat cheer at the campfire. When we yelled, another Scout troop hiding in the woods yelled right back! Every time we yelled, they would yell, too!”
The Tiger Cub told his mother he never saw that other Scout group, but he hoped that they had had as much fun during the weekend as he had.
Why we serve
When my sons joined Cub Scouting in Virginia in 1993, I became an assistant den leader. After we moved to Ohio, my “one hour a week” as a volunteer expanded to become more like a full-time job.
One weekend in 2001, we drove back to Virginia for a surprise birthday party for my mother at our former church.
When the party was over, we were exhausted but still faced the chore of cleaning up. I was standing next to my mother when three uniformed Cub Scouts, who had been assisting with an event across the hall, walked in and asked if they could help us.
I never felt my mother fully appreciated why I was so involved with Scouting, but at that moment I think she understood. I know she could tell how truly proud I felt when those three Cub Scouts offered to help out a group of complete strangers.
Heroes under construction
Making heroes is a role taken on by Scout leaders all across America, an awesome responsibility requiring an investment in training and time in the lives of young people.
I know a leader’s impact can go far beyond the young Scouts in a troop, because I have seen the differences made by my father, Wayne Howard. A man of integrity who led by example, he became a Scouter at age 29 and for 31 years served two generations of boys from our small community.
He passed away on Dec. 26, 2001, and no one who attended his funeral will ever forget when the call was made for those who had been members of Troop 34 to stand up. Thirty-five men stood, many having driven or flown great distances at a time of year when it was difficult to leave family and home.
After the service, one wife said that on the long drive to the funeral she had asked her husband, who is now a Scoutmaster, why it was so important for him to be there.
“You know the honors and compliments I have received as a Scout leader?” he replied. “Well, this man taught me all I know about being a leader. I am trying to do it the way he would have done it.”
So I know my father’s legacy as a Scout leader is far from over. Someday another Scout, following in the footsteps of his leader, will grow up to become a Scout leader, and another generation will be touched by my father’s Scouting skills.
So if someone asks what you are accomplishing as a Scouter, tell them you are constructing heroes for this generation and the next.
Copyright © 2007 by the Boy Scouts of America. All rights thereunder reserved; anything appearing in Scouting magazine or on its Web site may not be reprinted either wholly or in part without written permission. Because of freedom given authors, opinions may not reflect official concurrence.