Tuesday, July 21, 2009

My Scouting History

One of my cycling friends asked me a few weeks ago why I am still involved in Scouting. I am not real sure if there is a straightforward answer to that question. I know this; there were plenty of adult leaders along my Scouting trail the made sure I could have a scouting experience. The simplest answer may be; someone did it for me. However, I think there is more to it. I want to delve into it, but first why I even stayed in scouting as a boy.

With my father being in the military, scouting provided one constant as we moved around from place to place during my childhood. The Cub Scout Pack or the Scout Troop was an instant source of friends in a new place.

I started my Boy Scout career in the “Action” Troop 237 in Fort Benning Georgia. As like all little brothers, I followed my older brother into this troop. Members of Troop 5 would find it curious that the leadership positions in this troop had different color neckerchiefs. The highlights of my scouting in Georgia were: 1) two weeks at my first scout camp at the Chattahoochee Scout Reservation. 2) A 50-mile canoe trip down the Chattahoochee River. I was a scrawny 11-year-old scout that probably paddled twice the whole trip. Reggie Hall was a more than patience older boy canoe partner that was stuck with me.

When my father was transferred to Fort Bragg, NC, my brother and I joined Troop 973. Here I camped at Camp Durant for my summer camp, got elected into the Order of the Arrow, and attended the 1981 Scout Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia. Many of our campouts were in drop zones at Fort Bragg. The roar of the jets, helicopters, C-130s, tanks etc were always greeted with one of my Scoutmasters’ saying, “That’s the sound of Freedom” This is the Troop I earned my Eagle in.

After my freshman year in High School, my father got orders for Heidelberg Germany. Here my brother and I joined Troop 1. There is much debate which American troop actually was the first Troop after World War II, but my troop had the number. I chose this troop because they had an annual ski trip to Kandersteg Switzerland at the international scout center. I remember John Wilkerson beating me on the butt with his ski as I was trying to learn to use a T-Bar. (ahh, boy leadership) We took the duty train to West Berlin during the height of the cold war. I played spades with Scott Miller as my partner the whole way, while Scott Corliss was hanging out the train taking pictures of East German guards. I was active in the Black Eagle Lodge and traveled all over Europe to do Order of the Arrow scouting. I also worked three summers at Camp Freedom, with Bill Kennedy, Bill Hurley, Sandro Mezel who I have found again. Bill Kennedy gave me the nickname of “Gonzo” that stuck the whole time I worked camp staff.

I wandered away from Scouting when I went off to College. I owe a whole bunch of adults along the way. I think I am paying them forward by getting back involved in scouting in 1997.

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