The Legend of the Raccoon

The other night I received an email from one of our Scouts. His email address got me laughing because of the story behind it. I am currently wrapping up a great book that I encourage you all to read. It is call “Rocks in my Backpack” by Tom Sholes. He weaves a tell about his many years of Scouting experience that leaves you laughing and wanting more. So I got to thinking, I should really write some of our stories down. We laugh a lot at most of the stuff that goes on in our Troop, and it seems that every outing provides some interesting adventure or anecdote that is worth retelling. I wont use the full names of the Scouts, all the Scouts of the Troop know the story, but in the interest of sharing a great Scouting story (all true), I thought I’d post it…

So here is the Legend of the Raccoon.

We were camped at Ft. Stevens State Park on a rainy weekend in February of 2005. The Troop was still small, we only had six Scouts in the Troop and one of them did not go on the Camp out. We were staying in the Yurts at the Park. One for the Adult leaders and one for the Scouts. Each Yurt comes complete with a twin bed and a bunk bed each yurt will sleep 5 with ease, not to mention the floor space.
As we settled into camp on Friday night, I noticed that a family of Raccoons would be sharing the site with us for the weekend. I informed the Scouts about the nature of the raccoon family and that we should not feed them as it only encourages them to continue to beg from campers. Along with the food warning I told them that raccoons, while they look cute and cuddly.. they can be mean animals that will attack when provoked. The raccoons pretty much stayed to themselves and I wanted to keep it that way. As the Scouts bed down for the night, I gave them a reminder to keep food out of the Yurt. It was that or prepare to have company, or should I say uninvited guests.
Saturday was a great day of Scouting. We took advantage of some sun breaks and made a 5 mile hike through the State park which is a fascinating place, the former home of Coastal Artillery Batteries which were very active during the Second World War.
Our hike took us back to into camp and preparation for dinner began. A wonderful Dutch oven meal that left the aroma of Chicken soaked in Coke fluttering around the camp. As I looked over toward the Yurt, I noticed a pair of green eyes glowing in the night. It seemed that our friends had gotten a whiff of the cast iron delight and had prepared themselves for dinner too.
The boys ate and cleaned up and then were off to their yurt for a night of … well, what ever 11 and 12 year boys do in a yurt.
A pot of coffee went on and the assistant Scoutmasters and I nestled in by the camp fire for a relaxing evening on the Oregon Coast.
RACOON!!!RACOON!!! a cry came from the bowels of the night…
RACCOOOOOOOONNNNN!!!! RACCOOOOONNNNN!!! followed by the pounding foot steps of 5 hysteric Scouts as the galloped their way to our fire.
Out of breath and obviously distraught.. George gathered himself enough to say the words.. RACCOON.. YURT… COME!
Four nodding heads concurred with Georges plea. And we began the short walk to the boys yurt. Along the way the finger pointing began… “Aaron was eating in the yurt”.. “No it was Rene”… “you brought the chips” and so it went.
We arrived at the yurt. The door closed and all seemed quiet. I could see that the lights were on and there was an evident trail of chips leading into the round shelter.
I instructed the Scouts to hold the door open and stay quiet, maybe I could get the raccoons to exit in the same way they came in…friendly.
You could cut the air with a well sharpened Scout knife as I slowly crept into the yurt, broom stick in hand. I gave a cursory look around the little hut and saw nothing..no sign of raccoons anywhere. As I gazed back to the door. I could see 10 little eyes peeking from around the door jam… no faces.. no bodies.. just eyes. Then an encouraging voice came from the black hole that was the doorway.. “Get ‘em out Jerry..you can do it!”

I looked back to the doorway and told the boys to be ready… I was going to look under the beds.
Positioning myself on the back side of the bunk, only my legs visible from the door, I got down on my belly. I told the Scouts it looked clear.. then all of a sudden began to flail my legs around, screaming.. “THEY GOT ME… THEY GOT ME!!!!”
I could feel the vacuum as five Scouts barely touched the ground as they ran screaming.. THEY GOT HIM!!! I am sure there is a place in the book of records for the speed these Scouts generated as they fled the yurt.
I slowly meandered down to the fire pit were the Assistant Scoutmasters were putting together bits and pieces of the raccoon tale. As I emerged from the darkness, I could not contain my laughter… soon the whole group was in a belly splitting laugh fest.
The coast was clear, they could go back to bed… or what ever they were up to.

They hung out for a few minutes and then disappeared into the night.
Kelly Gordon, one of the ASMs in the Troop and I could not let it rest. We donned our headlamps and made for the Scouts yurt. As we approached we could hear the squabbling and laughter and the chastisement of “get those chips outta here”. That was our signal.
Yurts are made of a canvas material on a wooden frame. Kelly began to claw with his fingernails at the canvas and I made the best raccoon noise I could muster.
Quiet! Whats that? No body move! THERE BACK!!!!! and five shadows flew out of the yurt screaming like they were on fire!

Once again we came out of the shadows of the pine trees to the sight of five boys huddling around the fire.. this time.. not a word. Kelly and I began to chuckle, the laughter once again erupted around the fire. The legend of the Raccoon was born.

The next morning as we packed up the trucks to start the two hour ride home we saw our raccoon family. They had come out from under the yurt the ASMs and I were sleeping in. I suppose they just wanted to say good bye… and thanks for the chips.

Thanks George for the very first of our Troops real Scout Stories.. It is the stuff legends are made of.

Happy Scouting!

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