stories

I got that Scouting Spirit up in my…

I spent the better part of the weekend at Camp Pioneer.  This weekend, among other things, the camp celebrated its 75th Anniversary.  I received an invitation along with other Scoutmasters and folks throughout the Council, so I RSVP’d and attended.  It was extra special as my oldest son is on Staff at Camp Pioneer this year, so it was an opportunity to see him.  My Troop is heading up to Pioneer in a week, so it was also a real good chance to pick up some Blue cards, look at the program areas and just hang out in my favorite camp our Council has.
Friday night was the celebration for the Anniversary.  They had a special dinner and then a program in the Dinning Hall.  A slide show of the history of the camp and some “Then and Now” pictures.  The 1974 Aquatics staff was there.. all of them.  It was neat to hear their stories and meet them.  They have all gone on to do good things with their lives and to hear them speak about the camp with such fondness really hit me.
Their collective love for this camp brought them back, not only as youth, (many had staffed at the camp for up to 7 years), but now to be a part of the 75th Anniversary.  What really touched me was the strong tradition that they embodied.  This was particularly special to see and as I watched today’s staff interact with them I saw light bulbs flash on.  I saw the passing of the torch. 
I brought our son home for the night and as we drove the 128 miles we talked about this tradition at Camp Pioneer.  He said that up until he talked and heard the 1974 staff share their stories he did not understand where some of the stuff they did came from.  Songs that are sung, ways that programs are introduced, skits, and camp traditions.  It made the camp come alive for all us that love Camp Pioneer.
I have always loved Camp Pioneer and this weekend really increased that love.  Yesterday before I left camp I sat and looked over the spectacular view.  The lake and the over looking Mt. Jefferson called me.  As I sat in the Chapel bowl I could hear the staff wrapping up the end of the week’s session with the Camp Song.
Camp Pioneer we’re loyal to your code, Together we will hike the eagle road, We love your lofty pines and lake so blue, Camp Pioneer our memories always turn to you, In love and friendship we will work and play, A helping hand to each upon his way, And may our faces shine, And spirits intertwine, Camp Pioneer, that’s why we’re here, Camp Pioneer.
Hip Hip Hooray, Hip Hip Hooray, Hooray, Hip Hip!!
It brought a smile to my face remembering the 1974 staff singing the song on Friday night along side the current staff.
Then as we walked out to the parking lot after dropping John off to head home the sound of Pioneer Vespers rang in my head.  I could not help but feel that Scouting traditions are alive and well and summer camp is that place that really brings it out in all of us.
When this land was untamed and free, A few brave men built a great country, Fighting for freedom, Despite their fears, We know these men as Pioneers,
High in the mountains where the green meets blue, Camp Pioneer’s calling you.
Here in the Cascades, the spirit lives on, A brotherhood of love, our voices in song, Learning to be leaders, For Future years, We shall be known as the new Pioneers,
High in the mountains where the green meets blue, Camp Pioneer’s calling you. Camp Pioneer is calling you.”

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Camping, Character, High Adventure, Ideals, Just fun, Scouts, stories, Summer Camp | Leave a comment

Special Awards and Recognition

Every Troop has its traditions, customs, and special awards and recognition.  I thought I would share with you a special award that our Troop does every year.  This is my favorite award of the year and I take a great deal of pleasure in presenting this at our Court of Honor after Summer camp.
We call it the “Bobby Walker Award”.  It is named after a Scout that used to be in our Troop.  Now without going into to much detail on Bobby, lets just say that Bobby had a hard knock life.  Close your eyes for a minute and imagine a truly hard knock life… ok then now you get it.  Bobby was brought to us by a sponsor from an organization in Portland.  They were looking for some “other experiences” for Bobby to see and do.  Well, much to everyone’s surprise Bobby took to Scouting like he was Baden-Powell son.  He loved everything about it.  He had a uniform, he had friends, he loved to camp and hang out with his new buddies, but most of all.. He LOVED Summer camp!  When we arrived at Summer camp, Bobby fully immersed his whole being into the camp.  He would work merit badges, spend lots of time at the water front (he learned to swim at summer camp), he loved the camp fires, the songs and skits, well… just everything that summer camp is supposed to be.  The week at summer camp for Babby Walker was like a week in heaven.
After one particular summer camp I was so moved by watching Bobby over the week that we (the ASMs and I) decided to give him a special award.  So I purchased one of those Boy Scout memorabilia boxes from the Scout shop and we presented it to him at the Court of Honor.  We called it the Spirit of Summer camp award that year.
The next year Bobby had to leave our Troop.  There was no good byes or reasons why, his sponsor just showed up without him one meeting night and with a tear in his eye told me that Bobby was “moving on”.  I never asked any more about it, but it saddened me.
So the next year at camp the Troop and I decided that the award would be called the Bobby Walker award.  Awarded to the Scout that demonstrated the best of what Summer camp is all about.  To the Scout that immersed himself into the camp.  Each year we give a Scout memorabilia box to the most deserving Scout as voted by the Assistant Scoutmasters and I.
This has become a great tradition in our Troop and each year the Scouts look forward to seeing who gets the Bobby Walker award.  It is also a great opportunity to share the story with the Scouts to remind them that they are the lucky ones.  I’ll do a post on that another time.
So what are some of the traditions and special recognitions of your Troop.  Leave them in the comments section.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Camping, Ideals, Just fun, Patrol Method, stories, Summer Camp | Leave a comment

Patches… We don’t need… errr

Ahh… yes we do need patches.. we love patches… are you kidding me?
I have been in Scouting since I was 7 years old.  I have always “collected” patches from my Scouting experiences, places I have been, camps, councils etc.  But it was not until last years Jamboree that I traded patches.  All that time and I never traded a patch.  Then I got the bug.  Collecting and trading patches took on a whole new meaning for me at Jambo.
First, it is a terrific way of making new Scouting friends.  What I loved about trading at Jambo was the conversations over the patches and the handshake at the end of the trading session. 
Second, the patches themselves all tell a story.  As I look back at the patches from my youth and the patches that I have received recently, they all tell of an adventure, a personal connection, or a great place that I saw.  Not to mention the friendships that were made along the way.
And Finally, the fun I have with the collection.  People collect many different things.  Stamps, cars, baseball cards, Scouting literature.  But Patches to me are a great Scouting tradition.  They have been around for years and are a part of Scouting that connect us with the past and future.
Recently a bunch of us Scouters on Twitter started a Twitter Patch trade-o-ree…  A patch is sent and another returned.  So far my collection has grown with some really cool patches.  Now so far the Twitter Trade-o-ree has been all CSP’s, but I can see more stuff happening in the future. 
And why?  Because these little pieces of embroidered cloth mean friendship, Scouting, and they all tell our story from the many corners of Scouting in which we live.
So many thanks to those of you that have already traded.  If you would like to get in on the Twitter Trade-o-ree..
I am @smjerry.. shoot me a DM and we will trade.  It’s been lots of fun so far.. and I have lots of room in my collection for more!
Join the fun of our Twitter Trade-o-ree!

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Just fun, Scoutmaster minute, stories | Leave a comment

Categories: blog, Character, Citizenship, Climbing, Cooking, Good Turn Daily, High Adventure, Ideals, Jamboree, Journey to Excellence, Just fun, Leadership, Leave no trace, Motto, Oath and Law, respect, Scout, Scout Law, Scouting, Scouts, Service, Skills, stories | Leave a comment

Second 100

Today marks the last day of the second 100 days of Scouting blog campaign.  But as I thought about it, I remembered back to what my good friend Mike Walton who at the beginning of the #100daysofscouting blog campaign wrote about the first one.  And that was “I live Scouting everyday”.
Now we bl0ggers like to share our thoughts, ideas, and sometimes just ramblings about Scouting and just because we are now 200 days into blogging about it through this online blog event.  I agree with Mike in that we all do live Scouting everyday and so lets just talk about it, write about, and show the world that Scouting is alive!
Its my hope that all the great Scouting bloggers out there keep it.. call it what you want, but just keep sharing.  I have been doing this blog since 2007, far more that 200 days and it has always been about my adventure in Scouting.  Sharing the dream and helping to deliver the promise of Scouting.  It is also my hope then that we continue to grow our Online Scouting community and we all share the adventure, the challenge, the leadership that is so evident in our blogs.
#100daysofscouting.. its been fun.  So my challenge to you is to keep those blogs going.  Give feedback to the blogs you read, and keep our Online Scouting community alive, and Live Scouting everyday!
I apologize that there will be no podcast out today… I intended to record while at Wood Badge, but for those of you that know what it is to be a Troop Guide.. well there is just no time.  And so I will get back on track next week with some great Scouting programming. 
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Just fun, Leadership, podcast, stories | 3 Comments

A small fish tale

Summer camp of 2006 took Troop 664 into the Jefferson Wilderness area and Camp Pioneer owned and operated by a great staff of the Cascade Pacific Council. The weather for the week was fantastic and we loaded up and headed to to Camp.
When we arrived at camp, we went through the usual tour of camp, swim test, and set up routine. The afternoon of the first day is always laid back and full of information meetings and getting to know ya’s.

After lunch the Scouts had free time until dinner. Most of the Scouts of 664 decided it was high time to get their lines in the water and see about pulling in some nice brown trout that the lake at Pioneer is famous for.
The Scoutmasters had to report to the Chapel at camp, the absolute best chapel in all of Scouting. The view is second to none, carved into the side of a slope with the lake at its feet and the best view of Mt. Jefferson in all of Oregon. The Chapel puts you right in Gods palm.
As the Scoutmaster’s gathered Red hats dotted the banks of the lake and fishing had begun. It looked like the whole Troop was out there seeing who could get the first fish.
As the lecture on Camp policies and procedures began, we noticed a young Scout on the bank, he looked to be fighting a whale. Immediately the lecture stopped as we all took in the sight of Summer camp memories being made. The pride that a group of Scoutmasters had for this young anonymous Scout could be seen in the smiles of the group as we all rose to our feet. Suddenly the fish was out of the water. And joyful Scout shouted to his buddies that he had a big one. Then as if looking for a nod of acceptance the Scout turned toward the Chapel found my red hat and made eye contact with me. I gave him a big thumbs up and yelled across the lake “WELL DONE CHAD!” His reply sent the group of Scoutmasters in to hysterical laughter. “WHAT DO I DO NOW? Chad yelled back.

Now concern for this poor fish took over as I excused myself from the meeting and ran to the other side of the lake. “I think its dead” one Scout said. “Give it CPR” said another. “Does this mean we have to Eat it?” came a voice from behind a bush. Amazingly the fish was still alive and it did in fact swim away after we removed the hook and held it in the water for a minute.

For the rest of the week we think we saw that fish a few more times, but not another fish was caught, not for a lack of trying, those lines stayed in the water all week long, every day before breakfast and after dinner the Scouts of 664 made an presents on the banks of the lake.

Chad got the first and only fish of the week, and in the process became a story for the Troop to last a life time.

Happy Scouting!

Categories: stories | Leave a comment

Second greatest Raccoon Story

During the second session of my Wood Badge course (WE1-492-01-05) in June of 2005, we were camped at the beautiful Camp Clark, AKA Adventure Cove.
Our Second night in camp, the Beaver Patrol had just finished a great dutch oven cake, got things cleaned up and watched the final embers burn out of our camp fire when the tell tale yawning started signaling “Lights out” was near.
We said our good nights and crawled into our sleeping bags humming “Back to Gilwell”.

Now, I am a pretty hard sleeper, especially when in a sleeping bag out in the woods, but this night a sound the likes of which I had not heard in sometime, caused an eye to open and an immediate reach for the headlamp. I looked through the flap of my tent and scanned the camp site looking for the source of the noise. About the time my light hit the picnic table 4 other lights illuminated the campsite from the other patrol member tents.
And there it was, our garbage bag, thrown about the campsite, we had been invaded by the Raccoon patrol. Unfortunately, there is not a Raccoon patrol in the Wood Badge course. No this was a patrol of mask wearing varmints that would not rest till it had removed every piece of garbage in search of leftover cake.
The lights phased them for a second and they scurried off into the darkness of the Coastal night.
A nod that the coast was clear and all of us Beavers were once again snug in our bags, Tom already had a good snore going on.
It did not take long for this aggressive band of misfits to return. I had a sealed box that locked sitting on the table. This contained the patrols food. This box is hard enough for people to get into let alone raccoons, so we felt pretty safe.
But these raccoons were going to give it a try. I heard the noise and poked my head out of the tent. Shinning my light toward the table I could see the beady little eyes of the raccoon that clearly was leading the trio. He was barking directions and waving his little arms suggesting a break in of the box was the mission.
My light had become a tool for them, this time they were not phased and seemed to be enjoying the extra light.
After multiple attempts at opening the box, the band had to move to plan “B”. This was my signal to wake up the rest of the Beavers. Their flashlights now helped the raccoons at their task.
The leader of the bandits signaled that the box needed to be dropped from the table. On his command, they pushed the box. It slid across the table and dropped to the ground. The raccoons followed with a sense of urgency.
Upon reaching the box, they noticed it had not opened. The leader, obviously frustrated, now came up with the plan to take the box back to their hide out and work on it there.
Two of the raccoons then got behind the box, rose up on their hind legs and began to push the box down the trail, all the while their fearless leader cleared the path and made sure the flashlights were still trained on him. They pushed for a good one hundred feet when they were abruptly halted by two stumps that would not allow any further movement. Beaten, the raccoons sat down on the box and looked at us, still shinning our lights at them.
The lead raccoon gave us a wave and the would be robbers departed into the darkness of Camp Clark.
After a good laugh it was time for us Beavers to hit the rack.
Flash lights led us back to the comfort of our sleeping backs and within a minute or so Tom was sound asleep and snoring.

Happy Scouting!

Categories: stories | 2 Comments

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!

Categories: stories | Leave a comment

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