I Was Never Really Into Scouts
OK, so that was a lie. I was very much into scouts until I was about 15. For this post, I looked all over for the picture of me in my full Boy Scout uniform (that’s not the whole thing, you ask?). The full uniform included a Smokey the Bear style hat (or optional beret) and a walking stick with feathers and beads. It was a sight to see.
In fact, I was so into scouts that I quit participating in my ward’s troop and joined a non-denominational troop. Don’t get me wrong, my ward’s troop was fine. Cameron was a member of that troop and he has memories of camping. But when I was participating it felt like all we did was play basketball and I really wasn’t that good at basketball. I felt like a real outsider in my ward when I was a young teen.
I remember one particularly trying evening at Young Mens / Scouts. I don’t remember what made it a hard night, but I do remember the drive home with the Scoutmaster. He was telling me to buck up. He told me, “Listen. My name is Lucius Levier G. You don’t think I got picked on? You will continue to be picked on, but you need to figure out how to deal with it.” That was some great advice.
My non-denominational troop was everything I wanted in scouts. We went on a camp once a month; we had leaders who made us earn our merit badges and came prepared to troop meetings. We also went to really cool Scout Camps. One year we went to Treasure Mountain, a camp at the base of the Grand Tetons. It rained and rained and rained, but we loved it. I had signed up to earn the Wilderness Survival merit badge and one of the requirements was that we spend the night in a lean-to that we built ourselves.
The merit badge counselor asked us to meet at a certain time and place to go on our camp and despite the fact that the rain was coming down in sheets, I was at the specified location at the specified time. The counselor and the rest of the scouts were not. This was not going to deter me, however. I built a poor lean-to at the foot of a hill and made my camp. I didn’t get ten minutes of sleep that night because rather than build a quality lean-to, I had essentially built a funnel. It was as if I were sleeping in a stream.
Until I wrote this, I never made a connection to another interesting scouting experience I had with my non-denominational troop. We signed up for the 50/20 (fifty miles in twenty hours). We all met at the This is the Place monument in Salt Lake City and we were supposed to hike to the Boy Scout Office in Provo. Somehow I was separated from my group, and as a result I was separated from my food and water. Sadly, I was convinced my group was ahead of me when, in fact, they were behind.
Keep in mind that I was only twelve, so my reasoning skills were not fully developed. At about mile forty, I was so dehydrated I started hallucinating. I saw talking chipmunks who kept urging me to stop walking and take a rest. Then I started to see chairs. I finally made it to a gas station on the corner of Center and State in Orem and I went into the bathroom. As soon as I sat down I looked up and saw a chair coming through the wall at me. I couldn’t take it anymore so I called my mom.
Writing this post has helped me see a pattern to my behavior. I was so driven to finish the 50/20 and so determined to get the Wilderness Survival merit badge that I made some pretty bad choices. I wonder if that was one of the reasons I never did much in Scouting after I earned my Eagle (at age 14). Either way, I look back at those experiences with fondness. My scout troop provided me with a lot of confidence during an awkward stage and I think I learned some good skills. And once we went to the Hogle Zoo and saw the Liger.
Posted by Guest Blogger: Christian from "Just Off the Top of My Head"