I have been involved with the Boy Scouts of America, in one way or another, for 17 years now. Although I was a Cub Scout as a child, I was never a Boy Scout. I did many of the things that the Scouts do (hiking, canoeing, backpacking, camping, campfires, etc.), but didn’t have to work on Merit Badges or Rank Advancement. When my oldest son joined one of our local Cub Scout Packs the Cubmaster was on his way out as his son was moving on to Boy Scouts. For a year he kept announcing that the Pack would fold if no one would step up and take his position. In those days I was in business for myself and used the excuse that I didn’t have the time to get involved. They told me that it only took ‘an hour a week’. Finally I consented to become the Assistant Cubmaster if they found someone to be Cubmaster. They did, but what I wasn’t told was that his son was in his last year as a Webelos Scout and that come March the job would be mine. They also didn’t tell me that the ‘hour a week’ was the ultimate joke within Scouting. Never the less I stepped up to the plate and was Cubmaster for almost 8 years. (I felt that what I did for one son I had to do for the other as well). Eventually my oldest son bridged over into Boy Scouting and I became involved with the Troop too. An hour a week my you know what. LOL. I even joined a couple of Committees on our Council level. Now my boys are men and out and I am still involved. In fact I have become an Assistant Scoutmaster and a member of our Troop Committee.
Many of you that read my blog on a regular basis already know that growing up I didn’t actually walk the straight and narrow but somehow I have been drawn to Scouting. I get pleasure out of working with the future leaders of industry and government. I feel that in my own little way, I am making a difference.
Ok, so now about ‘my happy place’. Every week when I go to a Troop meeting, and every month when I go camping, and especially every summer when I go to Summer Camp, my wife tells me that I am off to ‘my happy place’. And you know what, I have to agree with her. For that little time I don’t think about the pressures of work or anything that aggravates me. I am out doing something that matters, and it gives me pleasure. I am not in it for recognition, or awards but to help, what I consider is a crumbling society.
For 13 of my 17 years in Scouting, I have been lucky to go to Summer Camp. As a child my parents sent me and my brother to camp for 4 weeks and it was great. Now I get to go for only one week but it is still great.
Our Council owns 3 camps in New Jersey (2 Boy Scout and 1 Cub Scout) and 1 in the Adirondack Mountains. I have been to all three. The camps in New Jersey are top notch. They run great programs including one for first year Scouts that aren’t ready to spend a week away from home but still want to work on Merit Badges and get wet in the lake. Our Troop spent many years at both camps in New Jersey but five years ago we decided to try out our camp upstate New York. This is a ‘diamond in the rough’. It is called Sabbatis Adventure Camp. This is camping the way that Scouts used to camp. You don’t go to a dining hall, you cook, eat, and clean up at your site and work as Patrols. Honing your skills to work together as a team and get things done in a timely fashion. There is no cell phone service and so the Scouts are truly unplugged and living life as it used to be. This is my favorite camp.
In addition, the camp runs Canoe Treks on the rivers and lakes of the Adirondaks for older Scouts that have done, almost all, the Merit Badge work offered. These treks help to keep the older Scouts involved at an age when cars become important in their lives and Scouting may fade towards the background. The camp is, indeed, rustic and needs some work but it has all the rustic charm that the Adirondaks are famous for. Not only do the boys in camp get to work on Merit Badges, but they also have many activities for the afternoon to enhance their experiences.
Enough of the sales pitch for today.
Oh, one thing though. For 13 years before we lower the flag at our site, I thank the boys for giving me the opportunity to be a kid again, even if it is for only one week.
Ah, it is great to have a ‘my happy place’.