Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Scouting memories

I found myself looped into an online discussion of current events and personal stories this morning when someone mentioned the Boy Scouts and the Order of the Arrow.

A burst of old memories filled my head, and I shared some personal recollections.

Let me share them with a wider blog audience:

 I too had been involved in scouting as a boy growing up. First at a Boy Scout troop organised by my elementary school in Florida, and then with an Explorer Post in Virginia.

And I too had an Order of the Arrow induction.

It was about two weeks after I "sprained" my foot while running high school track. The foot continued to bother me, so eventually my parents relented and had it x-rayed at the local hospital. But the radiologist was gone for the day, so a reading would have to wait (Instant access to x-rays something now taken for granted).

Despite an obvious limp, and an unread x-ray, I wrapped the foot tight in an ACE bandage, and embarked on my planned Order of the Arrow "ordeal" weekend - which included an extensive hike carrying full gear in backpack. It was raining, the trail slippery.

When I arrived at camp after the hike, my dad and little brother were waiting. X-ray showed a clear fracture. Doc had expressed an opinion it was a wonder I was walking on it, but it appeared to be setting reasonably well thanks to the way I'd been wrapping it.

I declined an offer to go home. So I finished the weekend activities sometimes using the prescribed crutches my dad had brought along. No other special dispensations were given.

The high school age Explorer Post I belonged to was sponsored by an Isaac Walton League club that had a full rifle and pistol range, plus skeet facilities. We frequently brought firearms to our weekend camps on the club property. We also had some great ex-military advisers who also introduced us to arms like the Garand, the 1903 Springfield, the Mauser, the Krag, and others. But we spent most our shooting time with our favorite. 22s.

We didn't even wear traditional Explorer uniforms. It was the early '70s, and we adapted the olive drab military fatigues (think trousers with button flies) of the era by sewing on a few patches on the shirt, and usually carried an alternate in-camp uniform without patches. Much more durable for the kind of weekends we found ourselves enjoying, and cheaper to replace if we really messed 'em up.

Good times at age 14 and 15.

There was nothing virtual about them, the experiences were the real thing.

I doubt most kids today have physical and character building experiences like those we, at times, probably took for granted in scouting. And that's a shame.

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