Well, siks munce ugo, I cudn’t evin spel “Blogger” … an now I are one … Who wudda thunk it?
So, where to start? … Let’s see, … I could start from when I was a Cub Scout – but I have limited memories of those glorious days. How about when I was a Scout … ? Yes, that will work … Ready, here goes …
The sign had a skull and crossed bones and the chilling inscription:
‘BEWARE … THIS LAKE EATS GNUBIES!”
It sounded really bad … ! I wondered why all of the older Scouts had been so anxious for me to see the eerie sign that was posted at the small lake at our Council’s summer camp – Good old Camp Geronimo in Arizona.
“Uh, … What’s a Gnubie?” I asked timidly.
“A GNUBIE,” they said in somber tones, “Is a FIRST-YEAR CAMPER”. I was then really scared – as it hit me: “I am a Gnubie!” (and wondered “Okay, where shall I run?”) [Note: I first pronounced the word with the “GUN” sound at the beginning but I later learned that the word is said with a silent G – so it is “Newbie”!] Well, anyway, I knew that I’d better be careful around that lake. It sounded ominous for those who trespassed near it.
Yes, I was a green gnubie … This was my first trip to Camp Geronimo. I had only been in Scouting for a few months and this was my first time to be away from home for a whole week. I was excited and scared too.
A GNUBIE … (And nothing wrong with the term as long as it doesn’t include harassment!)
Everything in Scouting was a big adventure and (even though I was a little – or should I say BIG – fat kid), I was having a grand time. I liked learning new things. I liked the outdoor cooking, the hikes, and the many fun activities. I was just beginning to be comfortable with the troop and with my patrol. I had learned some basic skills but knew that there was much more to learn.
My Gnubie summer at Camp Geronimo proved to be exciting and full of fun and adventure. I loved every minute of it. (Well, … almost all of it). I had fun with the merit badges and hated the swim test in that ice cold water at the swimming pool. I enjoyed the troop association with my friends, the campfire programs, the camp barbeque (which the Staff swore was the horses that had been “done-in” by Scouts the previous week) and the early morning breakfast horseback ride.
I didn’t like the long hike (which, it seemed, had to be made every few minutes) up the hill to our campsite (Campsite 3 – Blackfoot) – nor the open-air showers. They were definitely not built for the comfort and enjoyment of us Gnubies.
And then there was the long pulley ride – which we rigged from a tall pine tree in our campsite, down across the ravine was scary (and fun – after it was all over). [You couldn’t get away with one of those in camps these days!] You can bet I didn’t like the “Bigfoot” story of the Mongolian Monster that was known to inhabit the area. I don’t think I slept for several days after hearing that story! (And don’t ask the color of the sleeping bag after I was done with it!)
I couldn’t get enough of the trading post. They seemed to have a little of everything there. I very much liked the Sunday church services and my tent mate was super (when we weren’t fighting about something). The Scoutmaster was very helpful to me and the staff was great fun.
My Gnubie week at Camp Geronimo went by all too fast. Before I knew it, we were heading home. But all in all, I had a great time up at the beautiful Camp Geronimo (located about 100 miles north of Phoenix, Arizona). I decided that it wasn’t so bad being a Gnubie. … And I didn’t even get eaten by the lake monster that the sign had warned me about (nor the dreaded “Mongolian Monster”).
I’ve had some really great Scouting experiences through the years – but some of my fondest memories date back to my days as a Gnubie. If I had a chance, I’d be a Gnubie all over again. I’d trade places with you Scouts in a minute. Yes, those were sure great times! (“Troop 155 – The Best Alive!” – as we used to yell everywhere we went).
It has been more than a few years now since I was a Scout but the traditions and methods of Scouting have really not changed much. The ideals of Scouting, the outdoors, the skills and adventures remain the same. That “sameness” makes us brothers eternally through our shared Scouting experiences – no matter when we were – or are – Scouts.
It seems like only yesterday when I too, was a Gnubie going on my first hike and doing the things that you are now doing. So, if you’ll permit me to do so, I’d like to share some of my Gnubie experiences with you. Perhaps a few stories of my climb up the Eagle Trail will be interesting and even helpful to you as you embark upon your own climb.
As noted, I belonged to Troop 155 of Mesa, Arizona. You now belong to another pack, troop or Varsity team – which is probably very much like “good old 155” – though perhaps a thousand or two miles – and many years – away.
We’ve probably both slept under the same starry sky, cooked the same meal in the orange peel, worked on Tenderfoot and Eagle awards and service projects, and served in the same leadership positions.
I’m certain that we’ve sung the same campfire songs and have both seen the same old skits three thousand times each. (Some things never change – even after 40 or 50 years). It’s too bad that some of those skits HAVEN’T changed over the years! They were bad when I first saw them … and they are just as bad now – and maybe even worse. My grandchildren – and your children – will probably see those same old skits – even after another twenty five years!
I hope that you belong to a den or a patrol as full of brotherhood and enthusiasm as was my old Jaguar patrol. I hope your pack or troop is as fun as mine were in 155. I will always remember the spirit of warmth of that great group of guys.
I’d like to share with you some feelings and experiences that have been special to me. Perhaps you can relate to them.
“TROOP 155 … THE BEST ALIVE!” …
Now that I’ve got your attention, … I know that was mean to leave you hanging, but stay tuned for many more adventures to be shared later through this blogsite.
Best wishes along your Scouting Trails … Kevin
Kevin V. Hunt
Author of “Scouting Trails” Books from www.scoutingtrails.com
Connect with Kevin at firstname.lastname@example.org
© Kevin V. Hunt 2016