Farewell to one of the Greatest of Men – My Scoutmaster

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Kevin V. Hunt

Scouting Historian, Author and Speaker, Scouting Veteran, Camp Director

It was a Saturday afternoon – just last week – and I had just come home after a busy day.  I was greeted with sad news.  “Jim Johnson has died”, my mother (age 84 and now living with us) told me.  Jim Johnson … now gone.   Wow!  (He had died the day before.)  I was sad and not ready to bid farewell to one the greatest of men – my Scoutmaster – Jim Johnson.

The news was not really a surprise – since Scoutmaster Jim had been in an assisted living center for three or four years.  And his wife, Margie Luniel Morris Johnson,  had died two years ago – almost exactly to the day – and at the identical age.  But yet, the news was hard and came with mixed emotions.  It was happy/sad that Jim and his “tweety” (that’s what she called him) were together again.  And it was sad to think that a legend and hero in my own life had passed on to the Eternal World and that we would no longer be able to enjoy earthly association together.

All Scoutmasters are believed to be immortal by their Scouts!  And they certainly do have forever hero status!  So, the immortal Jim lives on – but just in another place!

Jim’s Obituary reads like any other – not really doing full justice to the full measure of the real man.

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James Vernon “Jim” Johnson

“James Vernon Johnson passed away peacefully on October 14th, 2016. James celebrated his 80th birthday on July 2nd of this year.  He was born in Elbow Lake, Minnesota in 1936 to Emil Johnson and Celia Thomason and was the 2nd of 4 children and the only son (and it goes on …)

I am sure that all current and former Scouts from great Scouting troops could say that their Scoutmaster was the best Scoutmaster ever.  I am sure that they are – and were.  But, I can truly say that in my eyes, Scoutmaster Jim was one of the all-time greats – a true giant of a man!  And one of the greatest Scout men ever to be a part of the program.

Actually, I was blessed to have two fabulous Scoutmasters.  My Gnubie Scoutmaster (when I was a Gnubie Scout) was “Mister Nelson”

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G.K. Nelson

(as we called him – or officially George Kimball “G.K.” Nelson.  I have blogged about Mr. Nelson frequently on my blogs found on The Boy Scout.  He was a colorful and interesting person with a lot of personality.  He died in 2009 at the age of 91.  Mr. Nelson – also our science teacher – and a great photographer – was our Scoutmaster through much of my initial Scouting experience.  He truly made Troop 155 The Best Alive!  He later became the adviser for my younger brother – Dean’s Exploring Post – but that was after I was gone from that program.

After I turned 14, I “graduated up” to the older boy program and had a variety of leaders. We made a lot of grandiose plans for big events and outings but nothing ever came of any of those plans.  I soon became disenchanted with the constant drill of the basketball on Scout nights.  And being “the fat kid” and not at all good at sports, I wanted nothing to do with this routine.  So, I opted to go back to the troop – kind of unheard of then and now – and remained with the troop until I went on a Church mission at age 19.  I became a “Junior Assistant Scoutmaster” (aka: “The JASM”) which proved to be a great job – still kind of a kid – but very much in an adult leader mode too.

I don’t know exactly when Scoutmaster Jim Johnson came on the scene but I believe it was when I was about 16.  And as the Troop JASM, I took on the task of “training him” in his Scoutmaster duties.  Jim and I hit it off immediately and we soon developed a pattern for great things in the troop.  I can still remember those wonderful “Patrol Leader Council Meetings”(or were they “Green Bar meetings”?) – held in his living room – wherein we planned and created the troop meetings and outings.  I worked very closely with Scoutmaster Jim and in many ways he treated me as if I was an adult Assistant Scoutmaster.  I helped plan activities, hikes and other programs.

We worked together very closely for three years.   Those were great days and they bring back such great memories.

With Scoutmaster Jim, we had some grand adventures together.  We hiked and camped together.  We attended Camp Geronimo and participated in a variety of other great activities and programs – like Scout-O-Rama, camporees, and more together.

One outing really stands out in my memory.  It was a snow trip was especially noteworthy.  This trip occurred when I was a bit older and after Scoutmaster Jim had become the Scoutmaster.  We took a trip up around Payson (about 75 miles from our town of Mesa, Arizona).  Somehow we survived the freezing temperatures of the night but the next day was different.

Some of us (including me) were playing Rook in the tent and trying to get warmed up while the main group was out playing ice hockey with inner tubes.  Jim was with the “outside group”.  Jim was in the middle of the game and with one dramatic kick of the inner tube, he had found himself on the ground.  I guess he got a minor concussion. The buys brought him back to me at the tent since I was the JASM (Junior Assistant Scoutmaster) and the oldest leader under Jim.  (That was in the days before it was required to have two adult leaders on a trip – and this scenario was one reason why that rule was implemented.  And this trip made a believer of me relative to “two deep leadership”.)

Jim was really saying some humorous things and for a few minutes we all thought that he was just trying to be funny.  Finally, however, we realized that he really did have a problem.  We were out in the middle of nowhere and had no form of outside communication.  (No cell phones in those days.)  None of us knew what to do.

I got Jim to lie down for a while. He was all “muddled” and kept laughing and saying, “Well, what I can’t figure out is what in the heck we’re doing up here in all of this snow!”  We tried to reason with him, but to no avail.  His own son was crying and in a state of panic.  Finally though after prayers by all of us, he suddenly snapped back to normal reality. We were relieved and packed up for home while he was doing okay.  (And by another miracle, he was able to drive home safely – even in that condition!)

Soon after Jim became our Scoutmaster, I read in the Scouting magazine – that the upcoming 1973 National Scout Jamboree would offer a great new opportunity.  Always in the past, Scouts attended national Jamborees only with council contingencies – as they still do today.  And a trip to a National Jamboree included a full itinerary of exciting and wonderful activities across the country while traveling to and from the Jamboree.  But, this all came at a very high cost – so much so that I knew that my dream to attend a National Jamboree would never fit within my or my family’s very limited budget.  But now, suddenly, troops were invited to attend the upcoming Jamboree (to be held two years hence) with their own home-town troop – and for just $135 per person as the Jamboree fee.

I was elated!  I could not believe it.  I had always wanted to attend a National Jamboree – and now suddenly out of the blue – here was my chance.  I rode my bike over to see the new Scoutmaster Jim Johnson.  I said, “Hey, Jim (that is what I always called him) … look where we are going in two years!” (as I showed him the magazine).  He said, “We are????”  But, he was willing to talk about it.  I was ecstatic as I worked to persuade him and he soon bought off on the plan.  And this would be a very major sacrifice for him since the Jamboree was about a ten or twelve day affair and with travel to and from, it would be about nineteen days.   And Jim was a self-employed painting contractor.  So, if he didn’t work, he didn’t get paid.  Jim was soon as excited about the plan as I was.

We went to our Bishop – Max Killian – and presented the plan to him.  And he bought into it immediately.  He gave us the charge to earn as much of the money as we could over the next two years – and then gave us the promise that “whatever else you need, you will have”.

So we were then off and running.  The next two years were hectic and busy but glorious and wonderful.  Jim and I met often to talk about our plans and to put them into place with the Troop Leader’s Council.  There was so much to do.   We staged every fund-raising event possible.  (We could do those things in those days.)  slide-20-slide-show_page_022We planned and bought equipment.   We constructed patrol boxes.  We trained and re-trained our youth leaders.  We had shake-down meetings, activities and outings.  We made saguaro cacti men – four of them – to be our gate entry into our campsite.

Being from Arizona we wanted something representative of our area.  We decided to feature four Saquaro Cactus men with red Scout berets on their heads.  Their stickery arms had a friendly wave for everyone who passed by.  We had a lot of comments on our Saquaro men and everyone noticed our sign which told who we were and where we were from.  It hung from red ropes strung between the cactus men.

We recruited two other troops (from the nearby village of Lehi – and from our local Mesa, Arizona LDS Stake) to go on the outing with us.  Ultimately we chartered a 51-seater bus for the 52 of us and we were on our way.   Our Troop 155 had 13 Scouts plus Jim and me.  What a glorious and wonderful trip or adventure it was.  It was the grandest of adventures.  We all had a really great time.

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The group included Robert Wagner, DeLane Davidson, my brothers Kyle and Darcy, Don Carroll, Smith Skouson, Lance Gardner, Scott Johnson, Marvin Peterson, David Killian, Jim’s son – Markley Johnson, John Ray and Kenny Smith.  What a great crew!

We were to be gone for nineteen days!  I thought then, and have since, how few men would be willing to make a time commitment like that to Scouting and to boys.  But such was the commitment of Scoutmaster Jim Johnson!  I will always be grateful to Jim that he and his family were willing to make that sacrifice for us.  The trip was a dream-come-true for each one of us.

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We took our time getting up to the Jamboree.  We stopped for a tour of the Glen Canyon Dam in northern Arizona.  I still chuckle at a photo I took of our thirteen boys with only their backsides to the camera as together they looked down – bent over – over the guard rail.  That photo was fun to show after we got home and at a parent’s meeting.  “There’s me!” each boy said proudly.  (I somehow lost that photo and I am so sad about that.  I keep hoping that it will show up somewhere.  It was truly a classic!)

Our second night was spent at Richfield, Utah.  We stayed in a church yard and did our cooking on our Jamboree charcoal stoves there on the parking lot.  The next two nights we stayed at a campground in Salt Lake City.

We stayed in Salt Lake City over Sunday so that we did not have to travel on that day.  That day also turned out to be a “fasting” day for our church.  The Scouts were less than thrilled when we reminded them of the 24-hour fast and our intent to observe it.

We spent Sunday morning at a church near Salt Lake’s LDS Temple Square and that turned out to be quite the experience.  The church congregation was almost entirely older people.  They all cried as the fifty two of us marched in – wearing our complete Scout uniforms.  Many of the folks who were shedding tears told us that they had not seen that many young people in years.

We spent the afternoon at the Temple Square visitor’s center and had a little church meeting of our own there – with the permission of the Center leaders.  Later we went to dinner at a nearby smorgasbord restaurant where we broke our fast and ate once again.

The boys all thought that they were going to die of hunger before the meal.  Then when they saw all of that food, they piled their plates up about six to eight inches high.  They immediately chomped own and plowed into the food.  Their eyes were bigger than their now shrunken stomachs, however.  Some of them literally turned green as they were so overstuffed and as they looked at the rest of the food that went uneaten.  It was really quite a comical scene.

The next day we again headed north.  We spent the night in Montana at a military base.  There were Scouts there from all parts of the country.  It was fun to see the operation there at the base.  The next day after that, we drove to Farragut State Park – located at the top of Idaho’s panhandle.  The whole area there was converted into one gigantic tent city of Scouts.

The first thing that we noticed as we entered the camp was an umbrella tent flying or whipping  around high in the air on one rope pegged to the ground. The wind was blowing hard and the tent was circling the sky on that one tether.  We later learned that the tent the was the KYBO (toilet) tent belonging to the Canadian Scouts who were camped near us.  I guess the wind had whipped the tent off – even as some poor Canadian Scout was in their doing his duty.

We were right on the western edge of the massive camp (of some 28,000 boys and leaders) so we saw all of the people … and huge amounts of  dust … coming into camp.  We also got the full force of the fierce winds which howled constantly all while we were there.  The area had not had rain there for over forty days and everything was very dry. That is what made the dust so horrible.

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We waited in line one day for a couple of hours just to be able to swim in the FREEZING Lake Pond Oriele.  What a mistake!  That has got to be the COLDEST water that I had ever experienced in my entire life (and I have been in some pretty cold water at summer camps).  It was SUPER COLD – to give a great understatement.  We got a headache just being in the water for a couple of minutes.

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That brings up the subject of the showers.  These were also extremely cold.  I am sure that they must have pumped the water straight from the bottom of that lake and into the showers. Then, to  make matters worse, we would be dustblown just trying to walk back to camp after the shower. We’d be dirtier when we got back to camp than when we got into the shower.

These showers were also the subject of many a humorous conversation by the hoards of Jamboree visitors (including mothers showing the silhouettes to their daughters).  The main frame of the apparatus was made of 2×4” boards.  A sheet of orange plastic was then rolled around and stapled onto the frame.  The plastic was placed above the shower platform about eighteen inches.

When I stood in the shower, my legs from the knees down showed through underneath the tight orange plastic sheeting.  And then my chest and above showed above the plastic. Add to this image that of a naked silhouette against the plastic and the scene was a total scream.  What a hoot! And to make matters worse, as we showered, we could see and hear some lady visitors pointing out the unique scene to their daughters as they passed by.  They really got a show that day.

One of the top leaders from our church was at the Jamboree for the entire week as a camp chaplain.  He made a point to go around to meet all of the Scouts belonging to the church.  One day he rolled into our camp on his bicycle.  The camp was a filthy mess from all of the dust and wind that kept the tents down more than up.

Scoutmaster Jim and I recognized the visiting authority and Camp Chaplain at once  – Elder Vaughn J Featherstone – and went into a state of shock because of our mess.  We did have a good visit with him but as he left, one of the boys asked, “Who was that man?”  …  “Uh, you mean that you don’t know?” we asked.  Anyway, we were horrified.  We hoped that the leader remembered the visit but not the state of affairs in which he found us in our dust bowl.

When the wind and dust were not killing us, we really did have a nice campsite.  I guess I’ll go ahead and admit that it was quite impressive.  I was Scoutmaster Jim’s Assistant Scoutmaster by this time and he and slept in a large white wall tent.  Our Scouts were camped as two patrols – in our new Baker tents – in a semicircle around us.

We had made little name tags which we posted on small poles in front of each tent and with these we could tell who occupied each of the spacious tents.  Our Saguaro cactus men looked great at our gate entry.  We had a lot of good comments about our Jamboree home.

Everyone at the Jamboree wore a complete Scout uniform consisting of a short sleeve shirt, red beret, and Scout shorts and knee socks (with those lovely garters and tabs).  There were about six inches of our legs that were not covered by either the sock or the shorts.  We really got sunburned there as we wore our uniforms through the Jamboree – and our 19-day trip.  Consequently, our legs were very sore.

My sunburn was so deep that I could still see the six-inch sunburned band for nearly two years after the Jamboree.  It was a funny reminder of the Jamboree, however, and it made for interesting conversations when I went swimming – and when with fellow missionaries.

A fun part of the Jamboree was a “wide game” involving all boys and leaders of the camp.  For this game, each participant was given a large letter from the Jamboree theme “GROWING TOGETHER”.  The object of the game was to find other people with the rest of the letters.  Once a new letter was found, we linked arms and set out to find the rest of the letters needed for the words.  The game made us think about the theme of the Jamboree, Scouting brotherhood and all of that.  It was a lot of fun.

The famous actor, Bob Hope, conducted the opening campfire program.  (He died a few years ago at age 100.)  Those fireworks were really something.  I am quick to admit that it was better than any 4th of July celebration that I have ever seen.

The most impressive moment of the Jamboree was the final closing campwide campfire program.  The vision of those 28,000 Scouts and their leaders was really something.  I’ll never forget that scene.  As the ceremony started, the arena of 28,000 plus Scouts and leaders was pitch black as all lights were extinguished.

At the given signal, we each took a three-inch candle from our pockets.  As we were directed to do so, the Scoutmaster from each troop lit his candle.  He then lit the candle of his assistants and troop leaders. Together they then lit the candles of all of the boys in their troops.  Within moments the place was lit up as bright as if it were noonday.  It sure was impressive.

We then heard a little talk about the influence that just one person could and does have upon the world.  We were told that we each had something to contribute and we were challenged to “let our light shine” to the world.  The principle of Service was very beautifully portrayed.

In that beautiful moment, I reflected upon the many wonderful experiences that I had known over the past eight years of my Scouting days in the troop.  It had indeed been a glorious climb from Gnubie to Eagle Scout and beyond.  Tears came to my eyes as I recalled the service I had been privileged to give and to receive.  I realized that in the process, I had discovered me – Kevin Hunt.  I knew of my own potential and welcomed the opportunities for service and continued growth through the great Scouting game.  I realized that this is what Scouting is all about.

I reflected too, on the selfless service given to me by Scoutmasters Kimball Nelson and Jim Johnson and the many other adults.  I caught a small glimpse of the great blessing that Scouting had been in my life.

I counted my blessings and all that Scouting had given to me.  It had been such a big part of my life.  I was grateful for the experiences of “Growing Together” with my many friends in Scouting.

I stepped out of that campfire bowl with a renewed desire to serve the Lord and my fellowmen.  I thought:

“On my honor … I’ll do my best … to DO IT”

One more thought came to our minds as we silently made our way back to camp:  “Troop 155 … THE BEST ALIVE!”  We really felt that we were the best alive. What a grand experience.

The momentum that Jim and I created with the troop was astounding.  In those days, the LDS Church established criterion for and awarded recognition for the “Top 50 Troops in the Church”.  We applied after our first year of preparation for the Jamboree and were recognized as Troop #35 – in the entire Church.  (And we didn’t even apply the second Jamboree year – when we were really fabulous!)  And that momentum carried through for several more years in the troop.  My youngest brother, Ray, was a part of the troop some five or six years later – and he still felt the momentum of that Jamboree trip.  By then I had headed off on my church mission but “Johnson Jim” – as my brother called him – was still going strong as the Scoutmaster of good old Troop 155.

And Johnson Jim was still as great as ever.  He truly was amazing as a Scout leader.  My younger brothers loved Jim as much as I did.  What a great man!  Wow!  Nothing was too much for Jim.  He would give his heart and soul to do anything needed for his Scouts – often at too much of a personal sacrifice to him and to his family.  But that was Jim!

In 1979 – when Ray became our fifth brother to receive his Eagle Scout Award – I was then working as a professional with the Boy Scouts of America – in Ogden, Utah.  I had graduated from the BYU and was married and we were expecting our first baby.  My wife, Lou, and I made a trip down to Arizona from Utah to stage the Eagle court of honor for Ray.

As a part of the recognition of the evening, I thought it proper to recognize Scoutmaster Jim for his many years – so far – in Scouting service.  I created a plaque – which four of the five of us Eagle Scout brothers presented to Jim at the court of honor.  And with the plaque, I also wrote a poem dedicated to the service and sacrifice of Scoutmaster Jim.

For that occasion I penned these lines:

MY BROTHER’S HERO

Written to Scoutmaster, Jim Johnson – On the occasion of the Eagle court of honor held for Ray Hunt – May 6, 1979

My brother and I have a hero

we talk about him every day.

He says, “I’ll be like him, you know,

I’ll be like him in every way.”

 

This hero teaches by example,

in all he says and does and lives.

He helps his boys but doesn’t pull,

He suggests; encouragement he gives.

 

With boys this hero hikes the hills,

he’ll cook and hike and with us camp.

Too often he will pay the bills,

just so his boys, the hills can tramp.

 

He has the time to be a friend,

this hero gives the time it takes.

He’s got a list’ning ear to lend,

his love’s genuine, he’s no fake.

 

This hero leaves family, sweetheart,

home all alone while he is gone.

They lend support as he’ll depart,

his work for boys is never done.

 

Excuses we make to see the man,

we follow him where’er he goes.

He helps us say, “I think I can,”

by hearing, watching, all he does.

 

Brother’s hero, his Scoutmaster,

to him we’ll always be in debt.

In all ways this man’s the master,

and one to whom we give respect.

 

This man’s made us all the better,

than we’d ever be without him.

He’s pushed brother, to be greater,

this man, our hero, known as “JIM”.

— Kevin V. Hunt

Years later I was living in California but decided to stage a Troop 155 reunion.  It took some effort but I located the addresses for many of those friends I’ve known along the way and whom I hadn’t seen for many years. I decided that while I was at it, I might as well invite everyone whom I could remember being associated with the Troop over the past twenty five years.

Prior to the reunion I wrote to all the guys and invited them to come and share an evening of Scouting nostalgia. I urged everyone to send some of their own Scouting memories for inclusion in a troop history to be presented at the reunion.

There were some skeptics who didn’t think the evening would ever come off but with a little work it turned into a fun filled evening loaded with nostalgia. Over 75 people turned out for the grand affair. In the crowd were former Scouts, several of the troop’s Scoutmasters, parents, wives and friends.

Then on the appointed day, we met at the site of our former troop meetings for a grand reunion. The guys came from near and far to be a part of the action. As we arrived, we greeted each other with big bear hugs and even a few tears as we recalled the grand times that we had shared so long ago together.

And the cool thing was that we were still the best of buddies, even though we may not have seen each other for many years. A lot of water had gone under the bridge for some of us, but the feelings and memories were still there.

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Troop 155 Reunions 1984 and 1989

It was interesting to see how everyone had changed over the years. Some had put on a little weight and a few had lost their hair. For the most part though, we could recognize everyone. Some of the guys were a bit more mellow and refined than had been the case in previous years, but that mischievous spark was still evident in most of the gang.

It was fun also to have our wives there and to show them off to each other I was pleased that my wife really went all out to make herself gorgeous for the evening. I think some of the guys were somewhat surprised that a “fat kid” like me could do so well. (I really wasn’t fat … that was just how I had seen myself. Funny how we can talk ourselves into believing that negative stuff.) I think that all the guys present had done okay in the wife area. There were a few guys that were still bachelors and of course they got ribbed by the rest of us.

We started the evening’s festiviti­es with a dinner. We could have assigned the meal and had everyone involved but we decided that we would prepare it all so that no one would have excuse for not coming. We went all out with a delicious barbecue with all the trimmings. Like old times, our former Scoutmaster, Jim, was willing to give his all and volunteered to provide the meat for the occasion.

After the meal we had everyone stand up to introduce themselves. Each Scout or leader present also got a chance to share some Scouting memories with their introduction of themselves. Each one remembered some Gnubie experiences. Many remembered the National Scout Jamboree that we attended together. Many recalled fun times at Camp Geronimo. Without exception, each of the guys thanked each other and also our leaders for the great times, the lessons learned and all the rest.  We all knew again that we were “155!  The Best Alive”.

A lot of war stories were shared. The more stories shared the more fun that evening became.

Fun Times in Troop 155 – “The Best Alive”

I shared a printed troop history that I had prepared and this seemed to stimulate everyone to thinking of “those good ol’ days”. The passage of time had made even some of the challenging times seem jolly and exciting. Some of the war stories shared by the troops were a real hoot. Boy, we had some fun times back then in Troop 155.

Some of the wives and parents present learned a few things about their Scout that came as quite a revelation to them. That added to the excitement of the occasion and made for even more laughs.

The special thing about the evening was seeing the progress that each Scout had made in his life. As a leader working with boys it is sometimes difficult in the trauma of the moment to see beyond the rotten dirty-faced kid in green khakis to that same boy as a man.

That night at the reunion, it was evident that Scouting had made a lasting impression on all of us present. For those of us who had served as leaders, the evening became especially meaningful. It was a neat experience to see what Scouting had done in the lives of those rotten little kids of years ago. We finally saw some of the results of our efforts which we had thought at times were fruitless.

Scout after Scout stood and recited the effect that Scouting had had in his life. It was with sincere pride that we could realize our influence upon the men present. That’s when those long ago aims of character development, fitness, and citizenship training came together in a grand realization that perhaps we had accomplished something, after all. Suddenly all the effort back then was worth it.

With all the laughs and reminiscing of special moments shared, some of us shed a tear or two. After everyone except Scoutmaster Jim and I had gone, he and I had a quiet moment together. The dishes were done and the place was cleaned up. I tried to get him to divulge the amount of money that he had spent on the meat so that I could pay him and square away the budget.

Jim was his usual generous self and wouldn’t give me any monetary figure. (He hadn’t changed over all those years!) He always was a little on the emotional side (and he cried and blubbered over anything and everything), but it was evident that he’d been especially touched by the special evening we had just experienced.  “What about old Lance Gardner … or “What about old Charlie Crismon …”  (He always referred to everyone as “Old _____”  that was just a part of Jim!)  Tears really flowed as he blubbered, “How can you put a dollar figure on something like that?” I knew just what he meant. I felt the same way. I had to fight the tear in my own eye.

What a special experience we had enjoyed. All our work and toil and discouragement of the past now had paid off. It was a neat thing to realize our impact on many a boy. My feelings for this great man were even stronger as I realized and appreciated the sacrifice he and others had made for me.

And now I can use his same words:  “How can you put a dollar figure on all of that?”  That is true!  All of the money in the world could not equal the joy and brotherhood that we had shared together through the years.  One really cannot put a monetary value on such a man and a life.  What he gave to me is beyond words to even describe his contribution.  He very much made me what I am today.

Through the years, I often wondered if there might be any way that I might – in small measure – give back to him something to truly express my thanks to him.  But I could never come up with just the right thing.  I had given him plaques and stuff – but still that seemed inadequate.

Finally, however, that opportunity came just three or four years ago.  At the same time that I began my Scouting in Troop 155, I also became interested in family history development and research.  That, along with Scouting, has become my life-long passion.

I had a conversation with Jim and he expressed a wish that he knew more about his family roots.  That triggered a point with me.  I knew that I could do the research to help him in his quest.  I began in earnest.  I worked feverishly on the project.  Then after a couple of months, I had found a great many wonderful documents and facts about his family.   And in the process, I traced his family lines back a couple of hundred years – in Norway and in the U.S.  I compiled the material into a large notebook for Brother Jim.

It was a grand day when it came time to present the finished product to Jim.  I was happy and excited about presenting it to him.  We sat a date and he had his wife and children waiting there as I arrived.  It was such fun to present this book to him and to see his eyes light up as he began to realize all that was prepared for him.  I was elated … at long last!  I was able to provide a special service to this great man who had given so much for me.

And now, with all of the special times and memories, it is indeed hard to bid farewell to that great man – even my Scoutmaster – the “gentle giant” – Brother Jim.  But, with a strong belief in the life hereafter and the resurrection (made possible through Jesus Christ), I know that I will indeed see and have brotherhood again with Scoutmaster Jim.  Maybe we can do some more Scouting together up there.

But, for now, farewell, my kind and wonderful Scouting brother.  Thanks for all of the Scouting brotherhood and training that you gave to me.  You will remain forever in my heart and my whole being swells with joy and gratitude for you and our earthly association together.  I will always remember you, what you did for me … and the knowledge that together we were and are “TROOP 155 – THE BEST ALIVE”!  Thanks, Brother Jim!

Until our trails meet again …

Excerpts taken from Kevin’s many personal journals and Scouting Trails books including “MR. Scoutmaster!”, “Keys to Scouting Leadership,” “Gnubie to Eagle Scout”,  and others at his Scoutingtrails website.  Connect with Kevin and read his articles on Scouting blogsites such as The Boy ScoutThe Scouting Trail and The Voice of Scouting.  Feel free to comment on anything you read!

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Contact Kevin directly via email: kevin@scoutingtrails.com

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