Jamboree Time full of Fun and Tradition

 

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By Kevin V. Hunt

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

It’s Scout Jamboree time and the hype and excitement is probably building in your council and throughout the country.  There are not enough adjectives to describe the jamboree experience – but most descriptions of a Jamboree begin with “FUN!” and “TRADITION”.  Jamborees certainly bring all of that together.  National BSA Jamborees come around every four years.  And international or world jamborees also happen every four years – but between the BSA events.  (So literally, there is a Jamboree is held every two years.)  Every Scout and leader “should” have opportunity to attend a Jamboree.  They are the ultimate!

Though each Jamboree is unique and different in their own way, yet too, they are much the same.  There is so much of tradition in the Jamboree that Scouts attending the Jamboree this year – in 2017 – will likely experience many of the same great feelings, events, and activities as a Scout might have in 1937 when the first Jamboree was scheduled.

Back in October, I blogged a bit about the National Scout Jamboree that my Troop 155 “The Best Alive” attended together.  This was hidden in a blog of tribute to my Scoutmaster, Jim Johnson, who had just died.  But, since it is Jamboree time, I thought that I would re-visit the Jamboree theme – in this and a couple more blogs.

You might all know by now that I might be as old as dirt.  And our Jamboree experiences might be years apart.  Yet, even so, perhaps as you read you can relate to or get excited about your Jamboree experience whether it is upcoming or like mine – a part of ancient Scouting history.  Anyway, with that in mind, I’d like to share some of my Jamboree experiences with you.

My own experience was actually a bit unique.   For most Jamborees, Scouts and leaders work hard to earn or to get funds to attend a future Jamboree.   Then as the Jamboree event gets closer, the Scout or leader registers with the local council and becomes a member of a Council Jamboree troop.  And a council could have a single such troop (of Scouts from all over) or it could have many troops – each with its own adult leaders and sometimes even different itineraries to and from the event.

When I attended my Jamboree (in 1973) the BSA staged two different Jamborees simultaneously (one in Farragut, Idaho and one at the Morraine State Park in Pennsylvania).  I attended the one in the north Idaho pan-handle.  Also, for that Jamboree, they opened up the event the regular home-town troop to attend under its own regular adult leadership.  And so each troop could create its own Jamboree plan, how to finance it, where to stop along the way, etc.

I had forever heard of Jamborees and had always had an intense desire to attend one.  But, money (as it always does) seemed to play a big role in the decision.  So generally lacking it, my hopes of attending a Jamboree were always “dashed”.  But, when I was about age 16, I read in the BSA “Scouting” Magazine of the opportunity to attend the Jamboree with one’s own troop.  And man, did I ever get excited.  That would be an understatement.  As I read the announcement, I knew that that it was plausible – and too, that I could make such a trip possible for me and my troop.

I don’t know exactly when Scoutmaster Jim Johnson came on the scene but I believe it was also 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” – 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.  Those were great days and they bring back such great memories.

Anyway, as I read that article that day, 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 church leader – Max Killian – and presented the plan to him.  With a Scout son in our troop, he bought into the plan 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.)  We planned and bought equipment.  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.

Once we made the decision to attend the grand event, 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 Scoutmaster 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.

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.

Out Troop 155 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 ready for the fun and grand traditions of a National Scout Jamboree.

Best wishes along your Scouting Trails …  Kevin

See this link for an introduction to Kevin the Scouting Trails Blogger.  Blogging articles have 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!  Find Kevin on Facebook at:  Scouting Trails Books and Blogs.

To explore or buy Kevin’s books on Amazon, go to: amazon.com/author/kevinhunt

 

The Philmont Tradition and my Lifetime Dream to go There

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Kevin V. Hunt

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

For almost fifty years I have heard of the lore of the great Philmont Scout Ranch.    I have known of the Philmont Tradition and have had a lifetime dream to go there.  I have yearned and hoped that through some miracle I might someday attend a training course there but have never had the opportunity to do so.   I guess I be truthful and say that I have actually had many opportunities to attend training courses at Philmont but never had the money or resources to do so.  With a large family, it just wasn’t possible for me.  And so, that dream has been looming out there forever.  I have said on many occasions that I have done almost everything in Scouting but the illusive Philmont has been one thing that I have never – and probably would not ever get to do.  I had given up on the dream becoming a reality.

Then I received a call from my brother, Darcy – who lives in Pueblo, Colorado.  My brother knew of my Philmont dream and so he decided to make it possible for me.  What a great brother!  Amazing!  Pueblo is within the geographic area of the Rocky Mountain Council, BSA – which covers southern Colorado and even down to the area around Philmont in New Mexico.  And I guess for fifty five years or so, the Council has had a tradition of having a Philmont weekend experience.  This seemed to be a great tradition and activity.  So, we were pleased to join their “Philmont Fellowship 2016 – Creating Connections”.

It was April 30th in 2016.  Again my journal records many of the details of that great day. The day began normally for me – at my usual 4:10 AM – as I arose to get ready to drive a school bus all day.  I drove my kids to their schools in the morning but took off through the afternoon so that I could go to Colorado and New Mexico.

Later that afternoon, a daughter came over and took Lou, my wife, and me to the home of another daughter.  Our son-in-law, Michael then took us to the Phoenix airport for our flight to Denver.  We checked in for the flight.  We will fly home on Allegiant and they will only allow us to take a backpack sized bag – without paying big bucks.  So, even though we flew Southwest Airlines today – and they don’t charge for bags, we had to be compliant with the Allegiant guidelines.  I could not get the internet to work at the airport so I just sat and visited with Lou as we waited.  She probably welcomed the technical breakdown.

We boarded the plane and headed off to Denver.  Darcy drove the almost three hours north from his Pueblo, Colorado home to get us at the Denver Airport.  He willingly made this trek – even with the threat of very bad weather.   We got our luggage and then he was there to greet us.  We then took the train to the terminal parking.

We drove south in Interstate 25.  We drove past Darcy’s home town and continued south toward New Mexico.  It was cold – only about 32 degrees – so literally freezing.  Though snowing, the roads remained clear.  This came as a major answer to Lou’s prayers.  We had a good visit with Darcy along the way.

We stopped at one rest area.  There was a lot of snow on the ground.  We turned off I-25 and headed onto another highway toward Cimarron, New Mexico.  We arrived at Philmont about 2:00 AM.  Laura and Ali had already set up tents for us – so this was wonderful.  In the summers, there are giant tent cities all over Philmont and literally thousands of Scouts pass through the place.  They come all days of the week.  They come in on one day and spend that night in the spacious wall tents (two people to a tent) and then head off on their trek adventure.  They stay out on the trail for ten days or so and then return to base for a final night.

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In addition to the trek groups, Philmont is also home to the National BSA Training Center.  And in this training capacity, it offers a multitude of interesting and wonderful training sessions to Scouting volunteers who come from all over the country.  For almost fifty years I have always wanted to attend a training course here but have never had the opportunity.   I should say that I have actually had many opportunities to attend training courses at Philmont but never had the money or resources to do so.  With a large family, it just wasn’t possible for me.  And so, that dream has been looming out there forever.  I have said on many occasions that I have done almost everything in Scouting but the illusive Philmont has been one thing that I have never – and probably would not get to do.  I had given up on the dream becoming a reality.  So, with that in mind, it was so exciting to actually be on my way there.  (My brother knew of my Philmont dream and so he decided to make it possible for me.  What a great brother!  Amazing!)

Just a bit of History of Philmont from the official website:

“Once inhabited by Jicarilla Apache and Moache Ute Indians, Philmont Scout Ranch was later the site of one of the first pioneer settlements in northeastern New Mexico. The present Ranch is part of the original Beaubien and Miranda Land Grant that the Mexican government granted to Carlos Beaubien and Guadalupe Miranda in 1841.  One of those interested in the New Mexico tracts was an Oklahoma oilman, Waite Phillips, who had become interested in developing a ranch out of the old land grant in 1922. He eventually amassed more than 300,000 acres of mountains and plains in a ranch he named Philmont (derived from his name and the Spanish word for mountain, “monte”).

“The Philmont Ranch became a showplace. Immense herds of Hereford cows and Corriedale sheep grazed its pastures. Phillips built a large Spanish Mediterranean home for his family at the headquarters and named it the Villa Philmonte. He developed horse and hiking trails throughout the scenic backcountry, along with elaborate fishing and hunting cabins for his family and friends.

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“Waite Phillips believed in sharing his wealth with people outside his family. In this spirit, he offered 35,857 acres of his ranch to the Boy Scouts of America in 1938 to serve as a national wilderness camping area. The area was named Philturn Rockymountain Scoutcamp (after Phillips’ name and the Scout slogan “Do a Good Turn Daily”). Fees for the first summer were set at $1 per week per camper, and 189 Scouts from Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma arrived for the first experience at a national backcountry Scout camp.

“After observing the enthusiastic response of the first Scout campers, Phillips augmented his original gift in 1941 with an addition that included his best camping land, the Villa Philmonte and the headquarters of the farming and ranching operation. The second gift was made so that “many, rather than few” could enjoy his rich and beautiful land. Phillips was quoted in the Tulsa Daily World saying: “That ranch represents an ideal of my youth … and has meant a lot to my son and his pals. Now I want to make it available to other boys. … I’d be selfish to hold it for my individual use.” The property, now totaling 127,395 acres, was renamed Philmont Scout Ranch.

“Phillips realized that the cost for maintaining and developing the property could not and should not be derived entirely from camper fees. As an endowment he included in the gift his 23-story Philtower Building in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

“The first season of Philmont Scout Ranch in 1942 welcomed only 275 Scouts, and attendance remained low during the war years. However, in 1946, Scouts from all 12 regions of the country attended Philmont Scout Ranch. Programs and backcountry camps were continually being developed and, in 1949, workers began rebuilding Kit Carson’s adobe home at Rayado – a project that Phillips had urged the Boy Scouts of America to undertake.

“By 1950, Scouts were attending Philmont from almost every BSA Council; attendance was more than 1,700. However, in 1951, it jumped to more than 5,200 and passed 7,000 in 1954. During the 1950s, adult and family attendance increased, with the establishment of the Philmont Training Center.

“In 1963, through the generosity of Norton Clapp, vice president of the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America, another piece of the Maxwell Land Grant was purchased and added to Philmont. This area was the Baldy Mountain mining region that consisted of 10,098 acres. Today, the ranch’s total area is approximately 214 square miles!”

Anyway, back to my own narrative:

Tonight upon our arrival at Philmont, we found no snow at the tents but it was VERY COLD and wet.  Our own tent was set up atop of the large wooden platform.  img_2611It was interesting that each tent platform also has a “current bush” with it.  Lou was quick to plug in her phone!  We “camped” on tent platform #62.  Darcy provided sleeping bags for us and I slept in one that was supposed to keep one warm down to 0 degrees.  In the bag, I felt like the pea in “The Princess and the Pea”!   I was quite worn out by this time – having got up at 4:10 AM back in Mesa to do my bus run.  So, I was anxious to get into my own bag.

APRIL 20TH – SATURDAY

I awoke this morning at the national BSA Philmont Scout Ranch.  It has been my life-long goal to get to Philmont and so a dream at least partially came true today.  It was clear skies when we went to bed but we awoke this morning to clouds and weather that was a bit warmer.  We greeted Laura and Ali – who were asleep upon our arrival last night.

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Darcy and Ali Hunt at Philmont

I went in and took a nice warm shower in one of the many individual indoor restrooms.  These rooms had a toilet, a sink and a shower –and were very nice.  (A bit beyond the usual outdoor two-holers that are found at almost all Scout camps – or at least the ones where I have been.)

Our first item on the schedule of the day was a flag ceremony.  We gathered out in the parking lot with about 50 folks – which included adult Scouters and their families.   Everyone was bundled up tight in their winter gear for the cold morning.  The gathering was rather informal.  Two teen Scouts were invited to raise the colors for the group.

As I looked around I noted that there were deer everywhere.  They were grazing like cows in the meadows around the Philmont ranch houses.

We all headed to one of the dining halls associated with the Training Center.  En route, we marveled at the fabulous buildings of the Philmont ranch.  In typical Spanish architecture, each with red tile on the roof.  The whole place was landscaped beautifully – and even in the winter – when there was no green, it was obvious that this was a very beautiful place.

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Philmont Scout Ranch

As we made this trek to the dining hall, my wife began to have memories come back to her.   The Villa and a giant gazebo seemed to spark those memories.  She had made a trek to Philmont when she was just age 12 or so.  Her father was in an LDS Stake Presidency and he came to Philmont to receive training for his position.  And as is the Philmont custom and opportunity, he was able to bring his whole family with him.  All of the children who were at home were able to make the trip with the folks.  They took the train to Cimarron from Salt Lake City.  I am not sure how they got from the train depot on to Philmont.  Anyway, she has always told me that this was the greatest vacation that her family had ever taken.  She has talked with fondness of the Philmont experience through these many years.  Philmont and the Philmont Spirit left a lasting impression upon her mind and spirit.

We meandered through the gardens to the chow hall.  Upon entry, we were struck with the large wall murals which depicted the ranch and the many wild and domestic animals that inhabit it with the Scouts.  The murals gave a great aura to the place.  And as I entered the dining hall, I felt at home.  It was much like any other Scout Camp dining hall operation – and I had seen a few of those in my years of Scouting (20 summers, in eight camps and six states).

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Laura and Darcy Hunt – in Philmont Dining Hall 1 – with murals in background

We held on to our coats for a few minutes – until our bodies caught up with the warmth of the place.  We laid claim to a dining table and got in line for food.   We soon found that we had a lot of options for food.  There was something for everyone.  I thanked each of the workers who had worked hard to make this meal for us.  It appeared that many of the workers were local folks from Cimarron and other nearby communities and that was great.  With a tray of food, we headed back to our seats.  It was then that I had time to take a look around at the Rocky Mountain Scouters and camp workers who had gathered there.  It was a pleasure to meet the Philmont Camp Director, Mark Anderson.

After breakfast I checked out the rest of the dining hall building – and particularly the large training room.  There were program options that we could do but Lou and I opted to take the tour of the historic ranch Villa – The Villa Phillmonte and museum.  Of course we took a lot of photos throughout the tour experience.  The tour – and our guide – were fabulous.  It was obvious that our guide had been at Philmont for many years – and she had genuine and a very enthusiastic love for the place.  She knew well the ranch history, of the Waite family, and many other interesting details.  In a word, she was Fabulous!

We normally could have gone on one or more day hikes in the nearby mountains but on this day, most of those options were cancelled because of the rain, snow and cold.  The trails were too wet to trek on.   My wife decided that she wanted a nap.   I used the morning to go visit the Camp trading post and so took a walk over there.  There was a threat of bad weather but it held off and let me make my walk.   I enjoyed watching the Rocky Mountain council’s Camp Isabel’s camp director – also a Kevin – as he did “branding” – putting the famous Philmont brand on belts, mugs, etc.

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Camp San Isabel Camp Director – Kevin O’Keefe doing Philmont branding

With my wife and Darcy and family, we took our own little tour around the training center and took many photos.  And through all of this, I wished that I was at Philmont during the summer or for a training course – so that I could have really felt the Philmont Spirit and basked in it.  But, there was evidence of those great gatherings – and I took these all in.

After lunch we – Lou and I and Darcy, Laura and Ali – all went to check out an old adobe fort located a couple of miles east of Philmont.  This place was closed and was undergoing major remodeling so we didn’t get to go in.  We then went to the Historic St. James Hotel.

We talked to the hostess and spent quite a bit of time checking out all of the interesting photos and information around  on all the walls of the halls.  I loved the gorgeous wood work throughout the place.  We learned that many famous people had slept – or died there. There were also a multitude of shoot-outs – evidenced even today with the bullet holes – from all of that activity – still visible in the walls.  Wow! What a place.  I loved it!

After all of the above excitement it now began to rain quite hard.  I resorted to my tent and took my own nap for an hour and a half! Wow!  I never do such a thing!

With the rain, the evening flag ceremony was cancelled.  We just went on into the dining hall for dinner.  It was great to be in there once again.  I loved the spirit of the place.  And there was plenty of food – and I took advantage of that – and ate a whole lot more than I needed.

After dinner, the Council group all gathered into the large training room auditorium.

We there held a great indoor campfire program.  This proved to be a lot of fun – and held in the best of the grand campfire tradition of any Scout Camp.   The program was directed by Council Executive – Phillip Eborn.  I have known Phillip and his legendary professional Scouting brothers in other associations and have found them to be great men.  It was fun to visit with him at the program and before.  I had my laptop computer with me in camp – and pulled up some journal records of former days.  I told Philip about the entry which I wrote for May 19, 2012 when I attended a National Camp School that he was conducting:

May 19th – 2012

“I today went up to Camp Geronimo (near Payson, Arizona) to participate in a full week of National Camp School.  I will attend this school to learn to be a Camp Commissioner.  This school is held several times a year and the location rotates around the region.  This year the camp school is conveniently held at Camp Geronimo.  So, this worked out well for me.  I will attend the Commissioner section of the Camp School.  At the dining hall, I met Phillip Eborn, the director of the Camp School.  He seems like a really great guy – and I later learned that he is also a former director of Camp Bartlett where I also was the director several years ago.”

So, this evening I was excited when this Phillip led the group in one of my old camp favorite songs – “Fleas, Flies, and Mosquitoes”.  He did it with great energy befitting a Camp Director.

As we were gathering for indoor campfire program, folks had given us a paper on which we were asked to write “something unique about ourselves”.  Then through the evening they read several of these papers on some of the program participants.  Then as a person’s unique statement was read, the person was invited to stand to tell more about themselves or their uniqueness.   I wrote about my daily journal writing habit of over forty years – and later got called upon to talk about it.  I mentioned the journal entry that I had found earlier which mentioned their Executive, Phillip.

Many of the Scouters who were there were given opportunity to do a campfire skit.  So, we signed up for our combined “Hunt Bunch” to perform.   We performed a mostly impromptu rendition of an original song about Wade Phillips and Philmont.   This was to the tune of “The Yellow Rose of Texas”.  Actually, we had known all day about the assignment and we had worked on it together through our local meanderings.  We had fun performing together.

I enjoyed hearing of one the oldest of “red-coat Scouters” in the group as he talked of how he first came to Philmont with his hometown troop – clear back in 1968 l- and he said that he has been coming back ever since.  What a great Philmont legacy radiated from this long-time Scouter.

Camp Director, Kevin O’Keefe, led his favorite camp song.  And he was fabulous – a credit to the camp and council with his energy and enthusiasm.

One highlight of the program came at the end as we all gathered in a circle and sang together the Philmont Hymn – which I realized is the ranch’s official song  and later learned was written by John Benton Westfall (1928-May 9, 2009) in 1947 when he was 19.).  Anyway, we formed our circle and sang together:

Silver on the sage,
Starlit skys above,
Aspen-covered hills,
Country that I love.

Philmont, here’s to thee,
Scouting paradise,
Out in God’s country,
Tonight.

Wind in whispering pines,
Eagle soaring high,
Purple mountains rise,
Against an azure sky.

Philmont, here’s to thee,
Scouting paradise,
Out in God’s country,
Tonight.

That was my first time to sing the Philmont Hymn but it quickly became a “tear-jerker” for me.  I felt a little bit of why Philmont has been such a special place to so many Scouters through the past century.  Wow!  It was amazing and hit me hard in my heart and spirit.  Philmont, here’s to thee!

We joined the group for one of the best cracker barrels ever.  Phillip really took care of us.

We had planned to remain at Philmont until Sunday morning but as the program ended Saturday night we looked out the giant windows to the south and noted with some horror the heavy snow that was then falling.  We talked of the situation and the mountain passes that we would have to ascend on the route back to Pueblo, Colorado.  We decided that the road would only get worse as snow and ice accumulated.  So, we made the decision to head home right away.  We packed all of our stuff in a hurry – in a momentary break in the snowy weather and took off.

We encountered good roads most of the way home and got ice and snow on the road only on one mountain pass.  So, we were protected through our travels – and we were grateful for that blessing.  So, in all, it was a very fun day.  And I greatly enjoyed my fun trip to Philmont – and was so happy that I got to make that trek.  And having been there once, I still have two more Philmont dreams that I would still like to accomplish sometime.  One would be to attend a training course there – and the other would be to be on staff at a training course – to help train and motivate others.  Maybe someday I’ll still get to do those!  I hope so! Sometimes dreams do come true …

We arrived back in Pueblo right at midnight – grateful for our safe return trip.  And I was grateful for the chance that I had to be at Philmont – even if for only under twenty four hours.  I felt enough of the Philmont Spirit to make me want to go there again.

Best wishes along your Scouting Trails …  Kevin

See this link for an introduction to Kevin the Scouting Trails Blogger

Blogging articles have 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! Find Kevin on Facebook at: Scouting Trails Books and Blogs

To explore or buy Kevin’s books on Amazon, go to: amazon.com/author/kevinhunt

Contact Kevin directly via email: kevin@scoutingtrails.com

 

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