In a recent blog I wrote of some Scouting romance – that I helped initiate. You might want to read Fun, Adventure and Romance of Scouting. Today I’ll talk of my own “fun, adventure, and romance” – all with Scouting ties. My engagement and marriage actually had their beginnings in Scout Camp. It was while I was at Camp Loll (located on the South border of Yellowstone National Park) that I decided I’d had enough of the single life. Though I hadn’t seen her for over four months, I decided to make the big move for Lou Dene. It really was a “big move” for me since she was working at a girl’s camp some five hundred miles away.
I met Lou Dene (known as “LuDen” in college) as we were both attending Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. We both had the same “Youth Leadership” major. My focus was in the Boy Scouts of America and hers was with the Girl Scouts. So, we say that we “Scouted” each other. In reality, we had all of nine dates over a two year period. But in that time, we had most of our classes together – in Room 106 of the Richards Building – on the BYU campus. We were in the Alpha Phi Omega fraternity – that has deep roots of association with the Boy Scouts of America. We worked as staff together while at BYU for several Scouting events.
But, through all of that, we had never discussed engagement or marriage. Meanwhile, I graduated from BYU and went up to Ogden, Utah to work as a professional with the then Lake Bonneville Council of the Boy Scouts of America. LuDen was still going to school down in Provo, Utah. She was also anxious to work on her M.R.S.degree – but had about given up hope on me for any help on that degree.
Well, anyway, I went up to Camp Loll that summer – as the Assistant Camp Director to Delose Conner, Camp Director. And while at camp, I had some time to ponder about my life and where it was going. I decided that I really did love this LuDen gal and that I should ask her to marry me.
So, having made up my mind, I stayed up until 2:00 AM one morning writing my letter of proposal to her. I sent the letter back to Ogden with the Scout Executive to mail from the Scout office.
My “hot” letter sat in the office for nearly two weeks before the boss remembered to mail it. All of this time I was sitting on pins and needles waiting for her reply (and it wasn’t pine needles that I was sitting on)! Finally though, I received the official word – “YES!” – back from her.
We could write another book of our crazy courtship (and probably will) but to keep a long story short here, suffice it to say that “we courted by mail through the rest of the summer and we were married just three weeks from the time that we both finished at the camps where we’d been working.” My brother was going to be gone on a church mission for two years and I wanted to get married before he left so that he could be there.
With the first winter snowfall at Camp Loll, I hurried from camp to get to Salt Lake City to see Lou Dene once again. That trip is also a story in itself, but I finally arrived after driving in rain all of the way South, a flat tire and other excitement that was neither an adventure nor fun. I was scheduled by LuDen to appear at her “family council” before officially getting engaged to her. This would be a strange meeting for me since I had never actually met her parents or any of her family.
After my grueling trip from Camp Loll down to Salt Lake City, I finally arrived at her home somewhat bedraggled and two hours late. (And I can’t stand to be late!) I noted I hadn’t previously met Lou’s family but her parents, nine brothers and sisters, spouses and a whole bunch of children were all there waiting for me as I arrived. I soon learned that I was in for an unusual adventure, and one which was obviously fun for her family. Lou states that I was “shaking like a leaf” as I sat before the council.
For nearly an hour and a half, the throng of thirty five or forty strangers (and I was really thinking “strange” by the time that they were done with me) fired questions of all varieties at me. They held a “family council meeting ” to determine whether I should be allowed to become an “out-law” in the family. Only romance could have sustained me through that experience.
Even after all that, I was still willing to “go through with it”. I still remember also, the adventure of the “stag party” staged for me by some of my camp Loll staff friends.
Delose hosted us “stags” at his house. We dined on punch and cookies as we viewed camp staff slides the night before my marriage.
Our wedding reception even turned into a fun camp experience. I guess it was fun for me, and probably an adventure for my mother-in-law. You should have seen the shocked look on her face as she watched about fifteen of my camp staffers after they had entered the hall.
Delose, who also became engaged that summer at Loll, brought a van full of the staff down for the occasion. Under Delose’s direction, and with all of his enthusiasm as a camp director, they quickly captured the attention of the large crowd.
To the chagrin of my in-laws, the staff noisily started “singing” our old camp favorite, even “Father Abraham”! I got laughs from everyone as I joined them in their singing: I guess it was a bit different to do that song while wearing a tuxedo but I had never had so much fun in all my life.
That experience led to another Scouting adventure a few years later. I was attending a Scout leader’s roundtable and was surprised when my friend Milan called me “front and center” for a special presentation. Lou and I were expecting a baby and he’d made us a classy diaper bag inscribed with the words, “HUNT’S BABY, property of the BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA”.
Since I was in Scouting, I kind of wanted a boy, but I was delighted with my little lady as she arrived. I had her in a Scout uniform within just a few months of her birth. I was proud of that little Scout.
I still laugh at the time Lou was pregnant while at camp when the Wood Badge course was in progress. Lou had repaired britches for several boys and leaders so they invited her to their final banquet at the end of the week. She was six months pregnant and showed up dressed in one of my uniforms – her hair well hidden under a Scout hat. They had made a point of saying that the affair was to be a uniformed activity (and that was in the day before ladies were in the course). She was in uniform, but she certainly looked funny. She was good for a few laughs that day!
Lou and I may be crazy, but from the day of our marriage, we both wanted a dozen kids. Our “goal” has been the topic of many interesting comments from our Mount Ogden District Scouting friends. One time Lou Dene was with me when I stopped at the Scout office. She was pregnant with Jackie and had had a busy day with her college graduation and all.
Lou had not yet located any nylons that would fit a pregnant lady but somehow she had squeezed herself into one of her regular pairs. Now though, she was feeling a little uptight as we arrived at the Scout office after her long day. She had removed the tight nylons just before we arrived at the office so she was barefoot as she went into the office with me to lock up after a training session for my district.
Lowell Clontz, my District Chairman took one look at her and acted like he was trying to figure it all out. He pulled me aside (but where she could hear him) and said, “So you really do keep her barefoot and pregnant? … I’ve heard that some guys do this with their wives!” We all got a chuckle out of the incident.
Once at camp I drove a van full of staffers to church. As I looked in the rear-view mirror, I counted twelve heads combining our kids and staff. I said to Lou, “This is what it could be like with twelve children!” She took a look back and said, “Oh, no!” I’ll leave it to your own imagination to figure out whether this goal of ours would fall with … fun, adventure, or romance …?
We continued with our goal of having twelve children and pursued this goal along the way. We ulitmately, however had only nine children – and now 31 grandchildren. Wow! That is pretty amazing. And my wife now says, “Nine is Fine!” (and that too, is a story for another day and blog).
Of course Scouting was not the cause of my romance adventures, but it is interesting to see them in connection with my Scouting experiences. I was very much into Scouting when all of this occurred and of course other parts of my life became intertwined with my Scouting involvement.
Excerpt taken from his “Scouting Trails” Book: “MR. SCOUTMASTER!” at Scoutingtrails. Connect with Kevin at Kevin and read his article: “A Hundred Years of Scouting and What it Has Made Me” and others in The Scouting Trail.