Kevin V. Hunt
Scouting Historian, Author, Scouting Veteran, Camp Director
THE ROMANCE OF SCOUTING: An intriguing subject …? Sounds interesting, huh? Well, maybe now I’ve got your attention. But, it may not be what you think it is.
We have been talking recently of the “fun, adventure and romance of Scouting”. We’ve talked about the first two and introduced a little bit about “Romance”. I am sure that this is a subject of general interest, so let’s explore this one a bit more!
The “Romance of Scouting” is the Spirit of Scouting that motivates and inspires us to keep doing it. The romance of Scouting is the special experiences, whether one-of-a-kind or a repeat of fun experiences, that stand out in the mind as being truly rewarding, enjoyable, memorable.
I have had some of those romantic moments in the many camps where I have worked. An incident at Bartlett was a romantic moment for me: Our weather at Camp Bartlett was generally somewhat predictable to those of us who had served for several years on staff. We all knew that we would have rain on our opening day each week and that it would be followed by many beautiful sunny days through the rest of the week.
This one week, as I conducted the orientation program for Scoutmasters, I was confronted by an obviously obstinate, or know-it-all, Scoutmaster. Trying to give me a hard time, he raised his hand and said in a snide voice, “How often does it RAIN around here, anyway?”
I calmly said, “Well, sir! It’s going to start raining at precisely 4:30 this afternoon. It will then continue raining until exactly 8:15 p.m. at which time it will stop long enough for our campfire program. I of course, had no “pull” with the weatherman, but decided to play the man’s game with him.
The funny thing was that the rain started at exactly 4:30 p.m. that afternoon. Then it rained until just prior to our campfire program. It stopped raining just in time for the show. I sure had a lot of fun over that rainstorm.
The next day at our leader’s meeting, A Scoutmaster stood and commended me for my weather predictions of the day before. Another man raised his hand and said, “What else do you do?” We all had a good laugh over it.
The “Varsity Scout Games” also became a source of “romance” for me. The first year that we had them in the old Lake Bonneville Council, BSA, there were only about forty boys present. Four years later, we’d built to a participation level of nearly 700 Varsity Scouts. The Scouting Spirit was high and everyone present felt that Spirit through the games. It was great to see some of my work take root and blossom as it did with the Games.
Another Varsity activity was packed with Scouting “romance”. For one of our council Varsity committee meetings, for which I was the advisor, we all met at Ft. Buenaventura, a newly restored facsimile of the mountain man fort that had been famous in our area more than a hundred years previously. The event was held to get us all enthused about the upcoming Mountain Man Rendezvous.
As we gathered for that meeting, we were met by a couple of real authentic-looking “mountain men” and we dined on a fabulous mountain man stew.
I brought a few large venison roasts as my contribution for the stew. We all decided that this had been one of our best meetings yet.
Another moment of romance was the night we had 120 people present at our district Cub Scout leader’s roundtable. We had all worked hard to improve our attendance (through group participation) but were still not quite prepared for the crowd we had that night. The Scouting Spirit was also at a record high throughout that evening.
I recall with pleasure, the extravagant staff Christmas parties sponsored by our council commissioner. His house was magnificent on it’s own but he had nearly every inch of the place decorated for Christmas. It was indeed, a “fairy land” and we all enjoyed being a part of such an elite party.
Each year as we had our Christmas party at Jack Felt’s house, he would put on a food spread that was unequalled in any of the world’s finest restaurants. It was also a special thrill to take a December swim in his huge indoor pool. The swim was all the more enjoyable as we remembered that there were several inches of snow outside.
Another romantic moment came after I’d been gone from my Santa Barbara Scouting district for over two years. My advancement chairman, Ihsan, and wife were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. Only a few select Scouters were a part of that elite group at the beautiful but also extremely expensive “Santa Barbara Biltmore Hotel”.
It was a neat experience to once again be with those special red-coat Scouters. We laughed as we reminisced of many of our special times together in the district. We were all caught off guard a little with the “belly dancer” entertainment. My own personal preference would have been a well-done campfire program.
I remember some occasional good turns that have been particularly meaningful to me as I have tried “to do my good turn daily”. One of these occasions came in Ogden, Utah as a few of us professional Scouters talked in the parking lot at Weber State University after a council dinner.
Larry seemed to be a bit uneasy over something. Finally, he said, “Okay, which one of you guys is going to loan me $5.00 for gas to get back home? (He lived north of Ogden about 30 miles – in Brigham City, Utah.) I was quick to come forth with the $5.00 he needed. (That was back in the day when $5.00 would actually buy some gas!)
I said, “Larry, I think you are “supposed” to have this money.” The interesting thing was that I almost NEVER carry cash with me so it was very unusual that I even had $5.00. Earlier that day as I had put gas in my car, I had felt inspired to get $5.00 back in cash from the credit card which I had used to make my gas purchase.
I thought, “Well, that’s a strange thing to do. I don’t know why I am doing this but I guess I’ll listen to the promptings and follow them.” I had never previously asked for a cash advance and I have not since had reason to do so. I was happy that I’d listened to the promptings of the Spirit and had the means to help a friend in need.
The 1993 night that I received the “Silver Beaver Award” was one of those nights full of Scouting Romance for me. And when I celebrated and staged my own “Scouting Jubilee” event – that was jam-packed with Scouting Romance. Every campfire program is a Scouting romance moment for me. Reciting the Scout Oath with a bunch of fellow Scouters or sitting in the Eagle’s Nest are also romance moments. Every time that I return to camp (as Director or otherwise) I am overcome with Scouting romance.
I’ve told you about my Wood Badge experiences. Much of Scouting’s romance has come to me because of my Wood Badge activities. The courses themselves were packed with nostalgic moments, the romance of Scouting. One of these romantic experiences came after the course concluded (actually I’ve relived it several times).
It was my privilege on numerous occasions to present Wood Badge beads to members of my assigned patrols. It was a special thing for me to be asked to recognize some of the wonderful Scouters with whom I’d rubbed shoulders for a week in the ultimate of Scouting’s adventures.
It was always fun on such occasions to relive some of the special times we had shared at the course, and to sing once again, the “Wood Badge Song”: (I used to be an Antelope . . . , Etc. … and that would be me!) Just singing that song brought new tears as we recalled the spiritual and emotional experience we had shared in the best of “Scouting Brotherhood”.
Wood Badge reunions were almost as much fun as the bead presentation ceremonies. The wives of Wood Badgers were funny to watch on such occasions. They couldn’t believe that their “reserved, quiet husbands” could ever have done the things their Wood Badge patrol members were saying that they did. You kind of had to have been at the course to believe some of the stories we told. And the singing by the first patrol of Wood Badge really catches the ladies off guard.
Ah, it just keeps getting better … the “romance of Scouting”!
Best wishes along your Scouting Trails … Kevin
Excerpt taken from his “Scouting Trails” Book: “MR. SCOUTMASTER!” AT Scoutingtrails Connect with Kevin and read his article: “A Hundred Years of Scouting and What it Has Made Me” and others.
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