Kevin V. Hunt
Scouting Historian, Author, Scouting Veteran, Camp Director
We have been talking of the “Romance of Scouting”. Well, with that Scouting romance it just keeps getting better! I’ve been sharing with you some romantic moments of Scouting – where everything is just so great and where the Scouting program shines with those great moments. Here are some more of those moments that come to my mind.
The dedication of the Camp Bartlett Lodge was another of those romantic moments of Scouting. We’d all worked hard on the lodge and all summer we’d watched it take shape. Thus, that fall day was particularly memorable. The lodge was a dream- come-true for many of us present. That beautiful building stood as a symbol of great Scouts and Scouters past, as well as a hope and dream for the future. (That was a lot of years ago and now the lodge has been refurbished and is ready for dedication and another generation of Scouts and Scouters coming to Camp Bartlett.)
Still another memorable moment of “romance” comes to mind. One time an Australian Scouter came to Utah and spent a few days at our home with us. We didn’t know Bob Barnes before he arrived, but met him by referral from a mutual friend. It was fun to exchange “program notes” of the Australian and American Scouting programs.
Within a few minutes we were on common ground as we began to share our Scouting experiences that were alike though a world apart. It was interesting to compare the two Scouting worlds to which we belonged.
I think of the thrill of hearing that we would soon get new uniforms in the Boy Scouts of America. The news came as a shock. The National Office had done a phenomenal job of hiding the news until it was announced simultaneously throughout the entire country.
Even we Scouting professionals didn’t know that a change was in the mill, until we received the historic telegrams with the news from the National Office. I was especially excited with the announcement and was one of the first to buy the new uniform. I rushed out to buy one the second that they became available. Prior to this, Scouting boys and leaders had for several years worn the light Khaki green uniforms. And these new ones (in khaki tan) were the “height of fashion” being designed and created for the BSA by the famed designer, Oscar de la Renta. So, the new uniforms were really a major departure from those we’d all grown up in. And they were pretty great!
For a bit more insight into this grand event in the history of the Boy Scouts of America, check out this information about Oscar de la Renta and the NEW UNIFORM
My wife added a little romance to my life as she designed and created a special anniversary present for me one year. She made me a huge quilt top from about thirty neckerchiefs that I’d worn during my days as a Cub Scout, Boy Scout, and professional. She had Wood Badge neckerchiefs, activity and training neckerchiefs, and more.
To add to the romance of that special quilt top, she sewed onto it, about 150 patches from the many activities of which I’d had
a part. That quilt is still one of my greatest treasures. It is packed with the Romance of Scouting. (And incidentally, I’ve never been a big patch collector – as some Scouters are. I have made it a habit of only collecting those patches for events and activities for which I have actually participated or have helped plan in some way.)
I think too, of some training courses on which I served on staff. One Cub Pow Wow was particularly romantic, as I recall. Though I’d been in Scouting for over twenty years since a Cub Scout, the Cub Scouters decided to award me with my Bobcat badge at a mock “Blue and Gold Banquet”. The banquet, by the way, included sack lunches for everyone.
My wife and daughters were present for that grand ceremony. One of my young daughters started screaming as she watched them turn Dad upside down to receive the award. She was convinced that they were going to hurt me in some way.
I think too, of displays of Scouting Spirit. I remember the extra-mile effort of Troop 222 from Brigham City, Utah as they spent their week at Camp Bartlett. We made a special award to recognize their excellence.
And how could I forget the romance of the spirited members of Troop 218 of Ogden, as together they chanted, year after year, “218, 218, 218, TOGETHER, …huhhh!” I bragged of their spirit wherever I went. It was great to see how they could maintain their 218 tradition over so many years. I wished that all boys in Scouting could feel the troop pride as evidenced in Troop 218. They really were “together”.
I remember too, the feeling I experienced when a couple of my Scouting heroes died. One of these was Norman Rockwell, Scouting’s illustrator for over fifty years. I have always very much enjoyed his paintings (and particularly those in his Scouting collection) so I was saddened with the news of his death. And to this day I have several Rockwell Scouting books on my “coffee table” in my living room (and I am not even a coffee drinker!)
A prominent church leader, N. Eldon Tanner, was another of my heroes. He was a special supporter of Scouting. Even as a young boy, I noticed that he ALWAYS wore a Scouting lapel pin as he spoke at the worldwide television broadcasts of the church’s annual general conference.
I watched President Tanner for years and never once noticed him without the little Scouting fleur-de-lis. I was sorry to hear of his passing but he probably wore that little badge into the next world. His memory lingers still to remind me to always “do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law at all times …” I later learned that President Tanner’s father was one of the first Scoutmasters when Scouting came to Canada. And young Eldon was in that troop.
My mind is drawn once again to the romance of Scout camp. I still chuckle as I picture myself with a long chain of Scoutmasters at our Friday night campfire programs. I’d go up front and would call down the leaders who were loved by all in camp.
Arm in locked arm together, I’d lead the men in a rendition of “Alice the Camel”. Together we’d sing: “Alice the camel has five humps, … Alice the camel has five humps, … Alice the camel has five humps, so GO, … Alice, … Go!” And then we’d continue singing down through one hump on Alice.
The boys all laughed boisterously as we leaders bumped hips with each other in a great amount of force as we were hit by the urge to bump our neighbors.
I’m sure we caused quite a scene. The boys really laughed and hooted at the end as I said, “Alice the camel has … NO HUMPS … ’cause ALICE … IS A HORSE!”
With that, I’d run off the stage leaving the Scoutmasters there to bask in the thrill of making a fool of themselves. The boys all loved it! I’ll have to admit that it was pretty funny. (Ooops! I should not have given away my secret! So, if you see me lead this to your group in the future, just act as if I didn’t let you in on the secret!)
I think too, of many flag burning ceremonies and the honor trails through which many a Scout silently passed. I remember also, the romance of singing after each campfire programs with all of my camp staff as the Scouts quietly left the campfire bowls to participate in the Honor Trail or to return to their campsites.
We all stood together between the two fires that were then coals and for several minutes we quietly sang or hummed the many solemn or patriotic songs of Scouting. Those were indeed special moments of Scouting romance.
And finally, I think of the candle lighting ceremony at the final campfire program of the National Jamboree in Idaho. At the beginning of the ceremony, all was dark in the huge natural amphitheater. All of the 35,000 Scouts and leaders present had a small three-inch candle. Everyone in the crowd was impressively quiet and there was not a sound anywhere.
On a given signal, each Scoutmaster lit his own candle. He then shared his light by lighting the candles of his boy leaders. Then together, they lit the candles of everyone in their troops. Within a few moments, everyone held their glowing candles above their heads. Though it was dark, the area was almost as light as noon-day.
We realized that on our own, we each have only a little light, but if we all let our little lights shine, we can really be a force for good in the world. We all left that beautiful ceremony proud of our association with Scouting and anxious to share our light with others.
I participated in this same ceremony – on a much smaller scale – when I attended the National Executive Institute – an academy that trains new professional Scouters. I was a new District Executive and attended this school for three weeks at the Schiff Scout Reservation in New Jersey. After the ceremony, my Louisiana friend, Keith McGowan, suggested that we trade candles as a token of the friendship and brotherhood that had grown between us through the course. I think that I still have that candle.
So, yes, Mr. Scoutmaster, Scouting is full of experiences in fun, adventure, and even romance. And it’s all there for you to enjoy …! Best wishes as you reach out to touch lives of youth who want to share that fun, adventure, and romance with you.
Best wishes along your Scouting Trails … Kevin
Excerpts taken from Kevin’s many Scouting Trails books including “MR. Scoutmaster!”, “Keys to Scouting Leadership” and others at Scoutingtrails. Connect with Kevin and read his articles on Scouting blogsites such as The Boy Scout, The Scouting Trail and The Voice of Scouting. Feel free to comment on anything you read!
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