Remember When: Scouting

Often times when I think back, I remember how fortunate we were at St. Casmir’s School to have had a scouting program.  It was such an important part of my life. The memories of the leaders, parents and the camaraderie of the other scouts left a longstanding impression and impact on my life.

My life in scouting began when I turned 8 and could finally become a Cub Scout. I wanted to be one because my big brother was one. He was two years older than I and he just seemed to be having all kinds of fun doing and learning neat things and going to cool places. What an exciting night when my parents took me to the meeting to sign up and join. When you were accepted you had to fulfill your first rite of initiation and break into the “living circle of scouting”. It took me two tries to finally break in and when I did I was welcomed into the scouting family. Next was your first trip to the May Company, to buy your first Cub Scout uniform which was a memorable visit in itself. When you approached the department it was everything a young boy could want or hope for in scouting materials. There were so many gadgets, gizmos, kits, projects, camping gear, models, knives and on and on.  It seemed like everything you could ever wish or dream for, was right there in front of you, under those glass counters. However, your first visit was to buy your uniform, purchase your Scouting Manual, and if you were lucky an official Boy Scout Knife.  Your mother made sure she bought you a uniform two sizes larger than you wore because after all, it wasn’t something you replaced too often.

Your uniform became your persona of being a Cub Scout. It gave you a special identity, and it was like joining the military. It linked you to a code of behavior, the rich culture of what it is to be a man and the secrets of brotherhood and manhood. There were so many things to learn about survival skills, reading a map, cooking outdoors, sleeping in a tent in the woods, and everything important to learn about nature.  You were someone special with a unique identity. It helped define who you were, how you lived and what you believed in. It combined the love of God, Country and Scouting.

We lived for the weekly after school meetings at the homes of various scouts and were assigned a “Den Mother." She was special in that you were under her care and supervision. She taught us new skills, assisted us in various scout and troop projects and most important after the meetings provided us with snacks! Your “Den Mother” was now an extension of your own family. She also made sure you followed the rules and completed your tasks and projects with pride and precision.

Your “Scout Leader” was your role model. He was wise, very smart, and like in the military he was in charge and in control. He was there to teach you discipline, accuracy, and the rituals and ways of the scouting culture. The leaders had assistants and they helped provide the guidance and support to help us attain our skills and complete our projects. You learned from each other and were expected to be your brother’s keeper. The scouting manual was your Bible and it dictated your journey as a scout, the rewards for your efforts and it would measure your success along the way with badges and spears.  Euclid Reservation was where we went for hikes, cookouts, and other scouting excursions.

Before long in a mater of a few years you moved on and became a Boy Scout. There were now bigger fish to fry so to speak. Scouting activities became more sophisticated and so did the tasks and the badges to earn them. We now old enough and eligible to attend the coveted “Summer Camp” at the Beaumont Reservation and overnight camp outs at selected Boy Scout campsites.  Meetings were held in the evening and there was more involvement in civic endeavors. We also learned about community and family on a new level. Other scouting troops became our allies and friends and so did our involvement in our community and its environment. We learned to care for each other, our community and ourselves. These were life long lessons that I still remember and follow to this day, and nothing can replace them.