Be Prepared…Maybe

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*Note from MCM: The Claremore Scout Alliance is hosting a Fun Night at Claremore Lake on 8/26. Great opportunity to learn about scouting: cub, boy and girl!

I put on my new blue uniform shirt and pants, adjusted my yellow kerchief, slipped on the black metal neckerchief slide and went out to toast old ladies on campfires and help marshmallows across the street. I never could seem to keep it straight.

While practicing with a coat hanger and a marshmallow, I got the gooey white glob too close to the flames. It turned to charcoal black and then began to burn with a bright blue flame. I turned quickly to show my buddy, Bobby Parker, this most amazing of incendiary sights. Unfortunately, Bobby was already watching me and watching far too closely. The flaming gooey mess transferred itself from the wire to Bobby’s nose. A neighbor caught him three doors down. Scalded cats have nothing on a pre-teen boy with a flaming marshmallow up his nose.

Bert Elsie and I thought we would practice the old lady across the street routine. An elderly lady was visiting at my home. Bert lived next door. Being good Cub Scouts, we volunteered to walk her home. Two minutes later, we’re home screaming out to my parents that “Granny fell in the ditch.”  She had, but fortunately she was not injured near as badly as our pride. I never did get the Cub Scout business down successfully.

We moved to Lubbock and I became a Boy Scout.

Scouting was easier in west Texas. There were no deep ditches to drop old ladies into and marshmallows were considered much too childish considering my new, exalted rank as tenderfoot scout.

I went to troop meetings on Monday nights and campouts on the weekends. There was even the weeklong summer camp out. Meetings were in the church basement where we learned to pledge allegiance to the flag and learned about God and our country. In the summer we made bead bracelets, Indian head dresses and sang goofy songs around a real campfire. On Sunday morning camp out we participated in an informal church service and sang church songs.

Little did we realize what we were missing in those more gentle times.

We were allowed to have a nondenominational meeting in the basement of the biggest Baptist church in the city. We pledged allegiance to our national flag in a church. Our scoutmaster was a gentle man with a wonderful family who donated his time to the troop. We were taught good grooming, fair play, and kindness toward those weaker than ourselves. We prayed to God, saluted our flag and learned to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, brave, clean and reverent.

We were youngsters learning good things by the good examples of good men. We did not concern ourselves with separation of church and state. We did not worry about pedophiles and other assorted perverts. We directed our prayers to God and obeyed our scout leaders and parents. It was a simpler time, yet I feel that it was the proper character building and learning experience that Sir Baden Powell intended scouting to be before it was turned into an absurdity.

-Written by the late James R. May. Originally published in the Oologah Lake Leader

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