Sunday, July 06, 2008


The beginning is probably a good point to start.

I was a Cub Scout (Wolf and Bear) on Elemendorf Air Force Base, just outside of Anchorage, Alaska. A couple of military moves later, I was a Boy Scout (Star) on Eileson Air Force Base, Alaska, close to North Pole and Fairbanks.

We camped year round, utilizing a cabin we built near the base. I'd love to know if it is still in use! I often get to tell my Scouts stories about whittling frozen eggshells and trying to keep warm at 40 below zero. The Scouts have almost all heard the stories again, but they keep listening since there is always someone new to hear it.

We moved to Albuquerque (another military move), and that ended my Scouting career at Star, one merit badge short of Life. I do tell my Scouts, frequently, that not continuing to complete my Eagle rank is my only regret from childhood.

Fast forward a few years to my eldest son. We joined a pack in a rural section of Virginia. As a homeschooled kid, he was always the odd-man out. Pack events were huge crowds of loud, rowdy kids screaming around the school cafeteria, while the Cubmaster stood on a table and screamed back to try to get control of them.

We moved on to a local troop for a couple of years, where hazing and very un-Scoutlike behavior were accepted. We moved to another troop, older and smaller, where the Scoutmaster had been in charge since the mid-1940's. (He recently passed away, having finally stopped being the Scoutmaster in 2000.) This was a much better experience, but still did not really use the tools of Scouting to accomplish their ends. After my son was awarded his Eagle in 1998, we moved and finished our Scouting (I was an ASM all those years).

My wife and I agreed at that time that when son #2 was ready for Scouts, we would do something different and better for the boys. That day finally rolled around 5 years ago. We contacted the council and began a small pack for homeschooled boys, initially 6 Scouts--4 Tigers and a 2 Webelos Scouts.

I was the Tiger Leader and the Cubmaster. I read all I could online, joined Cub Scout and Boy Scout YahooGroups, bought manuals, reference books, took training, and slowly pulled together a good system, following the program as outline by the BSA.

Our Webelos Scouts for the first couple of years rolled into the Lone Scout program to keep them busy until we had enough boys to form a troop. Almost 2 years ago, we had 3 Lone Scouts, and the council allowed us to form our troop.

Fast forward two years. I continue to serve as a second year Webelos den leader, having moved through all of the years. My son and the other remaining original Tiger (the others moved away over the years) crossed over to the troop in Spring 2008.

We continue to serve primarily homeschooled Scouts, with a few other educational backgrounds for variety. I continue to serve as the Cubmaster and the Scoutmaster. My oldest son and son-in-law serve as Assistant Scoutmasters. My days of being a den leader are dwindling...I think! This group of 4 will crossover next spring, and that might be that.

However, son #3 will be old enough for Tigers next June, and my new grandson will be old enough for Tigers when my son is finishing up, so I'll still wear the Cubmaster hat for a while.

Currently, our pack has 20 registered Scouts, and the troop has swelled to 10. Small by many folks standards, but it is amazing growth from where we started, or what I anticipated.

Over the years, I have served as popcorn chairman for the pack, troop and district. I have been a merit badge counselor for a number of badges. Our troop is slowly finishing a segment hike of the C&O Canal. The troop currently has 2 Life Scouts working on their Eagle. The pack just returned from our fifth week of resident camp--my favorite week of the year.

As I tell the Scouts, it is much more fun the second time around.

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