Attached below are stories that occurred during my 25 Years as Scoutmaster.
Safety issues in all of the stories attached have been resolved.
It is also a known fact that youngster's thinking process is not fully developed till they reach the mid 20's. What we adults can figure out in about an hour, the same situation will take these youngsters hours to accomplish the same (or better) solution. Allow them to have the extra time - you will be very impressed of what they can accomplish. Failed ideas are also a learning event for the Scouts.
The phone call nobody wants to get. A few days before our yearly trip to Goshen, a mother called me and she was very upset. Her son could not go to Goshen with us because he was in the hospital. Her son "tried to end it all". Her son dropped out of Scouts. For years, I wondered what happened to him. On one Saturday as my troop was spreading mulch around our sponsoring Church, a young man came up to me on his skateboard and said "Hi Mr Ingles". It was the Scout that was in the hospital. He was a Medic in the Army, serving in Alaska, and was home on leave. He wanted to stop by and say thank you for the several years he had with the troop. It was the good Scouting memories he had that helped him get through his stress.
U haul Trailer - I use to rent a U Haul trailer to transport the troop chuck boxes and Scout's equipment. On one weekend when I picked up the trailer, which was brand new, I thought of a joke to play on my Scouts. After the trailer was loaded and the Scouts I was transporting was on board, I said that I needed to check the trailer door to see if it was properly closed. While getting ready to exit my van and check the trailer door, I mentioned that the trailer was brand new and it had a newly approved safety device - it had an emergency parachute. I got some very puzzled looks as the Scouts jumped out and ran to the back of the trailer to see this new emergency parachute. They figured out that since I was serious most of the time, I do joke once in a while.
Skunk - At 2 am one morning at Goshen, a scout was awaken by noise coming from the picnic table situated about 10 feet from his tent. Hearing the noise, the scout decided to tap on his tent wall to scare the critter away. Well as luck may have it, it was a skunk which turned and fired the spray towards the source of the noise. The outer wall (door) of tent got sprayed and the tent door was just opened enough to allow the spray hit the sleeping bag edge. Glad the scout was not looking out the door at that time.
Scouts learned a very valuable lesson about where not to store food. Don't leave food out on the table and do not store food in the tent.
Matches - During one campout, the scouts were looking for matches to start the cooking campfire. Conversation went like "go get the matches", "Look in the chuck box", and "are they on the picnic table? ". Not finding any, I suggested that a skill within the Wilderness Survival MB was to start the fire without matches. Scouts that did not have that skill asked me to show them how to do that ( I am also a MB counselor for that badge) and I proceeded to show them. After I started the fire, I put it out. To everyone's surprised look, they asked me why I put the fire out. I replied that they asked me to "show them how to start a fire without matches" which is what I did. Then I proceeded to hand them the material to start the fire. For the next half hour, each took a turn and did start a fire. I told them later that I did carry extra matches but that was a teaching opportunity I could not pass up.
I only teach how to start a fire without matches with the stuff one would carry on a campout. Use of a 9 volt battery and steel wool that does not have soap in it is nice to know, but does one normally carry these items? Within Wilderness Survival MB, one learns to always carry on an campout items like a whistle, pocket knife, pocket type rain gear (available for about a dollar), compass, etc. See the Wilderness Survival MB book for a more detailed list.
Cooking utensils - Scouts can be forgetful when packing the chuck box. At breakfast, the plans were to have pancakes. In inventorying the chuck box, they forgot to check on the chef set. Looking everywhere, they realized that they forgot to pack the chef set which had the pancake turner they needed. I was silent in offering any suggestions then one scout offered the idea of having "scrambled pancakes", That is, cooking pancake just like one would cook scrambled eggs. That worked. Use of a clean off stick from the woodpile worked. Very interesting breakfast. I failed to mention while the Scouts were discussing a solutions that I carry an extra chef set. Did not have to offer my extra set. I was very pleased that they figured out a solution.
Scoutmasters have been known to carry extra everything.
Campout on an NFL Football field. I received a call from NFL Coach (forgot his name) some years ago and he left me a message. The Coach called me by name and asked if my Arlington troop was going to join in on spending the afternoon with the team and doing an overnight on the field. Being very puzzled, I called the NFL Coach back to ask for more information. What teams and what weekend was this to happen. After getting more information, I figured out there was a misunderstanding. The game was something like the Giants at Dallas. Dallas ? I thought to myself. I asked if he realized that my troop was in Arlington Virginia and not Arlington Texas. We laughed at the sequence of events and I wished his team well in the upcoming game.
Scout went to hospital
To set the stage, we were at Camp Bowman (Goshen Reservation) and on our second or third day of the week. It was late afternoon and the scouts were returning from their afternoon classes and getting ready to cook dinner. Time was about 4 pm (sundown is at 8 30). Weather was light rain in the afternoon.
While I was approaching my tent, I listened to a loud cry for help as one of the scouts had fallen. Other adults and I rushed to the sound and found one of our scouts laying on the ground next to a large log. Asking what had happened and I was told that the scout tried to walk the top of the log as if it were a balance beam and the slipped off of the log. He fell forward and hit his chest and was complaining of the pain in his chest area.
Our first aid skills kicked in as we did not move the scout for fear of causing more injury to a possible broken ribs situation. Our runners (actually should have been fast walkers but I suspect they actually ran) to get the first aid person at Bowman’s first aid station. Ambulance was called and it arrived in short order. The Paramedic determined that our scout needed to be seen by the ER so they put the scout on a back board and applied a neck brace then asked for the medical record (authorization to render emergency medical services).
That was the year we only had one copy of the medical forms and they were on file at Bowman’s first aid station. I asked for the record and was told that the form was needed to call the parent. A short argument happened and I remembered that the Scout Application had the same authorization on the reverse side of the form. Back then, the Scout application was half sheet size and the reverse had the medical form / authorization on it. I had the application with me in my tent and ran to get it. The paramedic accepted the form and we were off to the ER and I went with the scout to the ER.
I was not going to argue with the Bowman Staff member for that may have delayed the needed time to get the scout to the ER.
On the way to the hospital with the emergency lights going and driving at a fast clip, cars were passing us. I asked the driver why cars were passing us and was told they do that all the time up there. I thought of a few words but did not speak them aloud.
Then something else came to mind. Our scout frequently got car sick easily and I wrote a note and passed it to the paramedic. He wrote “thank you, I needed to know that “.
Just prior to departing from Goshen, I asked how we would get back to camp and was told that we needed to send another adult in a private car to pick us up, which we quickly arranged prior to departing camp in the ambulance.
We arrived at the hospital and as the scout was being examined by the ER Staff. I located the pay phone and used my credit card to call our Scout’s parents. You may have guessed it, the Bowman Staff had not called the parents. I gave the parents the direct number to the ER and they did call and got updates on their son’s condition. The ribs were not broken and there was no sign of internal injuries.
Doctor approached me that our scout was ready to go back to camp then he told me that both scouts were ready to go back to camp. Thinking to myself - what both scouts. The Doctor showed me the other scout - a cub scout that had arrived by ambulance earlier with reaction to a bee sting. I asked if he came with an adult and was told no. I asked if the cub scout ‘s parents were called and was again told no. I asked to see the Cub Scout’s medical form then I went to the pay phone. Using my credit card, I called the Cub Scout’s parents. I identifying myself and indicating that I was at the hospital with their son. I give the ER’s direct number and as soon as I hung up the phone, the phone in the ER rang. The parents did speak to the ER staff and their son and learned that my call was not a prank.
I spoke to the Cub’s parents again and asked their permission to transport their son back to Goshen and we would again call them from Goshen to say that we have arrived.
By then, our ASM had arrived with his car so we could get back to Goshen. Since my ASM was only 19, I drove the car back to Goshen. It was dark then and getting foggy so the trip was slow.
We delivered the Cub Scout to the Cub Scout camp’s admin office where we asked to use the camp phone so we could call the parents and have the cub speak to the parents directly.
Before I finish this story, I have a policy that if a Scout is sick or injured, that the parent be immediately called. I am also a parent. A parent can tell a lot from just hearing their son’s voice.
Back to the story. We arrived at the Cub Scout Admin office and called the Cub’s parents. They were relieved to hear that their son was back in camp. I also spoke to the parents and provided more information on who I was and my home address if they needed more information in the future.
Cub Scout admin staff did not have anyone available to escort the Cub back to his Cub Pack so my ASM, my Scout, and I walked the short distance to the Cub Pack’s camp. Upon arriving, all of the cubs and parent came out and treated the returning Cub as if he was a returning hero coming back from war.
After talking to the Bowman staff and staff at the NCAC Bethesda office, procedures have changed and they are now required to send a Goshen staff member with any sick/injured Scout in addition to placing a call to the scout’s parent – that is now the procedure.
Since that, our own troop now carries a duplicate set of medical forms to any camp for just that reason.
Looking back at these events, part of the blame is that the Cub Pack should have sent an adult with the Cub when being transported to the hospital. It was possible that the Cub Pack did not know that the hospital was even in the picture and learned after the Cub scout was on his way to the hospital. I don't know.
As closing to this story, I did receive a thank you from the Cub Scout’s parents after we returned home. They were very appreciative on what we did for their son.
I have looked over my old notes to track down the Cub Scout to see how he is doing. This happened more than 20 years ago and I could not locate the information.
As of this writing, I am 70 with 25 years as SM, 4 as Committee Member, and 9 as a Scout (Eagle Scout 1964) and I still do a good turn daily - that good turn back then was a bit stressful but well worth it. This was also much more than a “good turn”.
ASM Mike Ingles