Mr. Little, the Scoutmaster of Troop 316, looked at his watch, "Nick, its seven o'clock!"
Sixteen-year-old Life Scout Nick Stokley went over to a group of young boys, "Brett, New Boy Patrol has the opening. Are you ready?"
"Eagle Patrol, Nick, we're the Eagle Patrol." Brett Henry replied.
"SKREEEE!" the five other young guys replied with their patrol yell.
"Yeah, sorry, Jeez. Okay, Eagles shake those tail feathers."
Bret walked to the front of the meeting hall and held up his right hand in the scout sign. In less than twenty seconds, there was complete silence. "Line up! Color Guard... Advance."
The other five members of the Eagle Patrol advanced from the back of the room to the front. Once they had posted the colors, Brett continued, "Please join me in the Pledge of Allegiance. Scout Salute. ... I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. ... Two."
Another Boy, Joey Carson, stepped forward, "Please join me in the Scout Oath," He held up his right hand giving the Scout sign, "On my honor, I will do my best, to do my duty to God and my country, to obey the Scout Law, and to help other people at all times. I will keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight."
Fred Clemson then stepped forward his voice cracked as he began, "Please join me in the Scout Law," He blushed but no one giggled, the adults present smiled. "A Scout is: trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent."
Brett then said, "At ease, Scouts. Mr. Little, did you have anything?"
The Scoutmaster came forward, "Well done, Eagles." All the boys cheered. "As you all know, we have Summer Camp next week. Unfortunately, I will be out-of-town and so will Mr. Freeman. Mr. Alexander, our Charter Organization Representative has agreed to fill in as Scoutmaster for that week. I'm sure you will all treat him better than you treat me."
Matt Little said in a stage whisper, "Sure, Dad, we treat Everybody better." That got a laugh from everyone including Mike Little.
"Just to review things, the new guys, Brett, Joey, Fred and Ken, are signed up for the Troop Baden Powell program, the rest of you are signed up in the Merit Badge program. Capt. Henry will be going over your selections and setting up you daily schedules. If you and a buddy want to take things together, which I think is an excellent idea, then I suggest that you both go when he calls the first one. I would like each of you to try for one Eagle Required Merit Badge, if you don't already have them all. Tom, are you still going for the BSA Lifeguard?"
"Yes, sir. I have a job after camp if I complete it," Tom was 16 and already had his Eagle.
"That's great. You hear that, Fellas, Something in Scouts helps get a job, money. That's a good thing." Mr. Little pointed out.
"Oh, yeah, and it's not just as life guard. I'll be the head of aquatics at the Y day camp. I'll have five guys, and GIRLS working for me! It means big bucks, and a lot of responsibility." Tom was beaming with pride. When he had interviewed for the job, which started the week after camp, he had been asked if being the boss of eighteen and nineteen year olds was going to be a problem; he had answered, 'Sir, I had to supervise adults in my Eagle project and even had to ask one of the dad's to leave, like as in firing him. It was hard, but I know I can do it.' He got the job.
Mr. Little then said, "Now, by the end of the meeting tonight, Capt. Henry should have his list complete and I need a list of supplies we need to get for Summer Camp. So after you are done with Capt. Henry, go on out and inventory the Scout Shed."
Mike looked down at his notes, "Preston?"
"Are you ready for your Scoutmaster Conference?"
"Sure, Mr. Little."
"Okay Nick, they're all yours. Preston, come with me."
Nick told the boys to figure out their patrol equipment for Summer Camp while he and Matt went to talk to Capt. Henry.
Capt. Henry was a State Trooper and had come straight from work so he was still in his police uniform. "So what do you two have in mind for Camp?" he asked.
"Well, we thought we would take Lifesaving Merit Badge and then some fun ones like Rifle Shooting, Metalwork and maybe Wildlife Management," Nick said.
"Wildlife gives us what we need for the World Conservation Award. We also thought we'd do the Mile Swim again this year." Matt added.
"Well, you guys are certainly going to have a full week. You are aware that the Metalworking Merit Badge has new requirements and isn't a quickie anymore?" Capt. Henry asked.
"Yes, Sir, that's one reason we want to take it." Nick replied.
"Okay, I got you signed up. Nobody can complain that the older guys are slackers." Capt. Henry commented.
"Lead by example," both boys said in unison. That lesson had been driven home in their Council Junior Leader Training course last summer.
They left Capt. Henry, and Nick grabbed his clipboard and called to the Troop Baden Powell boys to follow him outside. Capt. Henry called the next Scout. Over in a corner, Mr. Little sat in a chair facing thirteen-year-old Preston Holbart.
"So, Preston, just two years and here you are looking for Star. You have been active and only missed two meetings since you made First class."
"Yes sir, that was when Grandma fell and broke her hip and Mama needed me to help when she came home from rehab." Preston explained.
Mr. Little smiled. "So, how did that make you feel?"
"Huh? I mean, Mama needed help and Gram needed somebody strong to help her get around and Grampa has a bad back." Preston said.
"And your Mom took you, not your older brother." Mr. Little pointed out.
"Well, yeah, I mean David is well, David."
"So exactly why did she take you?"
"Well she needed help and she knew I would help."
"That's it. Let me put it this way and see if you get my point, trustworthy, loyal, helpful, courteous, kind, obedient and cheerful." Mr. Little listed the points of the scout law that he thought applied to the situation.
"Wow, I never thought about it like that. Kewl."
"Now, you have been Troop Historian and have gotten the Troop article in the church newsletter each month. I'm very proud of the job you have done there. I have gotten some nice comments. Now what are your plans next?" The Scoutmaster asked.
"Ah, well, I was going to take First Aid Merit Badge and I thought I might try Environmental Science."
"Wow, those are two hard ones. But I think you can handle them. Last year you earned Swimming so what fun badges do you have in mind?"
"I want to take Canoeing and Leatherwork."
"I think that's a good selection. I'll be looking for those signed blue cards when you get back. Congratulations, Preston. Now, see Mr. Alexander over there with Mr. Miller and Mrs. Stone? They are waiting for you to do a Board of Review. We want you to have that Star on your shirt before Camp." Mr. Little held out his left hand for the Scout Handshake.
"Jeez, thanks, Mr. Little!" Preston shook hands and was off to see the other adults.
* Outside at the Scout Shed *
"Jackson! Get over here. You're the Quartermaster. We will need the large Kitchen Box set up. The two large coffee pots, two large pots and two frying pans and a medium pot. Utensils, tin foil, three rolls of paper towels and two rolls of TP. A spice kit, light sabers (Butane Lighters) and anything else you can think of."
"Guys, let's get the two big coolers out, the rope bag and tarps and make sure they are ready to go. And where are the flag stands? We will need them and the tables for the kitchen."
It was semi controlled chaos for the next forty minutes and somehow everything was back in the shed and the door locked again. The boys then split into two teams and a game of Capture The Flag began.
Mr. Little, Mr. Alexander and Capt Henry all stood watching.
"It sure is nice seeing good boys after what I deal with every day." Eric said.
"Yeah, that's what has kept me active with Scouts for so long. I'll probably hang around even after the 'Fumes' get Matt." Mike commented.
"Fumes?" Eric asked.
Jeff chuckled, "Yeah, the reason we loose most of the boys, PerFume and Gas Fumes."
They laughed as Little Ken Hoagg made a dash across the field with the flag, winning the game for his team.
Nick yelled out, "Winners! Put the flags back in the shed; lock it back up and then inside for closing. Losers! Let's get the meeting room put back like we found it. Let's move it, People!"
Mr. Little smiled, "Well, that about wraps up another one. You two will have a great time at camp. Is there anything you need?"
Jeff Alexander said, "I think we have everything under control."
"You sure we can't carry one of these for self-protection?" Capt. Henry said patting his 9mm.
"Nope, sorry. Just remember experience and cunning beats energy and stupid every time." Mike Little said and the three adults laughed as they returned to the meeting room. Soon all eighteen sweaty boys were there and forming up in a circle.
Nick looked around, "Any announcements?"
Matt Little held up his hand, when Nick nodded to him he said, "We have one ugly SPL."
Everyone laughed and Nick let it pass for now. "Mr. Little, do you have anything before I reduce your family by one?"
"Yes I do, and please clean up the blood when you're done. It is my pleasure to introduce our newest Star Scout, Preston Holbart." Everyone applauded and shook his hand. "Next, I want to thank all of you for attending Andy's father's funeral, last week, I'm sure when Andy finds out, it will mean a lot that you did that. I still don't have any information on how he is doing. We need to get a volunteer to act as Den Chief for the Second Year Webelos Den, since Andy is still in the hospital. If any of you hear from him or about him, let me know right away."
Mr. Alexander then said, "We will be leaving right after services on Sunday. So wear your Uniforms to church and bring your gear and drop it off back by the shed. If some of you bigger guys will come out during Sunday School and help us load the trailer, that would be great. We'll stop for a burger and then off to camp. We will be in the same site as we had last year. See you Sunday."
"Anything else?" Nick paused they then crossed their arms (right over left) and joined hands. Then Nick began, "May The Great Scoutmaster of all Scouts be with us until we meet again."
Then the boys broke up and the meeting was over.
Eric Henry and Jeff Alexander were out at the Scout Shed right after the early service. They had the trailer hooked up to Mr. Alexander's stretch van and were waiting for the boys' gear to arrive and for some strong backs to load the troop gear into the van. As the boys came by, they piled their packs by the trailer and went on to Sunday School. The older boys helped get everything packed and by eleven thirty they were ready to go. Of the troop of twenty boys, fifteen were going to Summer Camp. Between the stretch van and Capt. Henry's beat up old car, everyone had a seat. When church let out, the boys thundered out followed more sedately by their parents; soon everyone was loaded and off they went. The Moms of the new boys were standing around, looking on, concerned as if their babies were going away forever. The Dads, for the most part, had a gleam in their eyes thinking about having a week alone with their wives...
* * *
Troop 316 was lucky in that the Council Camp, was only 20 miles away. The boys were pretty hard on Capt. Henry about his old 'junker' and seriously doubting it would be able to make the trip. He just smiled, he knew that the engine and drive train were in excellent shape; it was just the body that needed paint.
Check in at the camp went smoothly and the boys unloaded their gear in their assigned campsite. The boys thought that since there were extra tents that they should spread out. Nick stepped in, "Guys, we made tent-mate assignments and we are sticking with that. Those who have been here before know that if a big troop needs more tents they will come get these. So stick with the plan. Now Mr. Alexander, Capt. Henry and I will be in those three tents over there, Eagles?" Brett pointed to the far end. "Okay and Beavers, you guys take the next three and Cobras the next. Leave these here as a buffer to the A-dults and they are easiest if the camp needs to take them. Okay, stow your gear and let's get to the waterfront and get the swim test done. Remember shoes and towels. Let's go!"
Eric and Jeff had already put their gear in their tents and were setting up a tarp over the picnic table in front of their area. Jeff hung a banner on the end of the table that had a big red cross on it and placed the troop first aid kit on it to hold it in place. Then from the guy line of the tarp was the 'Green Bar' Flag. The boys knew that meant only adults and troop leaders (SPL, ASPL, and Patrol Leaders) could go into that area without being asked.
The lake was warmer this year than some past years, meaning that there wasn't any ice floating in it. Everyone passed the swim test, even the new boys, although some were struggling towards the end. Then it was quick showers to get the lake water off and back to camp to finish set-up. Camp was in good shape by dinner and everyone assembled for the evening meal. After dinner, there was a Scoutmaster's meeting for all the adults to attend.
Capt. Henry almost begged off but Jeff said they usually had a good desert for those who came. "If they give a donut..." Jeff laughed and said only if they made them in a Dutch Oven. The meeting was pretty standard. There would be a drill tomorrow to test the emergency system and to be sure all the boys knew what to do. The Camp Commisioner told them what he was looking for in his daily inspections and that he would find something tomorrow, so the troops could show improvement.
When everyone was done and all questions were answered, the Camp Director, John Denson, handed each attendee a green patch. "Only Scoutmasters attending this meeting get this patch. It is one of a five part patch. The basic camp patch all campers get. There is a patch for each member of the troop for a service project, the staff has a patch and there was a patch for the WEBELOS Day Camp. If you are a collector, I am bribable, if you can sweat." Everyone laughed and wondered how much work you had to do to get the missing patches.
The Program Director and Camp Medic brought out the Dutch Oven, paper plates and plastic forks. They had made a Black Forest cake, (Devil's Food cake with a can of cherry pie filling) and served the adults. (shouldn't they have served the cake?) This was fellowship time where the adults had a chance to get to know each other. As things were winding down, the office phone rang. Mr. Denson came out, "Is Captain Henry still here?"
Eric moved to the office. Mr. Denson said, "The State Police dispatcher is on the phone."
When Eric came out, he waved Jeff Alexander over. "Jeff, John that was a student of mine from Homicide training. I've got to go interview a possible witness, just down the road at Haven Manor."
Jeff looked shocked, "Old Man Richards is a recluse; what in the world could he have witnessed?"
John spoke up, "He died not long ago. Must be that new guy, then."
"Actually it's a kid. I don't know much else. I'll be back ASAP."
Mr. Denson nodded, "Is there another adult to fill in if you can't get back?"
"Shouldn't be a problem, I'll be back tonight, shouldn't take more than a couple hours."
"Okay, drive carefully and we will see you back soon. Just sign out and back in."
Eric went to his car, retrieved his pistol and badge and was off to Haven Manor.
By 8:30, everyone, except Capt. Henry, was back in the campsite. Nick had them line up and they were off to the opening campfire. The staff was introduced and did a few skits and everyone had a good time. There was a little free time when they returned to the campsite. Mr. Alexander explained about Capt. Henry. At 11:00, all the boys were in bed when Taps was played and the camp got quiet. Mr. Alexander made a cup of decaf coffee and sat down in his camp chair to unwind. It wasn't long before Mr. Denson came up the trail. Jeff offered him a cup which was accepted. "Jeff, I just got a call from Eric. Seems this case is pretty big and he has to stay and work it. He is going to try to get the guy at Haven and his boys to come up."
"Sounds good to me. The more the merrier. If we can't get him, I'll call around and see if we can get a committee member or a parent, even if they rotate." Jeff said thinking about who might be able to spare a day or two.
"Good, I'd hate to have to send you all home."
"Yeah, the boys have really worked hard to get here. I'm sure we can work out something."
They talked for a few minutes then John left to get some sleep. Jeff finished his coffee, visited the latrine and went to bed. Nick was prompt the next morning with reveille.
This is the story of a fictitious Boy Scout Troop. I have based the events in this story on real events I was personally involved in, situations I have heard of from other Scouters or a totally fictitious event but I have it handled the way my Scout training has taught me. I am human and some things are handled in a way that may or may not workout. We are dealing with boys 11 to 18 years old, these are basically Hormone Driven Eating Machines, once you understand that, the rest is easy, - He who controls the food has the power.
Before you send me a thousand e-mails, the Scout Benediction has several variations but this is the one my troop has always used. The boys all agree that The Great Scoutmaster is God, like The Great Spirit. I was kidding about the thousand e-mails, I'm ready and waiting.
Editor's Notes: I am so happy that Str8mayb is writing a whole story about Scouts. The separate story makes a lot of sense. There will be boys from each of the Haven related stories who become part of Scouts. This way all Scouting related material can be in one place and there won't have to be duplicate chapters in more than one story. Well, let's get this show on the road, Shall we?
Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher
Fort Chief Editor's Notes: Thank you Str8mayb for bringing the positives of Scouting to us. I and other authors have been taken to task for writing so called Spin-Offs or Side Stories. One of the reasons that we do that is to fully expand the characters or scenes from a story thread without distracting from the main storyline. I am eagerly waiting for the next chapter.