Boys' Life revisited
Alan Houser (troop24@EMF.NET)
Wed, 7 Aug 1996 22:15:24 -0700
Just got back from a family vacation (the Missus had pointed out that we
were only doing Scout trips & those weren't the same thing!). Along the
way I got to thinking about how reading Boys' Life nearly 40 years ago
still influences some of the things I am doing today.
I recall reading three articles back in the late 50's that have stayed
with me all this time. The first (not necessarily in temporal order)
was about Philmont Scout Ranch, and I remember thinking then, "What a
neat place to go! I bet that would be fun to do!" or words to that
effect. I knew then it was financially impossible for me to go, even
though I lived in Texas at the time. After all, it had taken me all
summer to earn the $11 for summer camp--including one last trim of the
lawn at sundown the night before.
But, 35 years later, I did go to Philmont, first to the Training Center,
then in 1993, to do the trek I had dreamed about as a boy. The other
adult had had the same dream 10 years later, and we were both moved by
the experience and by sharing it with our sons.
The second article I remember was the story of Captain Jack and the Modoc
War of 1872-73, how a small band of Indians had held off the US Army for
six months in a desolate place known as the Lava Beds to avoid being
moved off their ancestral lands. Captain Jack's Stronghold was a place
in my mind, a magnet; it would eventually draw me there, and after nearly
30 years in California, I finally went to the place I had read about in
Boys' Life. While the Missus & the kids were content to spend their time
crawling through the lava tube caves, I had to visit the Stronghold.
As we headed home from the Lava Beds & Captain Jack, I began to wonder,
"Is there anything in Boys' Life today that can spark the imagination
of a boy so powerfully that it will still hold him 40 years later?"
I started browsing through the recent issues.
I doubt that it will be a fawning article about any of today's professional
sports superstars. Few of them seem worthy of gracing the pages of Boys'
Life anyway, with their lack of character ideals that we want to impress
on our children and our Scouts.
But here are some recent articles that just might fit the bill. Scouting
in Guatemala, Canada by Canoe, Bolivia by Backpack and Boat, Three Weeks
on the [John Muir] Trail, Climbing the Chilkoot, and more.
It may be only one boy in your unit who is ignited by that spark, but if
he doesn't receive Boys' Life, he won't find it. That's why we include
Boys' Life as part of our registration fee. I used to know when Boys'
Life had arrived at our house because all three of my sons would be
sprawled on the living room floor reading it. It was the only day of the
month that was quiet when I got home. My former committee chair said that
she used to take it away from her little brother to read it.
Oh, the third story? It was about Scott's Antarctic expedition....
Alan R. Houser ** Scoutmaster, Berkeley Troop 24 ** firstname.lastname@example.org
** WWW page ** http://www.emf.net/~troop24/t24.html **
Scoutmaster, Mt. Diablo Silverado Council Contingent Jamboree Troop #3
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City