Sunday, December 19, 2010

.... just listen and keep an open mind, please

Everyone of us have truly extraordinary moments tucked way back in our deepest and safest recesses. You know, those so personally special they are rarely, if ever, shared out loud. Yesterday a reminder came strolling through this house with a familiar smile and a hug. You see, my volunteering with the Boy Scouts of America began in 1980. The years were filled with some of the most remarkable people and experiences; but in the Fall of 1990, stunned comes to mind.

This all began that Spring with a phone call .... "just listen to me and please keep an open mind". "Wait you want me to go to National Camp School for Shooting Sports Director, are you crazy? I'm 50 years old AND female. Our camp staff happens to be the age of my children. How are they going to react to this??? Oh, and if I do this, do not expect me to live in that staff area. The final decision will be my family ... o.k.?" Just to set the record straight, the skills required for this job were learned the first year of my 1965 marriage and honed over the subsequent years. So on that level, proficiency wasn't in question. Is this nutz?!?

And so it began. My housing was a 2 man tent located off to the edge of the Shotgun area by a large tree for shade. Finding a length of hose, the Ranger created my shower into the latrine water system. Wow, that was a real eye opener every morning - holy cow COLD!! [still causes goose bumps]. At the end of busy days, would climb into the rope swing with a good book. Sometimes staffers would come down to share tales of the day or just sit in the quiet star gazing.

Those 6 weeks everybody learned; merit badges were earned, and our little world of shotgun, rifle and archery eventually became a family. However, weather [that wild card element] on one occasion stretched our capabilities to the maximum. A sudden wind, rain, and hail storm swept through. We huddled together attempting to stay dry in the covered rifle area when lightening struck a neighboring teaching area. 30 or so faces were looking at me to "fix it or make it stop". Later,soaked and cold everyone was sent back to their campsites and then the 4 of us [me and the 3 staff] tore through the woods to help with whatever had happened. That day still is a vivid image of sodden unhappy faces expecting me to wave a wand and make life better.

The one thing I didn't expect that summer was the way the staff members accepted me, not as a mom. Most had seen me at other related events for most of their Scouting life, but just accepted me as staff. You know, some moments are rather a rite of passage as well as a farewell to Summer. We had a water tower. What was I thinking. It wasn't a dare, just an invitation to join some of the guys. Oh, yeah, my name was added to the side of the tank facing the lake ..... wow, what a view.

Fall returned with the usual hectic Scouting schedule of troop meetings, roundtables, distinct meetings etc. But that one roundtable, will not be forgotten. Seems the Order of the Arrow was tapping out candidates that night. I went to watch my sons perform this ritual in costume.
Imagine my shock when my younger son stopped at my chair and ushered me to my older son to be tapped. Funny, I had noticed some of the older staff from camp were in the audience .... they were there for me and that made it even more poignant.

Several weeks later, having completed the induction, I watched as my younger son joined the ranks of his father, brother and others by receiving the highest honor the OA has .... Vigil Honor. I haven't spoken of this very often and certainly not in a long time. But yesterday our visitor brought all those memories pouring forth. Funny, the difference those young men made in a life that summer..... mine. They are all grown, some with families; all making a way in the world. I am honored to have been allowed to share that time with them. So, yesterday, we sat and recalled and laughed and remembered .... thank you.

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