This is the eleventh of twelve installments in a story that follows a new Scoutmaster, Chuck Grant, attempting to use the patrol method in a troop that has forgotten how.
I’ve based this work of fiction on the stories shared by readers and listeners, questions they have asked, and the advice I commonly share in reply. Scoutmasters can expect to encounter challenges and setbacks along the way.
I’ve tried to avoid being unreasonable optimistic, or overly pessimistic about the progress we can make when we stick to the basics.
“I think I am going to sleep pretty well tonight,” George said through a yawn, “apparently I am not a natural-born climber.”
“Men of a certain age and aver-du-pois like us are creatures of the earth, not the air,” I added, “I believe we all will sleep pretty well.”
“What he said,” Wayne chimed in, as he caught George’s yawn.
Lights came bobbing up the hill towards us from the patrol campsites, soon a bunch of tired Scouts distributed themselves around the campfire.
Jake, our senior patrol leader asked each of the three patrol leaders if everyone was there, turned to me and said “looks like we are all here.”
“Thanks Jake,” I said, and turned to the Scouts, “we all had a pretty busy day, and I am certainly impressed with your climbing skills, but I am even more impressed with how far you have come as patrols in so short a time. Just think about what you did, you set up your own campsites, you cooked breakfast lunch and dinner…”
“Such as it was,” George added under his breath.
I cleared my throat dramatically, and went on, “you got yourselves over to the rocks, learned something about climbing…”
“That was cool!” said a Scout, and others joined in with their comments.
“…and got yourselves back here, and soon” I continued, “you’ll get a great night’s sleep. Before we head off to bed, though, I asked Jake to bring you all up here so we could look over the day and see what we did well, and what we may be able to do better in the future. Let’s start with you Jake, what did we do well?”
For the next few minutes the Scouts discussed their day, burnt pancakes, the challenges of “mountain” climbing, arguing over who washed dishes, all of the hundred things, large and small, about camping with their patrols.
“I want to say something,” Hunter, patrol leader of the Hunter patrol, interjected, “It was pretty hard to be a patrol leader this morning, but we got better during the day, we did a lot that we haven’t done before, and that was a good feeling, but I am really tired.”
Hunter’s father, Wayne, looked at me wide-eyed with amazement.
“I am glad to hear that Hunter,” I said, “from what I have overheard I think a lot of you feel the same way,” the Scouts murmured their agreement.
Zach Hudson’s hand went up.
“Question Zach?” I asked.
“Yeah, do we get a badge for this?” he asked.
Dave Katz stepped forward and looked at me, “I can answer that one if I may,” I nodded and he continued, “like the counselor said today you’ve done a few things towards the climbing merit badge, and you can contact him if you want to complete the badge. So, Zach, part of the answer is no, you don’t get a badge for today.” Dave continued, “But if you think about the things you did today, I’ll bet a lot of them would go towards meeting a few rank requirements.”
“Today you did what Scouts do,” I added, “and that always means you have done something towards your next rank, that’s how it works.”
Scouts looked at each other, whispered a few things back and forth.
“Jake has some things to tell you about tomorrow morning before you head off to bed,” I said, “Jake?”
I started walking away from the campfire, and motioned the three other adults to follow. We huddled a few feet away for a moment.
“So far so good,” said George.
“This may, and I am just saying ‘may’, work yet,” added Wayne, “ I have no idea what happened to my son, but so far so good!”
“Yeah, how about that?” I said.
“Mr. Grant,” Jake called, “I’m done,”
I led the adults back to the campfire.
“I want to say, once again, how proud we all are of what you accomplished, you have some great patrols, and patrol leaders, and that’s why things work so well. You also have a great senior patrol leader, thanks Jake! “ I said, and shook Jake’s hand as the Scouts applauded.
“Anything else for the good of the cause?” I asked turning towards my assistant Scoutmasters.
Wayne began, “Great job Jake, great job boys…’
George broke in, “Excuse me, please, Mr. Jenkins; not boys, please because… ” George waited expectantly, but no reply came back, “C’mon guys! Back me up here? BECAUSE…?”
The troop caught on this time, and shouted back, “WE”RE SCOUTS!”
Read the rest of the story in my new book: