In honor of the groundbreaking at the new Boy Scout Camp (The Summit) right here in the New River Gorge, I’d like to share my personal story of scouting. This story is a hybrid of my own childhood memories and my parents’ recollection of the story.
And probably some stuff that isn’t true at all.
In elementary school, a representative for the Boy Scouts of America came to my school and pitched it. It seemed fun. In hind sight, as a child who would get up on Saturday morning and starch his clothes to watch cartoons, maybe scouting was not for me.
But there we were. So we all piled into the white station wagon with wood paneling and head to the informational meeting. They were also going to show a film about what to expect. We sat in the auditorium at Oak Hill Elementary School and listen to the presentation.
I don’t really remember that, but just for the sake of the story, that’s what happened.
Then, the lights dimmed and my anxiety took over. We were getting ready to see some real Scouts, doing some real scouting. What was the catch, though? I mean, we were getting out of school for this? And why was I so interested?
It was an exciting movie, that’s for sure. Hiking and camping and rock climbing. Three things that I had showed no interest in prior to this moment. And here were some kids, right there on the screen, doing stuff. It was awesome.
Toward the end of the film was when I got spooked.
They talked about how over time some scouts go on a hike. All the way to Mexico. MEXICO.
My heart raced. My stomach dropped. I could feel an episode of nervous diarrhea marinating and wanted to make a break for it. MEXICO? ME? For the rest of the presentation, that was all I could think about.
The meeting breaks up and we headed for home.
Beads of sweat were rolling down my face. I ran through the front door, dropped my stuff, and immediately broke down into a hysterical crying fit and spontaneously screamed “I DON’T WANT TO HIKE TO MEXICO!!”
I was a blithering idiot. My dad comforted me and assured me that I would not have to hike south of the border.
I can only imagine the conversation between my parents later that night. They must have laughed and/or considered sending me into therapy. My decision was made. Scouting was not for me.
But, you know, now’s a different time now. The construction on the new camp just upstream from ACE has definitely given me flashbacks to those days.
What could have been? Maybe I would have been the star hiker? I could live off of the land like Grizzly Adams. It could have been awesome. I guess I missed out. Maybe if I would have had access to something like The Summit, my mind could have been changed.
So to any boy sobbing in the back of his station wagon, my advice is this: give it a try. You never know.
Any Scouts out there have a story like this one? Tell us in the comments.