Sometimes at my age, I forget how young people think and act, especially because we have no grandchildren.
So an invitation to meet the Bear Den from Cub Scout Pack 123 was a welcome opportunity to interact with youngsters.
Den leader Melissa Carrier and Den chief Cody West (from Troop 33) brought their group and a few parents over so I could answer questions. I tried to don my old Scout uniform from my early days as an adult Scouter, but for some reason the shirt didnt fit around my girth. My wife must have washed it in hot water a long time ago.
But my Order of the Arrow neckerchief still looked snappy, and I borrowed an Order of the Arrow sash from Scouter Cliff Golden to display because I had lost mine in one of my many moves around the country.
Explaining my experience as a member of the Achewon Nimat Lodge when I was tapped as an adult to become part of the honorary camping fraternity brought back many fond memories. That thrill was second only to my tenure as an Explorer Post adviser for a 90-member drum and bugle corps known as the Tri-Valley Royalaires. Looking back on those days,
it was a monumental effort to raise funds to pay three people to train the corps, finance two Greyhound-sized buses and keep track of uniforms and instruments for the boys and girls. How did I ever do it and still work full time?
But getting back to the Cubs and their questions.
What knots can I tie? Only a square knot if I really concentrate on doing it.
What was my favorite camping experience? Probably at Fort Baker just north of the Golden Gate Bridge where we pitched tents for an overnighter. A nearby foghorn kept us awake because it was frequently blown to warn ships away from danger in the fog.
What did I do in Scouts? Nothing outstanding because I made it to only a Second Class rank. I did fondly recall camp outs at Rotary McQueen north of Kirkland where Ma Anderson was camp cook. As an adult I was a Cub Pack chairman, Pinewood Derby chair and a District Chairman in the San Francisco Bay Area Council, which involved more fundraising than actual scouting.
What did Scouting do for me? It gave me self-confidence because I was a small-boned kid with glasses who could have been picked on, but not when they knew I could use a Scout knife to skin wild game and use a hatchet to chop firewood. It also helped me form relationships and leadership skills to use later in life.
After I left Scouting, I remember my two summer treks to Ely, Minn., and the Boundary Waters as part of a group shepherded by Chuck Dayton and Bob Smith, two DeKalb High School teachers. My Scouting background enabled me to enjoy that wilderness experience that I cherish to this day.
As an employer, I singled out Eagle Scouts for priority in hiring because I knew they were outstanding young men for attaining that rank. Before you ask, I did hire young women who also had good credentials, so I did not discriminate.
Well, I hope those Cubs got the idea Scouting means a lot to me and what it can do for them as they traverse those difficult growing years. I may just drop in on their meeting sometime at Malta United Methodist Church and learn how to tie a bow knot or even a half-hitch again.
Barry Schrader was editor of the Daily Chronicle from 1969-1972. He and his wife, Kay, are retired and live in DeKalb. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail at P.O. Box 851, DeKalb, IL 60115.