Week before last I had the opportunity to spend a considerable amount of time at the Cub Scout Day Camp at Camp Mahonegon. The story of my coverage of that event ran in last Saturday's edition of The Inter-Mountain. On behalf of the many people who have called to thank me for covering the boys' activities at their camp and running the story in the paper, I want to publicly pass their thanks and gratitude on to the editors and publisher of the paper - they are the ones who gave me the assignment and treated the story with special emphasis.
Now, as Paul Harvey used to say, here's the rest of the story. The story, as those who read in last week's paper noticed I'm sure, was about the camp's programs and what they hoped to accomplish for and with the young Cub Scouts. What was not mentioned in the story - as it should not have been - was the efforts of the adult advisors and the junior staff who made the camp possible and a success.
I don't know for certain how many adult advisors were there; I met seven or eight of them and I'm sure there were more. What a pleasure that was. They told me that the planning for this year's camp began as soon as last year's camp ended. As I understand it, next year's camp is already in the planning phases. What's amazing about this is the time and dedication of the adult staff. Several told me that they spend their annual vacation at the camp. This is commendable beyond words but does not take into account all the time they spend the rest of the year preparing for the next one.
There is no amount of words or ways to express the thanks, gratitude and appreciation for what these folks give to the young people who are future of our community, state and nation. They would shrug them off anyway saying, "Ah, it was nothing. I like helping the boys."
Then there is the matter of the junior staff - the Boy Scouts between the ages of 14 and not yet having reached their 18th birthday. They, under the watchful eye of the adult staff, were the ones who interacted directly with the Cub Scouts. They are the ones who taught the many learning sessions, or classes if you will, except for archery and the use of BB guns - these were taught by members of the West Virginia State Police. If my impressions were correct, each session had an adult staff member in attendance but they sit quietly in the background saying nothing, offering nothing while the classes were in session. It was up to the junior staff members, usually working in pairs, to maintain discipline, composure of the group and to maintain the interest of their younger charges in whatever they were teaching.
One of the adult staff members told me that the Cub Scouts wanted the Boy Scouts as their instructors. I asked why and was told, and soon had the point driven home, that the Cub Scouts wanted the Boy Scouts as teachers and mentors because they looked up to the older scouts and, probably most importantly of all, admired them in their uniforms and wanted to emulate them. I must admit, being an old Air Force veteran, I admired them in their uniforms, too.
Frankly, I was amazed at the degree of discipline the junior staff was able to maintain in the learning sessions. There were times when a Cub Scout would mentally, or on occasion physically, wander off into another world, and he would be brought gently back with a few stern but not scolding words. On one occasion I noticed that one of the Cubs had laid back and gone to sleep. One of the junior staff instructors gently nudged him and told him to wake up, sit up and pay attention. He did.
The highlight, for me and the second year Webelos anyway, came on Friday afternoon with the hike to Eagle Rock. Eagle Rock lies near the summit of the mountain immediately to the east and on the opposite side of Middle Fork River facing the camp and is approximately 1,000 feet above it. I had the privilege of accompanying the two Eagle Scouts, who are now college students and who performed the program for the Webelos upon their arrival, on the climb. At the site I and the Webelos learned the history of how Camp Mahonegon came to be.
Upon their arrival, the Webelos, the junior staff, adult advisor and a few parents were so reverently quiet as they approached what Indian Folk Lore considers the burial site of Mahonegon, also known as "Running Wind" son of Chief Buckongehannon, chief of the Delaware Nation, that they caught us by surprise. They approached the site in single file walking softly and speaking not a word behind their adult advisor who held his right hand high with his index and middle finger forming the "V" sign. When the 20 to 25 minute program ended, they departed the site in the same reverent manner with which they arrived. It was a most impressive sight.
The camp ended with a picnic supper and camp fire around which the Boy Scouts presented skits and the closing ceremony.
The most common and sincere reply I received from those asked, "Why do you give up your summer vacation to come here and work?" was, "It's the joy of seeing these young Cub Scouts mature and grow into Boy Scouts and then into young, responsible and responsive young men." I can't think of a more satisfying way to help our youth.
The irony here, however, is that in talking to some of the many people with whom I came into contact, one parent told me that while his son was in Boy Scouts and became an Eagle Scout, he did not wear his uniform any more than necessary because he didn't think others though it was "cool" to wear the Boy Scout uniform.
It appears to me that all too many of our youth have a twisted, mixed up conception of what "cool" really is. In the Boy Scouts anyway, it isn't long stringy hair, baseball caps turned the wrong way, tattoos (or in the modern lexicon, body art) on all parts of the body, pants worn with the waist so low that their underclothing shows or a cigarette dangling from the mouth or fingers. They were neatly dressed with short cropped haircuts and clothing worn as it is meant to be worn. What a beautiful sight they were.
One of the causes contributing to the success of the Boy Scouts of America has been the thoughtful, wholehearted way in which each president of the United States since William Howard Taft in 1910 has taken an active part in the work of the movement. Each served as honorary president during his term in office.
Scouting is celebrating its centennial this year. Oh, how the world needs scouting.
Ed Griesel informed those in at the Downtown Merchants meeting on Monday that we will soon be seeing new banners along the streets of downtown Elkins.
According to Griesel, OnTrac has ordered new banners and they should be arriving soon.
OnTrac still needs volunteers to serve as members on its committees. If you like helping our community grow and contributing to its cultural and historical preservation, here's the place for you.