It was hard not to expand on yesterday's post as I really wanted the communication to stand by itself, but as I mentioned before, that simple e-mail captures so much. Each season brings close to 3,000 scouts to Camp Parsons. In my position, I seldom interact with any one scout but instead look out onto the parade field before meals and ceremonies and just see a large number of scouts and adults. I often wonder to myself how this organized chaos seems to work so well. Scouts are running here and there; you go to a merit badge class and you are amazed that anything gets done given the attention span of a young scout; you watch them try to row a boat, paddle a canoe and realize they have no idea what the heck they are doing. How does any of that translate to finding an interest? Apparently it does.
This past year, we had a visit from a young man both at camp school as well as camp during staff week. This gentleman is part of a crew that participates in professional rowing races and was part of a team that rowed across the Atlantic some time ago. Where did his passion for rowing come from? From his time as a scout here at Camp Parsons. It was something that he had not done before, rowing on open water and it became a passion for him. I have heard similar stories from individuals who went on our Silver Marmot hikes who have developed a passion for hiking, camping and climbing. When you hear these stories over and over again it begins to sink in that we are doing something good on the Hood Canal as well as countless other scout camps throughout the US. I think it is good for our staff to understand what influence they potentially have on any one of our scouts who come to camp. It could be a guitar song that may get them interested in a musical instrument or taking the time to help a scout develop a skill whether it be rowing, knot tying or doing crafts that might light a fire of interest in that scout for that particular activity. Who knows? One of the best commercials that the BSA ever had (in my opinion) was one that aired in the late 70's. It started off with a well known personality, in this instance it was Bruce Jenner (Decathlon Gold Medal winner) who started it off by saying, "If you start a Boy Scout Troop in your neighborhood you have no guarantee that one of your scouts will grow up to be a Decathlon winner..." and it went on to show Jimmy Stewart who simple says "..an actor", Neil Armstrong..."the first man to walk on the moon" and other notable figures all of whom were either scouts or Eagle Scouts. The last one was Gerald Ford who ended the commercial by saying "....or even the President of the United States....but then again, you never know."
Many notable personalities started off with humble beginnings and were influenced by their upbringing and experiences they encountered, many of which involved a mentor. Take Gerald Ford for instance; he never sought the presidency, he was just a well respected, experienced congressman from Michigan. In a matter of months, he went from a little known name to become the president. Could you imagine being his scoutmaster? We have had several political leaders grow up at Camp Parsons, Brinkley and the former Omache. Some of those individuals who had influence over them continue to do the same for the scouts of today. Again, what we do is important and has a purpose if for nothing else than having the opportunity to instill those values found within the program that we hold so dear into our membership. It has been said many times before, scouting is a game with a purpose.
Everything we do has the potential to have an impact on an individual. This is what we drive into our staff when train them each season; our sole purpose is to serve those scouts who attend camp. This is their only week of camping and our only week to give them every opportunity to sample as much of camp as they can. They will be exposed to the values of scouting by the way we do things but most importantly, they will have fun while doing it. After all, we are a summer camp, not a summer school. If we make our mark on even one scout that attends camp, then we have done our job.