Archive for the ‘story’ Category

I first read this tale years ago in a book of short stories. The title caught my attention, The Christmas Scout, so I just had to see what that was about. It turned out to be a great tale about a Boy Scout who does a great Good Deed for the unfortunate in his community. A couple years ago I read this story to the boys in my troop at our December court of honor. I debated with myself for the last week whether I should post this story here on the blog and finally decided it was worth it.

By the way, I did not write this. It was written by Sam Bogan. I do not know if this is a true story or a fictional one, but to tell the truth, it really does not matter.

The Christmas Scout

In spite of the fun and laughter, 13 yr. old Frank Wilson was not happy. It was true, he had received all the presents he wanted, and he enjoyed the traditional Christmas Eve reunions with relatives for the purpose of exchanging gifts and good wishes………. but Frank was not happy because this was his first Christmas without his brother, Steve, who during the year, had been killed by a reckless driver. Frank missed his brother and the close companionship they had together.

He said good-bye to this relatives, and explained to his parents that he was leaving a little early to see a friend, and from there he could walk home. Since it was cold outside, Frank put on his new plaid jacket. It was his FAVORITE gift. He placed the other presents on his new sled, then headed out, hoping to find the patrol leader of his Boy Scout troop. Frank always felt understood by him.

Tho’ rich in wisdom, his leader lived in the Flats, the section of town where most of the poor lived. His patrol leader did odd jobs to help support his family. To Frank’s disappointment, his friend was not home.

As Frank hiked down the street toward home, he caught glimpses of trees and decorations in many of the small houses. Then, thru one front window, he glimpsed a shabby room with limp stockings hanging over an empty fireplace. A woman was seated nearby….weeping.

The stockings reminded him of the way he and his brother had always hung theirs side by side. The next morning, they would be bursting with presents. A sudden tho’t struck Frank–he had not done his “good deed” for the day. Before the impulse passed, he knocked on the door. “Yes?” the sad voice of a woman asked. Seeing his sled full of gifts, and assuming he was making a collection, she said, “I have no food or gifts for you. I have nothing for my own children.”

“That’s not why I am here, ” Frank replied. “Please choose whatever presents you would like for your children from the sled.”

“Why, God bless you!” the amazed woman answered gratefully. She selected some candies, a game, a toy airplane and a puzzle. When she took the Scout flashlight, Frank almost protested. Finally, the stockings were full.

“Won’t you tell me your name?” she asked, as Frank was leaving.

“Just call me the Christmas Scout,” he replied.

The visit left Frank touched, and with an unexpected flicker of joy in his heart. He understood that his sorrow wasn’t the only sorrow in the world.

Before he left the Flats, he had given away the rest of his gifts. His plaid jacket had gone to a shivering boy. Now, Frank trudged toward home, cold and uneasy. How could he explain to his parents that he had given his presents away?

“Where are your presents, son? asked his father as Frank entered the house. “I gave them away,” he answered in a small voice.

“The airplane from Aunt Susan? Your new coat from Grandma? Your flashlight?? We tho’t you were happy with your gifts.”

“I was……very happy,” Frank said quietly.

“But, Frank, how could you be so impulsive?” his mother asked. “How will we explain to the relatives who spent so much time and gave so much love shopping for you?”

His father was firm. “You made your choice, Frank. We cannot afford any more presents.”

With his brother gone, and his family disappointed in him, Frank suddenly felt dreadfully alone. He had not expected a reward for his generosity, for he knew that a good deed always should be its own reward. It would be tarnished otherwise. So he did not want his gifts back. However, he wondered if he would ever again recapture joy in his life. He tho’t he had this evening….but it had been fleeting. He thought of his brother…..and sobbed himself to sleep.

The next morning, he came downstairs to find his parents listening to Christmas music on the radio. Then the announcer spoke:

“Merry Christmas, everyone! The nicest Christmas story we have this morning comes from the Flats. A crippled boy down there has a new sled this morning left at his house by an anonymous teenage boy. Another youngster has a fine plaid jacket, and several families report that their children were made happy last night by gifts from a teenage lad who simply called himself the ‘Christmas Scout’. No one could identify him, but the children of the Flats claim that the Christmas Scout was a personal representative of old Santa Claus himself.

Frank felt his father’s arms go around his shoulders, and he saw his mother smiling thru her tears.

“Why didn’t you tell us, son? We didn’t understand. We are so proud of you.”

The carols came over the air again, filling the room with music–“Praises sing to God the King, and peace on Earth goodwill to men.”

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    The Black Forest is an original campfire horror story developed in the 1980’s by the members of Melrose Troop 68. It all began with a couple of the Boy Scouts writing a poem while on a camping trip. The poem described the deaths of four people, each death occurring in a different manner. It was a short poem, but one that served well as the foundation for the story of The Black Forest.

    The story changes a little each time I tell it to the troop, but the basic plot remains the same. If I am tired and not really in the mood the story is quicker, shorter. On one of those nights when I am in a groove, then look out! New bits may be added to the storyline and the details become more graphic. The television of the mind can really go into overdrive during one of those evenings.

    The story opens with George, the central character, when he receives a notice that a distant, nearly unknown relative has died and left him a cabin located deep in a remote wilderness area. George, his brother, and his parents decide to pack up, drive the couple hundred miles, and spend the weekend at the cabin that they have never been to before.

    As they near the forest they drive into a huge thunderstorm. The downpour cuts the visibility as the father carefully drives the car through the thickening forest. The dirt road becomes so narrow and and overgrown with weeds that it appears to be nothing more then a wide animal trail.

    As the family finally arrives at the cabin the rain is coming down so hard that the group almost expects to see an ark float by the ravine located about fifty yards away from the building. At least the nearly continuous lightning helps to light the way as they unload the car of supplies, although the thunder makes it difficult to carry on any sort of conversation.

    Luckily, the four room cabin has electricity and light as the family begins to unpack the groceries, bedding, and clothing. The rooms consist of two small bedrooms, a small bathroom, and a larger great room which seems to take half of the cabin. Toward the end of the great room is a small kitchenette. It would be a cozy little getaway if the weather would cooperate.

    Suddenly, lightning strikes a tree near the cabin. The thunder rattles the windows to nearly the breaking point. As the winds howls around the cottage, the family hears a tree crash to the ground. And the house goes dark as the electricity goes out.

    As the story continues the members of the family leave the relative safety of the cabin, one by one. One by one, they disappear. Soon George finds himself alone in this dark cabin in the middle of the wilderness during a storm to end all storms. George finally makes a decision and….

    Sorry to cut the story short, but you really did not expect me to write the whole thing in this blog, did you? But now that I have your attention I would like to take a moment to wish you a happy and safe Halloween!

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      Halloween is almost upon us. Soon there will be little spidermans, princesses, and a variety of monsters knocking on my door looking for whatever treat I decide to offer this year. Halloween is also the time for scary movies and stories. Like most Boy Scouts, the boys of Troop 68 love to hear a good horror or ghost story while sitting around the campfire. The story of the wolfen has been a troop favorite for nearly twenty years.

      I began telling the Scouts about the wolfen soon after I read the novel by Whitley Streiber. I did not tell the tale like a typical campfire story. No, I told it more as a warning of a newly discovered creature that all campers need to be made aware of while camping in the wilderness. The story is usually told when new campers are attending the camping trip.

      The story may begin with a warning about storing food in the tents overnight. I talk about the local animal pests, the skunks, raccoons, chipmunks, bears, and coyotes. Then I begin the description of a new animal that has been discovered within the last few years. When I notice the Scout’s flame-lit faces watching my every move then I know they will be listening to every word.

      I tell the campers that at first appearance this creature looks like a large wolf. But if you get close enough to get a good look at its face, and hopefully you never will get that close, you will discover one of the ugliest animal faces that you will ever see. It will be a face to haunt your dreams for years to come.

      I explain that this creature is as fast as a cheetah, can track scents better then a bloodhound, has acute hearing that rivals any other animal, and can see heat radiation, thus being able to see in the dark of dark. Instead of paws simular to a dog or wolf, this creature has longer digits that end in razor sharp claws. The powerful jaws latches onto its prey’s throat so quickly, and the claws kill so rapidly, that the scream of its prey is literally torn from its throat. This creature is nature’s best killing machine. (Of course, sitting around the campfire I will go into more detail then I will as I write this article.)

      The most important and dangerous characteristic of this creature is its ability to to think and rationalize. It is intelligent. It can and does learn. It has a form of communication through which it can “speak” with others from its pack. It has been theorized that this creature know as the wolfen is the basis for the legend of the werewolf.

      Of course, after I tell the campers about all these abilities of the wolfen, I end by telling them the most important thing of all, the one thing that will protect them as they go to bed, the one thing that will keep them from being attacked this night or any other. That is that they must realize that the wolfen is… a fictional story. They do not exist. They are not real. They are creatures from a fictional novel.

      At least, I do not think they are real. I hope they are not real. (Insert nervous laughter and the howl of a distant wolf.)

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        Telling stories around the campfire has been part of Scouting since the first Boy Scouts went camping. Boys and adults love hearing a good story while sitting around a crackling campfire surrounded by the darkness of the wilderness.

        As my troop gathered around the campfire during the first night of a week long summer camp one year, I opened a book of short stories that I had brought along, and told the boys that I would read them a story each night before heading off to bed.

        The younger boys were enthusiastic about hearing the stories. The older boys complained that they did not want to sit and listen to stories being read to them. I told them to sit back, relax, and listen. And I read them a different story each night.

        Our last night in camp finally arrived, Friday night. We had just arrived back at our campsite after attending the closing campfire. It was late, everyone was tired. I thought the Scouts would want to go straight to bed. I was wrong.

        I was surprised when the older Scouts asked me if I would be reading a story yet. These were the same boys that did not want to listen to stories earlier in the week. I smiled to myself and grabbed my book as the troop gathered around the campfire ring one last time.

        Campfire storytelling is what I call the “mind’s television” for the Scouts when they are camping. It does not matter if the story is comical, serious, scary, or has a moral to it. If the story is told well it will hold the boy’s attention and have them using their imaginations.

        I would suggest that every troop have at least one storyteller, be it an adult or an older Scout. The storyteller should have fun telling the stories, putting a little emotion into the tales, changing his voice a little for each character. The more the teller does with the story the more fun it will be to listen to it.

        So next time your troop heads out to its campground do not be afraid to grab a good short story book and bring the magic of the mind’s television to your campfire.

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          In the previous blog entry I wrote about scary campfire stories. This time I would like to share with you a couple of experiences regarding the Wolfen story. The first time I told the Boy Scout about the wolfen was over 25 years ago. The troop was attending a camporee and we had a few Webelos Scouts staying with us. We were sitting around the campfire Saturday night when the boys first heard about these creatures.

          I must have done a very good job of telling the boys about the wolfen. Shortly after I got home from the camporee I received a phone call a parent of one of the Webelos Scouts. He was a little upset that I would tell such a story to young Scouts who would become so scared they could not sleep during the night.

          Okay, the lesson was learned. Do not send the boys to bed when they think there really is wolfen that could attack them during the dark night hours. So I changed the end of the story. Now, after I tell them all about the wolfen and how viscous they are, I look the new listeners in the eyes and tell them that the most important thing to remember about the creatures, the one things that will save them from being attacked during the night, is to remember that they are not real, that they are fictional creatures from a book I read.

          There always seems to be the sigh of relief and maybe a nervous chuckle, from the new boys after I tell them the wolfen do not exist.

          One winter, while we were at Parker Scout Reservation, we invited another troop that was also there that weekend, to join us for a campfire program at our building. We had a large fireplace so it would give us a little of that outdoor campfire feel to the skits and songs.

          The program ended with me telling the Scouts from the other troop about the wolfen. I also told them, at the end of the story, that the wolfen were not real creatures. The boys laughed and told me they knew all along that I was just telling them a story.

          But yet, when the other troop left us to return to there own building for the night, the boys were huddled together tightly around their scoutmaster. My troop giggled as we watched them from our windows.

          A few years later, that scoutmaster told me just how much the boys in his troop were frightened by the wolfen story. As his boys prepared to go to bed that night one Scout needed to visit the latrine outside of their building. He did not want to go out there by himself so he asked a buddy to go out with him. His buddy did not want to be standing outside all alone so it was finally decided that the boys would go to the latrine in groups of three. No one wanted to be outside alone, just in case that the fictional wolfen were not truly fictional.

          It appears that even though I tell the Scouts that there is no such thing as the wolfen, their imaginations do not always get the message.

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            As Halloween approaches I cannot help but think of the “scary” stories told around the campfires during the last twenty five years of Boy Scouting. The first campfire “ghost” story I remember was from when I was a Boy Scout myself during summer camp at Parker Scout Reservation in central Minnesota. I made the mistake of sitting right in front of the storyteller, a staff member of the camp. He was quite good. When he screamed and lurched toward me at the end of the tale I literally jumped onto the Scout who was sitting behind me.

            It was a great story! I wish I could remember it.

            Now, I am the scoutmaster, the adult staffer. It has become my duty to tell the troop’s favorite stories at the campfires. I do not mind. When they are told well, a good story will hold a Scout’s attention as well as a television show or a video game. That is my goal while storytelling.

            Over the years there have been three stories that have become the favorites of the Boy Scouts of Troop 68. The “Purple Gorilla Story” is one we first heard at summer camp. It is a story about a traveling salesman who’s car breaks down during a bad thunderstorm in the “middle of nowhere”. The story takes place in the days before cell phones. An elderly farmer, who lives alone, befriends the salesman and invites him to spend the night, but the farmer warns the salesman not to go into the cellar.

            The story can be quite long as the farmer attempts to discover what the farmer is hiding in the cellar. It is a good story that can be very suspenseful, but not too scary or gory for the younger campers. In fact, the punchline of the story is really a…. Well, I would hate to ruin it for you.

            The “Black Forest”, on the other hand, is a graphic horror story that ends with a short poem. It tells the tale of a family that inherits a cabin located in the Black Forest. During their first trip to the cabin a violent thunderstorm hits the area. One by one, the four family members are killed in mysterious ways.

            The troop’s favorite campfire story is not really a story but more of a lengthy description of an animal that has been recently discovered by man. The creature is thought to have been around since before the dawn of mankind. This creature, the Wolfen, is thought to be the animal from which the legends of the werewolf evolved. The wolfen is nature’s ultimate fighting and killing machine, a natural hunter known to prey on mankind. Scouts usually do not want to go to the latrine by themselves during the night after hearing about the wolfen for the first time.

            Of course, the real fun comes with the telling of the stories. Even a bad story can be pumped up and made more frightening with a little creativity from the storyteller. The Scouts have the imagination to create the images better then any Hollywood moviemaker could ever put on film.

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