(The following article was written by Pat Christenson, an alumni of Melrose Boy Scout Troop 68. Pat was a member of the troop from 1994 to 2001. He earned the Star Rank. It is the second of a few guest articles written by former members of Troop 68.)
Scouting was an invaluable time in my life that gave me a great background of experience and abilities that I find useful every day. Whether it is tying knots, starting fires, camping, using a knife properly, or just a state of mind as to how I may approach a given challenge, many things lead back to Scouting. This doesn’t even touch on the fact that it was just a lot of fun!
Probably the biggest lesson I learned in Scouting that I still fall back on to this day is to “be prepared.” I always keep this motto in mind as I go about my daily life. I try not to let things catch me by surprise and if there is anything I can do ahead of time to prepare for what’s in store, I will take the time to do so. Sometimes I may take a little too much time to prepare (just ask my wife), but I can’t begin to tell you how much this has lead my life in a great direction.
The other major lesson that I still try to maintain to this day is to “do a good turn daily.” This is an important reminder that what you do affects others, and you should always try to look for something good you can do to help others. By having this frame of mind, you will always be ready to lend a hand, or pitch in when needed and help make our society great. If everyone took the time to think of others and try to think of even just one thing a day to give to others or their community, this world would be a much better place. As much as I may have groaned about it as a teenager, doing the tasks to help out the community, like road cleanup, or helping to collect food for the food shelf, are things that I can look back on in my younger years and feel proud of. Those tasks give you a sense of worth that is very important in life.
As far as abilities, there are many things I feel confident about based on my time in Scouting. I learned many survival skills such as starting a fire, or making a shelter. I learned how to be a good steward of the environment and to leave any area better than when I arrived. This knowledge gives me a great deal of confidence that if I were to be in a situation where I was lost or stranded, I would know what to do.
Now, how about the really fun part! I was able to participate in many activities that I more than likely wouldn’t have been able to do if it wasn’t for Scouting. The biggest one for me was going backpacking at Philmont Scout Ranch. I have so many great memories of that trip, and it was an experience of a lifetime. It started with a road trip to New Mexico from Minnesota. Somehow, we ended up in a van that only had AM radio, but we made it through! We then spent the next several days backpacking over 70 miles through the hills and mountains, and participating in activities on the way. The guys that I was able to go with were a ton of fun. I can still hear Jay telling terrible jokes as we went to sleep and Brent busting a gut laughing. I definitely wouldn’t have done this if it weren’t for scouting.
There were many other activities that I enjoyed as well. We camped many times and in Scouting you are really given a lot of responsibility. You are given a budget and are tasked with preparing meals from start to finish, including the grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning. This definitely gives you a good perspective on how much work goes into planning and cooking meals at home as a kid. There were plenty of times when things didn’t work out so great and you also had to deal with the consequences of that. We weren’t all top chefs anyway! I think that is another great thing about Scouting in that you learn that things are not always given and prepared for you. You have to learn to fend for yourself and be responsible and accountable.
I had a lot of great times in scouting. I made some great friends, I made lifelong memories and I learned how to be a good citizen. It is a time I will always cherish and be proud of.
From a former scout,