It seemed like a good idea at the time. It was the summer of 1989, or 1990. The Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 were about to attend a week at Crow Wing Scout Reservation. This year would be the first time we would allow the boys to bring lawn chairs to camp.
It was NOT one of our better ideas! The older boys decided that it was now very comfortable in camp. They did not get their work done. They did not want to participate in programs anymore. They just wanted to kick back, relax, and be lazy.
Of course, this did not sit well with the scoutmaster (me) or the assistant scoutmaster. By midweek all of the boy’s chairs had been stored away in the adult’s tent. Oh, there were words said and yelling done, but the boys needed to do their dishes and clean up their campsite, not sit around all day.
A day or two later we gave the chairs back to the boys, thinking that they had learned their lesson. We were wrong and had to take the chairs away again, this time for the rest of the week.
The low point of the week for me came during a moment when I was walking away from the older boys campsite. One of the boys threw a full, unopened half pint of milk at me that just missed my head. I stopped in my tracks and counted to ten. I think it was the one and only time that I have ever counted to ten. I resumed walking away from the campsite. I knew that it would not be a good idea to confront the boys at that moment. If I did it would only make matters worse.
By the end of the week we were all looking forward to going home. My new assistant scoutmaster did not know if he would ever go to another week of summer camp again. All in all, it just was not a good week of camp.
Due to the problems that week a new policy was started in the troop. A Scout would be able to bring a chair to camp but it could NOT have both a back rest and legs. That policy stated in effect for over ten years.
A few years ago we began allowing the boys to bring lawn chairs to camp once again. They are aware of the previous “lawn chair incident”. So far, things have gone smoothly and there have not been any problems.
What happened to the assistant scoutmaster who’s first week at camp was almost his last week at camp? This year he will be attending his 17th week of summer with the troop. What about those older boys who’s attitude made for a rough week of camp? I am happy to report that things worked out well over the following years and that we are all good friends, even to this day.
It is surprising what a slow count to ten, and a few years’ worth of patience and work can do. Isn’t Scouting wonderful?