Sitting at Ventura Harbor on an early fall Friday afternoon, waiting for the boat from Santa Cruz Island and staring at my watch, I’m trying to display calm, but I’m thinking about how I have to:
- pick up my Scout after a week of camping;
- get him home, cleaned up and re-packed in about fifteen minutes flat;
- get him back in the car;
- pick up another scout and his gear;
- drive them both though four hours of Friday night L.A. and Orange County traffic;
- feed them;
- get them to their campground and checked in;
- feed myself;
- find my hotel and check in;
and do all of that by midnight without falling asleep.
Here it is only 5:10pm, and I am already dozing off.
Yet I retain my outward calm. The sun is shining. The weather is nice. And I have 36 hours before I need to head to Chicago.
From Campout to Conclave. Six nights. Two camps. One sleeping bag. A day in the life of a fifteen year-old outdoorsman.
It is too easy to take for granted the forces that have created and continue to drive the existence of a scouting movement in the United States. A trip to the National Scouting Museum should eliminate any doubts about why this organization exists, and must continue to exist, as a critical part of our national youth development infrastructure.
We visited the museum in June, just as it was preparing to close and relocate from a commercial park in a Dallas suburb alongside National HQ to a brand new home. The new National Scouting Museum will be at the Philmont Scout Ranch at Cimarron, New Mexico, a place where, the organization’s leadership believes, it will be seen by twice as many people.
We didn’t focus on this during our visit. Instead we had the run of the museum, which did a brilliant job explaining what scouting is, how it is conducted, why it is delivered the way it is, and, perhaps most important, why scouting plays an essential role – as essential as school and sports – in developing young people.
If scouting, broadly speaking, faces a problem in the US, it is that we are far better about delivering these messages to ourselves than we are to people who have know little, nothing, or aught more than disinformation about the organization.
Hopefully, the process of shifting the Museum will open more doors to better exposure. I hope so. The more people who know about the organization and what it REALLY does, the better.