In the topor of the afternoon, Mr. Gopher pops by, inviting himself to tea.
Our conversation is interrupted by the distant shriek from the osprey nest under the trestle, and Mr. Gopher
decides that tea might be best taken underground. Without so much as a “good afternoon” he leaves us.
I reach for my coffee, toast the now-deserted tunnel entrance, and marvel aloud how Camping turns “pests” into “wildlife.” Somewhere, John Muir, Edward Abbey, and perhaps even the Almighty himself may be nodding in agreement.
My andropause machine: the 2020 Ford Bronco.
I hope Ford builds this. I nearly gave Brad Boekmann from Galpin a deposit for one.
We got to the camp at 9pm, along with a group of other parents. The gates were locked, so we had to work around them. We managed to do so without damaging any property. By the time the scouts were checked in and found their campsite, it was nearly 2300.
I was so wiped I could barely assemble a coherent sentence, and the twelve hours elapsed since my last little repast wasn’t helping. I checked into the Anaheim Marriott at 10 minutes to midnight.
From a service standpoint, this was one of the best Marriotts in the chain, and the staff managed to smile and empathize me out of my stupor for long enough to order dinner before passing out. From the 19th floor a darkening California Adventure beckoned, but, bereft as I was of spouse, offspring, and annual pass, was not on the schedule for the morrow.
I contented myself with a glance out the window as I hummed the Tiki Room song and felt a goofy grin spread across my tired face.
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.
One of our few “fun” stops on our recent trek to Dallas was a stop at the National Headquarters of the Boy Scouts of America, which has been in Texas since moving from New Jersey in 1979. The building is massive but utilitarian, reflecting the approach of an organization that is increasingly focused on economy.
Sadly, this is the headquarters of a shrinking organization. We’re down to about 2 million registered scouts, a not-insubstantial number to be sure, but a far cry from the numbers in the past. While the program has done a truly unbelievable job of remaining up-to-date and relevant (far more than it was in my day, to be sure, when the organization had become hidebound), some organizational issues (now addressed) and the battle for the time and attention of young people have combined to take its toll on the organization.
I fear that in order to survive, Scouting in the USA will need to cut back on the number of organizations, and move toward a unification of Boy and Girl Scouting.
In the meantime, though, I will dedicate my spare time to supporting the organization, its units, and the youth who make up the organization. I can think of no worthier cause, political correctness be damned.
If I said that I spent the eve of my 53rd birthday sleeping under the Dumbarton Bridge, it would be an exaggeration.
But it would not be much of one.
Taking a break from the road amid the weathered impact ejecta of the Canyon Diablo meteor. Moments like this, in places like this, make me feel tiny.
Maybe that’s why I seek them out.