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A Message from the Chief Scout

September 28, 2016 Leave a comment Go to comments

By Tris Bostitch, Chief Scout


There was once a boy who lived in a region of rough farms and pits. He was inflamed with the love of the great greenish outdoors–the trees, the wood-herbs, the dark forbidding pits that seemed to serve no purpose whatsoever and the live things that left their nightly tracks in the mud by his well. The boy wished so much to know about them and to learn about them, he would have given almost any price (up to $50,000) to know the name of this or that wonderful bird, or brilliant flower, or pit and he used to tremble with excitement and intensity of interest when some new bird or pit creature was seen, or when some strange lilting song came from the trees to thrill him with its power or vex him with its mystery or a new eldritch roar rose from the mysterious pits. He had a sad sense of lost opportunity when the creature flew away or was devoured by the pit, leaving him as flummoxed as ever. He was alone and helpless (his parents were both hopeless alcoholics) and he had neither book nor friend to guide him, and he grew up with a kind of insatiable hunger for knowledge in his heart that gnawed without ceasing. But the hunger also did this: it inspired him with the hope that some day he might be the means of saving others from this sort of relentless inner brain torment–he would aim to furnish to these poor farm and pit boys what had been denied to himself.

There were other things in the verdant world that had a binding charm for him. He wanted to learn to camp out, to live again the life of his hunter ancestral hill people who knew all the tricks of gaining comfort from the relentless wilderness– the mother bitch of nature who could be so rude to those who fear her, so kind to the stout of heart.

And he had still further hankerings–he loved the yarns of the great Lankvillian romances. When he first found B. Hemsley Cooper’s books, he drank them in as one parched might drink at a lush spring. He reveled in the tales of knightly courage, of heroic deeds, of the conquest of evil. He gloated over records of their scouting, their trailblazing and the long, long descriptive passages of maize cultivation learned from natives which many readers of Cooper are inclined to skip or remove entirely from newer editions. He lived it all in imagination, secretly blaming Cooper, a little, for praising without describing it (except for the maize part) so it could be followed and replicated. “Some day,” he said out loud to nobody in particular, “I shall put it all down for the other boys to learn.”

And as the years went by he found that there were books about most of the things he wished to know– the stars, the birds, the Lankville super reptile, the fish, the insects, the plants, (although their were precious few books on pits) telling their names, their hidden power, their curious ways. There were books about camping life, about the language of signs and even some of the secrets of the trails. But these were very expensive (many were available only in limited editions) and a whole library would be needed to fully cover the knowledge needed. What he wanted–what every boy wants–is a concise handbook giving the broad facts as one sees them in the hike, in the open-air life. He did not want to know the trees as a botanist does, but as a forester; nor the stars as an astronomer, but as a traveler. His interest in the pits was less that of craterologist than of a hunter and camper not wishing to fall into one, and his craving for insight on the insects was one to be met by a popular color picture book on bugs, rather than by a learned treatise on entomology.

So, knowing the desire he made many attempts to gather the simple facts together exactly to meet the need of other boys and finding it an elephantine task he gladly enlisted the help of like-minded men who had had lived and had feelings as he did.

Child Scouts of Lankville– that boy is writing to you now. He thought himself peculiar in those days. People often called him peculiar. “Who gives a shit about bugs?” his alcoholic father once said. He knows now he was simply a normal boy with the interests of all normal boys and that his father was a dim-witted alcoholic and all the things that he loved and wished to learn now have part in the great Lankvillian work we call Child and Small Child Scouting.

Do these things appeal to you? Do you love the woods?

Do you wish to learn the trees as the forester knows them? And the stars? The pits? The snowy lakes?

Do you wish to have a sound body that will not fail you? Would you like to be an expert camper who can always make himself comfortable out of doors, and a swimmer that fears no waters? Do you desire the knowledge to help the wounded or shot quickly, and to make yourself utterly self-reliant in an emergency?

Do you believe in loyalty, courage, kindness and merit badges?  Would you like to form habits that will surely (not guaranteed) make your life a success?

Then, whether you be farm boy, utility shed clerk, secondary pizza chef or business tycoon’s son, your place is in our ranks, for these are the thoughts in scouting; it will help you to do better work with your pigs, your utility sheds, your pizzas, or your dollars; it will give you new pleasures in life; it will teach you so much of the outdoor world that you wish to know. And it will teach you about the most important thing of all: yourself.

Join us.

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