The Beloved Scoutmaster
By Richard Mabey Jr.
My dad was my Scoutmaster. Together, we walked the earthen path of the Appalachian Trail. Shared a canoe in a week-long sojourn down the Delaware River. Dad taught me to tie a square knot, the clove hitch and the timber hitch. And, when I wanted to give up on my dream to be an Eagle Scout, my dad told me that he believed in me. He told me if I put my mind to it, I could be an Eagle Scout.
My dad taught me to respect nature. He taught me to be kind to animals. He taught me to leave a campsite cleaner than when I found it. He taught me the value of water, not to be so quick to take big gulps from my canteen when enduring the long hike of the Appalachian Trail.
Dad showed me the way to be a good leader, to be fair, to be honest and never to ask anyone to do anything that I wasn’t willing to do. By example, he showed me to treat people with respect and not to ever use swear words. He taught me to take time to be alone with the good Lord.
My dear father taught me to reach high, to reach for the stars, to invest time in reading, to develop skills in writing. He stressed to me the value of patriotism, but told me never to be intimidated to question authority. And, he weaved a tapestry in my mind to respect people of all races and creeds.
He worked long hours to save and scrimp to buy me a drum set for Christmas. It was the Christmas of my freshman year of high school. I remember running down the stairs that Christmas morning, I was so deeply touched by that precious gift. It was only a few weeks later that I think my dad regretted buying me that drum set.
I loved my dad with all my heart and soul. Over eight years have come and gone since Dad went Home to be with the Lord. I still miss him so very dearly. I think I always will.
The dear, beloved Scoutmaster would often come home, from working hard all week. On Friday nights, after supper he would get washed and shaved and splash on a bit of Aqua-Velva on his face. He would dig deep within himself to overcome his tiring fatigue, put on his scout uniform, and we would ride off to Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church for another scout meeting. My dear father had a most stirring and focused conviction that it was better to shape a boy to be morally straight than to rehabilitate a man who was never taught right from wrong.
And, at the close of ever scout meeting we would all hold hands and form a circle, all the scout leaders and all the scouts. It might sound corny, I know. But it was sincere and earnest. It was a most reverend moment of our old scout meetings. Dad would give the “Scoutmaster’s Minute.”
For the most part, they were mini-sermons reflecting on a point or two of the Scout Law or the Scout Oath. My dad always put a lot of thought into each and every “Scoutmaster’s Minute” he presented to the boys and men of Boy Scout Troop 170. Sometimes, when I least expect it, I can still hear the echo of my dad’s voice sharing with me one of his “Scoutmaster’s Minutes.”
They were precious times, the days of hiking and camping with Boy Scout Troop 170. The tall pines, the bobtail deer, the squirrels climbing an oak tree, the rivers, the ponds, the blue sky, the golden sun, and the earthen floor were the elements of the classroom of Boy Scout Troop 170. A classroom whose beauty, grace and opportunities for learning would put to shame the lecture halls of the most elite university.
Those days may have passed, but somehow they still abideth in the hearts and minds of the scouts and scout leaders who once belonged to good old Boy Scout Troop 170. And in reverence, the beloved Scoutmaster still looks down, from Heaven’s Gate, at all of us who were once a part of the greatest scout troop in all the world.
Peace and harmony,