Thursday, June 27, 2019

10 Years Ago on RAOP

Borepatch and I started blogging within a few weeks of each other and met online within a few days. I was blogging at Random Acts of Patriotism. Like him, I found my voice very quickly and my blog, for better or worse, took on a direction.

There was an entire series on Marine Corps boot camp. Then a long set of posts on the Boy Scouts. 10 years ago on RAOP, there were two posts back to back that tell a story that was integral part of my growing up and the person I became. Here's the first one, I will post the next one tomorrow.


One of the core merit badges. Along with First Aid, Lifesaving tied into the Scout Motto, “Be Prepared.” I wanted Lifesaving, wanted to work as a lifeguard. The summer after I got Swimming, I took Lifesaving. It was an all afternoon, every afternoon class.
More distance, more strokes, more first aid, safe water entry, planning a safe swim, and the rescues. Rowboat and canoe rescues, throwing rings, swimming out with a buoy, and then just swimming out there. Going out alone without any equipment was the last resort, and discouraged as a good way to get two people drowned, but we learned it. The final testing on the last day of camp were all the rescues. Part of what they were looking for was the stamina, and the courage, necessary to attempt an open water rescue. The staff served as our “victims”.
Since you don’t ever holler “Help!” unless it’s a real emergency, we used a code word. Pineapple. There you stood on the dock, tired from a series of assisted rescues, and out beyond the ropes, a 20 year old staffer that outweighed you by 50 pounds splashed the water and hollered, “Pineapple! Pineapple!” It’s your turn. The rest of the class watches as you go.
In the real world, you would take a towel at least, throw him one end, never let him lay hands on you. Or wait for him to tire, even if he drowned. Grab something that floated and push it out to him. Anything but let him grab you.
Making a lifesaving entry, keeping my eyes on the victim, I swim out and when I get close enough he launches himself like an alligator and wraps his arms around my head. I sink, drive my thumbs into his armpits, force him off. I go deep, beneath his feet, the water dark and cold as I swim toward the bottom. Air is becoming an issue so I take an extra stroke and surface, turning toward the direction I think he’s in. As I break the surface I get a big gulp of air and realize I am behind him. I throw my right arm over his shoulder and press him up into a cross chest carry. He struggles, but I have a grip on his armpit and chest. Swimming a modified sidestroke I manage to make the beach. I will pass, and receive my Lifesaving merit badge at the fall Court of Honor.
Two years later I would take Red Cross Lifesaving and CPR, and decades later I would requalify so I could lead water activities as an adult Scouter. It is the basics, learned young, and ingrained, that stay with me. Because once, just once, I needed these skills, and a life hung in the balance. And at that moment, all I had was what I had learned as a Scout.
Be Prepared… the meaning of the motto is that a scout must prepare himself by previous thinking out and practicing how to act on any accident or emergency so that he is never taken by surprise.
–Robert Baden-Powell


STxAR said...

When my oldest son joined a troop in Houston, they were getting ready to leave for summer camp. Half the dads there were Eagle scouts. I made second class before we moved to the country (no troop out there).

A light was out on the trailer, and they were fuming about it. They were in the midst of detailing someone to run to the store, when I pulled one out of my console, and a spare if that one failed.

Be Prepared is an attitude that EVERY scout should have.... and keep.

For grins, read what the scouts were supposed to do in the 1911 first edition of the scout manual. They expected more from boys in 1911 than we do from full grown men.

Glen Filthie said...

Are the scouts still around? Last I heard, they had opened them up to pedos and sexual degenerates and the membership dived. Think I even heard they were taking real girls along with the transgendered parodies. The way we treat our sons these days is despicable.

ASM826 said...

Glen Filthie,

What Scouting is today and what it is becoming has no bearing on what it once was.

David said...

I got my Eagle Scout Award in 1973. My son got his 40 years later. We both followed your model - first aid - swimming - life saving - red cross lifesaving - temp job as a life guard. Fortunately neither of us ever had to use our training. Beyond yelling instructions, or reaching into the pool and pulling a kid to the side. But we both grew up in the mountains, desert, and the water and learning how to take care of ourselves and others in both. His last summer in scouting my son (17 at the time) got a job working the summer camp instead of going to it. He was life guarding at the pool one day when some visiting bureaucrat questioned the wisdom of letting a 17 year old protect a bunch of teen aged boys. The camp director told him "That kid swims better, pays better attention, and knows what to do better than any adult in this camp. So shut up and leave him alone." The next day when the visitor found my son working the gun range he asked him "what makes you a proper trainer to teach these boys how to shoot?" My son grinned at him and said "I can handle guns and shoot better than I swim." They did have an adult instructor on hand at the range. But he just sat, watched, and let my son run things.

After getting his Eagle my son kept working with his troop for a couple years. Then one summer when he was home from college he came home from a camp out he had helped with and asked me "Would you be upset if I stopped working with the troop?" When I asked why he said "Scouting has changed - a lot, very quickly. And they are changing in ways that I am not comfortable with any more." With my blessings he stopped...

Then a while later he asked - "What do I do when I eventually have a son of my own, and I am not comfortable letting him join the boy scouts?" I told him - it may be easier and more fun, but you don't need the boy scouts to teach him how to be a man. Teach him to be prepared. And teach him to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrift, brave, clean, and reverent. Hopefully, you won't take too long, and I'll still be around to help..."