Donald Trump’s speech at the National Jamboree has made me a little bit sad, because now I realize that just about everything I learned as a Boy Scout is no longer applicable. No longer do we expect our boys in uniform to be “trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, brave, clean or reverent.” Well, okay, “obedient” might still apply, and of course it’s more important than ever nowadays to be “loyal.” Loyal to Donald Trump, that is.
I’m reminded of a scene from the film “Downfall,” where Bruno Ganz, playing Hitler, pats the rosy cheek of an adolescent Brown Shirt before sending him out to fend off the advancing Russian army. Hitler then retreats to his fortified bunker (think Mar-a-Loco) to party on with party loyalists.
Many in attendance at the West Virginia jamboree will no doubt end up serving in the military, excepting, of course, those hobbled with bone spurs. That’s because the Boy Scouts of America has long been a paramilitary organization. In fact, I had been told that an eagle scout who enlists in the armed forces will be exempted from basic training and allowed to enter at the rank of captain.
The boy in our troop voted most likely to do so was Dick Draper, a member of the Order of the Arrow (think Green Berets) and a graduate of the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico (think Navy Seals Hell Week). It was from Dick Draper that I learned much useful campcraft, such as how to smoke a cigar in a pup tent in order to ward off mosquitoes.
Above is a picture I shot of Dick many, many years ago at Camp Maple Dell. Along with two of his feathered friends, Dick is performing some kind of esoteric Indian ritual (think Ganges funeral pyre).
I never attended a national jamboree, although in my boyhood trophy case I have a commemorative jamboree patch, which I acquired at scout camp from a kid who looked a lot like Oliver North. I don’t remember what I gave him in trade, but I sure hope it wasn’t the wilderness survival patch I got back in 1958 at Stead Air Force Base in Reno. That patch came with a certificate signed by Colonel Joseph H. Sherwood, Jr., commander of the 3635 Flying Training Group (Advanced). What we learned at Stead was how to survive in the snowbound Sierra Nevada by trapping and cooking rabbits and squirrels—or, in my case, by loading up my bedroll with emergency provisions in advance. This in keeping with the Boy Scout motto: Be Prepared!